Monday, October 01, 2007

Firing the Imagination

One can only guess how, where and when it may have happened, but it was probably a lightning strike upon a tree in Africa around 200,000 years ago that caused the first fire to be seen by the earliest relatives of modern man. It may have taken thousands more years, but eventually at some point in pre-history, man began to understand how fire worked so that it’s power could be harnessed and used for cooking, warmth….and entertainment. Some anthropologists believe that the mesmeric dance of flames captivated those who would huddle around fires in the darkness, moulding man’s early thinking skills and helping to develop imagination. At some point in pre-history man’s ability to communicate developed into spoken languages, and when this happened the story-teller was born. Stories may have been about everyday life and occurrences, but the firing of the imagination would certainly have helped to create fictitious accounts. Man sat around fires for thousands of years, in fact this was still the practice in most British homes right up until the twentieth century, when the radio, and then the television became the focal point of entertainment in the home.

If we look today at the way indigenous people live in remote parts of the world, the practice of sitting around fires and listening to stories being told still happens as it has done for thousands of years – this is their entertainment and the thing that is looked forward to after a day performing regular work tasks such as hunting, gathering food and wood, building homes and cooking. As well as this, tribal rituals such as singing and dancing allow us to see where the very origins of modern day entertainment began all those many years ago.
The 5th of November 2006 at the Bramley Bonfire in Leeds, where people go back to their roots and stand around a bonfire, mesmerised by the flames.

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