Vestiges of the Stone Age in the Revenge Film Genre

Stone age technology makes violence very difficult and limiting. In order to kill someone you need to have good aim and, assuming we’re talking about stone technology before the Oldowan tool culture, blunt stones just make for crummy weapons in general. So you need a lot of people to join you. The Bible retains stoning as its primary means of capital punishment, but it requires the “community.”

If the Bible’s Pentateuch was assembled during the 6th cent BC by Ezra (as is claimed in 2 Ezra), it begs the question of when the priestly laws (Exodus 20 through all of Leviticus and most of Numbers) were written. It’s very possible that the account of Cain killing Abel, as well as the Gen 1 account of creation, come from Priestly sources using Elohim for the holy name, (Gen 2’s Adam and Eve story uses YHWH as the name, hence Documentary Hypothesis adherents attributing Gen 2 to the “Yahwist” or J author). It’s interesting that Gen 1’s 6th day of creation notes the emergence of men and women roaming the planet, so Gen 2’s Adam is not the first man, probably just the first man to serve in the proverbial Garden of Even, which some believe indicates the transition from hominid to our modern, linguistic human.

Gen 3’s Cain and Abel story, possibly being Priestly, describes the first murder of Abel, most likely using a stone. Jubilees says so, though Jasher says it was an iron tool. But why would Jasher assume this before iron had ever been smithed? After Cain kills Abel, Elohim puts a sign on Cain to prevent vengeance, and we can assume here that the P author is imagining a lot of people roaming the planet as evidenced from Genesis 1’s 6th day of creation. Hence the first “sign” that defers violence, preventing Cain’s death at the hand of any agents of vengeance. In ROBA terms, the sign on Cain indicates the crossing of the Rubicon from non-verbal ROBA violence into non-violent language (NVL). Only after the onset of NVL can we then create all of society and institutions. (Following Gen 3 are various chapters of these linguistic developments / tech innovations due to language.)

But again, why the extreme fear of retribution, of contagious violence, against Cain? A fear of contagious violence is certainly a product of the iron age, not that of the stone age. Violence by stoning is less contagious than violence by iron tools. We see this in all the various taboos surrounding iron – it has to be cleansed after war and before being used as a tool, it’s magnetic, it falls out of the sky (meteoric iron used for Japanese katanas, for example, and Edward Clodd said these were called “air stones” throughout the iron age world), and in the Bible it’s prohibited for constructing an altar, presumably since it might be tainted with blood. Iron, unlike bronze, can be beaten back into shape. Icelandic swords were reused for 300-400 years in the family [Oakshott, Archaeology of Weapons]. Iron violence is terrifying, so the iron age-based Priestly author of Gen 3 would have been naturally aware of this.

Jasher, likely a 19th century forgery, seemed to intuit that such fear of contagious violence could only have come from the iron age, and so it erroneously replaces Cain’s stone weapon with an iron farming tool, but with good reasoning.

The transition from the stone age’s mere “concern” for violence to the iron age’s total dread of violence can happen instantaneously. I call these “aggression kernels” – a stone age thinker simply can’t understand how insanely violent iron can be until he sees it first hand. His aggression kernel then receives an immediate software update from Dos 6.0 to Windows 95 (if we want to consider Oldowan stone culture DOS 6.1, Acheulean stone culture DOS 6.2, and the Bronze aggression kernel the equivalent of Windows 3.1). We can see this kind of update happen overnight in the frontier wars of Australia, where the Aboriginese (operating under a highly developed stone age aggression kernel) encountered the Europeans (operating under the gunpowder aggression kernel. Call it Windows 2000). The Aboriginese quickly changed tactics overnight and, though they didn’t win in the end, they were able to adapt rifle skills to horseback skills and became some of the deadliest hunters in the world. Vancouver natives loved their rifles and were crack shots.

Bear in mind, Windows 2000 is still built on Windows 95, which is built on Windows 3.1, built on DOS, etc. ROBA is the raw assembly code of human behavior and underwrites all language that follows it. So just because we go “beyond” the stone age aggression kernel doesn’t eliminate that kernel’s code outright. We still retain certain values and ethics from the stone age, like the idea of blood accounting or blood-wit. If you kill my friend, I kill you, or I will find a revenger to do so. Revenge balances the blood scales so the earth can be satisfied, so Abel’s blood stops screaming out. Revenge films satisfy this old computer code in our aggression kernels. The revenge movie is a simulation of the stone age, with modern aesthetics. Blood revenge is, for the most part, impossible in civilized society, but our internal motor representation (IMR) of the crisis of violence, which demands retribution for evils we witness through mass media, can be resolved through revenge films like John Wick, the Beekeeper, etc.

Mass media has created an entire circuit for what remains of the stone age aggression kernel: build up resentment in the audience surrounding an innocent victim’s death, and offer blood revenge within the safe simulation of cinema to resolve the IMR. The audience will then be temporarily satisfied that justice has been done. Repeat in the morning.

A different circuit can be seen with a vestige of iron age dread of violence. Gang violence and honor killings are dreaded as they threaten to spread violence like plague, no different than the fear of the contagion of iron. Law and order must clamp down on the spread of violence. The sign must be placed on Cain’s back, in the form of a prison sentence for the gangster or mass shooter. Mass media promotes stories of contagious blood violence, creating an IMR of blood-plague. Then it provides us with the virtuous state or official who stops the contagion. Problem solved. Repeat in the morning.

The gunpowder aggression kernel only furthered the dread of violence, though now it could be at a distance. It was on the one hand easier to contain within the state, which is why the British ultimately beat the Zulu who couldn’t fabricate ammuniation, as well as with the American colonists beating the Native Americans who lacked the smithing needed to produce cartridges or repair rifles. China had the advantage of 2500 years if iron smithing, so bullet manufacture was easy, which posed an issue to the Qing as well as Mao, who would rely on civilian militias one minute, then confiscate their firearms upon victory.

All this is to say that the gunpowder aggression kernel makes violence even more dreadful, though quicker. The gun duel is fast and nonchalant. But it’s also the emergence of the war machine of the state, ultimately giving rise to global warfare in the 19th century. Gunpowder aggression kernel IMRs are satisfied by films where the hero saves the country.

IMRs produced by the atomic aggression kernel, by extension, are resolved by world-saving heroes. We’re now moving into the multiverse and aliens as things get kind of out of hand and ridiculous.