As the days grow colder, our appreciation for "fire" grows deeper. I thought it fitting to award this New Moon fragilis award to the "Light 'n Go Bonfire Logs." Fire is the most basic of human skills, and to rob yourself of this skill using a "light 'n go log" is to rob yourself of the most basic part of being human.
He has discovered the art of making fire, by which hard and stringy roots can be rendered digestible, and poisonous roots or herbs innocuous. This discovery of fire, probably the greatest ever made by man, excepting language, dates from before the dawn of history. -Charles Darwin, Descent of Man
In essence, cooking—including not only heat but also mechanical processes such as chopping and grinding—outsources some of the body’s work of digestion so that more energy is extracted from food and less expended in processing it. Cooking breaks down collagen, the connective tissue in meat, and softens the cell walls of plants to release their stores of starch and fat. The calories to fuel the bigger brains of successive species of hominids came at the expense of the energy-intensive tissue in the gut, which was shrinking at the same time—you can actually see how the barrel-shaped trunk of the apes morphed into the comparatively narrow-waisted Homo sapiens. -Jerry Adler, Why Fire Makes Us Human
Cooked food does many familiar things. It makes our food safer, creates rich and delicious tastes, and reduces spoilage. Heating can allow us to open, cut or mash tough foods. But none of these advantages is as important as a little-appreciated fact. Cooking creates increases the amount of energy our bodies obtain from our food.
Our ancestors therefore responded to the advent of cooking by biologically adapting to cooked food. Cooking re-shaped our anatomy, physiology, ecology, life-history, psychology and society. Signals in our bodies indicate that this dependence arose not just some tens of thousands of years ago, or even a few hundred thousand, but right back at the beginning of our time on earth; at the start of human evolution, by the habiline that became Homo erectus. -Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
Below is a video of Arthur Haines making fire with a bow drill:
Now watch this video depicting the ease of lighting the "Light 'n Go Bonfire Log":
I'm excited to announce that Dispatch 7 of ReWild Yourself! Magazine will focus on survival skills and human survivability! In a world fraught with fragilis inventions that — while seeming to make life easier — take away the sovereignty, knowledge and instinct that make us Homo sapiens, I hope this Dispatch will inspire you to reclaim your sovereignty and commit to mastering basic human survival skills!
To the hunting-and-gathering Andaman Islanders of India, fire is "the first thing they think of carrying when they go on a journey," "the center round which social life moves" and the possession that distinguishes humans from animals. Animals need food, water and shelter. We humans need all those things, but we need fire too. -Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
What does sovereignty mean to you?
Here's the definition of sovereignty for reference:
- supreme power or authority.
- the authority of a state to govern itself or another state: national sovereignty.
- a self-governing state.
Also, I'd love to hear what topics and skills YOU would like to see covered in Dispatch 7? Please share in the comments below!
WHAT EXACTLY IS A FRAGILIS?
I propose a re-designation of ourselves from the currently accepted H. sapiens sapiens to the new Homo sapiens domesticofragilis — meaning wise, fragile, domesticated man. Of course, at first glance this appears tongue-in-cheek, as if I were simply making a sarcastic quip. However, closer examination of the data indicates that when compared against still intact foraging peoples, we moderns are quite fragile indeed. Be it the lack of physical robustness — a distinctly reduced ability to tolerate temperature extremes for example — or simply our tendency towards early degeneration — the diseases of civilization, i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. — modern humans are undeniably far more delicate than our ancestors. While some might argue that domesticogracilis would be more fitting, again I would assert that it is fragility that characterizes us, as gracility implies a kind of gracefulness that is not indicative of most "moderns".