Dec 12, 2008

Slate Goes Reenactor!

Once humans spent most of their days doing useful things with their hands, and I realized that we were designed to get a deep satisfaction from this. As Hughes put it, "You have the feeling people were supposed to do this kind of work, rather than data entry, which is amazingly horrible."

An article today on Slate magazine about Emily Yoffe's 'brief, inspiring career as a historical re-enactor'. In it, she discusses her time portraying a colonial farm woman at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Virginia. The place is apparently right across the street from the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. How weird. I love the strange juxtapositions that inevitably arise when reenacting.

It's cool to hear someone else discuss it. One of the best parts of recreating the past is when you get the 'high'--the feeling that you really are where you up to then had only been pretending to be. She got it through the mundane tasks of growing tobacco and dealing with livestock.

Reenacting helps you remember that there was a time, not so far back, when people lived with a purpose that was more than waiting for the weekend. I had a class a few years ago about American demographics in marketing. Robert Fogel taught it, and he showed us how the average American in 1800 only had about 30 minutes of free time each day, whereas the average American today has around eight hours. That's amazing when you think about it. Additionally, 50% of a typical family income was used to pay for food. Today, it hovers around 10%. Disposable income for the masses is a relatively recent phenomenon. People in the past worked hard, not to make a living, but to survive.

Long and short of it, historical reenacting is fun and educational--practically and emotionally--and everyone should try it out at some point.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

ahhh...the reenacting days. I miss it.

Expect me to now start posting obnoxious comments on your blog.