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American Scholar ran a great essay by Brian Boyd (who I have only ever read writing about Nabokov) on meaninglessness, or meaningfulness in a Darwinian existence.

It is a surprisingly refreshing perspective for an author who, clearly, has spent a lot of time thinking about life and context and Art. I think the most interesting part of the article is a discussion of how Art figures into the human evolutionary experience, which puts, in better words than I am capable of, something I truly believe - that art is an outcropping the brains+social nature of humans.

Where this article loses a bit of steam, in my perspective, and, where most Creationists try to gain ground, is on the definition and significance of Meaning. It is easy to say meaning comes from being part of a vast, ever-changing flow of individuals - essentially alone, but genetically linked. This is truth, and some may take comfort in that, but it is a cold comfort. The madness of theology is tied to a higher-order desire humans have for community. In community, all the environmental threats we have faced, which may have wiped us out as a species - our genetic fears, have been demoted to "occasional catastrophes, or major inconveniences" in a vast portion of the world's population.

What has not been dealt with is the eternal fear that comes from a sense of self-awareness and time - the inevitability of death. Why, when every other major concern has been answered in community, should this fear not be abolished similarly? Gods provide great communal reassurance where none is available in a tangible way - you cannot see your invisible monster/man/woman/dish of pasta in the sky, but you can see, touch, feel, rejoice, worship and commune with others who believe in the same invisible monster/man/woman/dish of pasta.

I have long held that the alteration which capitulated our species into "higher consciousness" was coupled with a near-loss of genetic consciousness. We are a shortsighted species, in the modern world. Rare is it that we personally look past the well being of those we might survive to see, perhaps one generation beyond that. Dogmatists constantly work in these time frames - things which must be "preserved forever" or "saved for the future". I find that highly offensive. Who are we to even say what the future will think of something we "lovingly preserve" for them, or what the past might have thought of some piece of crap, which today is a relic?

With genetic consciousness, I believe, there was a sense of continuity. Humans have a strong tie to geneology -across cultures, genders, and climates. Most of what carries across is name and deed - often distorted by time. If, in essence, we could "know" these things, without having to scrabble through poorly kept records, and dead ends, perhaps we would be far less inclined to discount so heavily the lives of those beyond our lifetime. Certainly, we would be less inclined to stake our futures, wars, and livelihoods on an imaginary monster/man/woman/dish of pasta in the sky. We wouldn't need to. Along with genetic memory comes that aspect of community we all seek in the face of the unknown.

At least I think so.

At the end of the day though, we are all monkeys:


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
Except for things which we must preserve so that future generations may have as high or higher a quality of life (ozone, clean water, beautiful vistas, etc.) any attempt to preserve things for future generations is pride and a variant of the genetic imperative. Humeans create copies of themselves not just to continue the species but to enhance their pride as males or females of the species.
Mar. 11th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
those are not "things" as i am definign them
environmental conditions are something which _should_ be beyond our capacity, as a living organism within an ecosystem, to destroy, without realizing we are doing it.

the things you are citing are factors damaged by exactly the shortsightedness i am talking about. at the end of the day though, they may very well fall under the same category, depending on how or if we evolve.

Mar. 11th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: those are not "things" as i am definign them
Well, I was merely exempting them from my describing what you were discussing as pride.
Mar. 11th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
i'm talking about "things" - architecture, paintings, statues - or social paradigms - things like marriage principals or racial/gender segregation, caste systems or social constructs.
Mar. 11th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
Re: heh
Yeah, I thought of the poem Ozymandias when reading the post.
Mar. 11th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
And here I thought you were just showing us a brief history in the life of George
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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