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whatsthatsound On March - 16 - 2010

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

– Genesis 6

I’m an ape man, I’m an ape ape man, oh I’m an ape man
– The Kinks

Recently, I wrote a post (Sade and the Body)proffering the idea that the roots of sadism, and peoples’ fascination with it in films and literature, can be found in the nature of our consciousness, specifically that we humans are acutely aware of just how much our bodies are capable of suffering, under certain unwelcome conditions. In that essay, I referred to the mind’s “hatred” of the body, a kind of psychosis arising from the mind’s  awareness of this worrisome aspect of its nature. In the interests of fairness, I would like, with this essay, to consider the human body’spredicament, the raw deal it gets from being attached to a mind that operates like no other in the animal kingdom.

As bodies go, yours and mine are nothing more than variations on a theme. They are closest in form to the chimpanzees and other higher apes, of course, but in fact they are not so different from hundreds of species having vertebrae, internal organs held within a rib cage, extenders such as arms, legs,  fingers, toes, etc. Our pinkish pigmentation can be found under the fur of numerous animals, from pigs to guinea pigs to dogs to prairie dogs. In terms of design, I think it fair to say that we have more in common with squirrels, physiologically and stylistically, than a Model T has to a Ferrari, and than either does to a bulldozer or a city bus. Our bodies are just another example of The Mammalian Success Story that has been going on since ancient cataclysms laid the dinosaurs low.

If a chimpanzee were to wake up one morning, and find it’s body transformed, a la Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, into that of a homo sapiens, leaving aside the muscular strength it would be sacrificing, we can imagine that it would be able to find its way around its new contraption fairly easily. If it felt an itch, or an urge, it would pretty much know what to do about it. And the alternative would be true for us as well. All that chimp hair may take some getting used to, as would being able to effortlessly rip doors off their hinges, but on the whole we’d probably be able to master our new equipment, eventually. Learning to function in our chimp body would probably be considerably less difficult than learning to fly an airplane or navigate a submarine.

Now, on the other hand, stick that chimpanzee’s body with a human mind and tell me it wouldn’t freak out! “What are all these…things?” They’re called abstract thoughts. “WTF am I supposed to do with them?” Uh…, this is going to take some time. Our minds, with their abstract, logical, inventive, metaphoric, etc. ways of operating represent such an anomalous feature of evolution that if even our closest relatives were to suddenly come into the possession of one they would likely go flat out insane in a matter of seconds! We, fortunately, have had all of seven million years (since we broke off from the chimps, a mere blink of an eye in the history of evolution) to get used to our minds. We’re comfortable with them, or are we?

It’s not so much the minds themselves, which, unique as they are in the Wild Kingdom, nevertheless have clearly aided our survival and expansion over the various terrains of the earth. You don’t find chimps living in harsh, dry deserts or frozen hinterlands, after all. But what we havedone with our minds, how we have shaped our environment with them, has surely put tremendous strain on our poor animal bodies. Consider our eyes, hardly different than a chimp’s, which evolved while looking at relatively few color schemes, primarily the greens of the jungle, the blues and grays of ocean and sky, the browns of the earth and mountains, etc. Seeking out the sudden stimulation that comes from finding attractive fruit, or the sudden rapid movement that alerts us that prey or predators are about. This is what our close relatives see, what they use their eyes for, up to this very day. Whereas we, on the other hand, are constantly blitzed with a mad barrage of colors, flashing images, tiny backlit characters on a computer screen that we put together to make words, etc. Other senses are similarly blitzed; our ears, certainly, to say nothing of our taste buds! We are a hyper-stimulated species, made so by the downright freakish environments we’ve built and placed ourselves in.

We spend so much time in boxes; buildings, rooms, cars, and, perhaps, that most unnatural environment of all, fifty thousand feet above the earth, in airplane cabins. Our air is conditioned, our light is electric, our drinking water comes to us through pipes. Our contact with other species is extremely limited. Our natural patterns of sleep and movement are severely compromised by the demands of the unnatural world we’ve engineered for ourselves. Oh, the poor human body! So near, by its very structure, to the natural world, and yet so distant!

