spaceflight, technology, anime, politics, and whatever else I feel like writing about

Caveman Urbanism

or why work from home is Hell on men

Anyone who has ever owned a cat, or spent any amount of time looking at cats being silly on the Internet, knows that cats generally prefer to sit in tight spaces, so that they can physically feel reassurance that nothing can sneak up on them from that angle. I propose that humanity also has similar instincts remaining from prehistory that dictate the best shapes and locations for soothing the subconscious... and why in many cases work-from-home is so stressful for a situation that involves vanishingly little physical effort.

In the fine tradition of evolutionary psychology, I will take a snippet of prehistoric life well known to the point of stereotype, and make a point about modernity with it that will most likely trigger any feminist who reads further. (You have been warned.) In this instance, that pattern is the classic caveman hunter-gatherer lifestyle. A family lives in a cave. The women stay in or near the cave caring for the children, harvesting edible plants, fashioning clothes, and so on. The men sally forth to kill large animals with implements of wood, sinew, bone, and rock, providing the materials the family needs to survive, and killing Pleistocene predators with absurdly large teeth and claws. The stability of the "human condition" throughout all of recorded history (compare Pompeiian graffiti preserved in ash to modern anonymous imageboards, and you will see very quickly they are of the same mind) indicates that mankinds thoughts, hopes, dreams, and preferences have not changed much in the past ten or twenty thousand years, only our ability to bring those things into reality, via the accumulated material and intellectual wealth we call civilization. This means that inside each of us is a grunting savage who does not give a single solitary fuck about civilization. He wants what he wants, and unless you satisfy him, you're going to spend an awful lot of time trying to distract yourself from your underlying unhappiness. See also the soyface scream-smile, women burying their woes in drugs and whoredom, organized religiion, and so forth.

First Hypothesis: Cavemen need Caves

Many modern urbanists have written about the need for small, narrow "human scale spaces." For those of you not yet banned from Twitter for wrongthink, check out @WrathOfGnon for some brilliant examples. For those in need of a more generic search term, look at pedestrian-only parts of old cities, whether in Europe, the Middle East, or Japan, or for "cozy places." This appears to be a universal desire even among those who live in massive houses on open land, as seen by the desirability of small, private areas for reading, writing, or art. Notice that a "reading nook" or artist's atelier always has large amounts of natural light. This is the "true" cave within larger buildings, a place you can go to shield yourself from the outside world but look out on it. Particularly smart building designers can even put them around the edges of skyscrapers. In some ways the skyscraper option can even be superior. A cave with a view is extra satisfying to our inner caveman, as any realtor or home buyer can attest. I suspect this is for pragmatic reasons. A cave on a hillside is less likely to fill up with snow or floodwater, and offers longer sight lines to see approaching threats. People are usually not actively thinking about large predator defense when buying or building a home outside of brown bear, lion, or tiger country, but the instinct remains worldwide.

Urbanists often describe massive, cyclopean buildings and too-broad streets as "inhuman," without ever really getting into the specific "human" thing that would be its alternative. This is the cave. The "man cave" trend is about 80% of the way to realizing the how and why of this psychology.

Second Hypothesis: Caves must be Safe

Caveman-approved urban planning will not return to the West, the USA in particular, until affirmative action is ended, freedom of association / right to refuse service is restored, and men can confidently shoot marauding criminals without fear of being dragged through the legal process for years on end or their gun being confiscated by the police. This may seem like an exaggeration, but if anything I understate the changes required. As things stand today, car culture and suburban sprawl are defensive features to keep homes and families physically separated from those who would do them harm. If you think this is not true, ask people if they'd rather live on the south side of Chicago or in a suburb well outside the city. Ask people if they'd rather take public transit passing through a rough neighborhood or drive around it on the highway. I have lived in large cities all over the country, and in every one there were charming, human scale places rendered unusable by litter, pollution, and crime. These things do not happen in places at least 90% white, or places spread out enough that each man can build his own cave in a freestanding house. There are very real genetic reasons why this pattern persists, but I will not elaborate on them here, as it would take a small book to do the issue justice.

Third Hypothesis: Cavemen need hunting grounds

Within a three hour drive of a major city, the state and national parks, or other outdoor recreation areas, experience traffic jams every weekend with suitable weather. This is because even though financially a man may do his important work in a warren of caves, instinctually he needs to spend time in the wilderness. This is where Chinese Bat AIDS lockdown induced work from home wreaks its havoc on the psyche. All of the wilderness areas are closed or at limited capacity (lol), and the mental barrier between cave for living and cave for earning money is eradicated. The inner caveman has been buried alive in his cave, and he's clawing at the block on the entrance trying to break free.

Prior to the Chinese Bat AIDS lockdowns, I had experience with remote work in normal times. My strategy for keeping myself sane in that work environment involved working less "from home" and more "remote" in general. Work from coffee shops or cafes a few days a week, spend on-call weekends doing fun things outside in areas with cell phone signal (not always an easy balance to strike), make a point of getting human contact outside of work hours. Nowadays those options are gone, and even gyms are still closed in many states. This is driving a lot of people bug-fuck crazy. Reopen your states now, governors, or the insanity will only escalate, and that's a dangerous thing in an armed society. I have a comfy setup that checks all my inner caveman boxes so this is not a warning about my own behavior, but that of others who lack what I have.

blog entries

Like my work? Donate here.