Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Classic Adventure in Our Time

I caught the end of a doc (20 minutes or so) on the legendary lost cities topic associated with Brazil. In this documentary, they naturally took the position that the Spanish explorers were exaggerating grass and mud structures essentially painted white (with mud). They also cited the deaths related to disease brought over by the Europeans and their evil colonialism, of course.

Personally, I am a diffusionist who believes in the possibility that civilization was as advanced here as it was anywhere else in the remote past. I do not buy that the Middle East, aka Sumeria and the Fertile Crescent, or India, or Egypt is necessarily where civilization began. There is growing evidence that civilization may have started in the Americas and spread there, or ventured there -- thus the Amerindian ancestors were just as colonial as anyone else.

My point is that I do not believe exploration and colonization are automatically bad concepts, because not all explorers or colonists were murderous thieving bastards as contemporary history likes to paint them. Western society (particularly in the US) of the past fifty years has experienced a feminizing trend and a few generations have now grown up under this social influence. The female of the species is generally the nest builder and thus values hearth and home over wandering and exploration, so naturally there are young scholars whose view of history reflects this influence. I argue that people under such an influence would logically condemn exploration and colonization, resulting in seeing only the bad in those two human enterprises. It is like during the eras when the masculine/wandering/hunting influence was stronger in society and they rarely if ever saw the bad things that happened during the age of exploration and colonialism. The problem is not the values of nesting nor the values of exploration/colonialization -- the problem is the tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water. Another issue is we live in the era of not holding individuals accountable, thus specific bad explorers/colonizers are not singled out, all are condemned. The truth is, the world has mostly benefitted from exploration and colonization and there will always be assholes among the ranks of any group.

The documentary touched a bit on Col Fawcett, without drawing any conclusion on his fate. They did speak with a local native whose historical oral archive is adamant that they do not know what happened to Fawcett. I find that interesting because one might think they would offer the most down-to-earth explanation first, being residents of the jungle and knowing its dangers intimately.

I bring this up because it is an interesting era in which to be classic adventure fans. Much of the genre we love found its identity in the age of exploration and colonial eras. That is one big reason why I am dedicated to preserving this great genre because there are generations missing out on wonderful literature and movies. I am no apologist. The human race is not the scourge of the Earth. Exploration is our greatest calling and is the best source of adventure entertainment.


1 comment:

AdventureMan said...

Well this one went over well!