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In the stone-age world that I am building, I don't just want one-dimensional characters who are either hunters or gatherers. I want a great quantity of people including those who would have become art critics if born in recent times.

Here is some output from an art critic:

In Sebastian Gögel’s and Laurence De Leersnyder’s work, matter primes upon form. As these artists explore it, matter appears to be a memory that refreshes itself following its moods. It is surface where gesture becomes inscribed, residual trace of a past phenomenon, manifestation of a symptom. It contains this evident mystery of shape in the making, like the diffuse anxiety of something that has not been entirely spoken. The Germans speak of Stimmung to describe this sens similar to connotation, at the fringe of enunciation. https://nickyhamlyn.com/art-gobbledegook/

Question

Given that humans were as intelligent in the stone-age as we are now - they were homo sapiens after all - What function would art-critic types have fulfilled in hunter-gathering days?


Clarification

I wasn't suggesting that there would necessarily be art-critics in the stone-age. Given that we are the same species as stone-age people, there must have been a wide range of interests, abilities and temperaments in those days. I'm wondering what today's art-critic types would have found to occupy themselves in more primitive times. How would that sort of person survive - what would they have done - why weren't they eliminated by evolution?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 23 at 3:37
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Your quote is a piece of text written by someone with very detailed and in-depth knowledge of a small area of human endeavour. Additionally it is laced with jargon and phraseology designed to feel inclusive and stimulating to 'those in the know', but will exclude and baffle people who do not have the same depth of knowledge.

This is not a new thing.

Throughout recorded history, humans have invented cliques and ways of reinforcing a smug feeling of superiority at being a member of one. Medieval aristocrats created a whole bunch of jargon around hunting. English has far too many words for animal dung (scat, spraints, fewmets, etc) because if every game animal has a different word for its poo, then the in-crowd can smirk at the ignoramuses who call things by the wrong word. Elsewhere there is Australian Aboriginal rock art which has different meanings to the male and female members of the community, because there is secret men's knowledge and secret women's knowledge.

A strong sense of belonging to a group is good for your mental health. If the group help each other out in a practical way (do the baby sitting, loan you a spear, share food in hard times), then belonging to a group boosts your chance of survival. That's natural selection in action, right there.

So who were your 'art critics' in the Stone Age?

  • The hunters who had obsessively studied the behaviour of one species of animal. Perhaps these were the men and women who had that lightbulb moment and domesticated the dog or the cow or the horse?
  • The gatherer who obsessively studies the habits and locations of particular plants. Perhaps these were the men and women who had that lightbulb moment and invented agriculture.
  • The shamans who know all the rituals and spells for every ceremonial occasion, and interpret signs and portents.
  • The elders who initiate young men and women into secret societies, warrior brotherhoods and the like.
  • The 'wise woman' or 'memory man' who can recall all the details of which village owes what favours to which other village, back for the last seven generations. They might be the ones who invented accountancy or writing.
  • The storyteller who knows 15 different versions of each of the tribe's myths and legends, and can pick the right one for any particular audience.
  • The trader who has learned 8 different languages and the customs of 8 different tribes, and travels between groups to barter his or her goods.
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  • $\begingroup$ "Your quote is a piece of text written by someone with very detailed and in-depth knowledge" - I don't know about that. It shows no knowledge of anything. There's no art history, no discussion of technique or method. A couple of answers so far show how easy it is to write this sort of stuff. It is merely pseudo-intellectual fodder for those who want to look intelligent by being seen to read it. (Apart from that I love it! :-) $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 21 at 22:28
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It's a relatively rare and valuable talent

The ability to construct a grammatically correct, well-structured, apparently coherent, esthetically pleasing, but in the end meaningless discourse is a relatively rare and valuable talent, which has been recognized as such since times immemorial; such talented people have always had their uses, enjoying long lucrative careers across the ages of mankind.

The original question gives the following example of supposed gobbledygook, so classified by the original poster, and by his source, a certain philistine named Nicky Hamlyn, self-appointed curator of a gallery of “examples of art-world-speak in the form of gallery press releases, curatorial and artists’ statements”. I will reproduce it here, and then I will re-use the same structure to illustrate how various ancient and honorable professions could make good use of it.

In Sebastian Gögel’s and Laurence De Leersnyder’s work, matter primes upon form. As these artists explore it, matter appears to be a memory that refreshes itself following its moods. It is surface where gesture becomes inscribed, residual trace of a past phenomenon, manifestation of a symptom. It contains this evident mystery of shape in the making, like the diffuse anxiety of something that has not been entirely spoken. The Germans speak of Stimmung to describe this sens similar to connotation, at the fringe of enunciation.

  • In the primitive ages, among cavemen, there must have been smooth talkers, pacificators, leaders of opinion, tasked by the chieftain with appeasing those uncouth elements who sought to disturb the peace of the tribe by bringing unsupported insinuations of inequity in the division of the mammoth carcass, wild berries, or other valuables acquired by the collective effort of the entire tribe:

    In Oogh’s and Grunt’s butchery, nutritiousness primes upon quantity. As these trustworthy butchers divide it, the flesh of the mammoth is but a foretaste that refreshes itself following the well-being of the tribe. It is but at the surface that equality of distribution is important, whereas the anticipation of the nutrients is the true manifestation of appetite. The small piece allocated to Kraoh contains the evident mystery of fulfilment of his inner needs, which shall be calmed and satisfied although his belly may not be filled up in its entirety. The tribe across the valley have the good word Angemessenheit to describe the quality of such fine butchery that can only be appreciated by its effects in the fullness of time.

