Notes from Great Nan

I’ve recently been rolling through brain waves of ideas on “true humans.” It’s an idea i’ve created, essentially, that our current generation has surpassed what are to be known as homosapiens – the name of the first evolved human species on our journey from apes.

My first idea was that we no longer have the skills that have actually had us evolve as we do. Many of us can no longer cook from raw materials, using passed down memorised recipes. We can’t sew our clothes or make them from wool, we can’t use the seasons to feed ourselves, our handwriting is outrageous and don’t even get me going on our degenerative eyesight. It seems to me, that our grandparents, their parents and maybe too, some of our parents are the most human we’ll ever be – now we’re few and far between as skilled and open as they were.

I talked to great nan, my 94 year old great nan, by the way. She’s without a doubt one of the funniest people i know and has so much wisdom on the world that she, without hesitation, will attempt to tell you all of. Anyway, i asked her what it was like back in the 1920’s and how it was different. She gave me a few points on the matter:

  • Food was from the garden and hard to come by – yet there was never any problem in feeding families of 10 or more because, well,  that’s what you did.
  • Neighbours came over for tea and you’d always have a fresh teacake or biscuits
  • You went to the cinema once a fortnight and you walked 5 miles to get there. You’d dress up and it would be a really special occasion and you’d probably meet the love of your life in the booth next to you.
  • Sharing (everything) was everything – as was your community.
  • After dinner*, you’d gather around a pot of tea and someone would recite poetry or “the larikans would tell stories,” or even a touch of paino or the old “squeeze box.” *Doors were only ever shut, and you were only ever in your room, when you were sleeping

Now, these are obviously basic ways of life but doesn’t it bring some questions? Why isn’t our world like this anymore? Yes, we’re so privileged to have the technology and advancements that we do but is the way we use them now beyond human nature? As they take up more and more of our existence, have we essentially, become the screens?

I’ve been reading a book on this and AI called “The Most Human Humans,” by. In it he explains: “the story of the twenty-first century will be…the story of homosapiens trying to stake a claim on shifting ground, flanked on both sides by beast and machine.” He said also, that in progression towards technology in education and learning in that manner, we are “better educating the left hemisphere and better valuing and rewarding its abilities. We’ve actually started becoming computers.”

It’s all very interesting once you think of it in a long term way, doesn’t it. Questions arise: could we have remained that true human from the 1920s? What if technology wasn’t as accessible as it is – only for government use, as such. What does this mean for our kids and their kids? Will they ever see privilege in the cinema? Will they ever have people over to recite to /entertain without screens involved?

I’ve decided to employ some of these 20s notions as much as i can: using screens instead of indulging in them,  inviting people over for tea pots and biscuits that i make, getting recipes and information from my elders rather then that old google etc. I do know that, it’s not easy to revert to every notion. Sadly, we’ve lost our true human abilities and situations have us peeled from those skills. Maybe i’ll knit myself a beanie and socks for the winter… who knows – god + nan, help me!

If you made it this far, think about it! (and thank you!) And as always, a picture essay to bring ideas to life – what do ya reckon?



xx Olive


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