It’s bad enough that we modify our own bodies. We have gone further, employing our minds to mould oddities of biology that Natural Selection would have, er, naturally selected for extinction tout suite. Consider the poor pug, which sounds asthmatic as it manages to breathe through a flat apparatus that was meticulously squashed from a wolf’s long snout by generations of breeding. Consider as well ears of corn with husks wrapped so tightly around the seeds they can’t possibly be dispersed. Or bananas with seeds so useless the plants must be grown by cuttings. Cows with udders so huge, and geared toward milk production, they would possibly explode without human assistance. I wonder, if the beauty, vulnerability and exquisiteness of our own human bodies was fully appreciated and honored, would such manipulations of other creatures even be thinkable?

in 1968, Erich von Daniken published a book titled Chariots of the Gods. In it, he referred to certain passages from ancient literature, such as the one I begin this essay with, as indicating that human beings are in fact manifestations of an experiment of sorts, a hybridization of terrestrial ape bodies with highly intelligent aliens (the “gods” who came by “chariots” to the earth). Whether or not there is any truth whatsoever to the claims the book makes, the metaphor of “sons of Gods” (minds) mating with “daughters of men” (animal bodies) quite poetically describes our predicament, I feel. We are, by all accounts, an oddity of nature. Ours is an uncomfortable marriage of raw, animal senses and sensitivities, to abstract, intellectual sentience. For now, our minds have succeeded in constraining our bodies within an environment and lifestyle that no stretch of the imagination could argue they were evolved, over the course of millions of years, for. One can only hope that as the human mind continues to evolve it will work out a happier medium for the animal it lives its life contained within.

Written by whatsthatsound

Writer, Illustrator, Curmudgeon. Ferret Owner. Tokyoite, formerly Ohioan. Much nicer in person.

78 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    I love the artwork again, WTS, but as I’ve read this post and then all the comments, it shows how far out of my league I am compared to all the deep-thinkers on PPOV.

    Is this what a person could refer to as existentialism?

    Is it true that humans once had tails or some are still born with tails that are taken care of at birth?

    I ask, because while in France, there was a park not far from us with statues and then statues in the Louvre, old statues, that show the human form -- mainly men -- and at the backs are these fuzzy, sort of furry things carved at the base of the spine that look like tails that were cut off.

    I’ve been to the Rodin Museum in Paris and sat in front of the Thinker and did the pose like everyone else, but then at that museum are the Gates of Hell -- two elaborately carved doors -- and of course, I had to pose while knocking on the gates of hell!

    It’s like going to the leaning tower in Pisa, and angling for the shot that makes you look like you’re holding it up.

    Silly Americans were we!
    (but we weren’t alone!)

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi Javaz, and thanks for the great comments. Kiba or KQ would probably be the guys to ask about human tails. Certainly it is a part of our lineage, but I’m not sure how far along our branch of the Tree of Life you have to go, so I don’t think any “humans”, just human ancestors, had tails. Still, I think there are some cases of babies being born with little stubby ones.

      Interesting about the old statues, though….maybe they found them attractive?

      • javaz says:

        If you’ve ever been to the Louvre or the Vatican for that matter, there are very old weather-beaten statues, and there are tails -- cut off tails -- on the statues.

        Have you ever seen them?

        We have pics of Parc de St. Cloud in France, and there’s a gorgeous, huge fountain there lined by statues, and every single one has the cut-off tail.

  2. Questinia says:

    How could you forget the highly evolved Rosie?

  3. escribacat says:

    Great piece, WTS. And another gorgeous bit of artwork. Is that the guy from Princess Bride? (My name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father…)

    I love this topic. Long ago, I began to consider “my brain” as something separate from “me,” without even understanding quite what that means (I still don’t). My brain betrays me all the time by going places I don’t want it to go. My brain thinks things I don’t approve of. My brain jumps to bad conclusions. I sometimes have to work hard to control what mischief my brain is up to. My brain sometimes will not SHUT UP. And so on.

