Most people who were born in a society of abundance, sense gratification and television with high quality images, it is difficult to imagine the senseless stupidity of most of the societies of the past. All the “pomp” of the great societies of the past was, in essence, simply a demonstration of diversity – diversity in color, in fabrics, in materials and in external design. Such demonstrations of diversity were the exclusive prerogative of the ruler and the court. The novelty of the costumes and the new posts at the court were in some way indicative of his power. So it was when the emerging bourgeoisie of the late Middle Ages began importing dyes and spices, silk and manufactory items to Europe.
I can personally witness the power of the influence of color and diversity on human imagination. The periods of isolation in the jungle during field work in the upper reaches of the Amazon taught me to understand how quickly the disorderly diversity of civilized life can be forgotten and then cause thirst similar to the one that occurs when you deprive of some strong drug. After several weeks spent in the jungle, the mind becomes crammed with plans about what restaurants you will visit, returning to civilization, what music you will listen to, what movies you will watch. One day, after spending many days in the rain forest in the rain, I went to one village to ask the residents for permission to collect a collection of plants in the area of their tribe.The only impregnation of “high technology” in the primitive setting of the tribe was a calendar with images of naked women brought from Iquitos and proudly decorated the reed wall just behind the head of the village. When I talked to him, my eyes turned again and again to this calendar, not to its content, but to its colors. Red, bluish, apricot – an eerie and obsessive attraction to diversity was as irresistible as the lure of any drug!
The dyes and spices of the more technically advanced and more aesthetically refined world of Islam entered the bloodstream of gloomy Christian Europe with the power of a hallucinogenic substance. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, its dried husks and cardamom, dozens of other exotic spices, aromatic substances and dyes appeared to broaden the taste and wardrobe of beer and bread culture wrapped in wool. Our own culture in the past few years has witnessed a similar, albeit more superficial trend in the emergence of “yuppie” fashion – fashion for novelty and for new exotic restaurants: from national to ultramodern, super modern.
At school we were taught that the spice trade ended the Middle Ages and created the basis of modern commerce and commerce, but we did not get an understanding of the fact that the decay of Christian medieval Europe was a consequence of the epidemic obsession with new, exotic and pleasant – in short, mind-expanding substances. Means such as coffee, wormwood, as well as opium, dyes, silks, rare species of trees, jewels and even people, were brought to Europe and demonstrated almost like prey taken from some extraterrestrial civilization. This idea of the splendor of the East – with its luxury, sensuality and unexpected compositional motifs – acted in changing not only aesthetic norms, but also the canons of social behavior and a person’s own image. The names of the cities of the Silk Road – Samarkand,Ecbatana – have become a kind of mantra, marking the worlds of refinement and luxury, previously associated only with Paradise. Social boundaries dissolved; old problems began to be seen in a new light; new secular classes arose, challenging the monogamy of the popes and kings.
In short, there was a sudden acceleration of the emergence of novelty and the emergence of new social forms — the control traces of a kind of quantum leap — in the ability of European imagination. And again, the search for plants and the mental stimulation caused by them inspired a certain part of humanity to experiment with new social forms, new technologies, as well as to super-fast expansion of the limits of language and imagination. The pressure on the development of the spice trade literally reformed the art of navigation, shipbuilding, diplomacy, military art, restructured geography and economic planning. And again the unconscious desire to imitate and, thus,partial restoration of lost symbiosis