Open Book 2019 Week #4
Are humans better at creating or destroying?
That’s quite the quandary.
Humans affect a lot of change to themselves, each other and their surroundings. Concepts as to if something is creative or destructive is relative and involves a number of factors involving an array of stakeholders and actors.
If we look at some notable examples of human’s ability to be creative, we also find some destructive and oppressive foundations. Conversely, artistry may appear in some pretty catastrophic stuff.
Very few would argue the artistic and engineering creativity exemplified in the pyramids.
Yeah, those. Ever since I was a kid, I read about the marvel of these buildings. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned of the severe oppression and death it took to construct what are basically humongous graves. The Pharaohs, in all of their demagoguery, caused the demise of people just to uphold a delusion that they could avoid their own and were very creative when doing so.
An estimated 400k+ people died during the construction of the Great Wall of China. Numerous emperors ordered the wall’s construction to protect their territories from nomads, which ended up happening anyway when the Mongols invaded China.
The wall now stands as an example of creative military defense along with Hadrian’s Wall, showing links between creativity and destruction, which I think humans are best at doing.
The desire to construct means and methods to subjugate and decimate life is by far the most ventured human activity. For millennia, societies created destructive devices meant to obliterate bodies and spirits.
Swordmaking is considered an art by many who find beauty in something that is ultimately a weapon created to slash through and skewer human flesh.
People created a myriad of artistic torture devices, including the Iron Maiden, which pierced victims’ vital organs just enough for them the slowly bleed to death. If that wasn’t bad enough, there were spikes positioned specifically for the eyes.
There was also the Brazen Bull. A large device shaped like a bull used to cook people inside. While they were stewing, they’d thrash and moan, making the bull statue appear to make sounds. How creative and destructive is that? The image to the right is a painting by Francesco Ferdinandi depicting the martyrdom of St. Eustace by Brazen Bull. The painting is a tribute to the sacrifice of Eustace and his family as well as a beautification of the means to destroy them.
People throughout history prove to be incredibly creative with destroying.
Check out 10 Medieval Torture Devices by Ed Grabianowski.
In modern times, the ability to exploit creativity to annihilate continues.
“Daisy Cutter” bombs were used during the Vietnam War to flatten surrounding forestry for helicopter landings, and neutron bombs were created to cause lethal damage while limiting physical destruction. It basically kills living things but keeps buildings standing.
Unfortunately, the list of creative ways of destroying the environment and humanity itself seems endless, which makes the ability to destroy at the upper echelon of human creativity.