TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Anthropology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthropology. Show all posts

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cairn Building Sacred Tree Chimps


This Could Be First-Ever Observed Ritual Practice Among Chimpanzees (1 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

The above video circulated last year, when researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Chimbo Foundation observed male chimpanzees filling hollow trees up with rocks, and then hurling more rocks at the filled trees in what looked like a strange ritual. This occurred in the Boé region of Guinea-Bissau on the western tip of Africa.

Were the researchers correct in projecting onto the chimpanzees the theory of human evolution, much less a theory of human evolution as dependent on the development of religion? For that seems to be the underlying argument: that biological evolution is impossible without the cognitive moment when the brain seeks the divine. As the researchers put it:
"We found four populations in West Africa where chimpanzees habitually bang and throw rocks against trees, or toss them into tree cavities, resulting in conspicuous stone accumulations at these sites. This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees. The ritualized behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations observed in chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites."
It is a banal but fascinating beginning for the gods: merely a pile of rubble, mounded in a new way which could begin to take on significance. The hypothesis is not asking whether these animals actually find gods in the stone configurations they make, rather whether their brains make the mental jump into thinking they do. In this theory, that's evolution.

One Youtuber summed up the discovery as "chimphenge." Other comments:
  • "Sorry mi english google translator: I do not believe in God, this discovery shows that never need God in our lives, we evolve throwing stones at the trees and forming mounds, then named sacred, those trees symbolically became pillars adorned our temples, after millions of years evolution forget this and we must give a name to both advance and consciousness. Unfortunately there was a lot to us and we prefer to form symbolic it out from within us and shape, we call 'God' and is the perfect excuse to manipulate and keep people away from the truth, everyone is 'God' does not exist a single God, in fact none exists, are just stones of different shapes and sizes in different trees, it depends on the monkey and the group which is the 'real tree' that 'God' is life, we are each living being. We gave shape the world as we know it and everything, God does not exist we create it, we ourselves are God, this evolutionary step in monkeys demonstrated."
  • "and what has been noted on which specific trees have been used? do these specific trees also feature in human's use such as shamanism, or medicinal or spiritual functions?"
  • "Maybe they're trying to recreate fire. . .from a past incident that simply happened by chance."
  • "Stop bring God into it. They are intelligent apes and live with nature. And if humans stopped interfering with there lives they would be ok"
  • "might be the start of next chapter in chimpanzee evolution theyre going to build their first pyramid"
  • "Idiots!!! clear they are playing a game unknown to man. Not everything is supposed to be [for a] reason. ..."
  • "I THINK THEY HIDING HILLARYS EMAILS"
Click to enlarge. Image Source: Nature.

This theory relates to how we worship our own ability to make things. The scientists here may be unconsciously projecting contemporary attitudes toward creativity onto the chimps. Most of the world has received the Technological Revolution with cult-like fervour. Today's Maker Culture is a 21st century extension of the old Arts and Crafts movement (c. 1880-1920), updated with machine building, engineering, arts and crafts, and open-sourced hardware. These trends involve the wonder of building something with one's bare hands, to the point where it enters an intellectual, conceptual, or spiritual realm. A more etheric branch of Maker Culture is software-oriented Hacker Culture.

So, a secular search for a moment of transcendence is there, and central to understanding the creative and intellectual arts. For artists and thinkers as creators, there is something magical about manipulating matter into a thing or moment beyond what existed before, through a creative act. At the core of it lies humankind's conflicted connection with nature.

The current manipulation of the world is based on a presumed human disconnection from the environment. These were the presumptions of the Enlightenment. In Enlightenment secularism, there was no divine entity and we did not derive from divine action. But we also had a right to control, understand, and rationalize the world because we were no longer animals and were disconnected from nature, and thus gained dominion over it.

Nothing could be sadder or further from the truth, and the fundamental error in that core assumption is reflected in the anguish caused by the superficial focus on modern materialism and rationalism, devoid of emotion and spiritual wonder. It is on the basis of that rigid, mask-like quantification of existence that we find ourselves seduced by technology.

