Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Yes They Could!

For some people, learning the facts sucks all the joy and excitement out of life. I don't understand those folks at all.

I used to think that people from ye olden days couldn't do much that was as cool as the stuff we did now-a-days. I would limit the size and scope of things in my medieval fantasy campaigns to keep them "realistic." They hardly had nails, so how could they do anything that impressive?

That, of course, ignores the cathedrals. But it's even worse than that. If you visit The Cloisters, you can see prayer beads the size of a jawbreaker with massive crowd scenes carved into them, with every individual figure distinct and unique. It's the sort of work nobody can do today. Those skills have been lost.

When you really dig into things, you realize just how much you can achieve with ingenuity and a professional attitude. Learning a bit of cabinetmaking, for instance, I discovered that nails are a cheap and lousy short-cut; the best furniture is made with dovetails and biscuit joining. (And heck, you'll find folks who say even biscuit-joining is a cheap short-cut.)

So this, I suppose, shouldn't come as any surprise:

But it's still damned cool.


Chris said...

Three words for you: 'stained glass windows'.

The sheer creative audacity required to create rose windows staggers me. All those tints from nothing more than an empirical understanding of chemistry. The supporting stone turned into something akin to lacework with nothing but hand-held tools.

Who says people that in the olden days didn't know what they were doing?

BigFella said...

@ Chris
"Who says that people in the olden days didn't know what they were doing?"

Usually people who don't know much about how stuff is done. That guy in the clip wasn't a scientist, he just has years of personal observation and experience, which is really the pure essence of what science is supposed to be anyhow.

People had brains and hands back in ancient times, just like they do today.

Sadly, I think it's just human nature for people to think they're the smartest generation ever and discount their predecessors as morons.

Anonymous said...

That was great!