Re: The New Stone Age

Jack Davis (
Mon, 24 Apr 1995 20:06:47 GMT

>Jack Davis ( wrote:
>: It just struck that the mentality of, at least, a segment of the homeless
>: may be somewhat similar to the Stone Age mentality. This is not a joke or
>: meant to be derogatory. I happen to find some parts of the Stone Age
>: quite fascinating, e.g., the sometimes simple, but wonderful monuments
>: they built.

>In effect you are then "fascinated by the simplicity of the homeless."

I'm fascinated that these people learn to do things for themselves without
having access to the normal resources that those of us who are materially-
overchallenged have. In this sense, the term "stone age" is not
appropriate because I'm not referring to material culture, but to a way of

>Well, I can only ask that you reflect upon this a bit longer, and I am
>certain that you will come to the conclusion that anyone driven to
>such an environment will seem simple in compare to the "complexity" of
>our modern environment. In effect you are expressing a bias in
>assuming that there is anything simple about these peoples lives. Let
>alone, I don't see any of the homeless erecting "wonderful monuments."

No one is erecting any "wonderful" monuments in this complex, modern age,
including the most intellectually and materially-gifted so I don'texpect
that to necessarily to be a modern "stone age" attribute.

>Not to mention that you have a complete misunderstanding of primitive
>cultures, and "stone age" humans, which seems to relegate them to a
>position only now equaled by our homeless folks.

I have more understanding than you'll ever have for I have studied outdoor
living extensively and personally. I spend more time outside in the
mountains trying to figure out how people did various things in times gone
by in a week than you do in a year. Perhaps you've read too many books.

Second, I don't hold the homeless in such ill repute as you, so calling
them "stone age" doesn't represent the slur as you have implied. I think
garbage collectors are among society's greatest individuals, too.

>: At least some of the homeless have consciously rejected the
>: cluttered, complicated, ultramaterialistic modern lifestyle to live hand to
>: mouth (somehow doing my taxes brings this topic to mind), what outdoor
>: survival expert Larry Dean Olson called the "affective" lifestyle
>: (necessity the modern of invention). The prehistoric Stone Agers, of
>: course, didn't have access to modern stuff. But neither do the modern Stone
>: Age People once they have either rejected or been ejected from modern
>: society.

>I think that it has been well concluded that none of the homeless
>really choose their lifestyle. In other words, they are not the far

Not from what I've seen or heard or read.

>end of the "tune in...drop out" movement. Even those that have been
>known to claim that the lifdestyle is for them, have gone through a
>process of hopelessness, shored up only later by a demanding ounce of
>pride which seeks to mask their predicament.

>: I'm not a romantic, I know it's often not a pretty picture out there on the
>: street, but I think it would be fascinating to see (if possible) into the
>: minds of some of these modern Stone Age people.

>My friend Gravelle here in Milwaukee used to be a street person. I met
>him on the internet. He is now an avid libertarian, and there is
>little about his mind that is "modern stone age." He is specifically a
>gifted thinker. Not to mention the mind of my roommate's mother who
>lived on the street for one year. She doesn't seem to be too much a
>part of the "modern stone age" mind either, especially when she's

There you go slamming "Stone Age" people because they didn't have to file tax
returns. There is no doubt that Stone Age people were gifted thinkers, they
had to be to survive. And there monuments were incredible works of art
and industry within the constraints of what humans knew at the time. Each
and ever individual could do just about anything that needed to be done.
You honestly think filling in tax forms indicated "gifted" thinking?

>doing her taxes, and mine, and Greg's, and Al's, and Jeff's, and
>anyone of the other 30 some other's that she does as a professional
>preparer each year. Isn't it ironic that this once homeless person now
>does people's taxes for them? Something that such a supposedly stone

No, it's sad (nothing personal against your roommate's mother).

>age mind could never do.

Again, you show your prejudice against the un-modern. You're not really an
anthropologist, are you?

>Not to mention that the stone age mind hasn't really developed
>since. Meaning, that we all have "modern stone age" minds. Even you.

Now that's insightful. I, for one, am happy to bear the moniker "stone age
mind". You're not going to start running me down because I also claim to be
related (distantly) to chimpanzees, are you?

I'll tell you a little story. I train undergrads in field biology. I once
took two of my best students (intellectually) out to the field to look for
some rare cacti to show them what conservationist biologists do. At the
end of the day, we were hiking back to the car and the terrain was really
rugged. Despite being 15 years older, I left them behind (but always in my
sight) and headed down the mountain and across the canyon to the car. I
made it to the car in half the time they did, taking a path that was, at
least, twice as long as theirs. They were "modern" thinkers; they didn't
have a clue as to how to pick a trail, something that we "stone agers" (and
I suspect some homeless people) know to do. Even "stone agers" such as
myself who were born to affluence in the suburbs.

>BTW, Gravelle can be found posting in the wi.general newsgroup if you
>want to ask him about his experiences on the street and his subsequent
>climb back to prosperity.

>Hint: Don't call him a stone age you'll be sure to alienate

I probably won't. If you have such a misconception about the Stone Age,
being modern, complex and intellectually gifted, won't he also? Actually,
if I bring it up, it will only after explaining in detail what I
MEAN by the term.