Even technophiles who try to go deeper than commercialism and materialism yearn for microchip implants and brain-machine interfaces. They want the interface to fill the holes in their souls. It is interesting that they are obsessed with organic food, and nature-oriented spiritualism, but with a cardboard level of understanding. The spiritual disconnection from nature is complete, and robot-dom is just around the corner, even if that robot thinks it has done its job by climbing mountains, or contorting itself into yoga poses, drinking purified vitamin water, or eating organic vegetables. Mechanically going through the motions around consciousness does not constitute consciousness. The symbiotic bio-tech mesh between ourselves and our tools has already started. Even with the redemptive Maker Movement still trending, the philosophical consideration of what that means lags far behind.

This is why organized religion, for all its flaws and superstitions, constantly reminded human beings of the creative moment when they tried to understand their place in nature, in a fashion that went way beyond tool-building. Early technological monuments like Stonehenge were conceived not for the sake of technology itself, but to measure astronomical changes for even greater purpose.

Wells Cathedral: Gothic cathedrals were designed to look like the faithful were entering an artificial stone forest, reminiscent of earlier Druidic practices in real forest groves. Image Source: Shutterstock.

Architects designed the Gothic cathedrals of Europe to resemble forest groves. Yes, they invented the flying buttress, but they did it not for the sake of the buttresses. They did it to build stone forests, with stained-glass windows which imitated dappled sunlight, penetrating the canopy.

Compare that to our current disconnection from nature, in which technology is created blindly for the sake of mechanized production and mechanical modalities, desperately rolled out on accelerated machine-oriented schedules. The underlying spiritual gap is evident in the current demolition of European churches because they are too expensive to maintain. They are replaced by square cement boxes.

Today, there are enormous efforts toward creativity; but technophiles still indulge powerful fantasies that they control the process. This Millennial blind spot, which replaced God with the ego, may explain why the chimpanzees' stone cairns remain a mystery to us, who are so much more intelligent.

The scholarly article on the subject, published 29 February 2016, is by Hjalmar S. Kühl, Ammie K. Kalan, and others, "Chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing," Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 22219 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep22219.

Rise of the 'maker movement' (12 March 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

The Mad Geniuses of Maker Faire (10 July 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Maker trailer - A documentary on the Maker Movement (30 September 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

HOME MADE A Documentary on the Maker Movement in Denmark HD (9 January 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The Next Maker Movement (22 May 2015). Video Source: Youtube.
 
Maker Faire Hannover 2015 Teil 1 - Impressionen JS TECHhack (6 June 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Maker Faire Bay Area 2016 (23 May 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware (Full Documentary) | Future Cities | WIRED (5 July 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Hubs, Hackerspaces and the Maker Movement: Investing in Tech Innovation in Africa | #APF15 (27 July 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

The Maker Movement and the Next Manufacturing Revolution (21 October 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

MakerFaire UK 2017 (1 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

The Maker Movement: Finding Meaning in Work (7 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Bay Area Maker Faire 2017 (24 May 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Maker Faire 2017 Berlin (12 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Innovation in the Wild West


Travel on the back roads. Image Source: pinterest.

In this post, I intended to expand on my Wild West Theory of Innovation, continued from my 19 November 2016 post, Enter the Frontier. My idea was not based on the current American television series, which echoes the same notion that techno-societies have entered a Westworld. The piece became too long, and I have decided to submit it elsewhere.

Rather than fully elaborate on my understanding of a positive path through the frontier, this post will describe the initial inspiration I had for the piece. I started with the idea that when a society innovates radically and rapidly, the innovators will encounter marginalized people and ideas as they push into the outer reaches.

There is a paradox here. Although innovation is depicted in our culture as progressive, futuristic and positive, innovation starts from a point of social, political or economic alienation. The journey into innovation is an epic trek into the frontier, a 'wild west.' I suggest that the narrative of innovation does not automatically line up with the narrative of positive progress. The innovator, in inventing, transforming and changing the status quo, will confront society's fears and uncertainties, as much as he or she confronts its hopes and dreams. As a result, the innovative society will become increasingly polarized.

The film clip below shows the starting point of that trek, when the innovator metaphorically chooses one day to walk out the back door rather than the front. This choice inverts the normal way of viewing reality, the regular processes of thought and action. What the innovator discovers is a second reality, an alternate civil state beyond the conventional pathways, an Underground. The first figures the hopeful and inspired innovator will encounter on his or her journey are the people who were already marginalized and lurking about the back ways - the criminals, the psychopaths.

