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I think I'll keep my sofa, thanks.

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.

 

...And I'm only staying the weekend if I can bring all my medications, my toothbrush, and flea repellent.

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.)

("So... startled...")

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!

Comments

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lifeofglamour
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
Go back in time? Are they joking? I've got just two words for people who want that: Modern medicine.
I'll stick with the traffic and cell phones and advertising and soulless corporate job, and be thankful for them, just so I can keep modern painkillers, antibiotics and surgical techniques.

Leisure time is good too. :-)
gargoyal3
Feb. 2nd, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
and dentistry :)
(no subject) - mincot - Feb. 12th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
lorebubeck
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
AMEN SISTER!

I like sanitary conditions and my temperature controlled house!
maricelt
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
I'm with you... 16th century, great place to visit, would NOT want to live there. With my political and religious views there would have to be lots thrown to see who got to kill me.

Hey, I don't sport that heretics cross for nothing.
rikibeth
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
I adore watching the "1900 House" series and the others that followed it because I *know* I don't want to leave my lovely, comfortable 21st century for more than a few hours!

Now, if I had a TARDIS for SHOPPING expeditions, that'd be something entirely different.
kittyblue
Feb. 3rd, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
I just want the TARDIS.


... For aesthetic purposes.


..... On the front lawn. ^_^ (My mum would kill me.)
(no subject) - rikibeth - Feb. 3rd, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
ziactrice
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Heck, not only modern medicine - how about SEWERS? Can you just *imagine* how ferociously London stank?

Not to mention... dentistry. I had FOUR, count 'em, all four wisdom teeth grow in impacted, one came up sideways half-jammed under my back teeth - my jaw was too small for it. I would have had a very short lifetime full of pain before the sheer abcess and gangrene killed me in agony.

Nope. I don't even really like playing for the weekend all that comfortable if the weather goes disagreeable, it rains, my pavilion leaks. If it gets too bad, I can always roll things up and go home. That is even with Portapotty and (for longer events) the blessed shower trucks. I grew up without running water or central heat in a 100 year old house for several years when I was a child. Even just carrying water and heating it on a stove, dancing on the radiator grill trying to keep warm while getting dressed in the morning, working very hard to can SOME fresh produce from the garden to get you through dreary winter provisions. Oh, heck no. Give me my hot running water, my dentist, my pain-killing medications, my asthma treatments, and my grocery stores! Modern civilization is a wondrous thing. Even with a traffic jam now and then.

Edited at 2009-02-02 02:34 pm (UTC)
dragonlady7
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of living like that for short periods of time, sure. I'd love to have the time to do more living history events than I do. But even that-- I'm not quite 30, in excellent physical condition, and require no medication on a regular basis. But I have terrible eyesight and have had my life saved by modern medical intervention in the past, so I entertain no delusions that I'd really want to live like that with no alternative. If nothing else, I am so thoroughly shaped in my cognitive processes by living in a literate age that I can't even keep my thoughts straight without writing them down, let alone remember things people tell me without writing them down, so there are very few ways of life I'd be suited to-- even as a waitress I had to write every order down lest I forget it. Which would hardly go over well in pretty much any pre-modern period, paper being so expensive.
asim
Feb. 2nd, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, I'm about to talk about something related, indirectly, to all this -- touching on SCA self-perceptions. I was going to touch on the Leisure issue and the SCA (esp. regarding those who don't have such time), but I think I'll just point them here...
attack_laurel
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
Hee! No, talk away! I'm always fascinated by the difference between other perception and self perception.

And giant radioactive guinea pig overlords, obviously. :)
soldiergrrrl
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'd be DED if it were't for modern medicine, several times over. I'd also have been hanged for being an uppity bitch.

Thank you, I'll keep my phones and my electricty and my creature comforts. I've come a lot closer than many to living without them and it SUCKS.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - soldiergrrrl - Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fabric_freak - Feb. 2nd, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
hugh_mannity
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
Help! Help! I'm being repressed!!

I'm with you on the not going back in time thing, mostly for modern medicine. Despite the many and various issues I have with the way health care is run (here and in the UK) there are a few things that I'd not be without: (mostly) reliable and (usually) effective contraception, antiseptics, anaesthetics, antibiotics, and after-market knees for starters.

My mum threw out my childhood ration books when she moved to The Great Hospital in Norwich, along with a load of other ephemera which I really wish she'd kept.
donal_mac_r
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
We think that life was slower-paced, but we overlook the sheer drudgery with which most lives were filled until, as you note, the late 19th century.

I've often been asked, at demos and the like, if I would like to go back to that time. Actually, I'm a tad more adventurous than you. If I had some sort of time machine like a Tardis and could go back for about a month, I'd make that trip. But I know I'd be ready and a half to return to the present by the end of that adventure.
ornerie
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
given my current skill set I think I could indeed survive if transported in the past. but then I grew up on a farm. Those skills more than my SCA "talents" I think would serve me ok. Dont do a lot of chicken butchering goat milking or apple pressing in the SCA as a general rule :)

I'm healthy as a horse for the most part, and likely would be healthier living in rual (insert century here). But then I would have had a jillion babies by now or been placed in a convent most likely.

my modern brain does NOT like those two options, but my past history self wouldnt have known anything else was possible and so no doubt would have been content.

so I guess a short looksee or being born then and never knowing different would be fine but yeah, any sort of longer term re-location? would be a most unhappy time after the novelty wore off....



attack_laurel
Feb. 2nd, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
I, too, have a (in my case, small) skill set the SCA never occasions me to use. Mind you, I like stockpiling canned foods and preparing my place out in the country...

It's the babies thing - I'd be an absolute failure, since I've always been "barren". It's just the nunnery for me, and I never was any good at following orders. :)
pirategirleee
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
I've long ago given up the notion of wanting to live in a bygone era. I would definitely have been burned as a witch. Heck, I still get regularly acussed of it in this century.

Oh and Giant Radio Active Guinea Pigs of doom...I couldn't think of a cuter way to die.

Aww look at the giant Guinea Pi*CHOMP*
tash_n_tail
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
Not for me thank you very much.
Divine to read about and research. Fun to play at -- and yes, I too wonder how many time-travelers would cope for a longer spell "back-then" than a week?

We're pampered and spoiled I'm sure by comparison. But I'm contented.
reasie
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Here here!

Every time some prot-survivalist SCA person talks about how the SCA would survive the Zombie Appocolypse (or whatever Appocolypse it is this week), I think to myself, "Yeah, you can make beer - from hops you bought at a store with a carboy you bought at a store and an airlock you bought at a... do you see a pattern here??"

And I, for one, would not even vacation in the 15th Century without my maxi pads and a supply of advil.

But I do sometimes day-dream about just making a dress shopping trip through time. :D
tacnukesoul
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
That's why my answer to the question, "if you had to go back in time, what one thing would you take with you?" is always "a public health surgeon." Mind, the answer to the question, "Do you want to go back?" is, "Good Heavens, No!"

Since it wasn't until WWII that we had wars where more people were killed by "high speed metal death bits" than diseases, I figure if I could field an army that understood hygiene, sanitation, and germ theory, I could rule, well, if not the world, at least a decent chunk of it. At least I wouldn't be brought low by the first random case of the bloody flux...
attack_laurel
Feb. 2nd, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
*giggle* "What do you mean, they all wash their hands before they eat?? We're DOOMED!"

I have a very hard time even envisioning surviving a time before that most overused of medicines, antibiotics.
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