Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Sacred Hunt

Mac made me think this time, with one of his essays. Here's what he made me think:

The best of being human came out in the hunt. Hunting big, dangerous animals some humans taught themselves what comes so naturally to dogs: team work, loyalty, leading and following, self-sacrifice for the good of the pack.

It was also a place where some of the monkey stuff was revealed as untrue- your value as a hunter and a man depended on your heart and skill, not on your ancestors or connections or politics. And it was the place where some of the better primate stuff, the things that made us human, allowed us to dominate the world: tool use and communication and planning.

The hunt was violent and it appeals to certain people. The social bullshit of the normal monkey world is bullshit... and in violence or the hunt, it falls away. In that moment, everything is real and so much outside of that moment feels artificial. So, I think, violence is natural and important to those who are striving towards our learned, recent better nature... and terrifying and unnatural for those who live for the social monkey games.

The monkeys have always needed someone to protect them, but they think (and they may be right) that evolution is going to a purely human/monkey social world where all conflicts are handled by a Monkey Dance in boardrooms or negotiations. I think if it ever does we will lose the best of being human- the loyalty and self-sacrifice and stuff we learned in the hunt.

The thing about coming to love war is that if you value those virtues, war is where you will see them. It may be terrible-- what I saw of it over there was pretty mild, but the violence I have been exposed to had it's terrible aspects-- but it also brings out the absolute best in men. And it brings out the worst in monkeys.


Ann T. said...

Dear Rory,
It's just as useful to look at the messy, process-related stuff like agriculture, constructon, human development, art.

I don't know if I've responded correctly to the concerns/thoughts of your post, but I do think that leaving out everything that's not clear-cut isn't going to work in human advancement or moral development either.

But as I said, perhaps I misunderstand.

Ann T.

Kai Jones said...

That's a peculiarly male-virtue oriented idea of what the best of being human is. What about nurturing, caretaking, education of the young? What about negotiation of social boundaries, learning to live together in groups, relieving daily drudgery with humor and affection?

Steve Perry said...

If you love war, I expect that your balance as a human being is off. The idea of folks killing each other en masse has always struck me as one of mankind's most stupid activities.

Molly said...

Likening "War" to "Hunt" seems to lack continuity. I agree that "hunt" brings out the best in man, and Kai, I agree that nurturing young, agriculture, etc. bring out the best in woman. I would hope that our society has advanced to where all of these qualities are truly the best of "mankind." I think war may be similar to the hunt for those on the ground, but it is waged by people in full thrall of the monkey mind.
"Hunt" has for eons served as a means of protection and sustenance. Historically, war has served neither of those goals.

Anonymous said...

While the goals of war and hunt may be different, the thing that links them together is the conditions by which they take place: the ever present possibility of injury and death. It would seem things like nurturing would be inherent there as well since it helps improve survivability having better prepared comrades.

I've always wondered why the social monkey game exists in the first place. There has to be some evolutionary reason for its development.