cultural myths and misery

georg parlow georg at
Tue Dec 4 13:58:43 EST 2001

gruetzi midrnaund:

> (South Seas for one) indicating some darn healthy and apparently pretty
> hapy people lived here and there, off and on, for thousands of years.

for my understanding it was mainly the hunter-gatherers in somewhat
benevolent landscapes, that apparently were mostly healthy as well as happy.
and in the south seas they partially live right up to today as
hunter-gatherers, but since their environment is fertile and abundant with
sealife, they are not nomads (which is what we usually connect with
hunter-gatherer), but live in mostly stable societies.

i spent a year on the fiji islands, and there met a man of 112 (well, thats
what he said. his relatives claimed him to be quite a bit older,
because... - and then they went into this lengthy bit about him being the
younger brother of xy, and xy was 85 when they dismissed him from the army,
which was 19suchnsuch, etc.), who had sorts problems with walking, but still
had teeth of his own, sparkling eyes, eyesight like a hawk (literally. once
we watched a boat coming in way down at the mouth of the river, and it was
just a tiny black spot for me, must have been 3 km or so - and he strained
his eyes a bit, and then said "ah, it is sailosi, kau and wiliame"), and
memory like an elephant (in his thirties he had helped the british doing
their land surveying of the island, dragging chains around [ever heard of
the measurement "a chain", equalling roughly 50 meters? they really had iron
chains of that length, and the tough fijian guys did they measuring]; and
during a discussion i had about a piece of land several miles up the river,
we were wondering how far it was from the creek x up to the next creek
entering the river. the guy went to ask the old man, and he paused for a
second, his forehead wrinkled in strain, and then said "just a little over 6
chains"), and a happy camper all around.

or, the guy i used to hang out with, was carrying 2 bags of 60 kg each (of
dried seafood) on one shoulder, uphills, cigarett in the other hand, and
talking to me quite relaxed. and when commented on, he said "ah well, this
is nothing, our grandfathers, they really were strong..." - and he wasnt a
giant, there were lots of his kin bigger than him.

the only thing that might have bothered me, living there prior to 1936 was,
that they used to controll their population problem with cannibalism...

> (such as my distant N. Euro. ancestors) seem to have been pretty slow
> to catch on to problems brought on by density without simple
> sanitation, basic hygene, etc. etc.

i think not only our european ancestors, but no people on earth so far has
come to terms with a crowded, non-nomadic lifestyle. or does anyone know of
positive rolemodels along that line?

> Who among us has ever had the actual life experiences of
> any of these peoples we make such sweeping assumptions about?

well, me, sorta: about 8 months of my time in fiji i spent "in the village".
today (read: 14 years ago) only about 10% of the rural fijian population was
doing some vegetable and fruit gardening, the rest is sustained by gathering
wild fruit and veggies and growing of starchy tubers. and a little fishing
and prawn catching, of course. not a bad life, provided you are into talking
and socializing a lot. the worst thing there is imho the tin roofs - hot in
the sun and noisy in the rain. but a house with a thached roof and life is a


More information about the permaculture mailing list