Thursday, May 18, 2006

And if brains were pasta you'd feel hungry all the time

A long, long while ago I thought it'd be fun to write a series of posts on what makes us distinctly human. I may be in vet school now but am also an Anthropologist and find such things, indeed, fun. I asked readers to be my think tank and leave their thoughts in the comments section so we could build a list and start from there. This is what it looked like when we were finished:

1 - Orgasms, oral sex + missionary position + sex toys

2 - Abortion
- Homosexuality
- Language (not simply communicating)

- Insomnia (how could I've missed this one!)
- Art
- Self-recognition
- Humour/laughter
- Killing own species’ members for no apparent reason
- Culture
- Mourning the dead
- Burying the dead
- Active teaching
- Religion
- Racism
- Revenge
- Tools (makeshift and use)
- Vanity
- Greed
- Imagination
- Clothing
- Intuitive thinking
- Ritualisation
- Awareness of impending own death
- Sense of time (past, future, memories, expectations, learning and planning)

- The Means to Conceivably End All Life On This Planet [just because, there’s no out-arguing this one really]

The first two, sex and abortion, are numbered bcs I did wrote abt them, here and here. But then my insomnia became really bad, and then my world collapsed under liquid pressure, and those were the only ones I ever did write.

Now, remember the very first post was simply a collective brainstorming. It received a new comment:

"Killing own species’ members for no apparent reason " Im no expert but I'm sure that other animals kill their own kind. Your post has an anti-human tone to it, I'm not sure what thats about, but I have to argue
that not humans don't kill each other for "no apparent reason".You also included greed, but don't animals eat until their appetites are fully satisfied. I'm sure they don't eat to just sustain themselves. I also don't think that alpha-male animals will allow less dominate members of their group to have sex withtheir mate. I dont know where you got racism from, that just seems to come out of left field. Your giving something distinctly human, and applying to animals.All in all I think this article is poor and should be backed up with evidence, not just what you think makes us human.

And this took close to 17 min to be written as wel. A Canadian from the Ontario area, you might be happy to know. *sigh*

Theory 1
People who feel very inadequate in real life see blogging as a sort of therapeutic, egomegalotistic power trip where they are entitled to say what they please as they please without being constrained by details such as common courtesy or any social rules really bcs, after all, if we didn't want people to read it we souldn't have written it now should we and I'd be hard placed to find a more inane argument. I think, broadly translated, this means I am allowed to take an ax to the furniture when I go round to someone's house and find it displeasing. My quality of life has just been vastly improved.

Theory 2
Many people feel that it's perfectly all right to finish I don't know how many years of schooling and still not master their mother language. That commenter above doesn't strike me as dyslexic and so I am left feeling pissy. Which adds to the pissy I already felt regarding theory 1.

Theory 3
Anonymous commenters choose to be Anons, not even boothering to choose an alias, bcs not only are they sexually confused but they suffer nominally, in its literal sense of in name only. They look at the little comment box and when faced with the millenary question Who am I? what can they do but whimper. Anons are legion, groinless and encephaless, and out of respect to their predicament I shall refer to my commenter as an IT.

The truth is, I absolutely don't know what the bloody hell IT is talking abt. HELP!

1) Is IT really calling a post that is nothing more than a list an article?
2) Is IT saying that not humans (non-humans, I surmise) do not kill others just bcs? [Warn chimps and bottlenoses quickly!]
3) WHAT exactly is IT saying regarding greed? In one sentence, many worlds. I could cry.
4) Is IT saying Alpha males are omnipotent and ubiquitous? [Warn sea lions quickly! Or most Alphas that turn their back for far too long really.]
5) Is IT really saying I'm racist bcs - I compiled a list? I don't know, I still don't know what he's talking abt.

I am starting to smell a foreign speaker (I smell human flesh, as the Giant in the Bean story says in Portuguese) - well, I smell something malodorous in any case, which leads me to:

Theory 4
Very Stupid People are attracted to me bcs I am kind and gentle, and I handle imbecility so very well.

Anti-human? Absolutely, anon. Three-penised aliens do it that much better.

Links to this post:



At 18/5/06 19:59, Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

Ohh! Three-penised aliens! Count me in.

I'm gonna stretch here and offer that the writer is about 13. Jeez, one can only hope.

"not humans" ??


At 18/5/06 20:11, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

'I am kind and gentle, and I handle imbecility so very well'

Thanks, I really needed a good long laugh today.

I just love your posts and your attitude.

At 18/5/06 20:39, Blogger Udge said...

I very nearly spat tea over the keyboard while reading this post. Thanks for the entertainment.

(Although I think I'd just have hit the "delete" key.)

OTOH I believe that many of the items are not specifically human, e.g. male dolphins in captivity masturbate by positioning their penises in the pool's inflow stream (read that somewhere), and many species of animals and birds use tools. FWIW I think that the items related to self-awareness and spirituality are the only absolutely solid ground. Write a few more of those articles, I for one would like to hear your views.

(Confirmation word: duarvim - more than one duarv?)

At 18/5/06 20:53, Blogger The Lioness said...

Blue, yes, the Not Humans is so endearing. I fear an adult though. Even sadder.

