True, the 'noble savage' is myth not reality, Burl once gave a description of prehistoric people. A miserable short life, full of rheumatism, illness and early death - women dying with unborn babies in their wombs....
In the quest to understand why stone circles or neolithic barrows are placed where they are we have to resort to trying to interpret the landscape, but the landscape is so much more than us in the end, however much we 'tame' it....
The insurmountable problem, I guess, is that we - I was going to say 'modern' humans, but of course every human is/was modern during his or her time on Earth - will never be able to look at the landscape with even a remotely similar worldview as our ancestors. For me perhaps the salient point is that everything I've seen and 'experienced' from visiting ancient sites would suggest (to me) that there was no fundamental division between the natural world and supernatural (for want of a better term) world. To use Dawkins' oft quoted example, a rainbow remains an utterly wondrous thing to me even though (I believe) it to be a completely natural occurrence. But how much more awe would it produce if you happen to believe if was supernatural? A couple more everyday examples:
An unseen vortex of wind disturbs the crops as I sit upon the Four Barrows near Albourne.... Ha! I'm dazzled by the action of summer heat causing unpredictable patterns in our atmosphere... a living planet. Our ancestral farmer might well have sensed - nay, seen, with his own eyes - the presence of a spirit, perhaps delimiting the circumferance of the circular indentations to produce a wooden circle?
My sister and I are caught upon the easten Black Mountains in a sudden electrical storm... peels of thunder ring out and lightning forks across the landscape. It is a truly, truly overwhelmingly awesome experience.... and we (believe we) know why it is occurring. But what if you happened to believe this is Thor striking his hammer since so-and-so (perhaps you, perhaps your wife?) happened to say some uncomplimentary things about the gods last night?
No, we cannot even behing to conceive what it must have been like, and it is this difference in worldview which I guess I want to try to reconcile as much as I can. If I have an outlook on life it is, firstly, to treat everyone with dignity and respect unless they give me cause not to. Unfortunately I find I can't turn the other cheek that well, but there you are. And secondly I WANT TO FEEL. Not by computer simulation, not by taking a Center Parcs holiday within a geometric dome 'the weather can't affect'... I'm well aware from conversations with people that I am very much in a minority in this respect - the times I've been asked 'what are you taking pictures of?' perched upon massive cairns or hillfort ramparts does get rather annoying - and also very much aware that to live like that all the time WITHOUT belief in some supernatural reason for existance would be utterly soul destroying, not to mention probably of short duration. But I think it is of great benefit to understand what conditions human kind had to face on these islands as a matter of course... come to terms that it was bloody difficult through experiencing, however briefly and diluted in nature, 'their world' and accord them due respect and admiration for giving me the opportunity to have an easier life by their learnings. They had no choice but to live in their world... we, in Britain at least, do. But it is also our world, too, is it not? Albeit one we have, on the whole, withdrawn from.
My fundamental opposition to montheistic religion is perhaps obvious... living according to texts in old books is not my thing. However anyone who has walked the hills, been caught in thunderstorms, seen gigantic cloud formations threaten to crush the earth, seen the animals doing their thang, been kocked off their feet by wind, seen chaff spiriling up in a summer vortex.... must (surely?) recognise that they are not the be and end all of life on earth, merely a small part of what the Earth does, just another animal trying to get by. I have experienced most human emotions, I guess, during the course of my wanderings... sheer elation, panic, utter hopelessness at being lost in mist, wonder, pain, exhaustion, feeling like I'm 'on top of the world'... I've a feeling (from their appreciation of art etc) we aren't so different from the monument builders and they experienced pretty much the same variation.
To finish what I fear has become an incoherent ramble, I stumbled across the Oldbury rock shelters in Kent last Sunday and momentarily was transported back millennia in my mind... I sat at the entrance and tried to image myself being a nomadic hunter...what would I think? For better or worse I came to the conclusion that far from being completely focussed on 'must get food or die', I might be pissed off because the wife had a go last night that I wasn't the hunter - or lover, for that matter - I used to be, and if I didn't sort myself out she'd be forced to go with some one else or starve. I might silently ask the wood spirit to help me bag a wild boar today to shut her up. Then I'd notice it was raining and think 'bloody forest, but at least the call of the cuckoo means things will improve'. You know, human thoughts? Are we really so different?
Reply | with quote
|Posted by GLADMAN|
21st April 2012ce
Sense of Place (moss, Apr 01, 2012, 09:57)
- Re: Sense of Place (tjj, Apr 01, 2012, 19:09)
- Re: Sense of Place (GLADMAN, Apr 01, 2012, 20:00)
- Re: Sense of Place (tjj, Apr 02, 2012, 22:30)
- Re: Sense of Place (ryaner, Apr 20, 2012, 21:48)
- Re: Sense of Place (BuckyE, Apr 21, 2012, 03:39)
- Re: Sense of Place (moss, Apr 21, 2012, 10:06)
- Re: Sense of Place (GLADMAN, Apr 21, 2012, 12:39)
- Re: Sense of Place (The Eternal, May 05, 2012, 22:55)
- Re: Sense of Place (Littlestone, May 06, 2012, 10:52)
- Re: Sense of Place/Wildness (Sanctuary, May 07, 2012, 14:15)
- Re: Sense of Place (tjj, May 21, 2012, 12:57)