Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Specialized African Ape

Christian: "'Why hasn't [Gaia] made [her emulated human beings] morally stronger?'"

Laurinda: "'Because she's chosen to make them human. And what are we but a specialized african ape?'"

Laurinda: "'Specialized to make tools and languages and dreams; but the dreams can be nightmares.'"

-Poul Anderson, Genesis (New York, 2001), pp. 193-194.

Now that is good. Apes; from Africa; specialized; tools; languages; dreams; nightmares: that is us. I was brought up to believe in original sin resulting from a primeval Fall but I now think: see here.

I ask again: how many important questions arise from reading a single Poul Anderson novel?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I'm reminded of how, in one of his letters to me, Poul Anderson agreed with me on how imperfect and sinful mankind is. And he put this imperfection as resulting from either original sin or from mankind being imperfectly evolved apes or primates.


Paul Shackley said...

There is something very uncompassionate about many human interactions but fortunately there is all the concern, hospitality, charitable giving etc as well.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I agree! And that "uncompassionate" strain in mankind is one reason why I'm suspicious of power being concentrated too much in the state. Such a monopoly of force in the state, while necessary for preserving peace, still comes with OBVIOUS risks of abuse.

And, yes, I do agree as well that along with that "uncompassionate" strain, there is still some good in many or most human beings as well.