I had a very odd day yesterday - I felt massively disassociated from everything, and completely without motivation. I always feel guilty if I'm not working on something creative, so I knitted a custom purse, and started on a silk/alpaca knitted reticule for my purple Victorian outfit (little tiny needles!), but I didn't feel particularly absorbed in either. I even had trouble focusing on watching Tropic Thunder, and that was some funny, funny stuff.
So, I sat on the sofa all day. And though this might seem like I had a downer of a day, I am deeply aware of my blissful ability to waste an entire day on the sofa, with no housekeeping, cooking (we ate warmed up lamb pasanda from our local delivery place for lunch)(yum), or household maintenance that absolutely could not wait until today. And it is this ability to sit on the sofa for an entire day (and watch Dr. Who) that cements my absolute conviction that though I would like to travel back in time for a short while just to look at stuff, there is no way in hell that I would want to spend anything longer than a weekend in the 16th century.
I've run into a remarkable number of people who say that they wish they lived in an earlier century. They usually define it as a "simpler time"; their wish to be transported back to that supposed simple life seems compounded of a desire for less daily stress, and a hatred for something they run into all the time (such as bad traffic/hellish commute, crappy jobs, or media noise), and finally, the idea that they could totally support themselves if civilzation collapsed.
(That last one seems mostly to be reserved to re-enactors and survivalists.)
(I have long maintianed that anyone in the SCA who loudly proclaims that they could survive just fine if society went under - because the SCA is so filled with talented people who can build a new, better life and society out of the ashes, don'tcha know - will be the first to be eaten by the giant radioactive post-apocalyptic guinea pigs roaming the landscape.)
No, I have no desire to go back in time, and I think most sensible people don't.
I've done a fair bit of research into 16th century England, and I'm dead set that I want nowhere near the place. Simple life? No. That century, like every century in the British Isles between 1200 and 1900, was freezing in the winter (the little ice age reached its first maximal cold period in the 1650s), cold and wet in the summer, and marked by massive crop failures, hideous storms, and a huge displaced population of beggars, who had been deprived of their livelihood by the massive increase in inclosure by Tudor landowners. I love exploring the material culture (and by extension, the politics and philosophies) of the time, but live then? Oh, fuck no.
Similarly, I love WWII ephemera and clothing, but live back then? Even after the war, rationing was kept up until the 1950s, and some luxury goods remained scarce even after that - if I recall correctly, England didn't get reasonable amounts of coffee until the 1970s, and I need my java - powdered chicory (a coffee substitute that I remember seeing regularly in people's houses when I was a child), is bitter and awful, and I will not use it.
Just like in my Elizabethan research, I like the things, I like the history, but there's no point in the timeline of recorded history except now that I, a middle class woman, can sit on a sofa and do crosswords all day (and pop out for a smoke every now and then if I so choose).
Leisure is one of the most valuable things we have created as a civilization; leisure used to be exclusive to the upper classes and the rich, but then the Victorians started thinking about it (though their definition of leisure for women involved lots of Berlin work and tea parties, which are not relaxing at all). Since then, we have slowly, through the wonders of people attempting to get rich on the idea that women should do more housework without a maid, equipped ourselves with lives that allow us to bum around in our jammies all day.
What an awesome age we live in. And very little bubonic plague, too.
As for people wanting to go back in time, most of the people I see at events can't even handle a day of play-acting at being part of the ages they dress as - our Kings are folksy (and we like it that way), our nobles are talking about computers, and we have a whole class of proto-Marxist "peasants" who demand recognition of their peasant status, while at the same time expecting to be considered part of the ruling classes in terms of group decision-making.
They would be beaten, burnt, hanged, and denounced as heretics in the time they portray. Equality is a terribly modern concept; one of the delightful ideas that came with the Age of Enlightenment, and has been refined since (still needs a little work).
I'd much rather lie on my sofa and watch pay-per-view movies, to be honest.
With coffee. And crosswords. And, if I choose, some knitting.
But not because I have to.
I love this century.
A completely off-topic note: There are some items I'm making that will not be included in my 50 stash, because they're small, easily made, and I can knock 50 of them out while standing on my head. I prefer a challenge. So, I might mention that I've made something or other, and not put it up as part of the challenge. I haven't forgotten, I'm just not counting it. Thanks!