Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Days of Yore

Someone on my alien guild's website posted the following question:

If you could live in a different time period of the past, what would it be?

Rather than explaining that the proper phrasing should be, "when would it be?" I responded with the following:

I like the present just fine. I wouldn't want to live in the past where a nick on the face while shaving could wind up becoming infected, thus causing your own death.

Seriously, this was not uncommon before the inventing of antibiotics just last century!

There is little nostalgia in the past. People don't seem to think about how tough times were back then compared to now. It was not a simpler time.

If anything, I'd want to go to the future. Who doesn't want to see if mankind can solve the Riemann Hypothesis before we destroy ourselves?

I left my response at that, but I could have gone on and on. I have never been able to figure out this desire people have for going back in time. They act like the old west, was Little House on the Prairie. People ought to be thankful that wasn't filmed in authentic smell-o-vision because a one room log cabin with a dirt floor occupied by 5 or 6 people who do not bathe every day is just not going to smell like a bouquet of flowers, no matter how loving and caring they pretend to be.

Modern people would enjoy that nonsense for about one day. After they realize they have to go to bed once it's dark out because there's no electricity and you can't always afford candles and oil for lamps, much less stay up late to watch whatever flick is on the idiot box, they'd be longing for their creature comforts. I'm not even going to discuss outhouses and the historic uses for the Sears, Roebuck catalog.

What exactly is the allure of "the old days"? Pick any time in history prior to 1950 (chosen rather arbitrarily since most people romanticize time periods well before their own lifetimes) and try to convince me that those days were better?

Sorry, the power of prayer didn't do anything back then to help a person's health any more than it does now. I'll stick with modern medicine and all it's flaws thank you very much.

My sister claims that buying Cottonelle toilet paper is a form of pampering oneself and the fact that I buy the rather efficient Scott brand with a 1000 sheets per roll is a sign that I don't know how to pamper myself. I disagree. I pamper myself just fine. I mean look at me, I'm over indulgence personified. It's just when I decide I'm going to pamper myself, I don't start with my asshole. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose. I'd like to see her make that same argument in the days before the Sears, Roebuck catalog. (Oops! I guess I did get into it.)

I got great idea! Why don't we strap our fat asses to a horse and take a quick ride to the next town over and back. It shouldn't take much more than the whole day! Sounds romantic to me.


Polly TickedOff said...

Meow! Era Elitist. Sure life was harder. Survival of the Fittest! Maybe we wouldn't have all the namby pamby whiners that are around today. Aren't you the one who says that everyone needs to make some sort of contribution to society? Otherwise, just kill them off? Time was, everyone had to contribute. It was the only way they could survive. Here I thought you would be all for that kind of society, lol.

deniz said...

About that question...
Every spot in time and space has its plus and minus points. It also depends on which part of society you are placed at.

I think many people are impressed by the great works of art and architecture in the past. But they have no idea of how many had to suffer during the process of that creation.
Bathing in those huge Roman baths must have been great. But I don't think the slaves agreed with us. ANd now, although there are still many underfed people on earth, at least most of the population is well fed and healthy.

I think most long for the era that started with the discovery of antibiotics, and ended with the invention (!)of pollution and hormones.

So, I agree with you and have a lot more objections, knowing the ancient history a bit more- bad profession!!

We have no air to breath, tomatoes have no taste at all, but at least we have washing machines and dishwashers. And yes, computers!!

As for the future, as I hinted before, I am pessimistic about it. But I guess that's because I'm a bit too depressed nowadays to like anything.

Doc Brown said...

Obviously Kim, I am definitely all about a society that forces its members to contribute in some fashion. As I said in my post, I could go on and on. I never said there weren't good things about historical societal conventions, I just like the advances we are living with now.

I am with Deniz on this matter. I am not especially optimistic about the future progression of the human race. Note I am not talking about us surviving as a race. I think we'll persevere for quite a while longer. However, I think we are living at a time that is near the peak of human civilization. We cannot consume so indiscriminately forever, and once it catches up to us, we are going to fall in one form or another. What will become of us when the world's oil supply runs out in the next 50-100 years? I don't know, but I am glad I won't be around to see the human race suffer for it. Since I won't be having any kids, I guess I don't have to worry about them either.

I can also agree with Deniz's comments in that people obviously get all verklempt about the past because they only get to see the best and most idealized stuff they had to offer. They forget that way back then the bottom 95% of the people lived in squalor, and likely, they would have been amongst that 95%. The fact that they don't think of themselves as living in the squalor of the lowest 95% now is because the vast percentile making up the average persons doesn't have it quite so bad these days (in the U.S. and most of the other industrialized nations).

It is precisely because they have it so good they can fantasize about how wonderful the past was. Do you think Laura Ingalls Wilder thought about how great it was for her ancestors she sat in the outhouse wiping her ass with the Sears, Roebuck catalog? I doubt it.