The first book I ever read about evolution was written in 1961 by Robert Ardrey. It was called African Genesis: A Personal Investigation into the Animal Origins and Nature of Man. I read it in 1971 after having been raised in a strict belief in a world created by god. As an 18 year old, despite going to a modern high school in a "liberal" neighborhood, I had never been taught anything about evolution. It was an eye-popping experience for me and changed my life in many, many ways. I decided to re-read it and am currently doing so, as you can see on my sidebar.
Friday, September 26, 2008
While reading it last night I ran into something that again caused me to pause and think. It was not highly relevant to the subject at hand but I did find it enlightening when we look at the perplexing views on so many subjects of our fellow citizens. I'm going to leave you with about a page from the book. It will seem like a lot more than a page, seeing it here on a blog - but it's just a page. Give it a read and think about how it relates to everything from conspiracy theories to devout religious belief. As Darwin once said, "light will be thrown".
The Illusion of Central Position, so the theory goes, is the birthright of every human baby. He enters an unknown world. He lies in a basket, or a cradle, or a clutch of straw. His eyesight is vague. Bright objects appear for his amusement, bottles and breasts for his comfort. His groping consciousness finds no reason at all to doubt the world's consecration to his needs and purposes. His Illusion of Central Position is perfect.
Time and growth, however, unfold experience, and most experiences disillusionment. The baby wakes in the midst of the impenetrable night and his wails command companionship. But weary parents sleep unheeding. the baby has encountered neglect. Or in the bright, cheerful, morning sun the inexplicable cat may scratch him. The baby has encountered hostility. Or most dreadful experience of all, in a year or so a baby sister may arrive. Now the laughter and breasts and bright objects are showered on another, and shout of the world's deceit.
Self-awareness is a human attribute; and central position, so the theory states, is its primary assumption. But every human being throughout his entire life-span faces an unending series of experiences each of which is a disillusionment affecting the primary assumption. We may accept the blow, reintegrate our personality to include it, and proceed with our Illusion of Central Position slightly dented; in that case we mature. Or we may by one fanciful means or another reject the experience, escape the disillusionment, and proceed with our primary assumption intact. In this case, of course, we fail to mature.
Human resource is a mine of great richness; and coins of many metals may ransom our illusion. We may as far as possible renounce the challenge of experience and retire at early age behind the sheltering skirts of a co-operative mother. Or, renouncing even her, we may find our refuge in mood and masturbation. Or we may take a quite contrary course and accept all blows, even seek them, while we interpret every unpleasant experience as evidence of some grand conspiracy magnificently arranged against us. By this cunning means we not only preserve intact the Illusion of Central Position; we exalt it, and see the world in its acute hostility as confirm our peculiar station.
posted - 2:32 PM