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Homo Historicus: A (Brief) History of Mankind
*I am not a professional historian, but as someone who was forced to live smack dab in the middle of history through no fault of my own, I take more than a passing interest in the subject. Philosopher George Santayana (not to be confused with that Mexican fella who played guitar with the Matchbox 20 guy) famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That’s probably true, but it was also philosophers who couldn’t do any better defining humans than as “featherless biped…with broad flat nails.” So we can be forgiven if we don’t rally whenever a philosophizer starts pontificating. Be that as it may, I do think it is helpful to understand where we came from if we have any chance of getting where we want to go.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But they were formless and void, so he carried on until they weren’t. After a week of fashioning odd little things like dung beetles and duck-billed platypuses, he decided to make an even odder creature. “Let us make man,” he said. And he did, right before quittin’ time. “And evening and morning were the sixth day.” Then the Lord made him a wife. It was all pretty much downhill after that.
It is true that secularists offer an alternate theory on this point, maintaining that Man developed in a puddle in Africa. But if he did, he certainly did not continue to do so there. My money is on divine creation. It’s certainly easier to believe than the notion that we all descended from a bad batch of the flu or sprung up from a head of Sudanese cabbage. But I digress…
At some point, all the dinosaurs died. Probably from food poisoning. And Man began multiplying and replenishing the earth, calling his children strange names like Neolithic and Paleolithic and Chuck. This was about the time that the kids started playing with matches. The fire craze was on. They used it for everything–light, heat, cooking, aroma therapy.
This is also when Man discovered interior decorating. Caves were painted in the typical minimalist style, and also furnished in a chic rustic fashion. Perfect for young couples just getting ready to start their first civilization.
Equipped with adequate light and state of the art domiciles, the Sumerians decided it was time to invent writing. Their first literary endeavor proved to be a lasting masterpiece–the recipe for beer.
The Egyptians started stacking stones on top of one another and slathering mud between them just so they would have a nice place to live when they died. Incidentally, this is also when Jews developed a penchant for investment banking as opposed to, say, masonry.
Around the same time, came the ancient Greeks. They were followed by more Greeks, though not quite as ancient as the earlier set. While it is true that they built some beautiful columns, they are most remembered for inventing philosophy, homosexuality, and yogurt. They are also culpable for saddling the rest of us with things like drama students and a very long poem that doesn’t even rhyme.
The most famous Greek was a fake Greek named Alexander who was actually Yugoslavian. But at least he did conquer all of what passed for the world at that time before some other blokes made him give it all back.
Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese. Aztecs played football with human heads in Mexico City. Rome rose and fell. Vandal hordes descended from wherever Vandal hordes descend from. Norsemen sacked the British Isles, made wives of saucy wenches, and settled down. (English weather not often being suitable for raping and pillaging, the barbarians invented feudalism and cricket to use up all the idle time on their hands.) Everyone in Ireland was drunk, per usual.
Christianity spread like the plague, along with moveable type and the actual plague. But not to Australia, which was still inhabited mostly by kangaroos and other pugilists.
Marco Polo brought pizza to Italy from the Orient (delivery, not DiGiorno). France got bored with naming kings and just began assigning them numbers. Columbus discovered the Bahamas, thus proving cartographers wrong in several ways. Prague got itself defenestrated. America was invented in a tavern. Napoleon got too big for his britches (which is really saying something). The Duke of Wellington saved the world from stale baguettes and Parisian pretentiousness.
This was followed by some wars, mostly with Germany. But not anymore because now they have the Autobahn on which to take out their aggression. America had a revolution, a civil war, reconstruction, a great depression, but never fully recovered once they were invaded by the Beatles in the sixties. This primarily affected the youth of the nation, as their hair grew long and their brains leaked out of their ears. The hair continued to grow, finally reaching its zenith in the eighties. Eventually, this led to ozone depletion, El Niño , global warming, The View and Dylan Mulvaney.
This brings us, we are told, to the “right side of history.” Which is apparently Monday, April 17, 2023, at 6:53 in the morning.