(I’m gonna step up on this rickety soap-box for a moment. I’ve been thinking about this one concept and how it applies to much of what we’ve been discussing and it comes out as preachy. Sorry ’bout this up front.)
Our brains are too big.
If one analyzes the animal kingdom one will find that the amount of processing power (cranial capacity) correlates with the DNA driven needs of the creature under study. A dog has just enough smarts to find water, hunt & eat food, seek shelter and sniff out a mate to make new dogs. Likewise a cricket, a crocodile, an elephant and an emu—all developed just enough brain matter to execute those four governing behaviors. Billions of species have followed this pattern.
And then came us…
with brains way too powerful to just bum around sipping, nibbling, fucking and complaining about the weather. We’ve got so much extra capacity that we feel compelled to use it, and it would seem, in the most ludicrous and useless fashion possible—dream shit up just to give our spinny-wheely, bulbous minds something to do. This factor may be the answer to a number of our investigations.
Do beetles, baboons, lizards or loons believe in god? Delude themselves into believing the Hulk’s pants remained stretchy enough to stick around? Spend six million on a bionic eye, arm and leg (ahem, legs)? (As a child it didn’t take me 10 minutes to realized that the rest of Steve Austin’s body would collapse under the load of a one-hand-hefted pickup truck.)
I think we need fantasy in whatever form we can find. Consider every culture that arose during the Holocene: they all fabricated religious illusions to pack their too-big brains. We want to believe in the magical, the impossible. But maybe believe is too strong a word (though not for many). We want to be awash in imaginary possibilities—simply to keep us from going insane from this burden of idle mental horsepower.
(Somebody take this crate away, it barely holds my weight and smells of hubris.)
I loved Mystery Science Theater 3000; and for the same reason: snide, clever comments on the most lame movie plots and props imaginable.
The future of humanity, hmm. I’ve had a fair amount to say about this in the past, mostly due to my proclivity for apocalyptic conclusions. Evolution? I believe that we won’t see human Darwinian natural selection ever again. Homo Prometheus however, may, no, is being CRISPr’d somewhere in a Chinese lab—as we speak. So, we’ll evolve, but I believe it will be directed evolution.
Of course, that assumes we survive any of a dozen civilization ending scenarios. The Doomsday Clock creeps ever nearer midnight.
When I used to travel I’d seek out the Ruben. I don’t think I’ve ever found one to my liking. Max’s in San Francisco (a copy of NY’s) was close. But they were manufactured en masse. Thick though. It’s the kraut and dressing that’s important, I prefer Thousand Island to Russian.
The image at the top is Gobekli Tepe (belly-button hill) in Turkey. It was created at the beginning of the Holocene. I’ve been enamored by the idea of carving in stone. It’s simple and cheap: hammer, chisel, safety-glasses and a rock out in the wide-open. What are you going to carve into the side of a granite cliff that you’d feel happy about leaving for our ancestors to discover, circa 5000 CE? (Those that survive the plague, CME, asteroid and the 6th Extinction.)