Monday, 4 October 2010


Clive Ponting's Green History notes that although hominids are four million years old or so, homo sapiens sapiens has been around for 100,000 years. His subsequent claim that 'hunter-gatherer societies have accounted for ninety-nine percent of human history' looks a little hard to parse. (Perhaps 96% lacks rhetorical bite?). But it's also making a tacit, normative claim: this is what human beings are really about, all this farming-and-living-in-cities malarkey is, in historical times, abberrative. But not so! The moral force of hunting and gathering, as a lifestyle, is the now; but the moral force of farming -- and even more, of the timetabled life of the mechanical city -- is the future; planting seeds for next season, storing food for the winter and the seeds for next year. The turn to farming carries with it its own abnegation of the nowism of hunting. It rewires humanity to look forward (farming and manufacture will have accounted for 99% of homo sapiens sapiens' existence). It is, wary though I am of overusing this rhetorical trick on this blog, science fiction ...

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