Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reading and Writing

I'm having, on the whole, a bad week -- mainly work-related crap I can't blog about, but its very wearing stuff that makes me want to sell all my stock in humanity short. I mean, really. If this is what we're like, why bother? It's just disheartening and exhausting and I hate feeling disgusted by people in this fashion. I'd rather read Chaucer, who demonstrates the other end of the spectrum. (Not his characters, gah, no. Chaucer himself demonstrates it!)

But! For every human character who makes me want to condemn the lot of us to extinction, because really, what is the point if this is what we're like -- there is Chaucer; and there is George Eliot and Eleanor Arnason; and there is Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, who I am reading now, and her latest book, Mothers and Others, is just brilliant.

Of course, Hrdy always is brilliant -- I started reading her with Mother Nature, a look at infanticide, among other things (I'm really selling it short) and have since read everything by her I could get my hands on.

Mothers and Others is an examination of how humans became co-operative -- as Hrdy argues we are (rather than competitive, as most anthropology textbooks claim we are). Hrdy argues that it is the enormous expense of raising (provisioning and protecting) a human child from birth to adulthood that caused humans to evolve into co-operative creatures. We needed alloparents to survive as a species, more or less. (Translation: it did take a village.)

Not only is this an excellent book, well-written, supported, and researched, it explains why what is happening at my university is depressing me so much. Well, rats.

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