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Civilization and Beyond
A Metaconscious Mosaic Outline

 


History*


Daniel Quinn1 has described a context for human events which leaps entirely "outside the box" established and perpetuated by the cultural mythology2 of civilized peoples for the past 10,000 years. Specifically, Quinn has cast into high relief the undeniable fact that humans, i.e. members of genus Homo, have been present on this planet, and evolving steadily, for far, far longer – millions of years longer – than have been our earliest known civilizations. This fact fundamentally changes the picture we have been given by our mythology; for the almost universally held myth that human history begins with the advent of civilization is hereby disclosed to be a false and misleading fabrication.

On the contrary, Quinn's view pushes the context for human events back a few million years prior to the first civilizations, thereby making it obvious that civilization, which we have been taught to have been the crowning achievement of humanity, is after all only a recent experiment in "alternative living," which the crucible of time has disclosed again, and again, and again, to have been a dead-end path that doesn't work. Civilized peoples in the past have repeatedly walked away from their monumental civilizations, and abandoned them for reclamation by jungles and deserts all over the world.

This may come as an unwelcome shock to civilized people today; yet it is not as great a shock as that of the total collapse of civilization now in advanced progress everywhere. If civilized people were comfortable, satisfied, and confident of their steadily improving condition into the foreseeable future, there would be little reason to listen to "alarmists" like Daniel Quinn, or like me. However, this is not our situation now, is it? The signs are plainly evident to anyone who looks that "the Titanic has struck the iceberg, and is down by the bow," and it doesn't take a marine architect to reliably predict that she will soon find her berth at the bottom of Davy Jones's Locker. The civilized way of life is not sustainable! What else needs to be said?

The good news is that there is "somewhere else to go," for anyone who can see this eventuality, and elects to "bail out." Over the course of the past three million years genus Homo has developed a pattern for living which has been proven in the crucible of time to work. That pattern is the tribe, and it works as well for humans today as it has ever done. The tribe, like corresponding social systems for other species, has evolved over the course of millions of years, and aspects of the tribal pattern that have been found in that timeframe not to work have been meticulously eliminated by the metaconscious pressures of natural selection.

This circumstance gives those "with eyes to see" some significant advantages not enjoyed by most Titanic passengers. In that catastrophe, it was the "aristocracy" who were in exclusive position to man the lifeboats, and to keep everyone else at least at oar's length until they either froze to death or drowned in the North Atlantic. Today, as civilization self-destructs around us, the only available "lifeboat" is the tribe, which the contemporary "aristocracy" is evidently incapable of perceiving as a viable refuge from the collapse of civilization. In their view, civilization, regardless of any "incidental blemishes," is the only option. Civilization cannot, must not sink! Oh well.... Unless they change their minds about that, I recon they'll just have to go down with the ship this time. Too bad.


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* Source: Leavers and Takers.

1. Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure, Three Rivers Press, New York, 1999.

2. Myths are not properly considered as made-up fiction, as in, "Oh, that's only a myth." Myths are stories, mixtures of truth and fiction, because they deal with matters beyond the normal ken of "everyday life." Yet every compelling myth bears at its core a fundamental "truth" essential to the overall understanding of its culture. Indeed, the very fabric of life may be seen as the acting out of an elaborate and highly diverse mythology, not only in "ancient times," but "right here, right now," in your local life, and in mine. See "Creation Myths," 11/5/00, for further elaboration.


Civilization and Beyond copyright 2004, 2005 by J. Harmon Grahn. Copying and redistribution, in whole or in part, are permitted in any medium provided this notice is included.



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Civilization and Beyond
A Metaconscious Mosaic Outline