Friday 21 November 2014

The Geometry of qhu upü

I was writing a missive to our tyrannical overlords when Imblique jumped up into my lap and scooched over onto my keyboard, resulting in qhu upü...

Her appearance was a ghostly anachronism, her words rhetorical: Who tamed whom – the humans the pets or the furries the shavers? The -ists of history tend almost exclusively toward the first conclusion, and it's of particular note that, still today, this unites -ists of opposition who make up the majority of the planet: theists & atheists, evolutionists & creationists, physicists & Christian apologists wind up all bound up in anthropocentrism.

I wonder about the human, its talk of humanity, and the inhumane behavior of so much of it – ascribable, I can only suppose, to a relative few – but a historically pervasive and pernicious fraction that time & again has the humane beyond a threshold into the circle of inhumanity, if not the innermost concentric. I'm not convinced that humankind as such is worthy of the axiomatic virtue of its self-affixed attribution.

Whether in Egypt or Cyprus, respectively, circa four or ten thousand years ago, or in Lakeview, USA, this or last generation, homo sapiens, anatomically modern or otherwise, would seem to be adequately inclined to Stockholming small creatures into this tenuous balance of carnivorous ingratiation, yet the latter don't leave behind whence they once sprung. In some regard, they have a greater understanding of themselves than do self-conscious, consciousness espousing hominids.

The human's conception of itself may be more fossilized than the evidence of its origin. In its own defense, maybe the human would have "humanity" signify what the human hopes for itself. Maybe that, too, is more hot-winded exhalation than meaningful aspiration.

If the ancients held the feline of the house worthy of godlike depictions - having tamed them all the same - I wonder how the human being got demi-tamed and if it has anything to do with their imagined dominion over the earth. Whether enforced behavioral conditioning or elementary autodidactic natural selection, what it means to be a human today comes from a ritualized self-classification, the self-confidence about which is fueled through a meritocratic dispensing of degrees in both the sciences and humanities, which in no small measure includes the most "inhumane" practice of all,  the art and science of ritualized homicide.

A current pop-cultural obsession with sexualized violence and fictionalized cannibalism may or may not stem from self-doubt, but the very existence of the art of jurisprudence reassures the anthropocentrists that they are better than those who live by the law of the jungle, being able to differentiate judiciously between good and evil as it pertains to the inhumane. It is also significant that they can laugh at their folly, no matter how horrific.

There are a lot of excuses for this surface contradiction, some of them reasons real, some of them just excuses, but this behavior comes naturally to a species, who, before it should be nominated for any humanitarian awards, is in need of renewed interpretation of what it means to stage a humanitarian intervention.


To define humanity, one might first recognize that the human is - or is not - what it would like to ascribe to itself: a monumental recipient of human exceptionalism. In so doing, it might call out that which makes the human exceptional: a long history and incessant adherence to the subjugation and torture of its own. That and the appreciation of a pretty picture.


The science of the power of the pyramid is about architectural stability. That does not mean that there is no burden on the base of the structure. The art, from an anthropo-metaphorical perspective, represents how powerful the few can become at the expense of the many.  Fully aware of the peak, the base can only truly know the schlep of the adjacent block, though, if recipient of the right kind of support, funnelled through multiple layers of human-resourced masonry, even the meekest cornerstone can carry that burden with a vengeance to all corners of the globe. Almost exclusively when it hits home does one decry the inhumanity of it all.

We know the stories of genocide. It's something humans have streamlined in terms of carrying it out, as well as in telling tales of the triumph over its horrors. The Greatest Generation would have one believe that the millennials are the latest evidence of the downfall of a once great civilization that came together to defeat tyranny and establish the most equitable social net in known history. Whether or not there is any truth to that, the worship of cats continues unabated. And, it's relatively rare that the family pet bites the hand that feeds it.

I wonder, had earlier masters of this house ever tried to tame the human if they might have become the victims of genus-cide, or simply have eventually fallen victim to their own hands, leaving the human next in line, with only sketchy records, calcified and dubious.

David & Hedy - photo by Fred Burkhart