    So…I’m convinced there are “two of us” stuck in this body. My brain seems to have a lot of automated features — some good, some bad. My brain is more in tune with the mammal in me than I am, it has its own animal instincts. I sometimes feel imprisoned by my brain and my body. My brain is so clever, it may have even convinced me that there are “two of us” stuck in this body!!

    • whatsthatsound says:

      fascinating commentary, e-cat! The muser in the center of the picture is none other than Rene Descartes.

      As for the brain and how it functions, I have had similar observations. One time I noticed myself being aware of maybe five or six things simultaneously. I was walking down a street, so had to be alert so as to not fall down. I was thinking about what I had to do that day. At the same time, the lyrics of a pop song were repeating in my head. Then, I began to think how odd it was that I could hold so many frames of consciousness simultaneously -- ANOTHER layer of thinking! We really do have an odd relationship with ourselves, mind AND body!

  4. Questinia says:

    I think the title of the piece should be: “I think therefore I’m complex and that makes me nuts”.

    The nuts part comes in when there is the struggle between “animal” and “human” brain factions… aka neuroses or whatever you’d like to call them.

    So, in your example of a chimp with a human brain, the chimp would be very concerned about how the bananas tasted to her dinner guests and fretted whether Ms. McSapien was going to shock everyone by showing her recent baboon butt implants.

  5. KQuark says:

    WTS another brilliant mind provoking article with another incredible piece of art.

    We are an enigmatic species aren’t we?

    We are the only species that can seriously mold their environment, hence interfere with our own evolutionary process. Believe me I would not live in GA if air conditioning was not invented. I can’t stand the heat but of course the opposite would be true if I lived up North still.

    I don’t think you can talk about our physical body without talking about our genetics. The now old truism that we have DNA 99% the same as chimps still amazes me. We think of our self as a diverse species but most people don’t realize what diversity means. For example when people think or race they think people of the same race are not diverse genetically and the opposite is true as well.

    I just read an amazing article in Science News that showed two groups of bushmen who live just miles apart are much more genetically diverse than scientists thought.

    Analyses of the men

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Great, insightful, comments as always, KQ. We are so so so alike, and yet we focus on the tiniest of differences. As an artist, one has to be very careful to put the eyes in the right place, because people can quickly spot the face looking “off” when either of the eyes are even a couple millimeters away from the nose than it should be. From the time we are infants, reading those subtle differences has been crucial to our development. Which is fine, except when we use those minute differences as excuses for hating or asserting power over others, which our species is all too wont to do.

    • Khirad says:

      Yeah, KQ, I remember seeing that about the San and Khoisan. And indeed, their language as well made me think of this, with our talk of the brain, our environment and evolution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_language

      No particular reason my mind went there, except that Africa has some of the most varied and interesting languages. There’s one language with over 50 genders, if I recall correctly.

      Speaking of simians, aren’t even dolphins supposed to be closer to us genetically than we once thought? or am I misinformed or misremembering that?

  6. FrankenPC says:

    I believe a group of great apes was geographically isolated somewhere in Africa at one point. And at the same time, there were no predators. So, the apes ventured down from the trees and became comfortable on the ground. This led to the concept of “free time” since living in fear was no longer the modus operandi.

    After that, since reproduction was no longer a survival of the species issue, female apes began to discern features of potential mates other than physical prowess and potential for violence. THAT ultimately led to evolution of creativity. If the male apes amused the females, the females would reproduce with them. That led to more and more creative males. I think that was the primary driver behind intelligence and communications.

    You know…guys trying to hit on chicks. And we lived happily ever after.

    • Kiba says:

      Sexual selection did contribute greatly to the development of our modern form (as with all species), but creativity was a very late development. The homo sapiens physical form was around for a long, long time before the development of creativity and high intelligence. That only happened about about 50kyrs ago.

      We know of an isolated population developing an increase in brain plasticity, and hence intelligence (as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological conditions related to plasticity). The same event was responsible for modern intelligence and creativity.

