Tag Archives: progression

Cultural Progression Part 2: Hierarchy of Needs

( As a disclaimer: I have little to no sources cited for this, as it’s mostly my opinion and things I’ve learned in psychology and anthropology classes in the past. Other than proven things, such as the Hierarchy of Needs, none of this is scientific fact, just a stream of consciousness. )

It occurred to me the other day that it’s not just the way that we develop and evolve as a people, but also what our needs become, which seemed to stick out like a sore thumb after re-reading what I’d written.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs directly correlates to what we do as a people. The reason a majority of the civilized nations’ populations are on smartphones and glued to the internet is because of this. It’s what determines how we tackles problems, what’s more important to us, and what’s not.

This is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, displayed  in a pyramid. 

Most of the developed countries have the first and second one secured by one form or another, unless you’re being tortured or otherwise horribly mistreated. Though I realize that you could go with a less basic view and see it as a psychological safety too, which may or may not be there.

When I thought about it, people in the 11,000 BCE era and backward (and a bit forward) struggled sometimes on the bottom rung of the pyramid. Food was hunted or gathered, winters being the worse for scarce resources, they didn’t have much in the way of healing, and sometimes, more often than not, they were nomadic. Some of their most basic needs were encroached upon by the world around them and the lack of knowledge about the body and what it did or needed.

If we go up, safety was sometimes more infrequent if you consider them being kept from danger completely, but it was not so hard to achieve  for them. Hunter and gatherer people knew how to work together to make the village flourish, from what I can tell, everyone contributed and there was not a total lack of ’employment’ for whatever sense that can be put in. Again, here, the winters are the hardest because they have to live off of the land that cannot provide for them when it’s frozen.

There’s more breakdown than that, but I think you get the picture: that there are things back within the past thousands of years that humanity has been on this earth, that we lack then that we don’t now.

It was something that came to me when I was thinking about ‘normal’ or ‘expected’ behavior of certain individuals in our societies this days as opposed to one hundred or even a thousand years prior. There are things we didn’t know, whether it was how to do it, how to counter it, or how to treat it; we had so many other problems to take care of back so many years ago that we couldn’t focus as much on the frivolity. We were more concerned about the black plague back in medieval times than we were about reading or writing. Learning and education came later when we could handle our health better and knew what was going on around us.

When our scholars learned, we learned as well. And our scholars could only learn if they could live.

Not all of it is about living, though. It was also about keeping ourselves safe and secured, having some kind of work not only to provide for the community we were a part of, but to keep ourselves and our families taken care of. Sex was still mostly about reproduction, but the more we evolved, the more it became about recreation. So the notion of ‘waiting for marriage’ because it was better to have a union established with which to support children, is becoming outdated now because of what we’ve developed in medicine (birth control) and how large our population is now. There is no need to reproduce, is the growing trend, because it’s being replaced instead by a desire to have a family.

Safety, in some countries, is harder to come by than others, where the employment rate and being employed at all is dependent upon how you live. Where capitalism reigns supreme, it’s more difficult to be comfortable. Currency, as I said in the previous post, has evolved to become the trade of choice for how we acquire things. It is our support structure now where livestock and crops and goods like blankets and clothing used to be. When the Native Americans traded with the Europeans for beads and fur, it was because those things would have lasted them, and done very well to provide in a way, that they had high value.

Which reminds me that lobster was once undervalued in comparison to what we see today (HAH, I have a source for that, at least!).

Evolution and development of country and humanity. Whew.

That’s something interesting to do, finding a character that’s seen all of this and writing them through the ages. What have they seen, what kind of loss have they gone through, what has their enormously long life been like through all of these thousands of years?

I sort of let myself get lost in this topic, so apologies to anyone who doesn’t care for it, but I felt the need to share because my head exploded with ideas and thoughts. That it all seemed so obvious after I considered it. All of the religious wars and the high mortality rates and the average death being halved from what it is today, not to mention the way that technology has garnered some flack because of how attached to it we are, even if looking back shows that we’ve done what we can avoid people before.

A love of history also comes in to my writing this. So it’s my inner historian that goes wild at comparisons and the consideration of how we’ve evolved as well as our needs and what we do both for fun and for our well-being.

People who complain about “kids these days,” are more attached to the way things used to be in their day and probably more averse to change, because no matter what century or decade you were born in or live in, things will be forever changing. New things and advancements and experiments are introduced that further our ability to live and do it well.

Speaking of that, it’s been something I think of when it comes to stories that span a society or world or universe of people over a long period of time. You can’t have things be static from one point to the next if it’s over a course of 30 or 40 years, or even just 15 (in the case of one of my novels), because things are always changing. There has to be an obvious point of development. Static makes things easier for you because there may be less to remember, but it’s also difficult to gauge the way the society is progressing.