  • Among the same primitive people there must have appeared matchmakers who sought to find good matches for the fair maidens of the tribe, and to find suitable helpmates for the fine young men of marriageable age and beyond:

    If you come to know Oogh and Grunt, you will realize that with those fine youngsters the capacity to do work comes before the gift of foresight. Your daughter would do well to consider that a husband who can lift big rocks is more satisfying in the end than one who is lost in his thoughts and moods. For the rocks can be lifted and placed where the wife desires, and chipped as she pleases, thus enabling the furnishing of a pleasant cave, manifesting her personality. Such a personalized cave upholds the mystery of life in the making, like the diffuse miracle of long term comfort. Our civilized neighbors downstream call this sentiment of domesticity Gemütlichkeit, the niceness of cozy hospitality.

  • Soon after the humans became human they found in themselves a need to explain the unexplainable, and for this purpose the society provided shamans and priests, who went and created whole unseen worlds of great power, where the mighty and loving gods dwelt, never leaving the chosen tribe out of their all-seeing sight:

    In the eyes of the Wise Oogh and the Ever-Just Grunt, the materiality of the sacrifice primes upon the unspoken feelings of the sinner. As these great gods look down upon us, the tasty meat deposited on the altar is but a memory that refreshes the sinner and washes away their changeable moods. Although by tomorrow new sinners will come to the sacred cave with new offerings, the sacrificial gesture will become inscribed in the unseen cave carvings of beyond, residual trace of a past phenomenon, manifestation of an everlasting forgiveness. You must bring more tasty meat to experience in full this evident mystery of cleansing, washing away the diffuse anxiety of something that has not been entirely spoken that you carry in your hearts. The Ancients called this good feeling of fulfilment, telesiourgêma, an accomplished purpose, and urged us to seek it unwaveringly.

  • And I can easily continue, with the advocates speaking for the tongue-tied standing in front of their judges, with the diplomats smoothing the roughness of the conflicts between adjacent tribes, with the councilors explaining the decision of the chieftain to the muscular members of the horde, and so on, and so forth.

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Art-critic types would fulfill meat gathering roles and such.

Imagine that someone prefers to write books for a living, they'd go get a job digging holes if they couldn't afford to eat or clothe themselves. Simple as.

If they were about survival back then (which they very much were) then there was no place for art critics.

Update

I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to, but I think it's sort of what you'd call 'mindset'. You usually suit people to particular jobs based on their personality. You're getting at 'What did people with that mindset do back then?', and my answer would be that they didn't, because they didn't really exist back then.

I cannot begin to imagine what society was like back then, but I doubt that sort of personality existed. Or if they did, they'd be a lot more analytical in their methods, but probably less pratical. One thing for sure is that they weren't getting picked to breed with, only the strongest and effective would be picked.

These sorts of personalities probably started to come about as society allowed them. Moving from the stone age into the bronze age, there would have been a lot more artisians who crafted and such, which is a different mindset to a warrior for example. A good swordsmith would earn you money, and the switch for breeding changed from meat to money, and so those sorts of people would become more prevalent.

I guess it's hard to consider, but think about yourself growing up. What are were you good at and what did you want to be when you were older? Someone back then would not have thought that way, and it was only when society started to come in an the existence of professions that you could say different types of people started to emerge.

An art critic is very general, but they fall into the analytical mindset, so stuff like furniture making, and things with a nack for detail they'd be good at.

Since then, we've become a lot more 'creative' and such, and now there is a strong desire for more intellectuals to find newer and better technology and solutions to the worlds problems.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hence my question - why did that sort of person survive in the gene pool? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 19 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ I could be mistaken, but I don't believe that it is affected by genes. What you decide to be when your older probably is affected by your upbringing solely, as the only thing they knew back then was hunt, then they would end up knowing to hunt. $\endgroup$ – DubDub Feb 19 at 15:27
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The function that art critic types would fulfill in a stone age society would be using seemingly clever palaver to criticize their social enemies or to increase the social standing of their friends.

They would be people using that particular tactic to promote or tear down a particular person, regardless of what is the nominal object of discussion. It could be cave paintings, carvings, a spear somebody made, a hunting technique or an incident.

"Ug's surefooted mimicry of the terrain captured the essence of being one with the landscape while simultaneously acting with the will of agency within it."

Translation:

"I think Ug skillfully followed an animal. Ug is great. Everyone should think highly of Ug. I have nothing to gain from making this statement."

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Intelligence is not simply given by being a certain species.

The food you eat, the way you are brought up in your childhood and your surroundings contribute immensely to your overall intelligence.

Ignoring this though:

The closest you should have to what you describe as an "art-critic" would be the people that made cave paintings. There might have been some folk, maybe older tribe members, that determined how these had to be made and teached young ones the ways and what certain shapes mean.

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    $\begingroup$ Art critics do not teach others how to do art. Like the saying goes "those who know, do. Those who don't know, tell the others how to do" $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 19 at 13:36
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Priests of the community.

As Patricia Highsmith said in Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, people who saw a deer in a curve painted in a cave were also the ones that told the best stories, because imagination is a great part of it.

Hunter-gatherers might have only worked 3-4 hours each day, this leaves a lot of time for telling good stores and for the "art-critic" to become the priest-fortune teller-wise man/woman of the tribe.

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