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Re: [Orgmode] Re: OT Re: unicorn

From: Carsten Dominik
Subject: Re: [Orgmode] Re: OT Re: unicorn
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 20:35:29 +0100

On Feb 28, 2009, at 7:37 PM, Ross A. Laird wrote:

Carsten Dominik <address@hidden> writes:

Hi Ross,

great post, thank you very much!

You have made me curious:  What argumentation is used to estimate
the age of Myth at 70000 years.  I can't be the fossile record,
I guess :-) So I am wondering how something like this is figured out.

If you feel like putting background stuff about unicorns into the
FAQ, be my guest.

- Carsten

Hi Carsten;

Thanks for the feedback -- and actually, I was wondering if someone
might ask about the 70,000 years. Until recently, the accepted date for
the appearance of human culture -- as evidenced by complex tools and
apparent symbolic thinking -- was somewhere around thirty or forty
thousand years ago (the so-called Willendorf Venus figures, for
example). But this threshold has now doubled back -- to at least seventy thousand before the present. Archaeologists working at the Blombos cave in South Africa have found, among other surprises, finely worked weapons decorated with symbolic engravings -- within a strata older than seventy
thousand years.

So, it seems that humans were thinking in terms of symbols at least
70,000 years ago. And symbols always derive from myths (this is the most
basic rule of myth: symbols indicate myths). So, myths are at least
70,000 years old. By the way, this is not the same as the emergence of
individuality, which is a related but not identical development.
Individuality seems to have taken quite a bit longer: it seems to first
appear with the ancient Egyptians around 3000 BCE. A statue of the
pharaoh Khafre (the owner of the second-largest pyramid at Giza) is the world's oldest surviving individualized work of art. This statue is now
in room 42 of the Cairo Museum. So indeed, the answer to life, the
universe, and everything is 42! (I devoted quite a bit of time to Khafre
in my book on myth; he was a very interesting character who may be the
face on the sphinx; and the sphinx, of course, is of the same
mythological family as the unicorn).

Hi Ross,

I can see how symbols can be related to Myth.  But I am wondering
if the definition of individualism is not very restrictive.

I believe I have read somewhere that decoration or jewelry, personal
ornaments, are a way to detect individuality, and I surely would have
thought that this must pre-date work of art that depicts an
individual - which I think is what you are referring to with Kafre,
I have seen pictures of his face fragment - beautiful (is that in
room 42 as well?)


- Carsten

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