You don’t read Intel9 for politics. My politics are of no interest, except possibly for curiosity about the author. Personal politics slip easily into rant, with no relevance to the niche analysis that brings you here. So I have avoided politics, except in cases of inextricable collision with issues for which niche contributions are possible.
My termite instinct, to undermine, has been fruitful with COVID. I’d like to tunnel a little into politics, targeting not the foundations of democracy itself, but the reflective awareness of which the media is such an integral part.
Hiding on one of my dusty shelves, or possibly banished to a box, is a book of Bronze Age history. I found it in a Strand outdoor bin for a buck. A fun way-back perspective? I lugged it home and read about 35 pages. The perspective was archaeological. Since Minoan palaces were singular, and mud towns were ubiquitous in the Middle East, the book is a probe into rubble, describing the remains of these places like bulldozed taco stands:
,…in XXXX BCE a thriving community….trade with Indus…religious figurines, fertility figurines with stylistic influence of …. apparent…mud wall dates to XXYY…destroyed in XYXY…pottery shards indicate Scythian influence…ruins repopulated around YXYX…diminished prosperity…population dispersed around YYYX with no signs of conflict…
This goes on for about 2000 years or 400 pages of shattered pottery and salted earth, ending in the Bronze Age Collapse in 1200 BCE. We don’t know what these people looked like, since realistic art had not yet evolved. We don’t know the reason for the collapse; political strife is never so thorough. Volcanism or drought are possibilities, perhaps in concert with plagues. Historians should more often reach for Rats, Lice and History. It could have been amplified by a virus.
We don’t know what they thought. Yet their genes survive in us today; some may literally walk among us, the anonymous presence of prehistory. Figurines, altars, and decorative expression hint. Narrative literature existed, but not about the self; it had the purpose of propagation of myth.
To an agnostic like myself, myth encompasses and extends beyond religion, encoding as memorable fiction much of the firmware most individuals require to function in society. Other contributions are courtesy of Hammurabi, and “upbringing.” Since this was before the advent of recreational or creative thought, it completes with the basal concept of authority, “might makes right”, formalized as the divine right of kings and ecclesiastical authority. It is functional myth, where disobedience gets hammered.
So their minds were stocked from a primitive pantry, some of which survives today, in flesh as well as mind. How different were they? The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Jaynes, 1977) proposed that humans were not introspectively aware until the 2nd millennium BCE. Before introspection, Jaynes asserts, the impulse came from an imagined entity. A mythic entity.
I think it is partly true. Jaynes’ extreme manifests as schizophrenia, acceptable in an age when myth was breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It grades into mild/slight/no mental health issues, towards a mind ruled by belief to the exclusion of reason, which is well accepted in U.S. society, if not by readers of this blog. Such minds compose a good portion of the electorate.
So when you bump into some crusty old friend on the street, with the impression he hasn’t changed a bit in 20 years, make that 2000. To be continued shortly. In the meantime , I managed to locate a 2000 year old man who will amplify these points.