Joe, you know we aim to please. Actually it should read "gentle and PATIENT etc", that's even more accurate.

Udge, the delete key?? But they're so entertaining! Actually, I think only the spiritual one is valid. Some gorillas, besmirched in their sleep by the vile humans, will touch their foreheads upon seeing themselves in a mirror, and a few such other examples. MAsturbation I covered in the first post. I really think we're left with God et al only. Not too shabby!

[Duarvim: plural of duarv in Hebrew indeed! Kudos to you!]

At 19/5/06 03:22, Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

With 3 penises a guy could do a lot of masturbation....

I'm just saying.

That was entertaining. Poor, dumb Anon. Someone needs to buy Anon a speak-and-spell. Do they still make those?

At 19/5/06 09:07, Anonymous Kath said...

Encephaless! Yes! I'm sitting here, in your proverbial house, enjoying the beauty of your mental furniture.

And as for IT, it has almost mastered speech, except for that pesky communication bit. But that will follow, I'm sure, right when logic comes flying into its as yet encephaless head.

Backed up with evidence. What are you, a scientific journal? Of which IT is the editor?

At 19/5/06 10:18, Blogger brooksba said...

OMG, I love you. You are absolutely brilliant. I miss you so much.

And I'm still giggling here. DM is here and she's laughing too. You are great.

At 19/5/06 21:32, Blogger Diana said...

Maybe It is actually a very highly educated chimp who takes issue with the list?

I want to add 'cooking' to the list, as in the lovely culinary arts. Unless you think this is encompassed by the more general 'arts'.

At 21/5/06 06:47, Anonymous Manuela said...

omigod...SO freaking funny.

Antihuman? (can't stop laughing) I'm surprised he didn't accuse you of commiting bestiality... what... with all the sex talk transpiring in the same 'article'.

Made my evening. Even if it is a Canadian.

At 22/5/06 15:11, Blogger Dale said...

Hmm. I think the last item is the only one I agree with; I can find counterexamples among animals for all the rest. Except religion (depending on how you define it) and language (again, depending on how you define it; recently someone did a fascinating study of the syntax of birdsong.)

But anyway -- while I don't aspire to IT's eloquence and analytical prowess -- I think that a more interesting question is, why are we so interested in distinguishing ourselves from other animals? I don't have any trouble telling which critters are human beings. Why do we *want* specific criteria? :-)

At 23/5/06 00:32, Blogger brooksba said...

Maybe I'm confused, but I thought the original purpose was to show what people think makes us human and then you would have examples of each of these traits in animals. Am I wrong to think that many of the items on the list are not distinctly human traits?

At 23/5/06 07:10, Blogger The Lioness said...

Chimmy, words fail me. What's a speak and spell?

Kath, it felt right. And this: "What are you, a scientific journal? Of which IT is the editor?" had me laughing for a long time.

Beth and DM, start packing then. Now.

Diana, let's not insult chimps shall we. Bad enough that they're almost extinct. I'll add that to the list, hadn't crossed my mind.

Manuela, Canadians can be wankers, yes. Too sad.

Dale, you found insomnia other than among us?? Oh please share! I also have my thoughts regarding the list but still harbour hope that one day I'll be able to tackle it again. Aren't I naive. Also, I think the more we adapt, the more we're plagued by identity issues. Let's face it, the last item alone is enough to make you want to know WHAT is it abt us exactly that could even make us think of it. As a species, that amount of raw power is pretty remarkable, even if for the wrong reasons. And see, some would say they're not wrong at all - so that places us in a niche that is worth studying. That, and we think we're better than anything else in the universe.

Beth, you are absolutely not wrong, I personally think the majority are shared across several species.

At 24/5/06 17:41, Blogger CarpeDM said...

My dream is to live in Portugal for part of the year - the non-hot part - and spend lots and lots of time with you and Loverboy and my beloved Papoila, JIP and Hum-Hum. My dream also includes being really, really, really rich and buying a gigantic house somewhere and having you and Loverboy live there year round to make sure it doesn't get broken into so you could sell your flat and not have to worry about money and then become the world's greatest vet ever. I like dreams.

Anyway, Anon, obviously you weren't paying attention to the whole thing. It was a list that other people came up with. And let me state right here, you git, how wrong your first sentence is..."Killing own species’ members for no apparent reason." You are correct, yes, animals do kill one another. But how many times have you read about the dog who killed another dog for its collar? Sheesh.

At 25/5/06 09:04, Blogger Viscondessa said...

When do we get another post? I'm getting antsy for a new one. And did you get my email about plane tickets? This means you have 6+ more months to add to my baggage weight limit. Feel free, but no huge veterinary encyclopedia sets, ok?

At 28/5/06 11:59, Anonymous Kath said...

Just checking in, too, cookie. I hope you're well. XO

At 29/5/06 09:58, Blogger Ana said...

This post has been here for so long. Where are you? And how about lunch in Hagen Daaz one of these days?

At 3/6/06 20:12, Blogger Udge said...

Just found something that reminded me tangentally of this post (and the comments). I thought it might interest you.

I assert first the paradox that our predatory animal origin represents for mankind its last best hope . . . we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen.

Robert Ardrey. The rise of man


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