Thursday, February 16, 2006
Fascinating research for Dangerous Waters
What I find fascinating about research is not how different things are now from the past, but how in some ways they have altered so little. Society might change, but human nature doesn’t.
This was brought home to me while I was researching Dangerous Waters, which is published at the end of this month.
Two hundred and fifty years ago in Jamaica and what is now Haiti, slaves risked severe punishment, even death, to dance at night in secluded forest glades lit by the moon or flaming torches. They danced to the music of drums whose complex rhythms stirred the blood and took body and mind into a state of trance. They did this try to communicate with the spirit world and escape the physical demands and mental anguish of working 18-hours-a-day as another man’s possession.
We think of that as being part of the distant past. Yet right now, 2006, in every town and city, nightclubs offer a dark venue, music with a pounding beat, flashing lights, and drugs such as ecstasy for exactly the same purpose - to enable people to escape the problems and pressures of their everyday lives through an altered state of consciousness.
Might there be something in human genetic programming that drives people to seek new experiences, something beyond themselves, beyond the limitations of five senses?
Dangerous Waters published by Robert Hale Feb 2006. Price £18.99