The other day I saw an interesting show. Downtown, they have this park where there’s a section that is blocked off for street performers. I’m no sure how they decide who gets to perform where, and when, but they do have some sort of system in place. It’s not like some areas where there’s a prime street location, and the performers have to fight for the spot.
Sometimes you can find videos online of street performers actually getting into fistfights over a particular piece of real estate. If you make your living as a street artist, which many of them, it can cost you your livelihood if you let your competitor get in and take your spot.
Back in the days of the gold rush, there were certain rules regarding “claims.” If you made a claim on a certain area, then you were the only one that was allowed to find gold in that area. It wasn’t really enforced all the much, more like a general agreement among the gold diggers themselves. If one particular person would “jump claims” too much, then either the authorities, or the general population would self correct, effectively eliminating the “claim jumper.”
Territorial disputes have always been a key reason for countries going to war, as far back as recorded history. Resources, which are always scarce and in limited supply are worth fighting and dying for. It’s no secret that countries, even today, that have valuable resources such as gold and precious metals are much better off than countries that don’t have any resources at all.
Much has been written about the struggle for control over resources on a smaller scale during the middle ages. For a while, the de facto means for keeping property was to keep it in the family. The term “real” in “real estate” itself is a version of the word royal, meaning of course royalty. Real estate means land that is owned by the king, or the ruling family. In the middle ages, all of the land was owned by the rich people, and the peasants had to pay heavy taxes in order to be able to farm the land to eek out a meager living.
There was quite an interesting battle that slowly took place over several generations with regard to this. Generally speaking, the eldest son would inherit the land, and subsequent resources (which included all the people.) The second and third oldest sons usually didn’t get much of anything, unless they were in the good graces of their oldest brother. The daughters were hopefully married off into a rich family.
In poor family, then, daughters were much more valuable than sons, as they at least had the potential to “marry up” into a rich family. But in rich families, eldest sons were the focus of attention.
But over the course of time, some interesting things took place. As Ridley points out in “The Red Queen,” the second sons had two choices. They could accept their fate, and hope they stayed in favor with their older brothers, or they could join the monastery. After a few generations of this, these unimportant, younger brothers became the leaders of the then very powerful Roman Catholic Church. And what did the Church regulate most? Sex, and marriage, the very thing that kept them from inheriting the valuable land and resources.
Pretty soon there were religious laws which forbid marrying of cousins, which were generally favorable to wealthy families as it kept the land and resources intact in the family line. As things slowly changed over time, and with the Church inventing new ways to keep wealthy families from staying wealthy, the church itself became a formidable force.
The late middle ages, whole countries feared the Pope, the new King of Kings, as he could excommunicate entire countries with one decision. These unimportant younger brothers had slowly transformed the Catholic Church into one of the most powerful entities the world had ever seen. All by subtly changing the way that land and resources were kept and distributed.
There have been many studies of animals that indicate mating behaviors are extremely dependent on the male being able to adequately defend its territory. Study after study shows that in many species, whether they be insects or gorillas, the males that can hold and maintain physical territory get all the girls, while those that can’t are cast out, banned, with little chance of ever reproducing.
Being able to hold and defend a small piece of dirt is no insignificant thing. To this very day, thousands die day in and day out to defend pieces of land.
Which is exactly why the city set up a lottery system to see who got that particular spot in the street performer zone. I guess they had the performers pass some kind of test, or provide some kind of reference to quality, then they divided up the times and the spaces by lottery. I suppose that is a good way to do it. I think they are working one some kind of a feedback system where the performers that generate the most crowds are given preference, while those that are less “entertaining” are given the least popular times and places.
But the juggler that I saw was the most amazing juggler I’d ever seen, either in person or on TV. He had this completely spellbinding routine, where he would start juggling things, and then start talking to whoever was nearest to him. Then he would take whatever objects that person was willing to give up, like a cell phone or a set of car keys, and start jugging them, all the while telling this long winded and mysterious metaphorical story about all these tangents that didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything else, except for what maybe came before this.
But the stories always incorporated elements of whatever he happened to be juggling at the time, whatever these things are.