Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Hands of the Apes


Sometimes, the thought comes to my mind that the way we are living with our body is misleading. I get the strange feeling, for example, that my eyes are not entirely to see any more. It's not up to them, though. They have been doing an extraordinary job for 28 years and I am grateful to them for how they managed to overwhelm successfully hours spent in front of the laptop. But what about my part? Am I able to use my eyes up to their potential?

Our sight can spot target miles and miles away, but how many times during the day can we raise our eyes above the horizon? In most of the cases, this faculty is not of any use any more, even though the anthropologist C.L. Strauss wrote of a tribe with an extraordinary sense of orientation because they could spot Venus in the sky during day time. Then, he went to see old treaties of navigation and he found out that it was possible for old sailors of our civilisation as well, but we can not say if the rest of the humans lost this skill or simply forgot how to do it. (Claude Lévi-Strauss, Myth and Meaning, 1978)

In parallel, if the first Homo Sapiens could have a walk in our time, he would take just a few steps before suffocating. He could not live in a world with million of cars as we do, but probably he could rely much more on his nose for his every day life.

So, doubts raised on me about other parts of the body. I am not sure the mouth is for eating and the tongue to taste food. I am not even sure if my hands are grabbing correctly things I move from a place to another.

On the contrary, when I see Chimps on TV handling rocks or stick, I perceive they really mean those actions. Their hands seem to have a conscience on their own when they touch what soon will be a tool for fishing ants trough a hole in the ground. I started to believe that in these moments, their hairy hands are more hands than mines.