Socialization from the Cradle

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Survival / Evolution /
@ K. 2001 01 26, 2001 08 03

From Cradle to Conformity

While Some Mad Dogs
Bite the Hands That Claim to Feed Them

Mission: to trace early causes of conformity and rebellion
To argue that domestication is not uniform throughout a population
And that the cause is in the diversity of the population’s timelines.

Datum I: I once hear a dog trainer claim on public radio that every dog at some point in its life tries to bite its master. Usually, he said, the attempt is made so young that the owner isn’t even aware of it. The dog achieves only futility and gives up.

Datum I B: He further said that the problem came when the dog hadn’t tried his bite prior to adulthood. If the dog’s breed happens to be Doberman, then the master loses an arm: maybe gets his whole throat ripped out. (The coward Doberman may try his bite on the master’s cub, gurgling in the cradle.)

I believe it. I further believe that the same would apply to any domesticated carnivore: man, for example. I believe that every human at some point rebels against family, against group: against papa, mama, god … state, church, and war lord. Usually the rebellion will have occurred and failed some time in infancy or in toddler-hood. If the human is a wimp, he may not rebel until young adulthood. Watch out for the late blooming wimp: little club foot Lord Byron: in his majority.

I follow the old English convention of saying “he” where gender could be either. Indeed I believe what the preponderance of evidence suggests: the male will be more aggressive than the female. But don’t count out the female. They try their bite too: however more readily discouraged. All those little napalm-scarred Vietnamese girls, coming back with a knife, with a found Claymore, with an M-14.

But of course we don’t watch out for wimps. And we won’t. And that’s the only thing that may save us. The football players don’t get the training table, the steroids, till they’ve multiply proved that they’re violent only when the corporation gives the order. Nature 1 : man 0.

Datum II: I once read a study, one of the “science” magazines, National Geographic, Smithsonian … that said that dog breeders had long achieved our variety of domestic canine pets by arresting the breed’s canine development at some point between infancy and canine-predatory adulthood. Any canis pup starts out all head and little snout. They’re hungry and sleepy, alternately nippy and cowering. Eventually they will track movement. Eventually point at it, then stalk it. The adult canis can take the quarry down. Most domestic dogs are retarded (trained, and bred) to be unable to.

I believe that something analogous happened in human history. If it hadn’t, we couldn’t have domesticated ourselves. The result is, the oldest human is still a baby primate: compared to say a silver back gorilla. The potential evidence is endless: we’re relatively hairless (on top of which we shave, we depilate: I’m just a helpless, harmless little primate infant); armies of helpless, hairless babies, destroying the biosphere. We were dangerous enough when we were just bands of semi-hairy marauders.

I began this piece a year and a half ago. I wasn’t happy with my start but put it up. My previous draft has been taken down: I’ll salvage it as I develop this one.

George Orwell has Winston, the protagonist of 1984 magnificently named with multiple ironies, try his bite only after the canny master (an interchangeable part in the kleptocracy) has made sure that this adult will recognize that he’s already morally, multiply compromised. Winston tells O’Brian he’s ready for anything. O’Brian asks Winston if he’d kill, throw acid … harm women and babies … for the cause of freedom. Of course everything is taped, with only O’Brian (as the top local kleptocrat) able to choose which part of which tape gets replayed. The kleptocrat knows that even the adult is still a pup. Plays him like a fiddle. And Winston will bite no more.

Which reminds me of Ian McHarg. McHarg once gave an ecology lecture in the Philadelphia area, publishing the story in the mid-1960s. “Oh, oh, oh, but how can I help?” asked a local matron. “You know the CEO of” … whatever Penn Power’s acronym was, “don’t you?” “Of course.” “Well, the next time you meet, don’t shake hands: leap on him and bite his throat out.”

But of course she won’t. Or she wouldn’t be wearing any diamond necklaces at fifty.

The Lap reindeer are the last wild herd still followed by nomads. But the deer aren’t wild anymore. The Laps castrated the leaders over the millennia until the still potent males are impotent in all ways but fertility. The deer might as well follow road signs and write bad checks. Nature has figured out how to get rid of us, but not without our taking out anything remotely like us along the way. Well, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and crabs will be better than no biosphere at all: or a biosphere of bacteria only.

Or not. Who says (with any meaning) that lions, deer, and men are any “better” than bacteria? Not S. J. Gould for one.

Ah, but They-R-Us. Self-preservation, buddy.

I’ve already abstracted self-preservation to no longer include me personally. I’ve already abstracted self-preservation to no longer include my sister or my near kin. I’ve already abstracted self-preservation to no longer include my damn species. Does that now have to be extended to no longer include all mammals? Mammals were a bad idea? When losing your balance, you fling your arms out, widen your stance. Seventy million years young, mammals can’t stand the “test of time”?

But then what can stand this supposed test of time? Not God. Not even the universe. The proton will decay. And god, life … (time) will try some other game.

2001 12 17 I came back to this file today to change a word and to test a spelling. And it occurs to me with a force like something new: people can’t figure out what I mean, can’t relate to what I say, for a couple of related reasons: I’m not running for office. I’m not saying Vote for me, make me dictator, and I’ll fix everything, convert Russia, eradicate evil … The public has little experience of genuine pessimism. I don’t assume, like every other American, that things are fixable. I’m not promoting the individual and blaming the government. I’m not blaming the individual and promoting the government. I’m not blaming man and promoting God. I’m not blaming God and promoting science. I don’t trust any of them. We are in a dilemma which is no dilemma because it has no solution. Certainly not any quick fix. So why not enjoy it? I do. I throw stones. And enjoy it.

Social Survival

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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