Geeks at Work

on June 29, 2009

It occurred to me after doing the previous entry that someone with a skeptical eye might object that I seem to be cherry-picking my examples in order to make a case for the prehistoric origins of mystical beliefs and practices.

In fact, from my point of view, it’s quite the opposite. Until recently, I shared the prevailing assumption that sophisticated intellectual and philosophical systems go back to not much earlier than 500 BC and that human knowledge before then was relatively unsystematic, intuitive, or “mythopoeic.”

It’s been only with the emergence of geek culture over the last couple of years that I’ve become convinced that geeks as a personality type have existed since the origins of modern humanity. (I doubt there were Neanderthal geeks — there’s certainly no sign of them in the archeological record — which may be why we’re still here, for all our flaws, and they’re not.)

And it’s in the nature of geeks to mess around with stuff, try to make sense of it, create intellectual systems of dizzying complexity to explain it, exchange wild metaphysical speculations with their fellow geeks, and generally geek out to the max at any opportunity.

See, for example, the Mayan calendar as an example of geekitude run amok. Or the I Ching. Or the pyramids. Geeks just can’t help themselves. Intellectual complexity mated to metaphysical subtlety is what they do. It’s the water in which they swim.

So, no, I’m not cherry-picking my examples. I’m just being struck by the fact that there are signs saying “Geeks at Work” in big flashing letters all over the archaeological record.

Related:

A listing of all my posts on deep prehistory can be found here.

A general overview of the areas of interest covered at this blog can be found here.

A chronological listing of all entries at this blog, with brief descriptions, can be found here.

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Read the Previous Entry: Of Hollow Bone Flutes and the Imperative to “Be That Empty”
Read the Next Entry: Along the Via Negativa with Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1: Seeing Nobody on the Road

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