Friday, September 26, 2008

Evo's Genesis

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.


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. 

7 comments:

Grumpy Lion said...

"Bright objects appear for his amusement, bottles and breasts for his comfort."

So if you like movies, booze, and boobs, you're still in infancy? I suppose I've progressed - I don't care all that much for booze.

John Evo said...

The movies, titties and booze are fine. As long as you don't let life confuse you in to thinking that they are all for you. Our natural inclination is to feel like everyone is player in the great act of "our life". Some people never get over it not being that way. Some retreat behind mother's apron (religion) and some see the many negative examples as proof that the deck has been specially stacked - against THEM.

It's Friday, Ric. Have a beer and watch the debate. Then get laid!

The Exterminator said...

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. [He] wakes in the midst of the impenetrable night and his wails command companionship. Or in the bright, cheerful, morning sun the inexplicable cat may scratch him. [But] now the laughter and breasts and bright objects are showered on another
Shit, that sounds a lot like me. The bright objects -- a few hundred billion of them, in fact -- are going to be taken away from me and showered on Wall Street. And I can imagine their laughter, although I can't vouch for whether or not they'll get the breasts.

the chaplain said...

Is this author implying that I'm not the center of the universe? Heh. That shows how little he knows.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

That is a magnificent peice of prose. I can see how it must have been a life changing book. That page cuts to the heart of it, doesn't it.

heather said...

What a great quotation. I'll look out for the whole book.

paleohayduke said...

Yeah. This is one of my favorite books. I first read it while locked up in county. I had my sister order it and have it shipped to me along with a few other books by Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz. You should check out some of Konrad Lorenz's work. Ardrey based a lot of his writing on his research.