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Trial By Error
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I am reading At Home:  A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, and I think that about 95% of what makes it so much fun to read is the rising incredulity over what those nut case humans used to do.  To wit, we used to think that bathing was really a very bad thing, primarily because it allowed in germs.  Opening our pores was the very thing we worked hard to avoid, so in the 1700's and before that, we kept ourselves foul and dirt laden.  (At least, we European based folk).

We protected ourselves from the plague--not--and we also thought the filthy were holy.  Thomas Becket was seen as divine because his underclothes were teeming with, well, bad crawly things.

So I, the reader, feel very much superior to Thomas Beckett because I teem with things only microscopic at best.  I am not like those poor humans of yore.

And yet.

Whilst treading on the mill (something that will cause hilarity in days hence), I thought of all the bizarre things we do--things we imagine quite smart and seemly--that those in the future will chuckle over.  As we laugh at the Romans penchant for having a bowel movements together in a row of 20 toilets, so shall we laugh at the daily gym ritual.  What were those people thinking, the futarians will think.  Why did they lash themselves to machines in order to get fit.  Why didn't they go out and garden?  Why didn't they just take walks?

My mind then turned to Botox and other plumpers and fillers.  they filled their faces with poison? the futarians will say.  And for what reason?

Restalyne, surgery, microderabraision?  Really?  They what?  they did what?  What poor, sad humans, they will surmise.  How pathetic.

But here's the thing.  We poor sad humans do what we think we should do as it all comes at us.  People around us are dying like flies from fleas, and we think, holy cow!  We need to protect ourselves, so we stop bathing. 

People are really sick and we think, what can we do?  Why not bleed them and let the bad stuff out!  Kay, then.  We try and fail and try again, and now, here we are in the present, giving ourselves drugs like chemotherapy that in years to come will seem barbaric and cruel.

Yet it's what we know.  We are a trial by error by trial by error kind of creature.  And in retrospect, we look like huge, enormous asses.  Someday, a Bill Bryson of the future will write a book about us, and won't we look the fools.  This author will look at Bill Bryson and see how short sighted he was to make fun of the people who were as silly as, well, Bill Bryson.

What we are is a work in progress, progress being very slow.




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Jessica- As a swimmer, if

Jessica- As a swimmer, if you don't know it, you might enjoy "Haunts of the Black Masseur," by Sprawson, a fascinating and well-written, sort-of intellectual history of swimming. For centuries, I learned, in the west, swimming was verbotten because the church linked it with Romans and "the baths" and naughty stuff like that. It took the Romantics to make swimming into something respectable people could engage in.

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Yes, Bryson goes into this,

Yes, Bryson goes into this, too. I think it was Smollett who liked to bathe in Italy or somewhere, everyone agape.

I will look up this recommendation. I'm finding the details of our "evolution" fascinating.
Jessica Barksdale Inclan