Loony anthropology

Posted 10.19.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Following the last full moon, I watched it rise and sail eastward each evening - - until one night I was out before the moon. All the stars! All exceptionally clear and bright - - and everywhere! Perhaps there was less humidity on the air.

My surprise made me think a moon-less sky is more interesting; there's so much more to see.

Interesting for that reason, but also because much of this light is so archaic, pre-historic - - it pre-dates everything here. What we're "seeing" is a long way into the past. Who knew we could see so far?

I also considered our distant hominid ancestors, without any civilization at all, who must have watched the skies - - for entertainment, in their non-busy moments. For them, entertainment would have been to stare into their fires or look upward into the stars. They'd be looking into the far reaches of time, too, and they must have found this just as fascinating. Such unsophisticated creatures, our ancestors, with no distractions at all.

They would have noticed that the lights not only move during the night, but they move regularly - - they return. By naming easily-identified groups, constellations, and by keeping some memory record they could have noted the passing and the returning of these groups. In effect, they were measuring, which is what naming does.

So our very ancient and primitive ancestors entertained themselves each clear night, around a fire, I assume, and they looked up. This was the entertainment of the day - - looking out vast distances, looking far into the distant past, counting and measuring huge quantities. And we call this primitive?

\No doubt primitive, compared to today's hominids who spend their evenings watching, too. We watch, or look into, our hands and talk to someone who may be upstairs, or across town. We talk about . . . the weather . . . tomorrow's weather . . . next month's weather (metaphors).

Today's hominids may glance up at the sky, especially if the moon is full, but not for the hours needed to appreciate what might be going on in the rest of the cosmos since time began. We don't have time. We have a video to watch, a message from someone we've just spent the whole day with. We get our news about the cosmos on some form of "Hollywood Stars," or it's a game. Then to bed, a glance at the sky maybe, sleep, and the next day, inevitably, then the next.

No thoughts of another dimension, about ripples in the darkness, like ripples in a fabric, the fabric being reality. No time for that. "Wait, I have a call." What could draw our attention upwards?

We're more advanced and smarter - - we have stuff, the latest time-pieces, self-driving cars! - - compared to primitives who sat around looking up into the beginnings of time, looking at the origins of all there is . . .


Copyright © 2017 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/10.17