Friday, January 04, 2008

Hominid Thing

We hominids are clustered together in the chilly night. We cling to each other, but unknowingly. Sure, we feel each other, we react to each other. We move, we twist, and we do the exotic dance of the unconscious continued to this day by sleeping humans. While asleep I travel across the rocky bed of this cave, with my arms and legs akimbo, and so do Betsey and the others. There are no distinctions between us, we simply manifest dozens or even thousands of gradients of an extraordinary assortment of kinds…We perceive these gradients and respond to them…The perception and the response aren’t (much) separate, though. We intertwine with each other or maybe it would be better to say that these gradients intertwine and intertwine us.

We don’t have an alpha group or an alpha male or an alpha female. The question of us being characterized as either matriarchal or patriarchal would be astoundingly absurd. There are no arrangements of us. It may be difficult to understand this claim, but we do not "interact" with each other. We do not reflect upon each other or our situation. We can't. We don't have what would now be called emotions about each other, either. I don’t envy the others. I don’t think about killing them to get what they’ve got…I don’t know what kind of cultural structures (I don’t think anyone nowadays assumes there is a “brain anatomy” of envy) would be required to think in these highly complex ways, but we obviously don’t have them.

I am not "equipped" for life out here in the wilds of Africa. I have not been prepared for it. When God was handing out the preparations, we hominids weren't in line. We are truly primitive.

Anything which isn't primitive, we don't have.

There is no such thing as a primitive idea.

There is no such thing as a primitive (human) emotion, either.

Envy isn’t primitive.

Identification of sex (male or female) isn’t primitive. The gathering of (human or hominid) females by one (human or hominid) male isn’t primitive. (By primitive I mean something that can be used to explain other things but doesn’t need to be explained itself…It’s sort of a “given.”) The enormous extent to which the primal horde as conceived by Freud and Darwin (Freud was following Darwin on this, I believe,) is already highly structured and sedimented and downright sophisticated has not been appreciated. Their originary "primal" theoretical moment (event) would require developments which they don’t seem to take into account. (Darwin and Freud may not have seen it this way because in their speculative theories they used field observations of the way apes or other primate hordes were organized -- alpha males in some primate groups do indeed control multiple females…Darwin and Freud may therefore have regarded the control of multiple females by an alpha male, and all the behavior which goes along with that, as primitive in the sense I’m using primitive.)

But us poor hominids (assuming that our primate ancestors were among those primates with a harem organization –and I think it’s interesting how flimsy that assumption is because many primate groups are very different and our ancestors might very well have been different) lost this organization when we became hominids. We had to come by it again through a long process of creation and becoming.


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