Back alleyways scene from Guy Maddin's docufantasia of a Canadian city, My Winnipeg (2007) © Buffalo Gal/Documentary Channel/Everyday Pictures. Winnipeg is Canada's western gateway city. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Undergrounds were always repositories for strange behaviour and ideas, and normally contained them. Initially, cyberspace was that Underground, and was not taken seriously as part of the public space. It was considered a computer playland, filled with alienated losers and fringe actors, or mainstream citizens engaging in forbidden, anonymous play.

What is happening now is twofold and contradictory. As technological and socio-economic changes took hold, the usual polarization between mainstream and Underground occurred. At the same time, the Underground and mainstream are fully exposed to one another and merging together. This nasty alt-mainstream synthesis is incorporating polarities without dissolving them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Open Source Code: Cross-Pollination and Consensus



If you want to find people who are truly finding new ways to understand the world - society, the economy, politics, law, governance - in light of technological advances, look to the best thinkers in cryptocurrency circles. On 10 June 2016, Andreas Antonopoulous posted this tweet and video from Milan regarding evolutionary and anthropological similarities to open source code:
"The interest of anthropologists drawing similarities between evolutionary biology and market economies. Cross-pollination/ cross-genetic lines or horizontal transfer of DNA between species vs. the open source environment. Different cryptocurrency developers exchanging code ('DNA blueprints') and adopting it. Bitcoin is rapidly progressing. Concepts of basic income. Identity and reputation works best in small communities. They are difficult to scale without collapsing. We can scale reputation but should we or do we want to? Rigid mechanistic reputation systems don't have the the flexible human capability to forget. Scaling consensus through collaboration. The problem of control by the few."

Video Source: Youtube.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Talismans


Image Source: pinterest.

"How does a man come to know the unknowable?" He can do it through pushing the boundaries, or through some philosophical bridge. Maybe he does it through a woman, or a leap of faith, or a contemplation of the order of the universe that he cannot see. In these respects, I want to thank Dia Sobin at Trans-D Digital blog for permitting me to quote her 20 March 2016 post, The Language of Birds & the Alchemy of Love: The Music Box. She wrote a beautiful passage about the way in which girls keep talismans from their pasts to preserve memories and conjure up love. Women,
"have a peculiar predilection for keeping memorable items in special boxes, especially as young girls. Our little magic boxes ... full of talismanic detritus we've collected over the years ... a coin, jewelry, a shred of hair, a crumbling flower head, a photo, a signature, stones, bones ... whatever. Generally the tokens are kept to remind us of lovers or loved ones ... small trophies for experiences that may eventually retreat into a mental shadowland in the same way the objects themselves have retreated into the shadowy recesses of the box. But, no matter. The box becomes a sort of artificial memory bank... a collection of three-dimensional objects representing transdimensional events in the same way a collection of symbols do. In the end, whether we're talking about musical codes, alchemical codes, or the enigmatic chemistry of love and attraction, some type of hidden language is involved ... as is some kind of communication that lies outside the bounds of what is consciously understood."
Studies confirm that women remember events, especially emotional ones, better than men. Not only is the part of the brain which deals with memory larger in women, but that brain difference prompts female behaviour dedicated to maintaining memory through the organization of material objects. This tendency to tuck away bits of sacred junk in drawers and boxes demonstrates women's semi-conscious need to connect the emotional world and past memories to the tangible world in the present and future in direct ways. Women habitually manipulate time to turn the unreal side of life into something real. With these little anchors, they navigate the course of their lives. If you remember who you were, you don't lose track of who you are, and of the person you will become.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So Passed the Queen of the Black Coast


3 December 2015: "A professor at Texas A&M University posted these photos to Facebook. 'There has been a dead cockroach in the Anthropology building's stairwell for at least two weeks. Some enterprising person has now made her a little shrine.'" Images and Text Sources: Facebook via imgur.

In November, a cockroach died in the Anthropology stairwell at Texas A&M University. Then Facebook took over after the Anthropology Department went all Princess Diana-Burning Man to bid the cockroach goodbye in December.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

No Dislike Button: Social Media's Utopian Judgements and Misjudgements


Image Source: RLBPhotoart via Ghost Hunting Theories.

