“Lots of finches! Different phenotypes! But is it just the same genotype with differentphenotypes? Or are they different animals altogether that all share the same genetic background and therefore are called “finches”? I don’t know enough about on—- (that’s not the right word… bird—- birdology!) to say, but… how we are… We share common ancestors with apes, but our differences are enough, are numerous enough, are vast enough to make us different from apes. But wherein does the difference become vast enough to make that distinction… within human beings? Will we get to a point where… hmm, probably not, because even though we have such vast differences between our societies, human beings have certain… ah!- basal similarities! (There we go, back to the basal similarities business!) that keep us all together, that keep us all… doing the same things, more or less, forever. I mean… yeah… more or less forever!
That societally we keep ourselves in check. I mean, there are peoples in the Andes and peoples in the jungle and peoples everywhere who are outside of modern society and therefore evolve slightly differently. But since they’re not ostracized and left out of the mainstream for billions of years, their evolution is not divergent enough from our own to make it their own separate gene pool. I mean, it is a separate gene pool… Japan was its own separate gene pool, but they didn’t grow third arms. I mean, not that we would need to as humans…
I don’t know what mutations would be advantageous… I mean, if you live in the jungle, it would be different muscle structure. Or I guess if you lived close to the sea, having larger webbing in the fingers and different body type would make it more advantageous to be… what you’re doing… fishing, swimming, all of that. But, ehh, I don’t know, aside from the fact that we are so divergent in our interests and the fact that technology does most things for us means that we don’t have to adapt for our environment and therefore our genome is left to evolve on its own without having to adapt to anything. I mean our brains adapt, so our brains are adapting faster than our bodies (although ehhh I’m not sure if its an adaptation, I mean we have more… tactile dexterity than, say, people who just needed to swing axes, or… y’know? it’s…) We have different skills now that are necessary to interact with the modern world. But I’m not sure that’s adaptability I think that’s just developing new skills because humans always had the ability (as far as I know, from looking at people) to move their fingers really fast, or read, or… We— we have the ability to learn! We have the ability to… absorb skills and new information, and turn new information into skills and skills into information! But… where was I going with this?… I was going somewhere, somewhere important… Uh, … mrr… this is what happens when I drive and talk…
“And then trying to then zoom out once we’ve zoomed in that far, to say “Ok we’re the same on the cellular level, and then we’re the same on the genetic level, and…what… to what extent are we the same on the genetic level? I mean there are mutations, but does that make them a different species? At what point is a mutation a vast difference? Is it a mutation, or difference—I guess it aqilfubwelijhsbdfv, qheijahsdkgfjbqewf— but if… Where does difference begin? Is it skin color, hair color? Is it facial feature? Is it length of arm, length of leg, height? Is it way of speech? I mean we, we have all of these interesting complexities within our species as a societal thing, that makes us differentiate between us, and look down upon some and look up to others. The, it’s… is that just society? I mean, all species do that… they have certain characteristics that are lauded and some characteristics that are ostracised, that, you know, there are pariahs in every social system I guess, regardless of species. So, what is that? is that just natural selection? But in our society, we don’t really have natural selection because— well, we have natural selection it’s just.. societal I guess… ‘cause it’s not natural anymore, I mean, to a certain extent it’s natural, I mean people who can’t function in this world don’t function and therefore die out. But the broad… the breadth of characteristic differences that are allowed by modern science to survive is astounding in human nature, in humanity! That y’know if we see a finch, from Darwin, (Finches! So many different finches!) are they all the same finch or are they different breeds of finch?
I mean cats are all the same, but are they diff—… different breeds of cats, are they different animals? Clearly they have different fur, different patterning, some have different ear shapes, some have different ways of walking or ways of carrying weight or ways of mating or ways of moving about, so behavioral and physical characteristic differentiate them from one another. But does that make them different… different different? Or just slightly different? It’s like saying “Are Chinese people basally different from Swedes?” y’know it’s like I, how… I dunno… So… back to the finches!
“I mean, on a species basis, clearly we’re the same because we’re the same species. But, aside from that, aside from the “Yes all cats are cats and all dogs are dogs and all humans are humans,” there’s something else about psychology and neuroscience and biology that is trying to find links between us and other species. So is that us… I mean, science can go in so many different ways! Science can go forwards instead of backwards and inwards, so looking outwards at other planets, looking outwards to new ways of, I dunno, building houses and synthesizing genomes and synthesizing everything, the forward thinkingness of technology and science is also met with the sort of backwardness and inwardness of looking at what we have in front of us and trying to find relationships between it and the world.
So is that science or is that human nature? And if it’s human nature, is human nature based on science or is science based on human nature? I mean it’s probably science based on human nature, because we are practicing something that we have invented. We’ve created the scientific method. We’ve… discovered, I guess, the scientific method: a way of thinking in which the world around us can be broken down into six easy steps, which can then be broken down into six more easy steps, and so on and so forth ad nauseum.
So, human nature is, in part, the propensity to break things down to their commonalities… to their basal prime factors I guess, and then realizing that since we are all made up of the same prime factors, we are all the same.
“Ok, so thinking about Jeff, about how he assimilated into Baha’i culture, which is so different from his own culture
Thinking about people who seek out cultures different from their own: Is it that they’re a different sort of person, who likes dissonance? Or is that a different culture resonates more with who they are inside?
(So, then went to…)
Are all human beings seeking similarity? Do we all group within similar traits, because that’s what all humans do?
And then I thought about psychology, about thinking about people; about how the essence of psychology is trying to make everyone look the same. And if you zoom out far enough and make everything vague enough, everyone looks the same. But also if you zoom in far enough to the cellular level, everyone looks the same! So it’s like all science (well, not all science, but… the science of people) is in proving (or trying to prove) that all humans are the same. And is that really us looking into the scientific basis of things and finding that as the result of a number of experiments, all human beings are, at an essential level, the same? Or is it we as human beings, our human nature, trying to find our basal similarities so we can find something similar in everyone, because then we’ll never be alone?
This all began with Ender’s Game; leading, of course, to Ender’s Shadow, Speaker for the Dead, and at last, Xenocide. Children of the Mind was pretty great too, but let’s reel in the focus here. Xenocide. As a book, brilliant. As a set of philological concepts, even better. Linguistics + sociology + philosophy + mainframe computing = totally my bag, baby. Ergo, not only did I try to learn the language of the piggies (at this point, if you haven’t read the book, drop everything and read it. Now. I’m watching you.), but the lines and underlying genius of that book wormed their way into my very soul. Years (nay, more than a decade? gasp!) later, here we stand (or sit, or recline, seeing as it’s Pesach), finally having reached my wit’s end (or my brain’s storage limit), running into the need to record my constant parsing of the universe’s twining, all wrapped up with my own. So, without further ado, I launch into the twining, untwining and entwining of life, the universe, and everything. (Remind me to rant about how translation is the basis of all knowledge later, k? Thanks.) Enjoy, react, connect; we are all but cogs in the great machine, that wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey mess of goo that is our nonlinear cohabitational timeline of existence. As it turns out, everything’s connected. “That which lives, twines.”