Tuesday, 3 June 2008

A Hole In The World

Modernism brought society many things, positive and negative. The advent of technologies role in society led to a change in mindset, traditional faith in nature and religous ineffability was almost replaced by a firm belief in the future. A future when each problem would be solved in turn by a technological advance, by science. If the solution of travelling long distances was brought to an end by the plane, before that the solution of rampant disease brought to an end by the discovery of antiseptics and antibiotics... and so on. Perhaps technology was the missing part of our lives, the solution to all our problems.

As time went on, the religious and environmental began to turn back into a central role in common belief, the cultural milieu. Is not the path of technology explained by the advance of god, is it not man vs nature but rather man using nature that led to the advances we treasured so. The environment itself has become a pseudo religious movement in modern times and the idea of returning to some idealised version of the equilibrium with nature a seriously discussed idea.

Ultimately, this dispute came down to one issue, the forward thinking modernist and post modernists disagree upon time and time again. The one question that sums up the change from the modernist age and the oncoming age of political/moral regression...

Could astronauts defeat cavemen in a fight?

Obviously we need a context for the battle. For the sake of ease, we will say the astronauts have crash landed in the past. As the planet of the apes movies have led me to believe they often do. The numbers must be equal. And no, the astronauts do not have weapons. Marx of course contended that this wasnt fair, as the Cavemen have fire, but most modern scholars would agree fire as a weapon is hardly comparable to modern firearms. Except obviously in that they both have the word "fire" in them. And what would Marx know? Fag.

It was Darwin that first really drew the valid questions in the argument "what era of cavemen are we discussing here, to suggest the cro-magnon is akin to the paleolithic is absurd... its little different from confusing an astronaut with a conquistador." Not Charles Darwin, you understand, he didnt know what astronauts were. He died in 1882. I refer to Bernard Darwin, his grandson and noted golf writer.
Let me break the basics of the argument down.

Now obviously the astronaut has the power of science. He would probably whip up a series of deadly traps and a makeshift weapon from a power cell, some shuttle wall lining and the little device they use to keep there toothbrushes attached to the wall. He could have remembered the time of a solar eclipse, use this knowledge to trick the cavemen into believing he was a mighty sorceror and scare them away. He could probably do some complex math and have a working catapult put together in minutes, throwing those weird bulky space helmets like comets of death at there primitive ancestors.

On the other hand, a caveman is probably used to just bashing peoples skull in. Thats what they did. They hunted big ass things, they bashed its skulls in. They would go to other tribles, kill all the men (through hardy skull bashing) and steal the women. While the astronauts are discussing the most efficient way to set up a tesla coil defence citing famous strategies in chess and trying to remember the eclipse records for thousands of years ago, the cavemen are already rushing at them with there favourite skull bashing club "old one strike".

There is always the lesser tread argument of the ramifications of time travel. Say Max Burton (that is my astronauts name in this scenario, you may want to come up with your own) kills one of the attacking cavemen... but that caveman turns out to be his own great great great grandfather... does Max cease to exist, never having attended Yale or married his college sweetheart Deidre? Or does the attack itself fail to happen, because it cant, the universal timeline righting itself? Or is there just a big blue explosion and shit blows up, like when anything goes wrong with time in the movies? How can we know?

Like many questions, can astronauts beat cavemen in a fight doesnt really have an answer. Its about the nature of man, of modernisation. Its about the fight, not the victor. In a way, we are the astronauts, but we must ALSO be the cavemen, know when to fight... and when to get along.

Except obviously, cavemen would totally win. They kill wooly mammoths, its obvious.

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