The blog is back! You know that gradual sense of erosion, the haunting of a Millennial mind as it over-surfs through a day that starts with optimism and ends with futility? How do social media contribute to a day's drift toward despair? In a New Yorker article from October 2014, Joshua Rothman criticized Facebook's fake optimism, its missing 'dislike' button, its relentless insistence that we like everything and constantly cough up happy thoughts and accomplishments to build a smiley online community (Hat tip: Daniel Neville). Rothman sees Facebook as an arena, where participants compete as greatest contributors to collective happiness, equated with a complex of good attitudes and real outputs as proof that good attitudes work. Beneath that, there is a misjudgement of those who are not sharing enough good attitude tidbits, or enough evidence of personal success. Rothman thus concludes that Facebook is one of the Web's Kafkaesque lower courts of judgement:
Facebook, like much of the Web, is officially designed to encourage positivity; there is no “dislike” button, and the stated goal is to facilitate affiliation and belonging. But, over time, the site’s utopian social bureaucracy has been overwhelmed by the Kafkaesque churn of punishment. ... Facebook has become a dream space of judgment—a place where people you may know only in the most casual way suddenly reveal themselves to be players in a pervasive system of discipline. The site is an accusation aggregator, and the news feed is the docket—full of opportunities to publicly admire the good or publicly denigrate the bad, to judge others for their mistakes or to be judged for doing it wrong.

Not all of Facebook is devoted to overt judgment and punishment, of course; there are plenty of cute family photos and fun listicles floating around. But even superficially innocuous posts can have a hearing-like, evidentiary aspect. (Paranoia, unfortunately, is inevitable in a Kafkaesque world.) The omnipresent “challenge”—one recent version, the “gratitude challenge,” asks you to post three things you’re grateful for every day for five days—is typically Kafkaesque: it’s punishment beneath a veneer of positivity, an accusation of ingratitude against which you must prove your innocence. ... Occasionally, if you post a selfie after your 10K or announce a new job, you might be congratulated for “doing it right.” But what feels great in your feed takes on, in others’ feeds, the character of what evolutionary psychologists call “altruistic punishment”—that is, punishment meted out to those who aren’t contributing to the good of the community.
Social media's stick-wielding positivity is divorced from human experience, while constantly appealing to experience as proof of its viability. You had better build the happiness of your online community, little Boot-camper. Or else. Positive cultural motivation supposedly drives productivity; except it doesn't. In this fake positive culture, dominated by Facebook's small egotists, success becomes meta-performance, which does not mirror the protracted work and grit needed to accomplish anything substantial. Anyone remotely sensitive to actual positives and negatives is left enervated, isolated, alienated, depressed.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Genetic Surveillance Art


Heather Dewey-Hagborg: artist's self-portrait, demonstrating the surveillance capacity of DNA trace information. "6/28/12. Self-portrait. Based on mtDNA, Ancestry Information Markers and 50 trait specific SNPs describing gender, eye color and detail, hair color/baldness, hair curliness, complexion, skin lightness/darkness, tendency to be overweight." Image Source: Stranger Visions Project.

BBC reported this summer on an artist who creates portraits from DNA traces found on found objects. Beyond a Millennial artistic statement that is a weird interface of the scientific and transcendent, Heather Dewey-Hagborg aims to make the public aware of how much information really is there:
Heather Dewey-Hagborg is an artist who creates portraits of strangers based on DNA extracted from random rubbish. The project is meant to raise awareness of genetic surveillance, Dewey-Hagborg says. "We should be concerned because we don't know, yet, how our DNA might be used against us in the future," she says. Genetic artefacts such as cigarette butts and chewing gum yield enough DNA to determine one's ancestry, eye colour, and whether or not the person has a tendency to be overweight.
Some participants in this project have waived all copyright to their DNA information, which raises the prospect of understanding how copyright law applies to one's DNA.

While Dewey-Hagborg argues that she is not invading people's privacy and there is 'no way you could recognize someone' from her DNA reconstructions, two possible outcomes from her work immediately spring to mind.

One is the potential for criminal police investigations. The other is that we can trace the actual impact of external life upon our genetic heritage by observing the gap between the DNA reconstruction and the appearance of the real person. The DNA reconstruction provides an image of each person's basic 'blueprint.' The real person presents the 'blueprint' plus the impact of real life. That gap, between 'nature and nurture,' is something that has been the core of (often disturbing) debates in Darwinism versus Social Darwinism, left-right politics, political philosophy, and anthropological analyses since the 19th century.

