Thursday, August 14, 2008

All of my daydreams are sleeping

There is something about biological anthropology that has crushed my spirit a little. There is no doubt about it. I am sure its a cliche that science and spirituality are strange bedfellows, but I dont only mean God here. I mean all of the things on the continuium of spirituality that are in between the idea of a monotheistic God and some vague lovely unexplainable thing that makes you feel good.

I know I inflict it upon myself, no scientist inducted me into the club and shooed away all of my daydreams. But I guess what I am trying to say is that I used to embrace not knowing more. And sometimes what grows out of not knowing is wonder. Dont get me wrong, I dont know everything now, I dont even know the information I am supposed to at my stage of graduate school. And maybe that is why I cant embrace innocence as a source of inspiration, because I am feeling a little stupid so my guard is up and my metaphorical heart is down. But really I just want to blow on one of those orbs of dandelion seeds and make an honest wish.

And because there is not much difference between a prayer and a poem anyway. Here is one I have always loved:

{To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.}
—William Blake

Monday, August 11, 2008

Its Still the Same Old Story

I am back to thinking about variation. There are so many instances to think about variation in the field I am in. People are always comparing a human to a chimp, or a fossil to a living animal, or groups of living humans across the cultures. And it always seems like the conclusions are around about similar. There is a lot of variation and making sweeping generalities about groups of animals or humans should be made with extreme caution. There is always difference if you look hard enough, right down to the individual.

Also, there is a matter of relativity to consider: You are soooo different from your ugly sister I know, she likes to party and you are happy sitting at home reading Anna Karenina- but how different are both of you in comparison to a chimpanzee, not very I am sorry to say.

But today I got to thinking about similarity, not difference. And there are certainly instances where similariy is the case in anthropology too. For a rough example, we share the exact same gene with all primates because it is to beneficial to our survival, or all languages share certain fundamental properties. Also, there are cases called convergent evolution where a similar trait emerges in separete populations; for instance humans capacity to digest lactose emerged in Africa and in Europe separately but both in response to milk drinking. So, amazing things happen that either preserve or lead to similarity and sometimes unexpectedly.

But what about all those cliches like {people never change} and {history repeats itself} or {its always the same old story}. What about all those times in life, like in the lifetime of an individual, where sameness is really the key? What about the absolutes. There is something comforting about them certainly. Like these lyrics to {As Time Goes By}, from Casablanca, what would the anthropologists say about this I wonder, because I would hate to think that this is a sweeping generality. And I guess what I am asking is, what can we expect to always be true?

{Well, it's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by
Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.}

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Are there memories that you have of being completely humiliated as a child? Like peeing in your pants in school, humiliated? Like, the lunch you take out of your saggy brown bag is somehow the focus of a joke, then you dont want to eat it and you bat it around like a hockey puck, or a dead mouse, pretending you dont care that your dear sweet Mom took the time to make it and that you are still indeed hungry?

And when you think about those times, dont you just take a deep breath of complicated adult air and feel relieved that that intensity and style of problem probably wont happen again? Sure you have your own issues now, but you wont ever be that insecure or naive again.

Well last week it happened to me. I metaphorically peed in my pants in front of the whole class and you know what...I dont even want to blog about it. I just want to sing the song of adulthood, maybe have a glass of wine, hopefully a laugh someday and move the hell on.