In exploring how our own human nature could lead to disaster it's important to first look at the word “mimesis”
Definitions of mimesis on the Web:
• the imitative representation of nature and human behavior in art and literature
• any disease that shows symptoms characteristic of another disease
• the representation of another person's words in a speech
(This definition is fine for the purposes of this thread, though I would like to add one more definition to it: mimesis is also the same principle as
when a monkey in a zoo imitates an observer )
Humans have an ancient history of adoring theater and spectacle. Spectacle on planet earth is reaching its zenith here in 2010. Outside of some hidden
earth history, this day, the world as we know it, is filled with more spectacle than any time ever to come before.
The human love for theater (and arguably all forms of art) is something deeply emotional and most likely spiritual. This love is deeply rooted in the
desire to reflect the inner world of humanity into the outer world. It’s rooted within our consciousness and it is also in our genes.
Now, think about what any of the lower primates might do when encountering something shiny or pretty in the jungle. A primate in the wild discovering
an extraordinary looking jewel, for example, might pick up that jewel and ponder it for a while and gaze at its pretty color. The primate will be
dazzled for a while and this is normal and natural to its nature to demonstrate this behavior.
But this changes on a much bigger scale, the one for humans, the domesticated primates…
Vegas glitters like nothing any of our ancestors could ever have seen. Hell, our computer screens and phones alone have enough lights and symbols to
capture our complete attention, never mind Vegas.
Now consider that babies learn to walk through this same process of mimesis. Ever wondered what was going on in that toddlers’ mind as it sat there
in the middle of the room watching each and every adult that came and went? It’s watching and its baby brain is calculating what the adults are
doing as they walk. Each time it gets up and falls down its brain can delete one more combination of movements and planning that did not work. Each
failure is one more synthesis of thought and movement that can be scratched off the list of viable ways to achieve a standing position. (Achieving a
standing position is difficult not just for a baby, it’s difficult in terms of evolution as well, as in it’s quite an accomplishment)
This mimic technique is found all through nature and is not just limited to the primate species.
But primates are master mimics and great mimes and this could be our greatest gift as well as our greatest weakness. Primates use this mimic/mime
technique to acquire new skills. It is, as I explained above, how we all learned to walk as toddlers.
As masters of mimesis we are dazzling ourselves more and more in the western world and reflecting this to each and every generation, with more and
more shining lights, and this could be disastrous…
Imagine our society falling not because of nukes, or famine, or plague, but because humanity is one day dealt a royal flush, a cure for all disease,
the secret to a peaceful planet, I don’t know, anything on a massive scale, but we are so dazzled by the lights of the casino we have built to live
in that we don’t even notice...