Do you ever stop and wonder how we, as a species, got to the point we are at today? Perhaps I have been watching too many reality TV shows while housecleaning and working out, but seeing people thrown back into the elements with the mindset of modern man is both humorous and revealing. Just being naked, it would seem, is a major hurdle to overcome when battling the elements and insects of the great outdoors. So at what point, did a caveman decide that they were going to spontaneously take a plant, beat the fibres until they were flexible, twist this into a thread which could be then twisted with more threads and criss-crossed over one another to create a new substance?
How does that make sense? You are naked. You are dirty. You are cold. I can see this making furry animals become pets to snuggle up at night with, but I don’t see cavemen and cavewomen instinctively stopping their hunting and gathering to experiment in cloth or wool making.
Let’s look at the animal kingdom. Birds like shiny objects and decorate their nests with brightly colored rocks, leaves and berries. Adornment may be a natural instinct that became the art of jewelry making. Spiders weave elaborate webs, but they have the webbing to begin with. Observing spiders may have prompted early men, women or children to try and twist flexible plants into the shapes of spiderwebs. Beavers cut down their own wood to make dams; we’ve gained shelter, water control and logging ideas from beavers. Wasps and bees with their hexagon shaped structures were cave people math teachers, plus they showed us how to make paper, honey, wax and hexagons. Termites if left alone in the wild are actually builders and not the destructive house, cabin and shed destroyers we think of in modern times. They could turn wood, mud and biowaste into structural forms; they also knew how to garden mushrooms (house plants) for their young to feed on in the safety of their mud castles.
So clearly, being observant of the creatures around us humans enabled some beneficial changes to our lifestyle. Still, the process of getting wool from a sheep, goat or alpaca is pretty complicated. Then you have to take that wool and knit, weave, crochet, knot tie, or hook it into a workable shape or structure. Spinning wheels may have been invented before wagon wheels, putting clothing ahead in priority to ease of getting around.
Woven materials like linen and cotton are far removed from from the plants and fluff they started out as. Silk is derived from silk worm cocoons and gypsy moth nests; it is not an easy jump to envision the transformation of bug occupied white, sticky fluff into glorious, expensive, luxurious fabric. Still by 4,000 BC in China this was being done on a production scale with domesticated silkworms!
In the age of super hadron colliders, space travel and 5G telecommunications, the collective intelligence of our global population has actually decreased our independent populations survival intelligence – when you take out trained soldiers and rescue folk. Are we dumbing down on the basics as we increase in our technological intelligence? Some theorists contemplate a celtic knot like relationship between modern man and our prehistoric ancestors; at some point in the not too distance future, we may directly influence our past selves. Or maybe I am watching too much DARK on Netflix.