Evolution is not just physical, it’s not just the difference in gene mutations as we adapt to our world, but the adaptations we make together, in society and with communication, what fits our needs.

Another thing that I was thinking about was the surfacing of terms like ‘transgender’ and ‘pansexual,’ which were on the rise and originated in the 90s. It certainly doesn’t mean that these things didn’t exist back then, hundreds if not thousands of years ago, it just meant that there was less to identify with. The more we learn, the more knowledge we have at our hands to describe and know what we are and what happen with us, the better comfortable we can be with it, if you’re non-binary in gender and sexuality.

Or non-binary in any other way, too. As we develop and learn, the spectrum of which we can identify with grows. Does this mean that those things never existed? Likely not, it just lends to helping us feel more comfortable in our own skin, and to have more to identify with that is acceptable within our societal boundaries.

And on a whole other tangent, what is it really that defines us as being overly offended? What should or shouldn’t we be offended about? Is it the sexist jokes that plenty of people have grown up with being told to them, the gender roles thrown about to shame or humiliate, the plain “jokes” that are about racism and nazis and dead babies and what have you? Or is it smaller things like incidental mistakes and not catering to someone’s whims that really constitute being easily offended?

I could go on for days, probably, about this topic as a whole, which is incredibly broad, when I really think about it. There’s so much to take in about how this whole world works and how it’s changed over the thousands and millions of years, on a basic level and a detailed one.

Thankfully, my huge tangent does apply to writing, especially if you’re building worlds, so it’s not all for naught!

-The Novice Wordsmith

World Building, World Sharing

So I “bought” (it was actually free, as a gift for being an Amazon Prime member) a book yesterday, and I finished it today, and what I noticed is that, when you read that much, you immerse yourself totally into that universe.

Whether you liked the story, where it takes place sticks with you, good or bad. Depending on how much you like pieces of it, you might find yourself wanting to write in it, taking the world that someone else built and creating in it. Though the world itself isn’t originally yours, you see so many possibilities within it and can’t help but run wild.

This happened a lot to me when I was starting out, but I never created my own worlds. I was always too scared. I had a friend who would prattle on about the language he was creating for a world he made up months ago, the maps he was drawing out, and just how immersed he was in the whole thing. And I still remember that feeling of embarrassed intimidation, that I wasn’t as good as he was and that I could never get that far with something as he had.

It’s funny when I look back on it now, because I’ve found myself thinking of languages and certain barriers to consider in a huge, wide universe, and I drew a map for a world I was working on just a few weeks past… Then again, it’s been over ten years now, and I’ve come quite a ways from the beginning.

Even a decade later, though, I still find myself wanting to write in someone else’s universe, though I know I’m wholly capable of being original and doing things on my own. The difference lies in indulging someone else’s creation, which I do with Friend a lot. He and I have created a lot together, and on the other hand, he created a universe I took over.

There’s just something about a steampunk-feel world of wizardry based on materials (paper, rubber, plastic, metal) that I just can’t get enough of though. (Just in case you were wondering the book is The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg ) It’s hard not to have the possibilities spring up on you where you go, “OH!” and want to write. Hell, I’ve felt this way for several different things, and I think that’s when you know the setting or the story has really clicked with you.

Creating on your own is something that takes time. We start off standing, and then we can walk, and then eventually we progress into running. Some people start off making their own worlds, but the quality is what changes the most. It goes from simple to detailed and flourishing. Wordsmith at 12 couldn’t come up with a universe half as beautiful as  Wordsmith at 24 did.

And there’s something I think of every time I bring this up, progress and improvement: an album someone put together of their drawings from when they were a kid up to the point they were at the time of the posting. You can see how someone gets better from the beginning to the latest point. It’s just remarkable, to me, I love seeing that. The same goes for writing; you can see how your style develops over time, and things you miss and place in on purpose.

I was one who started worldbuilding in another world. And then I just stuck to someone else’s worlds until I wanted out, to make something for myself, and really expand and create on my own in ways that I couldn’t with the pre-established ones.

Don’t ever be afraid to dabble in someone else’s world (provided there’s consent and copyrights aren’t being violated and all the legal nonsense doesn’t get involved…), and there’s nothing wrong with staying in that world until you’re comfortable making your own. And if you’d rather not make your own, that’s perfectly good, too.

Go at your pace, seems to be the message throughout a lot of my posts, I notice. Go at your pace, do what you enjoy, and chase down every piece of creativity you can find in any way you like. Can’t go wrong there.

-The Novice Wordsmith