Dewey-Haborg also identifies a very important aspect of the current mentality that drives technological change; she examines how inductive reasoning, or 'bottom-up' logic, runs rampant through the turn of the Millennium:
the concept of inductive bias, an inextricable component in the framework of intelligent computer systems. ... [T]his bias represents an abstract danger which could have very real social and political consequences. ... [M]y recent art projects [also] experiment with taking the apparatus of surveillance technology and re-purposing its mechanisms for the intention of play rather than the reinforcement of power.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg: Her DNA-Reconstructed-Self-Portrait and the artist In Real Life. Image Source: Design Boom.

DNA hair sample collection at site. Image Source: Thomas Dexter via Design Boom.

Petri dish of DNA samples. Image Source: Heather Dewey-Hagborg via Design Boom.

Sample 10: (Left) Bushwick - Adonis Grocery, 209 Wilson Avenue; (Right) DNA sample from haplogroup: H1+16189 (Spanish, Berber, Lebanese). Image Source: Heather Dewey-Hagborg via Design Boom.

Left: Sample 10 and Right: Sample 12. Image Source: Heather Dewey-Hagborg via Design Boom.

Sample 12: (Left) Bushwick - laundromat, Himrod Street; (Right) DNA sample from haplogroup: H2a2a (Eastern Europe, Near East). Image Source: Heather Dewey-Hagborg via Design Boom.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Gender Reversal Space Comics

Mystery in Space #8 (June-July 1952) © DC/Warner.

Comic Book Resources has run a series of 100 articles on mainly Silver Age comics with mind-bending and gender-bending themes. These comics (see the full list here) reflected how society was changing at the time. In March 2013, CBR focused on Mystery in Space #8 by John Broome, Bob Oksner and Bernard Sach, first published in the summer of 1952. In this issue, gender roles are reversed, and then reversed again - and only space exploration makes it all possible.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Prehistory's Mysteries: The World's First Known Portrait?


Stuck with you in the cave. Again. 26,000 year old portrait of a woman. Image Source: Moravian Museum, Anthropos Institute / Short Sharp Science.

Time capsules go both ways. In light of this post, where experts are puzzling over the invention of spear heads well before their common appearance, I wondered whether an exceptional mind appears every few centuries or even every millennia. Perhaps this mind invents something almost in a vacuum, way before the commonly-dated arrival of the innovation. For example, daVinci designed a helicopter in the 16th century. But we don't date the invention of the helicopter to the date of his design. We date it to 1936, with the appearance of the Focke-Wulf Fw 61.

We are aware of the first cave paintings dating to about 100,000 years ago (see my posts on cave paintings here, here and here). But the creation of the first portrait is another matter. Above, a 26,000 year old mammoth ivory carving billed as the first portrait. It is included in the upcoming exhibition Ice Age Art: Arrival of the modern mind at the British Museum, London, from 7 February to 26 May.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Prometheus Evolution

"Rock art in Wonderwerk cave 40 km from Kuruman Northern Cape South Africa: Ash found in a layer dated at a million years old hints that inhabitants of the cave were using fire a million years ago." Image Source: Daily Mail.

Gurus, theorists and scholars of the turn-of-the-Millennium keep revisiting the deep past, and discovering that Prehistoric human civilization runs back many more thousand years than previously believed. Daily Mail (sourced from a U of Toronto report) reports on research findings from April 2012, which confirm that human species used fire one million years ago, 300,000 years earlier than previously assumed:
Traces of ash mixed with million-year-old bones and tools have been uncovered in the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa. Burned plants and bones were found in the cave, suggesting that its inhabitants cooked and perhaps even socialised around camp fires.

The huge cave near the edge of the Kalahari Desert has been the scene of previous excavations which have uncovered an extensive record of human occupation.

A team led by the University of Toronto and Hebrew University of Jerusalem has identified the earliest known evidence of the use of fire by human ancestors.

Microscopic traces of wood ash alongside animal bones and stone tools were found in a layer dated to one million years ago. ... University of Toronto anthropologist Michael Chazan said: "The analysis pushes the timing for the human use of fire back by 300,000 years, suggesting that human ancestors as early as Homo erectus may have begun using fire as part of their way of life.

The control of fire would have been a major turning point in human evolution. The impact of cooking food is well documented, but the impact of control over fire would have touched all elements of human society. Socialising around a camp fire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human."

