Alates and Elites


Much of the scientific study of human social behaviour — human behavioural ecology, sociobiology, and its various associates — owes a great deal to the study of the insect world. There is of course much to readily criticise such for; humans and insects are very diverse forms of life, much of their physiology and life history quite alien to the other. Indeed, because of a matter of scale — their size — it is not unreasonable to assert insects occupy a world apart from ours. More properly: it is a world within our own, a world that exists within the indeterminable nooks and crannies of our own place of inhabitance, teeming within the countless cracks and crevices of all the places on earth except for its deepest, darkest oceanic trenches, the bittermost cold of the polar reaches, and the intolerable, molten heats of the earth’s depths. Even so, it is a world that is far more expansive than what we know. We live on a thin surface, the edges of a heavily-folded, ecological sheet, our size, tolerances, and senses forbidding us from personally squeezing our way down in to its prohibitive folds, where only little, extraordinary things, of diverse shapes and incredible abilities, may slip into. Like the figurative sheet, once it is stretched out — dissecting and spreading open the countless secret passages through soil, wood, and skies — its true surface is revealed to be an area of unchartered vastness, an infinitude of microcosms among which the occupancy of man winds about as single thread.

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Know Thyself

What follows are some of my thoughts concerning an article I read some months ago — with the thoughts likewise having being jotted down then, only in a truncated form. The article’s assertions I found very interesting, on a number of grounds. The paper is somewhat renowned in the field of sociocultural anthropology: “Knowledge of the Body” (1983), by Michael D. Jackson, published in the journal Man, 18(2). In it, Jackson details some of the observations he made whilst studying the Kuranko, a tribal people of Sierra Leone (Africa). He especially was concerned with the supposed “symbolic” nature of the Kuranko’s rites and dances, from which he comes to a number of conclusions that I would recommend be read and digested in the original article, which would do it far greater justice that my shorthandedly summarising all of it. I will at length focus on one assertion in particular: that in “preliterate” societies, there is a greater immediacy of the mind with the body and ultimately the environment, and this immediacy results in moral character — morality itself —being regarded as intimately tied to action and the actual structure of the body instead of words, written or spoken. Read More »