      • FrankenPC says:

        I also have an alternative theory. I wonder if it’s possible that one of the primary evolutionary drives is portability.

        For instance, a dandelion evolved to use the wind to deliver it’s spore great distances. I wonder if there is a basic evolutionary drive to be able to travel great distances. So, humans evolved to be able to build transport vehicles and travel farther than any other lifeforms ever seen on the planet. We did this through intelligence.

        • Questinia says:

          Not only that, but humans can possess things like “motivational” vehicles for evolution. For instance they can willfully exercise, eat a good diet; become more fit (no pun intended) They can practice intention and planning, also aspects of evolutionary change.

      • Questinia says:

        Kiba!

        I saw sexual selection and neural plasticity and well, I wish I could stay. But I really ought to go…

        Please dog ear this page, will you darlin’?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hey, how come it didn’t happen with bears then? They don’t have any predators and have lots of free time. How come no bear Rembrandts and Shakespeares? How come they never got any higher than Glenn Beck, intellect-wise?

      • Kiba says:

        Because not every species follows the same path. In fact, there is no path. There is no plan. Nature just throws everything out there. What works, survives; what doesn’t, disappears.

        High intelligence is not the aim of evolution. Life just adapts to niches. The aim is simply survival. And even at that, it mostly doesn’t work out — the extinction rate is 99%. High intelligence is just an adaptation that happened to find favorable conditions in primates.

        • Questinia says:

          There may be no “plan” but there has to be some form of organization and a relative abundance of negentropy for things to become structured. In as much as there are laws of physical truths, tendencies, and requirements, there is a plan because organisms need to adhere to the blueprints of the natural universe.

          It’s hard to say yet whether there isn’t actually a “meta-plan” operating in an uncharted dimension; orchestrating things in a time dimension (or no time dimension) that we simply cannot perceive.

          I don’t think we should take what we see at present and conclude it is the final word. We have seen time and time again how those assumptions have proved to be false.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          Sure, I get that (and very nice to see you again, Kiba!) Still, if the mechanism that drove creativity and intellect in humans was, as Franken PC puts it, nothing other than females of the species discerning other features than “physical prowess and potential for violence”, then there are lots of candidates, such as eagles, bears, killer whales, etc. for similar advancements. As with pandas’ thumbs and bats’ wings, nature has frequently found alternate methods of replicating certain survival enhancing traits….except the one WE possess. So, Franken PC’s notion doesn’t quite come together for me, although if it’s true, it’s true; like you said, nature throws everything out there and see what lands and what goes plop.

          • Kiba says:

            Hi hi! Good to see you! I was wondering where everyone was, then I thought, “Hey! I am Lain! I can find anything or anyone if they are online!”

            I agree that sexual selection isn’t the sole driver for intelligence, though it undoubtedly played a role. I think environmental and dietary factors, as well as simple biological ones, were more important.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      So we’re just wingless bower birds, I guess?
      Not that my creativity has caused me to live all that “happily ever after”, though. On the whole, I think I would have preferred to have been born as a bonobo!

    • KQuark says:

      Good point. Also building off what you said our brains developed rapidly when going from quadruped to bipedal when we left the trees. “Free time” and “free hands” in combination were a game changer.

      • Kiba says:

        What I find fascinating is the discovery of Ardipithecus. It was taken for granted that our ancestors had to start walking upright when environmental changes turned their habitat into savannah. It makes sense: environmental change is so often the impetus for evolutionary change, and those primates who could see over the tall grass had a distinct advantage. We find lots of evidence for the earliest upright walking hominids coinciding with the change to grassland and it seems like an open and shut case. Then along comes Ardipithecus walking around upright in the forest a million years earlier and our assumptions are completely blown away. It

    • Khirad says:

      Maybe the banging on the rocks with sticks was the predecessor to musician: Homo musicalis.

  7. choicelady says:

    WTS -- fantastic article. And everyone who mused over the ridiculousness of our bits and pieces -- I so agree. Why the appendix? Or coccyx? Why are ears so intricate when large shells are all that is required to “gather” sound to the eardrum. Mine just collect shampoo. Then itch. No matter how much I rinse.

