The roots of the arts “date back in deep history to the genetic origins of the human brain, and are permanent.” So writes Edward O. Wilson in one of my favorite books, Consilience, 1998….
“While biology has an important part to play in scholarly interpretation, the creative arts themselves can never be locked in by this or any other discipline of science. The reason is that the exclusive role of the arts is the transmission of the intricate details of human experience by artifice to intensify aesthetic and emotional response. Works of art communicate feeling directly from mind to mind, with no intent to explain why the impact occurs. In this defining quality, the arts are the antithesis of science. (p 218)
“….Several special powers were granted the arts by the genetic evolution of the brain. First is the ability to generate metaphors with ease and move them fluidly from one context to another.” Wilson maintains that metaphors, the “building blocks of creative thought,” are the consequence of spreading activation of the brain during learning.
Wilson also recognizes the importance of our natural environment for our present and future. On page 278 he writes, “What we idealize in nature and seek to re-create is the peculiar physical and biotic environment that cradled the human species. The human body and mind are precisely adapted to this world , notwithstanding its trials and dangers, and that is why we think it beautiful. In this respect Homo sapiens conforms to a basic principle of organic evolution, that all species prefer and gravitate to the environment in which their genes were assembled. It is called ‘Habitat selection.’
“There lies survival for humanity, and there lies mental peace, as prescribed by our genes. We are consequently unlikely ever to find any other place or conceive of any other home as beautiful as this blue planet was before we began to change it.”
Now that I’ve driven my potential readers away, I’ll share what’s been on my mind: evolution. It’s an exciting topic, mysterious, and curious, so I’m hooked. The following excerpt is from Nigel Barger’s recent book, Evolution in the Here and Now, Prometheus 2020. “When gene expression is altered by the environment, there can be marked behavioral consequences….Children raised in stressful homes are significantly shorter in stature despite the fact that that height is one of the most genetically heritable traits. Psychological stress inhibits normal growth and development by changing the way that genes are expressed.” So a psychological (i.e., environmental) influence can alter gene expression , thereby shortening stature. (p 205) I’m wondering about the age factor–whether the stress transmitted in utero or during the bonding process might initiate the alteration of the gene expression. Have I not read about babies dying from lack of human touch? I’m assuming here that parents in those stressful homes would exhibit similar stressful and stress-inducing behavior behavior during the birthing process, and their hypothetical level of stress effect a compromised genetic expression. For the latter possibility, birth weights might differ. I posted this because it got my curiosity (“what if…”) going.
Linguist Noam Chomsky has spent much of his life studying the underlying structure of language–not the meaning of words used but their underlying form and pattern. Evolution is the hypothesized generator underlying language, which subsequently developed world wide into the various languages, all based on the underlying pre-existing patterning. (See Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell, Simon and Schuster). A similar underlying evolutional provision is hypothesized to exist in other areas (with some suggestive evidence) in the area of mathematics and musical talent. Incidentally, the most spoken languages as of 2020 are English: 1,132 million; Mandarin Chinese: 1,117 million speakers; Hindi 615 million; and Spanish 534 million (blog.Lingoda.com).
Perhaps a more clearcut evolutionary prescription is suggested by what has been called the spiritual gene hypothesis, fine-tuned by Dean Hamer, a molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health. The God gene hypothesis proposes that human spirituality is influenced by heredity and that a specific gene called vesicular monoamine Transporter 2 (VMAT2) acts by altering monoamine elements and provides an evolutionary advantage by providing individuals with an innate sense of optimism (Wikipedia).
Hamer draws a sharp distinction between spirituality and religion or belief in a particular god, the latter of which is transmitted culturally. Wikipedia reports that there are approximately 4,200 active religions in the world [!] As of 2020 the breakdown is:
I DON’T like to think of canine pets as “dogs.” It doesn’t seem right. And of course the word for female canines is even worse…I found some warm quotes about canine pets at Konrad Lorenz on Google. “The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this Earth can ever be.”
AS A CHILD I thought I might become a detective when I grew up because I could tell the good guys from the bad ones so easily…. (The good guys wore white hats and the bad ones, black hats.)
ONE SURE NEEDS a lot of faith in the miracles of evolution to avoid belief in intelligent design! I’ve been doing some “escape” reading in Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell (Simon and Schuster (1982), and the concept of information theory is just beyond my ken. It’s exciting, however, to think that the unconscious rules of grammar pre-dated the acquisition of language. Some think it’s true for music and even numbers. And to imagine what kind of communication scheme Neanderthal engaged in with his burial customs, etc., grabs the imagination. Interesting that child prodigies can be considered mutations from a hypothesized biological process yet not from the influence of a past life. (Not that I believe that; I’m just messing with you.)
SPEAKING OF messing, I wonder what precipitated our president to mess his pants on the eve of the runoff election in Georgia today. Gee, and on January 6 violent conspiracy theorists from all over the USA are invited to party wildly in Washington at 11 a.m. on the day the vice president is scheduled to present the results of the electoral college to the senate.
HOW ABOUT a way to inform bloggers that one of their followers (or those followed) has died? I’d like to leave an obituary that my daughter could enter so blog friends would know why I’m no longer writing. Writing a cheerful obituary would be a challenge.
It was all laid out for us to see. More than the condition of our culture; more like the human condition. Monkeys throwing coconuts at another who fell. One congressman on the verge of a heart attack, in his wrath. The downed one’s existential grief more palpable and more manly than the last pilloried miscreant.
A reversal of The Boy Who Cried Wolf?
The pointing finger’s efforts to distract. For the first time spoken aloud: if Trump loses in 2020 there will not be a peaceful transfer of power.
What responses crystallized in the hearts of the viewers? How fitting that Elijah oversaw the proceedings.