Monday, November 29, 2010

Advertising in Cuneiform.

There is a body of people--they are everywhere--who proudly and loudly and constantly proclaim "this will change everything. This will mean the death of all that has gone before it. This new technology is so advanced, it will supplant all previous technologies and change the very functioning of the human brain in the process."

Just yesterday Adweek proclaimed that William Morris Endeavor's Ari Emmanuel has a new way of marketing that will kill ad agencies. If you're listening closely enough, you'll hear a couple of these proclamations a week.

Yesterday, I went to an exhibit at The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, part of New York University, that displayed 13 clay tablets from ancient Mesoptomania. These tablets are the work of students who were deciphering the wonders of Sumerian mathematics and using, some think, the Pythagorean Theorem some 1,300 years before Pythagoras did. Written in Cuneiform the tablets show calculations on a host of practical problems, like like calculating the width of a canal, given information about its other dimensions, the cost of digging it and a worker’s daily wage.

It occurred to me while viewing this small exhibit of just 13 tablets from about 3,700 to 3,900 years ago, that the Babylonians scratching on them probably reckoned that their work would change everything. That they had reached the apotheosis of all things and had rendered all else obsolete.

And this from a people who used the number 60 as the base of their numbering system.

The Babylonians were futzing with pi and square roots about 2,000 years before Christ.
That leads me to think that there just may be some essential human and physical truths that time cannot monkey with, some ideas, reactions and ways of assimilating and disseminating information that may be hard-wired into our common humanity. Things that just won't change.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good post.