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I am indulging myself with The Bonnet Channel on this windy Saturday morning. It’s one of my favorites – The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. Big sigh for Errol Flynn – if only he hadn’t been such a dissipated rogue, although I guess that was a large part of his charm. (I’ll write more about Erroll, and about Robin Hood, one of these days.)
Watching this film, set in 13th century – though I must say Hollywood seems to think that fashion in the 13th century was much more regal than I imagine it actually was – I started thinking about how and why the world has changed in to the last 900 years. (Cue “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” intro narration.)
It is hard to separate the idea of native intelligence from the intelligence of this technology-driven world in which we live. I am certain that the men and women of the year 1266 were just as smart as we are today. So why could they not figure out the things we have been able to in subsequent centuries? We have always had the basic resources – which really come down to the four elements of which everything is composed, and from some variant/combination of which everything has been developed: earth, air, fire, water.
So were we just new enough that we were spending our evolutionary childhood figuring stuff out like infants and children do? I can’t get a peg on how long humans have been on earth; some sources say 200,000 years, others say 4,000,000, and still others guess any number before, after or in between. If we’ve been around for four million years and we were still in our childhood 900 years ago, then we’ve had a serious growth spurt in the last few centuries. Or else we’re now in our adolescence and we have an absolutely astounding adulthood before us. Unless we burn ourselves out and leave a decent-looking corpse.
Anyway, the question is, were people intelligent enough 900 years ago to figure out things like how to make plastic or microchips or cars? If so, why didn’t it happen then? Were they just too busy trying to subsist from day-to-day? I know most farmers don’t have the opportunity to spend their days or nights trying to create new inventions. It seems that the issue is less the intelligence of people 900 years ago than it is their lack of leisure time. But then the idle rich weren’t the ones who invented things – isn’t necessity the mother of invention?
Do you get what I’m thinking? I’m not sure I’m expressing myself very well, but I’m going to put it out there for discussion as is. I may come back to it later, once my brain has chewed on it some more.
It’s nice having deep thoughts again for a change. But it does help to have a dialogue about them.