Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Torn Apart - Primitive

A long time ago, some men came across the ocean for the first time. And even though the common belief of their era was that the ocean was the edge of the world... they chose to cross it.

What inspires a man to commit to such an insane act? What quality, what virtue must a man possess, to look straight at the horizon of an endless ocean, the end of the world as they knew it and say "I will push forward!"

Is it faith? Maybe, but I doubt it. The established belief was that once you reached the shore the world ends. This belief progressively made its way into various mythologies across the globe at a later time, even after we became quite adequate in sailing. The ancient Greeks for example placed gold coins on their dead so they could pay the boat man and allow them to cross the ocean into the underworld. So the idea that across the ocean lies danger and death was still evident even in more advanced civilizations and was embedded in their religious beliefs. Faith would only produce more fear and hesitation in defying those beliefs.

Is it curiosity? Probably. I cannot see how a man can march towards certain death and infinite nothingness without some questions in his head that need to be answered. But is curiosity enough to commit to this? Today, would you jump into a black hole in space just out of curiosity? I don't think so...

How about imagination? Most definitely. I believe imagination is a quality that played an integral part in our evolution as a species. The ability to imagine and calculate an outcome in our head, with eyes wide shut, without necessarily experiencing the action. Imagination is what gave birth to mathematics. Mathematics, at their basic core, is an imaginative way of connecting things together without necessarily having them physically in front of you. I believe that these men, while staring at the endless ocean, had the imagination to invent the most raw form of mathematics, but also the most genius. The thought process would be this:

If the ocean is the end of the world, 
then this means that the world is made of land. 
If this is the end of the world, 
and the end of the world is the end of land...

...then why is there still land under the water?

Think about that the next time you come across the term "primitive." Because these men were physiologically and biologically identical to us. The difference is that they did a lot more... with a lot less than what intellectuals have available today.

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