Sunday, June 8, 2014

What is Primitive?
Primitive was once a word used to criticize, disparage and dismiss things, people and ideas to whom we wished to feel superior. "Their tools are 'primitive'."  "It is a 'primitive' society."  "His understanding is 'primitive'."  More recently, and certainly in my case, for many the term has become one that inspires a sense of admiration, nostalgia even.  I aspire to be more primitive these days, as do many others. 

Obviously, the term "primitive" is open to interpretation.  Some would call the venerable Commodore computer primitive, though the thought of any computer being a primitive tool is laughable.  So I wanted to take a minute and see if I can't completely muddy up the picture for you.
In the beginning, (I know I plagiarized that from somewhere, I just can't quite remember where,) there were sticks and stones.  The original human types managed to fashion tools and implements from these simple resources.  Fire was added into the mix with, I would assume, enormous impact on the quality of life.  With these simple tools, and the animal and plant resources that they provided, humanity managed to populate the warmest, coldest, and most remote corners of the earth.  In fact, many historians believe that sticks and stones, and the objects manufactured from them, (cutting tools, spears, atlatls, and archery equipment), allowed early humans in North America to significantly reduce the large mammal populations, often called 'Megafauna.' Some of these likely became extinct because of their efforts.   These were not little whitetail deer and bunny rabbits, they were mammoths, giant ground sloths, and saber toothed cats.  Our ancestors did this, with not an i-anything between the lot of them.
Then came the various metal ages; copper, bronze, and iron.  Finally the machine and industrial developments.  Today could be considered a computer age.  An argument for copper and bronze ages being essentially primitive could be made, I suppose.  Rocks and fire simply combined to produce a new material.  But after that...?

My definition of primitive is anything that a resourceful human might create to survive with, if dropped naked in the middle of a wilderness.  Those naturally occurring resources close at hand being the only ingredients in the alchemy of survival.  This was enough for the vast majority of human existence.  We're talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions.  The earliest shaped tools (stone) on record are associated with Homo Habilis, approximately 2.3 million years ago. (If Wikipedia is to be believed.  Sounds about right). 

If they could do it, then we can do it.  Sometimes, we should do it again.

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