Genes as Behaviour: Conservatism
I’ve said some of this before.
In a certain sense, along a certain vector, there are two ways of thinking, two ways of looking at the world, change and stasis.
It’s another way in which we can see the world as a dichotomy or as a vast collection of them, and it’s easy to categorize, easy to pick a trait and make an association that aligns it with the dichotomic view, easy to imagine that the same line that divides religion from secular science also divides capitalist from socialist and progressive from conservative, and so on. I personally opine that change aligns with science, progress, and considering that the world is generally competitive and capitalist, that socialism would also align with change, at least in the here and now. The other sides of these coins align with stasis, sort of a scientific word for conservatism. Evolution very much marries science to change, to a moving, changing, coming into existence and fading out of existence dynamic tapestry of living things and systems, and it lends to organic flights of thought, where change is nearly the only constant.
Conservatives see things, not processes, and their path to understanding is OCD – cataloguing, counting things. (The rest I’ve written before, and more than once; the new idea here is the OCD.) The emphasis in things over actions, things over behaviours, things over and above processes, this is what I’m noticing. For people with this inclination – it’s too common to be a disorder, but I’m open to that – for people who see life this way, the world is explained as an endless number of things, and their answers are always in the form of nouns. Everything is a thing, laws, “good guys,” “bad guys,” gays and brown people. Ask them why something, and your answer will be a noun: “criminals,” or some shit. God made “criminals” when he made everyone else, don’t you know. Folks of this mindset love the story about the scorpion who begs a ride across the river from the frog or the duck or whatever it is: he did because he is. That’s all these folks need to know (which I offer in Bruce Dern’s voice, his line in the Hateful Eight about Sam Jackson’s character). This story is offered as deeper-than-you wisdom; it’s something that requires pictures and allegory, as ostensibly the truth therein predates words or any silly modern liberal thought.
The longer I carry this idea around with me, the clearer I see it, the more statements from that POV start to stand out against the dynamic, fluid background of life. Case in point: genes are some of these things, of course. We do because we are – I guess this sort of a mind can catalogue free will along with everything else, if it’s just a label on a box rather than a Schrodinger’s sort of a box that may or may not actively affect many of the other things in their boxes in an endlessly interactive sort of way. Now I know you know, I think I am of the dynamic mindset and that I’m expressing my frustration with the static sort of mind, but the thing that has made me start to consider Obsessive Compulsive Order as a part of the puzzle is not a criticism, I don’t oppose it because it’s dumb and powerless. I’m actually impressed by the catalogue; it really is massive, and each of these folks would seem to hold as many distinct concepts in their minds, and all at once, seemingly, as there are words in their vocabularies. Of course, this is not literal, and I can’t force you to follow me. These sorts of talks are completely voluntary, so give me your good will and let’s take these fuzzy things out and play with them, maybe we’ll come back to a more nuanced reality when we’re done.
What we think of as the fractal or higher functions – grouping concepts together, organizing concepts by form and function, repeating functions limitlessly, these are work saving measures, and these sorts of minds might be accused of laziness, of constant generalization and of discounting details, while the raw processing power to manage thirty thousand ideas individually can’t really help but impress. Again, we are conversing somewhere between metaphor and intuition here, but a prodigious memory for details and specifics has always been associated with OCD, hasn’t it?
Dr. Robert Sapolsky on the subject:
Here’s that entire lecture:
If you’re like me and video is a total turn-off (well, for me, Sapolsky videos are the exception), the idea is something like the Rain Man’s counting of the toothpicks was a one off, useless sort of amazing skill, but that human society has created niches for just such weirdly specific propensities. This is sort of where I’m trying to take us, to a less severe version of OCD as Luther’s or Raymond’s, one more generalized perhaps, but vastly more pervasive, even obtaining a degree of ubiquity.
Another reason I’m starting to look at is as disordered is maybe just grammar, or maybe it really is logic. If I ask “why” about something, I’m looking for an event or a process. There are always things involved, of course, but for the form of a “why” question’s answer to be valid, I think it needs more than nouns, more than things. A list of actors, a list of things, this doesn’t answer “why.” OK, these things, I think, and then I must repeat, as when I was three, “why?” Meaning what did these things do?
Bloody Hell, it’s like ice sculpture, what I do. For all the ink, it’s practically transparent, you can hardly see the work even when I’m finished. Plus, publishing to the interwebs is like washing it down the sink, it’s a drop of water in the ocean. I live forever with the sense that I am describing the indescribable, and quixotic as it is, it really is what I’m going after, sort of, I really am trying to talk about things I think we may have evolved not to talk about. It is my intuitive sense that it is things we cannot think that cause us many of our problems, so, second metaphor in a single paragraph, I’m dancing all around something, trying to make at least the outline of it appear in the spaces I can’t get us to no matter how many times I attempt this blog. This is like, take five, I think, one or two per year. Throw the older versions out, of course. Don’t listen to what I said; listen to what I’m saying – I’m sorry, how dull. That’s not up to anybody’s standards, I know, to say that, what can I say?
I’m trying, even God describes me that way, I suspect.
These things I’m after though, I think even if I manage to catch one for us every now and then, I’m afraid they’re still invisible, and they’re supposed to be. “Supposed to be,” though – I think the context for these taboos are changing. Everything else isn’t what it’s “supposed to be” anymore. These things will have to change also, visible or not, I think.
Sept. 22nd., 2017