Sunday Morning Meditation – Thinking: What was it?
This weekend I got a rare treat: cable.
We’ve been a cable-free household for many moons. But every once in a while it’s nice to catch a “South Park” marathon again. Unfortunately, the marathon has to end some time and then you have to weigh your options. Are you going to fall asleep looking at overpriced garden gnomes on the shopping channel or would you prefer learning subliminally by watching a documentary?
I usually opt for knowing things in the hopes that it will one day lead to an appearance on “Jeopardy.”
Normally, I’d just call in YouTube for this. There’s an astonishing amount of videos related to kings, giant rocks and the giant public works projects known as pyramids. I don’t have to sift through “life alert” ads to watch them. Most of the time I settle on programs produced by PBS and BBC. I’m particularly fond of the BBC documentaries because they are far more understated and straightforward.
I’ve never understood the need to make history sexier. We should try not taking the sex out of it.
History is full of interesting stories. A less advanced civilization decided to gather up a bunch of rocks and order them just so. A British Monarch decided to tell the Catholic Church to screw off and created his own religion so he could grant himself a divorce. A bunch of farmers and drunkards decided they didn’t like paying taxes for their own defense, damnit, and decided to form their own independent nation of Freedomstan, later renamed the United States of America.
So why then, why, would we need not one, but two History Channels devoted to mutilating the human intellect? I came upon an episode about a prehistoric civilization in Europe that got the notion that they needed to carry enormous rocks and align them in a certain pattern. We don’t know why they did this, of course. We can only speculate. But as long as we’re speculating, eff it, why couldn’t it have been aliens?
A moment after luring me in with the premise of a story about people who figured out how to lug big-ass rocks across a continent, a man with a bad haircut appears. He holds a degree in UFO Studies from a technical college in Mississippi. He is the author of the book, “Yeah, aliens totally did that stuff: No need to over-think it.” There’s literally no human achievement that aliens didn’t at least get partial credit for, the man with the bad haircut says. Unfortunately, aliens are like the dead-beat dads of the universe. They set our civilization in motion then went out for a pack of smokes, never to return.
Compare that with the BBC documentaries, where a man with a degree from Oxford or Cambridge explains to us that there’s a thing called math.
It’s hard to believe, but the ancients may have used this “math” as they called it, to develop principles of engineering that gave them all sorts of ideas about how they might arrange rocks just so. As they continued to study this strange new mystical art, their constructions became even more complex, leading to Machu Picchu, the Empire State Building and several different, interchangeable designs for an Olive Garden restaurant. It’s possible this “math” could be useful and relevant to our own civilization today, the man with the credentials tells us.
But the man with the bad haircut says that can’t possibly be the case. Math is hard and ancient civilizations would’ve had to think. Like, a lot. It would’ve been stupid. Thanks for hooking it up, aliens.
The History Channel devoted over 40 minutes of programming to this theory. I look forward to telling my grandchildren what thoughts were.