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The Mirror Effect

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posted on Nov, 9 2016 @ 05:44 PM
Honestly, this thread could go in a number of places. I figured this forum could use some love, though....

I read this article, and thought it might be of interest for its insights into how small trivialities of history can shape humanity.

The Mirror Effect

Several weeks ago, someone here convinced me that the turning point in human civilization is the needle point. Small, unassuming....but critical for people who wear clothes, need an easy, portable shelter, and need to carry things that they collect. This is when you see the animal shell take on the more human outlook.

The invention of the mirror is similar. The article notes:

Polished metal mirrors of copper or bronze were very inefficient by comparison, reflecting only about 20 percent of the light; and even silver mirrors had to be exceptionally smooth to give any meaningful reflection. These were also prohibitively expensive: most medieval people would only have glimpsed their faces darkly, reflected in a pool of water.

Its strange to think that someone could be sapient (cogito ergo sum) while not knowing what what they look like. Our faces are how we identify one another, for the most part. Not knowing what your face looks like, or how others are seeing you, seems to be difficult to reconcile with being sapient, at least in the way we typically think.

The article goes on, however:

The new individualism also extended to the way people expressed themselves. The letters they wrote to one another were increasingly of a personal nature; previously letter writers had restricted themselves to formalities and orders. There was now a marked trend toward writing about yourself and revealing your personal thoughts and feelings. Examples of such autobiographical writing abound in the fifteenth century: in English there is The Book of Margery Kempe; in Castilian, Las Memorias de Leonora López de Córdoba; and in Italian, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s I Commentarii. Four of the earliest collections of English private letters—the Stonor, Plumpton, Paston, and Cely letters—also date from the fifteenth century. Ordinary people started noting down the times and dates of their births, so they could use astrology to find out more about themselves in terms of their health and fortune. The new self-awareness also led to a greater desire for privacy. In previous centuries, householders and their families had shared a dwelling entirely, often eating and sleeping in the same hall as their servants. Now they began to build private chambers for themselves and their guests, away from the hall. As with so many changes in history, people were largely unaware of the significance of what they were doing.

Here we see this personal identity being attached to community, or group, then an explosion of the oourse of a century where individualism blossoms. I hate to call it a "hive mentality", but that is similar to an analog here.

With this birth of individualism came a desire to have individual opinions. This change was the basis of the revolution that we call "The Age of Englightenment". Not the first time that humanity had fostered a boiling cauldron of thoughts (ancient Greece comes to mind). But it certainly represented a change from the fiefdoms of the Medieval.
edit on 11/9/2016 by bigfatfurrytexan because: bad latin

posted on Nov, 9 2016 @ 08:40 PM
Hi mate. Another way to look at it is this.

Our Species desires privacy for the family unit. Perhaps not every person, but as a whole we always work toward our need for privacy.

Mother nature plays a part as well. In many countries, climate dictates that a central building can be heated sufficiently well so we all can survive. It was not until our society could afford the luxury that we started with individual dwellings and even then, they were attached to the main building to get some of that all important heat.

Other cultures did it differently such as the Native Americans who lived in tepees or Hawaiian natives in their huts.

You see, those cultures that had decent climate, went to single buildings early ... because they could!

Those that did not, actually couldn't at that point. But when you live in freezing conditions, you do not have that option until you grow your society to a stage where you can use it. I am thinking of the early Vikings as an example.

That is my take. Thanks for a great topic BFFT. I think you should have waited a day or two to let the sheer madness settle down.

I will be very pleased to get back to normal around here.


posted on Nov, 9 2016 @ 09:39 PM
a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan

Very cool thought path to go down. Reading it, very easy to see and gets the gears turning thinking of the myriad other "trivial" effects which have blossomed into major impacts over time!

posted on Nov, 10 2016 @ 06:39 AM
a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan
Historians are prone to over-emphasise the impact of their specialist period, because that's what they know best. I think the writer is falling into that trap.
Did not Narcissus fall in love with himself just by looking into a pool? That was reflection enough.
Greek and Latin poetry shows people focussing on themselves as individuals. Sappho? Catullus? Individualistic literature disappears when Rome collapses because literature disappears. When literature revives in the later Middle Ages and begins to be circulated, individualistic literaure is part of the revival. I see no need for the premise that people were understanding themselves in a different way.

posted on Nov, 10 2016 @ 07:59 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Waxing and waning.

i think I mentioned that classical greece was more well known for individualism and enlightenment. But the fall of Rome, after ithe western empires long, slow slide into fiefdoms, catalyzed a movement away from the introspective. Our personal identities were thrust to the back, replaced by an identity that required God (under threat of torture, death, and excommunication) as a primary focus.

While the author may be biased, as you mention....the effect of "the dark ages" and its religious zealotry shouldn't be underestimated. The men you'd find in 12th century Europe were not mentally the same men you'd find in classical greece.

posted on Nov, 10 2016 @ 08:23 AM

originally posted by: bigfatfurrytexan
The men you'd find in 12th century Europe were not mentally the same men you'd find in classical greece.

Part of the problem is that we don't know what they were thinking, apart from what was being recorded in charters and law-books and chronicles. Religious beliefs would overlay the sense of individuality, I'm not sure that they would extinguish it. The writer quotes mystical writings (which are also religious) as examples of individualism, but mystical writing is much older than the fifteenth century. The troubadours of (12th century) Aquitaine are older than the fifteenth century. The quirky details that stonemasons might insert into their buildings suggest an individual, rather than corporate, sense of identity. The individualism may have been there all along, with limited opportunities for expression.
edit on 10-11-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 04:04 PM
a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan
Thank you for the link, I miss Lewis Lapham. Before I had a pc and an internet connection, I used to buy back issues of Harper's Magazine as a source of alternative views. Now I'm going to read Ian Mortimer's The Mirror Effect.

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