They were pretty much as smart, crazy and drunk as we are now.
This is my general perspective. I like that you bring it up. When we talk about history we have all sort of assumptions like progress and regionalism of traits, we're looking at a highly pixelated version. Whereas I find it useful to think about it in terms of, well if I go just down the road, and I can do this barefoot in a torrential rain in about 5 minutes, I can see a house full of people who really don't behave like I do, they don't profess what I do, in subjective terms; I wouldn't want to be like them. So why do we assume there isn't a mathematical genius dickering about with obscure questions living in a Norse village? The life in a Norse village seems rather less diverse than our lives, I've traveled the world, my neighbors haven't left Missouri. But even so, isn't there something like an analog of this math nerd - I can't imagine anything plausible but I think you see what I mean. There would have been all sorts of people at all sorts of times and to say that these people were like such and such because the limits of their world was much sharper than ours is probably incorrect.
They would have had variety in accordance with the possibility of variety, the limits of their world would have made that variety seem much more pronounced to them than it does to us, so you're back in the same place really, with some people complaining about each other like every new thing was an omen of apocalypse, and with other people finding their peace without any help at all in conditions that would make it seem impossible.
England at the turn of the first century, but not in an historical manner, or even a manner of anthropology, I've read enough to know in a general way what to expect in terms of the events and the ways of life. What I'm curious about is the ways in which I can be surprised about them.
Recently I've been looking into the Stultifera Navis and it occurred to me that this is representing to me an unusual practice; that of sticking all your idiots and criminals on a ship and giving them some made up mission guaranteed to take them to some place from which they won't come back. this comes from looking at Qatz's whacky fascination with Foucault. His theory seems to have been that people used to be far more accepting and that at some point that stopped being the case and this is where modernity was first conceived - the punishment of people for being insane. I'm sure you're familiar with the role of jesters and court fools. That was replaced by advisors and priests.
Well here is a supposition then that I find very interesting; the early middle ages was not at all a sane or consistent place. That we have imposed sanity - even if we want to call that narrowness and say that we have eliminated genius too. I'm not making a judgement, but it does seem to me that people are naturally insane and sanity is imposed, maybe even simply posed
- I don't think we've won that war so much as made uniform the insanity, sorted insanities into firm and narrow categories by social engineering. We've lost the variety, perhaps upped the intensity and made no one really sane who was insane.
From the perspective of the people aboard the ship of fools, looking back, maybe some of them understood well enough what was happening. But they weren't the insane ones for launching off on an exciting journey, the insane ones were the wicked, greedy and mean people who stayed behind.
But I digress. I only meant to suggest that perhaps there were differences, they are hard to find and get at. Which is why I bring it here.