    I think the “Intelligent Design” people have really missed the mark. Who’d MAKE us this way? We are clearly works in progress. Or not, but still hardly “intelligently designed”. Some buffoon cited the eye as a perfect work, but a scientist pointed out it’s actually backwards from the logical way it should work. And Khirad and Cher are right -- why are teeth so fragile and expensive to maintain? Was the Intelligent Designer trying to provide a livelihood for future dentists?

    I am overwhelmed sometimes by the power of human thought, however. It never ceases to amaze me that we can come together, plan, build, create. The issue of cooperation seems simply awesome.

    Then I watch the tea parties, and I’m not quite so impressed.

    Lots of good stuff to think about here. Cudgels the brain though -- think I will take a nap. At that I am supremely good.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      May your animal body enjoy your nap immensely!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Choice Lady, the only explanation I have come up with to reconcile the fact of tea baggers and a Gandhi being both human beings during the same time period is that people must simply evolve at different rates.

    • Khirad says:

      Ah, you and Cher are right about the ear, after all. I don’t know who you were referring to, ChoiceLady, but I do recall that in Dawkins’ book refuting ID (I think). It is so curious that it works just like a camera though. Seriously, something had to be ‘corrected’ -- rerouted in the evolutionary process. It’s as if the watchmaker made it backwards and we had to put it in the mirror to read the time.

      Naps, yes, one of WTS’s other great questions!

        • whatsthatsound says:

          Those are brilliant ideas! Exactly, the Western paradigm seems to insist upon us as outsiders or accidents. I’m drawn to people like Watts and Ken Wilber, and James Redfield who draw their wisdom from eastern philosophy and place it within the Western vernacular.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            They are, What’s. I also love Ken Wilber, but haven’t heard of Redfield. I’ll have to look into his writing--thanks!

            • whatsthatsound says:

              He wrote “The Celestine Prophecy” and “The Tenth Insight”, which popularized these ideas. They are rather clunky as novels, but they do a great job of presenting complex ideas in a simple, easy to remember form.

            • Khirad says:

              Ah, I’ve been meaning to pick up Celestine at a book fair one of these days (I collect religious books of all sorts).

        • Khirad says:

          Wow, Cher, there were some lush flourishes in there! You took stuff I knew, and added depth to it. It was packaged so well! First the clay, then the breath (logos, life, etc.)… on to the end.

          I’ve also thought about this often -- as has anyone familiar with the Occidental/Oriental dichotomy (a Western construct itself!). In the Western view, there are confines. A beginning, and end. Thus, boxes, limits, -- linear thinking, as you said. In Hinduism the Universe is created, destroyed, and created again. Same intrinsic order, really big on order -- rta -- to the hierarchical degree suggesting socio-political “contamination” of thought, not found to great degree in Taoism.

          I’ve read my share of Taoism. I really found myself in it. And, it doesn’t conflict with my fierce agnosticism!

          Immanence, spontaneity, these are what set it and the East Asian religions apart.

          I’ve also thought of Western science as a reaction to Judeo-Christian-Islamic foundation:

          http://www.neopagan.net/Dualism.html

          In the East, there is little conflict in harmonizing the two.

          • Khirad says:

            Giraffes? Giraffes! -- I Am S/h(im)e[r] As You Am S/h(im)e[r]


            • Chernynkaya says:

              Hey Khirad! This was the first thing I read/heard when I first got online, and it was a great wake-up!! What a find. Did you listen to any more Watts? The music and the art is perfect!

            • whatsthatsound says:

              What an extraordinarily pleasant experience that was! Musically, it reminded me of Yes’ “Close to the Edge” and Mannheim Steamroller, music I haven’t listened to in many years. And the metaphysical lecture at the end is something I’ve often thought about, that this type of weird reality we are in is consciousness “taking things to the limit”.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              Math Rock. Waddle they think of next?