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The PNAS article's authors state: "To the best of our knowledge, this is the earliest secure evidence for burning in an archaeological context."

Journal reference: Francesco Berna, Paul Goldberg, Liora Kolska Horwitz, James Brink, Sharon Holt, Marion Bamford, and Michael Chazan. Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1117620109

See all my posts on Prehistory.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pre-History Meets Post-History


First aerial footage of 'uncontacted' Brazilian tribes (February 2011) © BBC/Funai/Survival.  Video Source: Uncontacted Tribes.

Prehistory is about to encounter Posthistory.  Reports are coming out of Brazil that 'uncontacted' Amazon tribespeople, who live in near-Prehistoric conditions and until now were only periodically buzzed by their lobby group and the BBC, are about to be overrun by drug traffickers (Thanks to C.).  The area where they live is surrounded by guard posts built by the government, and these have been breached.  Evidence suggests that traffickers, moving in from the nearby Peruvian border, have already made contact.  From Scoop:
The Brazilian guard post protecting the uncontacted Indians who were filmed from the air earlier this year has been over-run by heavily-armed men, suspected to be drug-traffickers. It has been ransacked and vital equipment destroyed. Fears are now mounting for the welfare of the Indians after workers from FUNAI (the government’s Indian Affairs Department) found one of the traffickers’ rucksacks with a broken arrow inside. A rapid survey by government officials has shown no trace of the Indians, who made worldwide headlines in February. Police have reportedly found a package containing 20kg of cocaine nearby. It is feared the Envira River, where the post is located, has become an entry point into Brazil for cocaine smugglers from Peru.
There's more on this situation at Neglected War

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Times Outside History 7: The Last Free People on the Planet


Image Source: BBC.

Apparently freedom is now synonymous with living outside of time.  Remember the rainforest tribe on the Brazil-Peru border, who have their own advocacy group that periodically flies over and photographs them?  The group has released the first film footage of the group, with the help of the BBC (see the video here; reported February 3):
An isolated tribe living in the Amazon rainforest on the Brazil-Peru border has been filmed for the first time. Jose Carlos Meirelles, of Funai, said his government agency needs proof of the existence of "uncontacted" Indian communities in Brazil due to the threat posed by illegal logging and mining. They are known as "uncontacted" because they have only limited dealings with the outside world. The BBC was allowed to film from 1km away using a stabilised zoom lens
Meirelles calls these people "the last free people on the planet."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Times Outside History 6: No Man is an Island

I'll Be Watching You: Lonely Tribal Survivor's Location as Depicted by Google Earth. Rondônia, Brazil: Slate.

Remember my piece on the South American tribe that was buzzed by their advocacy group and the highway that is being built through their territory? Slate is reporting on a similar isolated lone survivor of a near-extinct tribe in the Amazon.  He, too, is living in a dwindling territorial safe zone and has his own advocacy group that is planning to make contact: "The most isolated man on the planet will spend tonight inside a leafy palm-thatch hut in the Brazilian Amazon. As always, insects will darn the air. Spider monkeys will patrol the treetops. Wild pigs will root in the undergrowth. And the man will remain a quietly anonymous fixture of the landscape, camouflaged to the point of near invisibility."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Times Outside History 4: Prehistory in the Post-Postmodern Era

Hi there.  Previously Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe, May 2008.  All photos: REUTERS/Gleison Miranda-FUNAI.

How much of Prehistory survives in the present day?  Some anthropologists are devoted to finding niches of it in our Post-Postmodern times, be it through finding isolated indigenous tribes that still retain Prehistoric modes of existence - or by finding some Prehistoric patterns in current styles and popular behaviour.  Geneticists are commissioned to trace bits of Prehistoric life still extant via DNA studies; National Geographic recently participated in one such endeavour, The Genographic Project

Lately, Prehistory has been enjoying something of a renaissance with movies like Apocalypto (2006), the Land Before Time series (1988-2007), 10,000 BC (2008), and the Ice Age series of animated films (2002-2009).  There is a list of Prehistoric films here.

Neanderthals are back in vogue as well, enjoying a much more sympathetic treatment by Paleo-Artists and Palaeontologists.  In pop culture, they are the subjects of the novel trilogy The Neanderthal Parallax by Robert J. Sawyer.  Recently, Neanderthal testing kits have appeared on the market, so you can theoretically test the Neanderthal traces in your genetic profile.