Friday, September 3, 2010

Eden Is Ahead Not Behind

Anthropologist Napoleon Chignon wrote about the Amazonian Yanomamo people in Yanomamo: The Fierce People. It's easy to idealize them: No bosses or punch-clocks, no taxes, no responsibility for using up the world's oil or warming the atmosphere. Heck, they get to go naked. Their bows are primitive compared to those of the North American Plains Indians', but their arrows have interchangeable, disposable points, each adapted to its own game.

On the other hand, they live hand-to-mouth, count no further than two, practice infanticide (more against girls than boys, but they don't know that, because they can't count), and practice a kind of agriculture that obliges them to move periodically and which forces them to war with their neighbors. In fact, 25% of adult males die from combat.

Eden is in the future. The noble savage is our descendant.

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