            • Khirad says:

              Yes, exactly, reminded me of “Close to the Edge” as well. It was a sample of Alan Watts I found googling. Apparently they are part of a genre based on Progressive Rock known as Math Rock.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Thanks, Khirad, but I was only paraphrasing Alan Watts-- an incredible teacher and popularizer of Eastern thought. And so effective because he could make these sorts of analogies!

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    What’s I forget to mention how fabulous that artwork is! Decartes!!

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Merci!

    • Khirad says:

      Seconded.

      WTS, do you do artwork first then name? Or think of a concept and do artwork, thus name? I’m curious on the creative process.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        That’s a great question. It’s more of a symbiosis. Something has to “kick in”, either an image or a concept. Then things seem to fall into place. For example, pugs. They are such great critters that it is a treat to draw them, so that means they wind up in the essay as well. And I like to draw on already existing artwork for inspiration. So it’s a very synthetic process, and a little different each time.

  9. Khirad says:

    It’s funny, that there are those moments in which you catch yourself in the mirror, and are like -- what the eff? Why do we have this -- or, geeze, when I think about it, if I were an alien -- we could look pretty weird!

    No kidding on teeth, Cher. And what’s up with still having wisdom teeth? Or an appendix, for that matter? Fingernails are sorta weird, though they do serve many functions. How about that pinky toe though. Seriously, look at it sometime with fresh eyes. WTF?

    I was once convinced (in high school and smoking copious amounts of weed, mind you) that the next stage should be wings like angels. This, of course, would mean we would have to have dino DNA though, I guess -- though bats did it, right? In any case, this most certainly is not a weird subject to me (no, “normal” subjects are weird to me!).

    I think this fits on at least two levels to your piece:


    Sorry for not commenting on our unique predicament regarding our brain and the world we’re recreating. That is far too deep for me to comment on -- though I’ve thought of these too.

    That being said, I’ll never understand this modification, and I like to think myself very tolerant and accepting:


    By far not the most disturbing thing I saw during the Jim Rose Circus though… somethings one can never unsee.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Wow, the lizard man may be taking these ideas a little TOO far! I think I’ll just keep drawing my weird pictures, with apologies to Rene Descartes, of course.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      And ears! Why are they so intricate on the outside?

      • Khirad says:

        The whorls are really intricate, but aren’t ears fairly functional? Lobes are debatable (attached or not), but I think of them as a reverse Bose speaker.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Hey, I liked that movie, but it could have been so much better! I keep watching it whenever it’s on TV, hoping it will be MORE!

      And I saw that NatGeo show-- really crazy! Talk about anti-speciesism!

      • Khirad says:

        With Stargate, I would’ve done more on the whole gods angle. but, the less you saw of them, the more climactic, I understand. I never read any D

  10. kesmarn says:

    What a fascinating article, WTS! (And the perfect art work to accompany, as always!)

    It’s funny, a friend and I were talking along these lines the other day. We were discussing how capitalism, by its nature, makes such extreme demands of the human mind and body. More and more, machine-like accuracy and endurance are expected of the “producers” of capitalism. Computers have moved from being our assistants to being our role-models!

    As an artist, you may be interested in this, WTS: have you ever taken note of the way the human body vs machinery is portrayed in animation over the decades? In the cartoons of the 20s and 30s, almost all things mechanical are anthropomorphised. Trains and cars are flexible, sinuous, limber. They surrealistically get up and walk on “hind legs,” and they often have “faces.”
    As time moved on, the “human” characters in animation, though, began to become more and more machine-like. Literal “transformers.” Humans became bionic. Isn’t it amazing how art expresses cultural/societal changes?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Wow, that is a fascinating observation. By the time we get around to RoboCop and Terminator, the human body ends up being replaced by robotics. It makes one long for the days of The Six Million Dollar Man, who today would probably cost six HUNDRED million dollars!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Hi Kes! What you wrote made me think about the fact that our visual cortex is probably hard-wired to see faces in inanimate objects-- or maybe it’s a chicken/egg dilemma. Do we see faces in objects or do we design objects that are anthropomorphized? These sites illustrate what I mean:

      http://fun24-7.blogspot.com/2006/11/50-smiley-faces-on-real-objects-1.html

      http://www.flickr.com/groups/facesobjects/

      http://www.uncoached.com/2009/07/14/a-gallery-of-faces-found-in-everyday-objects/

