Dear Mole, Deconstructing Mr. Ed

mr. ed

For a nominal fee, I would be willing to hop a flight to your neck o’ the woods, casually waltz into your office and kick Prick sharply in the shin, thereby inflicting both pain and confusion upon your workplace nemesis.

Incidentally, that opening sentence will constitute the entirety of my job search efforts for the day.

Now for my Yuletide philosophical head-scratcher:  do you think that any of the “higher animals” are capable of awe?  Establishing at the onset that conceptual thought is something of which (currently) only humans are capable, I’m speaking more of that wordless feeling of overwhelming beauty that we get in our less jaded moments as we gaze upon the strange play of light when the sun sets behind a forested mountaintop.  I understand if this proposition sounds absurd on the surface, but stay with me here.  The male peacock, among other animals, attempts to attract a mate by displaying its dazzling plumage.  The beauty of the patterns on its fan-like feathers is appealing to the eye, but it doesn’t seem to imply strength, health, vitality or any other quality that enhances its chances of survival.  So why is the female peacock so discriminating in her assessment of his “beauty”?  Does this perhaps present the possibility that she has an actual sense of aesthetic appreciation as opposed to a mere instinctual attraction to a practical mate?  Perhaps even some version of what we so loftily refer to as “spirituality”?

Think about the evolution of our domesticated pets.  The reason it’s so common to hear a pet owner describe their dog or cat (or agreeable wildebeest) in the same terms that they use to describe a human child is because we have fiddled with their evolution through selective breeding and training in a way that literally made those species more closely related to our own.  Their emotions and corresponding mannerisms grow perpetually closer to ours the longer they inhabit our homes and memorize the verbal and physical cues of their human companions.  Who’s to say that there is a limit to their evolutionary potential?  Physical adaptations appear in animals all the time – that’s natural selection maximizing survival chances.  Should dogs, cats, pigs, dolphins or horses continue to mentally evolve according to our direction, why wouldn’t it be possible at some point for these animals to develop the subtle muscles and organs required for speech?  Or opposable thumbs?

tina

We were nothing more than a dumb animal once.  Sure, our earliest ancestors already had the potential to become what we currently know as the modern human, but aside from that, the collective intellect had not yet advanced beyond that of the rest of the animal kingdom.  And all things considered, I’m not so convinced that present day humanity is anything more than a potential stepping-stone to something far more advanced, should we survive as a species long enough to get there.

Merry x-mas and all that.

*Grunt* *Snort*,

‘Mudge


10 thoughts on “Dear Mole, Deconstructing Mr. Ed

  1. I should note that dogs have evolved to leverage the same technique babies do to mothers which is to look straight into our eyes, the whites showing. This doe-eyed, seraphic ruse triggers oxytocin in our brains inducing feelings of love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, very true. But if you apply the same analysis to our own expressions of affection, you’ll find symbiotic survival instincts there, too. I also want to point out that I may have been talking out of my ass in assuming that the patterns on peacock feathers don’t perhaps contain information about the male’s health and thus may advertise survival chances.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure you’re well aware of sexual selection, Darwin’s sister to his “Natural” variety.
        For many species, when survival had been optimized, a form of pageantry arose that may originally have had survival aspects, but now only serve the audacious display of lavish extravagance.
        For humanity’s de-evolution of the concept I give you haute couture. The aesthetic in me exists as no doubt it exists in all of us. Its personification, however, in the form of fashion and cosmetics only work for me when they are removed, on the pages in between. Gotta love J. Geils, long live J. Geils.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As I care to allow your provocative post to stew and steep in its own juices as well as the juice of others compelled to comment, I’ll voice my partial opinion here with the other cutting-board trimmings.

    Awe.
    It so happens that Mr. George F. has recently decided to preemptively one-up your supposition and declare, through narrative, that the Universe itself may in fact have had its genesis due to the conscious cognitive being phenomena known as “awe.”
    https://randomwalkthroughintelligentuniverse.wordpress.com/ Unfortunately for us, George has decided to wipe the slate clean for every installment and so his theory of Awe remains only within his archives (as well as mine as I’ve been keeping a running-edit-version of his story for years; part of both of ours’ learning to write adventures.)

    Awe: struck by the beauty and magnificence of a scene or spectacle.

    Nothing awesome is awesome today. The lose of that word, as well as a few others, by the mistreatment of society, is lamentable (gay being one I’d love to return to common parlance, I ache to be gay). When people use that word “awesome” for the most lame and mundane subjects I can’t help but point out, “That sure as shit ain’t awesome, you trashy-trend-tramp.” Awesome is the sunrise over the Grand Canyon, peaking on a hike in the Tetons, or doing shots and lines in an infinity pool overlooking Hanalei Bay with a pair of island beauties stripping off your cargoes.

    But you pose an interesting question.

    To experience awe I would submit that we must first appreciate beauty. And with that appreciation, a full sensory manifestation of beauty may, on occasion, result in awe inspiring adulation. Stunned to silent stillness. That capacity may, indeed, be the defining feature of consciousness. I suspect that humanity is alone in this capability.

    But not permanently alone.

    Genetic manipulation is just at the cusp, its Gutenberg moment. CRISPR and others will provide for a proliferation of DNA bibles, all retelling the story of Genesis. Within my children’s lifetimes, I wager they will see, not just animal rights litigated, but pet independence rights brought up in the courts. “You don’t own me!” signs Ruffalo, the genetically modified Labra-doodle-pit-pekinese, using paw-to-pad translation. “I have rights!”

    If we think the integrated circuit was transformative… Gene-mod kits are going to herald in either a new age of bio-diversity, or bio-doomsday. I think it could go either way.

    Just think, in the mind of some human somewhere on the planet—right now—the seeds of Homo Novus is stewing and steeping. That or the zygote of some foul-mouth raccoon named Rocket.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I once asked a wise elder where we stood, humans, in the scope of things on the planet because I was curious how so many other beings communicated on a quantifiably high level musically. Singing and songs and pitch and all that. He put us in about the middle of the pack, even if you wanted to discuss us in the context of evolution. How Dolphins were much more evolved, in an adaptive way, than we are. Nobody messes with dolphins. That flat tail will kick a shark’s ass and beat them in race for pink slips. And play. Fuckers play and eat and play some more. Shit we throw in the ocean is their only problem. Like bears. WTF is a bear afraid of? Or a deer, for that matter. Go argue with a mountain goat barehanded. No pads, no helmet. My bet is the animal world cross communicates way better than we do. No tower of babel in a wolf letting the mountainside know whassup. And all this shit we build and code, the monuments to our superior intellect will be dust some elephant rolls in to get rid of the flies.
    Joy to the World!

    Liked by 4 people

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