More Sex at Dawn

I continue reading “Sex at Dawn – the Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.” I just finished several chapters which document the relatively peaceful and stress-free existence of the hunter/foragers who populated the earth before the transition to agriculture. Food was plentiful, the social hierarchy was flat and for the most part these people just lay around all day. It sounds pretty nice, and you find yourself thinking, “Why don’t I live this way?” (Ignoring the fact that it would be near impossible in the modern age with property ownership and rule of law etc.)

But then I think of the benefits of the modern era: culture, music, film, art, science, great literature like The Three Investigators detective novels. And not just the consumption of these things, but the creation of them. I like playing guitar, I like recording music, and such activities are near unheard of in primitive cultures. (Yes, they have music, but it’s… primitive.) On balance, are the stresses of modern life worth the pleasures?

Of course, I have to consider that playing guitar was one of the activities that earned me repetitive strain in my arms, a predicament that has massively fucked me, to say the least. I’m reminded of a comment Moshe Feldenkrais, the philosopher of physical movement, made. He looked at a hypothetical ballet dancer, stretching and straining to achieve the flexibility necessary for her art, and he asked, “Why would you even want to do that? Why would you mutate your body so?” He found the idea of pushing or twisting your body for the demands of an art form ridiculous. Such a comment strikes at the very heart of my personal beliefs — I’m pro-suffering for art — but it’s also so shockingly contrarian I have to suppress a chuckle.

I then ask, “Why play the guitar?” I’ve grappled with that endlessly, many times in this blog, and while I think part of it is a genuine love of music, there’s no doubt it also grants me a certain status in the various social groups I come into contact with. (“You play guitar?” nubile teenage nymphs often ask me before absconding with their clothing.) So, if I’m playing for status, and primitive cultures are relatively status free, it would follow I would have no need of playing guitar if I lived in such a culture.

I dunno… it’s all very confusing.

1 Response to “More Sex at Dawn”


  1. John Saleeby

    The classic Guided By Voices line up is doing a month long tour. But they aren’t playing near me so Wappa Wappa Gimmee Crack Corn!!!