      • kesmarn says:

        Cher, you’re right! We do see faces everywhere, don’t we? As Khirad noted, there’s even the commercial with about 20 of those images that range from glum to serenely content inanimate objects. And I suppose the inverse idea of the (at least partly) mechanical human goes back about as far as humans have been able to invent machines. As WTS says:

      • Khirad says:

        I see faces in drywall and wood grain, so -- I think it’s hardwired.

        I also think we design them. Like in those smiley face commercials. Seriously, ever seen the VW Bug with the “eyelids” (headlight hood)? Tell me that wasn’t intentional.

        I see faces in drywall and wood grain, so -- I think it’s hardwired.

        I also think we design them. Like in those smiley face commercials. Seriously, ever seen the VW Bug with the “eyelids” (headlight hood)? Tell me that wasn’t intentional.

        Edit: I looked everywhere for this image! Finally, after not remembering where I first found it, I just uploaded it myself -- dammit!

        This is from an island in the Straight of Hormuz of Iran:

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Eeek! Great image, Khirad! Yes, I think we are hardwired. Think of the age-old pastime of watching clouds.

          For example:

          Personally, I’ve seen better, but too lazy to find them!

          • SueInCa says:

            Cher
            My cousin and I had a cloud staring contest one day, who could make the cloud disappear first by staring at it. We later learned it was atmospheric conditions that made clouds disappear but we really thought we were onto something that day.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Sue, when I was a tiny kid, my mom used to amaze me by “making” the red light traffic signal change to green by blowing at it. It was years before I realized she was looking at the yellow light from the cross street to see when the light would change. 😀

            • whatsthatsound says:

              That’s cute! But I never did that with my own daughter. I think it would have put to much pressure on me to be magical in OTHER ways I couldn’t have lived up to. “C’mon dad, make an ice cream cone appear! You can do it!”

            • SueInCa says:

              It is funny what our parents did that we believed because they were “the adult in the room”. My dad used to pull stuff like that on us.

            • Khirad says:

              Haha! We all had things like that. That’s actually deep, too. It’s the same sort of thing that led to some early religious beliefs/rituals.

            • SueInCa says:

              We actually thought we had solved the deepest riddle in the universe or some such thing. We laugh about it now but that childhood innocence was a good thing too. Before we were bombarded by ideas coming from all sides as to who was really right. I don’t think the human race will ever figure that one out definitively.

          • Khirad says:

            Oh my, that wasn’t doctored?!

            Then again, I’ve seen clouds that were clearly, clearly a pirate ship!

            The Flying Dutchman?

  11. Chernynkaya says:

    What’s, I love this piece. You are such a sui generis homo sapien! It’s been a long time since I thought about the things you write about, and it’s a pleasure to think about them again.

    I have several thoughts. Oddly, the first one is that out teeth are a mistake, evolution-wise. They don’t last as long as the rest of our parts without a ton of maintenance--and very expensive, technical maintenance! Something must be done about that.

    I used to read a fair amount of science fiction, and I remember a book I read (I think it was by Larry Niven and Jerry Pourelle) about extraterrestrials who evolved from elephants instead of apes. It was a great novel, and it spent a good deal of time talking about the way their space ship was designed based on the anatomy of a species that has a trunk. Which, of course, makes one think about the ways we have designed our world for weak, bipedal creatures with thumbs.

    Which reminds me of a cartoon by Gary Larson. Two crocodiles are on a river bank watching a couple of naked people swimming.One says to the other, “They have no hard shells, small teeth, no claws. This will be easy.”

    See, back to teeth again! Anyway, great post (More to come.)

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Ha, Gary Larson, my favorite philosopher! Thanks for the great comments, Cher. As for elephants’ trunks, it is probably my all time favorite evolutionary feature!


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