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Pastoral nomadism as a lifeway was (and still is) a flexible strategy enabled by co-community with herd animals and the cultural embedding of mobility (Honeychurch and Amartuvshin 2007; Frachetti 2008). These adaptations created social and productive expertise in socio-spatial dynamics and movement that included ways of binding together and maintaining human communities in the face of geographic dispersal. I argue that this capacity gave a unique spatial and temporal foundation for social relationships among Inner Asian nomads, and as a result, we should expect that politics and statehood assumed quite different configurations from those of sedentary and agricultural peoples. (Inner Asia and the Spatial Politics of Empire)

That's a fascinating concept: social technologies that aren't just sedentary social ties stretched over long distances, but rather purpose-built, so to speak, with distance in mind.

The physical destruction is conceptualized in the City Laments as an expression of the destruction of the mythological infrastructure of the city’s existence. Thus, what are actually being destroyed are the city’s ‘plans’ (ĝišhur), ‘rituals’ (ĝarza), and ‘rational judgment’ (umuš, ĝalga, or dim). Above all, the city loses its me, the divine essence that is the basis of its cultural, social, and religious institutions and enables its existence. (The Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur)

I can't overstate how gleeful that makes me. Not the destruction of Ur, I hasten to say (I got nothing against them), but the idea that (at least priestly) Sumerians thought of the physical end of a city as first taking place in the realm of mythology and ideas. Destroy its plans (as in blueprints? gods, what a concept), its rituals, and its rational judgement (John Boyd would approve), and then the walls will fall. It's an idea of sheer beauty, and you an see it echoing (or echoes sharing a same root) all through history.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2015 05:28 am (UTC)
I totally hear you on the intricacy of the first sand the aewesomitude of the second. *taes notes*
Jun. 23rd, 2015 06:33 am (UTC)

I wonder now: How would a world without fixed cities look like, a world, of steppes only bounded by seas, no ecological defenses to help cities keep the nomads away? Would mines and agricultural fields be sacred? At least they'd have to be some sort of untouchable communal property, because they can't be defended, and that's not far from sacredness - but who would they put to such lives? Would that be a world where, since the beginning, engineering and literacy and geometry and hydraulics belong to some supposed underclass? Mongols were not quite as misogynistic as their contemporaries, although that's not a high bar, but what of a world in which all what we consider civilization is the exclusive province of young girls, widows, and unmarriageable women? Mining and book-keeping and mathematics and large-scale metallurgy as women's work, and then one century one of them figures out firearms, and they spend generations quietly refining weaponry without telling any one, and one day there are machine guns, and thus the first city...

Or not. Who am I to try to think how they'd become more like us? Why not memory palaces the size of continents, history and lore linked to the geography they ride through, stories always told at the same places, generation after generation, a Library of Alexandria riding on horseback, maybe fighting not for resources, but for the places where the stories _are_, for the opportunity to pass them over, where and how they received them?

Ah, well. One-ecosystem worlds are always sort of boring (Dune excepted).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


cass, can you not

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