giovedì, settembre 07, 2006

I promised you substance today . . .

but substance you shall not have. One or two science-esque articles instead. First of all, who here has heard of aural-visual synaesthesia? I think I have. A Finnish girl I used to live with claimed she could see music – or else that she could control the wind – or both. I was smoking my weight in reefer back then so I’m not sure. Anyways, I’m glad I learnt about it properly in relation to Kandinsky , who even for the most tone-deaf viewer would be a lyrical painter, I think. I’m fond of him.

Next, Figaro sent me this at work yesterday. I’ve had a thing about chimpanzees ever since I wrote a paper on The Second Sex that worked bonobo orgies into a discussion of human marital practices. That was back in 2000 and it was the point I started wishing we were more like bonobos than pan trogs and could settle our territorial disputes with lesbian orgies placated males sat around jerking off to. I’m not really into the ladies, mostly due to my unsurpassed laziness – when I look at a woman’s bits and look at a man’s bits and consider the pleasure of my partner, it’s like considering the difference between dealing with a rubix cube and a freshly peeled banana. But I’d dive muff if it meant an end to human strife, no question.

So it turns out that human beings have a closer genetic relationship with bonobos than to pan trogs, the normal chimpanzees who bash each other with sticks instead of have orgies to settle territorial disputes . . . that discovery filled me with hope for the future of our race, spuriously no doubt, but there you are.

Nonetheless, I assume the subject of the Guardian article was pan trogs since they don’t specify bonobo or pygmy at any point, and once more spuriously I thought that was interesting on a human level . . . identifying chivalry, you see, with what I think of pan trogs, and with what I think of the European social climate in which the warrior classes raised it to such cultural importance. It’s boggling my mind all of a sudden – an ethos to protect and encourage seemingly weaker members of societies in an environment only the physically dominant can be expected to survive – is chivalry a quantified example, I’m starting to wonder, of some great evolutionary leap forward?

And there you see my religion creeping out. I see evolution as an advance, a gradual process of perfection and becoming more saintly, which isn’t guided by a divine hand but was set in motion by it. That’s why I like to pick and choose my science, I guess . . . just looking at it as a bunch of pretty stories, like the Catholic Church was for me once.


4 commenti:

Sugarplum ha detto...

That's a great video. I had to send it to my fiance becuase he did his degree in Antropo but instead of studying groups of isolated people he focused on different societies of our genetic cousins. I think anyone who has done any research or has read anything at all about the bonobos or chimps or apes or even any monkey (that is less genetically related to us) is drawn to question their humanity and what is humanity.

I took a literature class during my masters that looked at throw-away novels about plagues etc. (that was a real eye-opener studying popular fiction and being forced to get beyond our beliefs that it was garbage). We read The Hot Zone, The Plague Tales and we also read Chromozone 6, which is horribly written (same as the above examples) but brings up interesting topics. Scientists had changed the 6th chromozone in a group of bonobos in order to use them as spare parts for rich people who needed transplants. This chromozone made the bonobos genetically similar enough that the people were able to accept their organs. The problem is that these bonobos were evolving quicky so that the line between human and ape was becoming even more blurred than it already is. Now that they had changed the genetic structure of the animals, they were no longer animals but were primitive humans.

I don't recommend reading the book but it raises an interesting question that is worth discussion. Why do we consider ourselves superior to these apes and why don't we do more to protect them? This question must also lead us to question what we are doing to help the less fortunate of our kind who are being left to fend for themselves.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

It's true. I think part of it gets lost in our cultural relativism; there are groups of bona fide people who use bonobos for food, and how can we, with the high opinion we already have of ourselves, feel any sort of fellow-feeling with a creature who is eaten by, well, us, as a normal part of their human culture?

There is some work being done for them. I understand some people are trying to get them their own Indonesian island. It's like fucking Israel for Chimps, now, apparently.

God, it all pisses me off.

Val ha detto...

I'm a synaesthete. I actually wrote some research papers about it before, for some of my undergrad classes. I see numbers and letters in color.

Okay, so here's a wacky one. Olivier Messiaen was a synthesthete--only get this--he heard chords and modes in color. If you look at some of his music, it actually has the colors written in.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Ohhhhh! That was what the Finnish girl was talking about. She could see numbers in colour, like you, and her boyfriend, who lived with us, didn't believe her.

She said she could control the wind some other time, and he didn't believe that, either. The numbers in colours makes sense, though. I believed the wind thing because I was baked but I believe the colour/number thing because it's actually believable.

Chords and modes in colour . . . what a pleasure that would be.