By Nate Briggs
This review was originally published on February 11, 2018.
A great book to help you keep your “Lithics” straight. Paleo-, Meso-, Neo-, etc.
But, tangentially, an extended dissertation on the way people used to live—and the yearning we still carry forward as an essential part of our shared Human Nature.
We began with tribes because that was the only way to survive. We had to answer the disadvantages Nature gave us with Community: working and living in a group, small villages, small hunting groups. Receiving the Validation we need as a social species from that close, intimate, continuous contact.
We haven’t changed. We never will.
Tribalism is still alive and well: although we might think that we no longer need it. It’s intensifying, as a matter of fact—as Marshall McLuhan said it would.
As one modern writer has said, tribalism knows no limiting principle (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/andrew-sullivan-when-two-tribes-go-to-war.html). It is effectively infinite within our concept of what “infinite” might be like.
We recognize it in the corporate workplace. The schoolyard. Even on the street.
I have a substantial investment in clothing bearing the insignia of my heroic (and sometimes championship) baseball team. The colors, and the logo, are large enough to be seen by anyone. They embolden strangers to talk to me in airports. And motorists tend to overlook the fact that I’m flaunting established norms by riding a bicycle instead of sitting in a car.
I mark myself as part of a larger tribe—and I’m Validated with that status.
And it feels good because the need for Social Validation is, itself, almost infinite (see Dave Eggers, The Circle).
But not all Validation is created equal.
Even though we have more incoming than ever, the “global village can never give us what the ancient villages provided. When we compare that smoky, uncertain life with instant, worldwide social traffic now, we get the impression that the modern version just offers “empty calories” versus the full social nutrition of face-to-face life as it was lived in the past.
You can finish a bag of popcorn and not really be sure you’ve eaten anything. You can lose track of time on Facebook and end in a mood that feels something like sadness—even though the conversation felt lively and affectionate.
The world Francis Pryor describes is the “up close” world. The one where everyone knows my name—my father’s name—what’s happened with me—where I’ve been—where I’m going.
That world was messy. Crowded. Loud. There was a lot of shit: both literal and figurative. But I was Validated by people I’d known all my life. My tribe—around me all the time.
Fast forwarding into the modern world, I’m Validated by so many more people. But they’re all so far away, and—when I close the laptop—I can’t help noticing that I’m still alone.
About the Author
Nate Briggs is the author of numerous books.
Marxist ( but not Communist). Nomadic. Libertarian. Recovering Bible Kid. Feminist. In the world—but not of the world.
Those not fascinated by tales of beautiful billionaires and dainty bondage, “bad boys” yearning to be “good boys,” sexy werewolves and angelic vampires, or English magicians with father issues are invited to follow my posts on the Facebook page for Church Mouse Productions: @CMouseProd.
Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland Before the Romans
By Francis Pryor