Quotes By Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

“Fireflies out on a warm summer's night, seeing the urgent, flashing, yellow-white phosphorescence below them, go crazy with desire; moths cast to the winds an enchantment potion that draws the opposite sex, wings beating hurriedly, from kilometers away; peacocks display a devastating corona of blue and green and the peahens are all aflutter; competing pollen grains extrude tiny tubes that race each other down the female flower's orifice to the waiting egg below; luminescent squid present rhapsodic light shows, altering the pattern, brightness and color radiated from their heads, tentacles, and eyeballs; a tapeworm diligently lays a hundred thousand fertilized eggs in a single day; a great whale rumbles through the ocean depths uttering plaintive cries that are understood hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, where another lonely behemoth is attentively listening; bacteria sidle up to one another and merge; cicadas chorus in a collective serenade of love; honeybee couples soar on matrimonial flights from which only one partner returns; male fish spray their spunk over a slimy clutch of eggs laid by God-knows-who; dogs, out cruising, sniff each other's nether parts, seeking erotic stimuli; flowers exude sultry perfumes and decorate their petals with garish ultraviolet advertisements for passing insects, birds, and bats; and men and women sing, dance, dress, adorn, paint, posture, self-mutilate, demand, coerce, dissemble, plead, succumb, and risk their lives.

To say that love makes the world go around is to go too far. The Earth spins because it did so as it was formed and there has been nothing to stop it since. But the nearly maniacal devotion to sex and love by most of the plants, animals, and microbes with which we are familiar is a pervasive and striking aspect of life on Earth. It cries out for explanation. What is all this in aid of? What is the torrent of passion and obsession about? Why will organisms go without sleep, without food, gladly put themselves in mortal danger for sex? ... For more than half the history of life on Earth organisms seem to have done perfectly well without it. What good is sex?... Through 4 billion years of natural selection, instructions have been honed and fine-tuned...sequences of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, manuals written out in the alphabet of life in competition with other similar manuals published by other firms. The organisms become the means through which the instructions flow and copy themselves, by which new instructions are tried out, on which selection operates.

'The hen,' said Samuel Butler, 'is the egg's way of making another egg.' It is on this level that we must understand what sex is for. ... The sockeye salmon exhaust themselves swimming up the mighty Columbia River to spawn, heroically hurdling cataracts, in a single-minded effort that works to propagate their DNA sequences into future generation. The moment their work is done, they fall to pieces. Scales flake off, fins drop, and soon--often within hours of spawning--they are dead and becoming distinctly aromatic.

They've served their purpose.

Nature is unsentimental.

Death is built in.”


“If ever there was an avian candidate for psychotherapy, the male blue heron is our nominee.”


“In a set of classic experiments, the psychologist Z. Y. Kuo6 showed that almost all kittens who witness their mother killing and eating a rodent eventually do so themselves. However, when kittens are raised in the same cage with a rat, never seeing any other rat, and never seeing a cat kill a rat, then they almost never kill rats themselves. When kittens have a rat for a littermate and also witness their mothers killing rats outside the cage, about half of them learn to kill—but they tend to kill only the kinds of rat they had seen their mothers kill, and not the kinds that they grew up with. Finally, when kittens are given an electric shock each time they see a rat, they soon learn not to kill rats—indeed, to run in terror from them.”


“- Ten thousand years ago, when we were divided into many small groups, the propensities may have served our species well. We can understand why they should be easy to evoke, why they are stock in trade of every demagogue and hack politician. But we cannot wait for natural selection to further mitigate these ancient primate algorithms. That would take too long. We must work with what tools we have – to understand who we are, how we got to be that way, and how to transcend our deficiencies. Then we can begin to create a society less apt to bring out the worst in us.”


“Maturity entails a readiness, painful and wrenching though it may be, to look squarely into the long dark places, into the fearsome shadows.”


“Етноцентризмът се свежда до убеждението, че нашата група (която и да е тя) е в центъра на всичко, което е добро и истинско, в центъра на обществената вселена. Единствено ние правим нещата така, както трябва да бъдат направени. Ксенофобията е страх и омраза към чуждите. Тяхното поведение е погрешно, странно и отвратително. Те не уважават живота по същия начин, по който го правим ние. И при всички положения основната им цел е да ни причинят зло. Отново стигаме до познатото „Ние срещу тях”. Етноцентризмът и ксенофобията са изключително често срещано явление сред птиците и бозайниците, макар и да не са неизменно правило. Ятата от мигриращи птици например са напълно отворени за всички от същия вид.
Ако се сблъскаме с непознат, който иска да причини зло и на двама ни, тогава вече имаме мотивацията да забравим за всички различия между нас и заедно да се разправим с общия враг. Шансовете ни – като отделни индивиди и група – да преживеем нападението силно се повишават, ако успеем да се обединим със своите събратя. Съществуването на общ враг може да действа като могъща обединяваща сила. Общите врагове карат обществената машина да мърка. Групите, които са предразположени към ксенофобична параноя, могат да имат предимство при сплотяването в сравнение с други групи, които имат по-реалистично и безгрижно отношение. Ако преувеличте заплхата, поне ще сте успели да намалите напрежението вътре в групата. И ако външната опасност се окаже по-сериозна, отколкото лично вие сте преценили, все пак ще бъдете по-добре подготвени за нея. Докато обществената цена остава в разумни гр”


“Science exacts a substantial entry fee in effort and tedium in exchange for its insights.”


“- Taken together, the dramatic societal shifts – often in ten generations or less – provide a compelling refutation of the claim that we are condemned, without hope of reprieve, to live out our lives in a barely disguised chimpanzee social order. Moreover, the shifts are occurring so swiftly that they cannot possibly be due to natural selection. Instead our culture must be drawing forth propensities and predispositions that already reside deep within us.”


“- Taken together, the dramatic societal shifts – often in ten generations or less – provide a compelling refutation of the claim that we are condemned, without hope of reprieve, to live out our lives in a barely disguised chimpanzee social order.”


“Pero la vida no sabe a donde se dirige. No tiene un plan a largo plazo. No tiene una finalidad en mente. No tiene una finalidad en mente. No hay mente que abrigue una finalidad. (...) La vida es derrochadora, ciega, indiferente en este nivel a las nociones de justicia.”