Monday, February 9, 2009

Why?


For a psychedelic experience, minus the drugs, check out "S Curve" in the lobby of the Sackler, by Anish Kapoor.

The fact that Jared Diamond characterized the Inkas as "naive" bothered me to the very end of the book Guns, Germs and Steel. A lot of things about that book bothered me.

I'm not saying that Guns, Germs and Steel is a total waste of time. It got me thinking about many things, got me wondering "why?" over and over again. Revisionary history is one of my favorite topics. But I wouldn't recommend the book. In fact, even though it was published only twelve years ago, recent revelations about - for instance - the "written" language of the Inkas (they used a binary system of knot tying to "write") clearly shows that a lot of Diamond's theories are past their expiration date. The Inkas were anything but naive! Charles Mann's explanation of European conquest on this continent (and in S. America) rang much closer to the truth, if you ask me. His book, 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, is great.

As you can see, I had many arguments with the Diamond book, but I read it anyway because I'm curious, not just about the how and what and when of the world, but also, the why. Are there other animals who strive so hard to understand the why of the world?

The itch to understand is one of our species' most adorable traits, at least I think so. And, too, it gets us into so much trouble. I can tell you from personal experience my intense why curiosity has gotten me into a world of hurt, over and over again.

Even as I write this I'm wondering what to read next. In spite of all the trouble-making a curious mind creates, I indulge the part of me who asks "WHY?" again and again. Why? Beats me. Do you know?


Mama said there'd be days like this.

24 comments:

tut-tut said...

How odd he would characterize an entire culture, using another's as a yardstick. How can a people be naive in the aggregate?

I like how you bent yourself, though, to finish!

Reya Mellicker said...

My friend and I were giggling the whole time we were there. Like being in a fun house. Very cool.

willow said...

Curiosity is one of our most adorable traits, isn't it?

This first photo is amazing.

Mrsupole said...

Both pictures are fantastic, sorry the book was not. Looks like a beautiful day.

We have had 3 days of rain and are hoping for more. We need an indian rain dance to keep it going. But alas, it will stop and just of made a small dent into this drought.

My heart goes out to Australia with their fires burning during their drought. So many lost lives and so much damage. We can only pray for rain and their safety during these trying times. I hope you all join me in these prayers and best wishes for those in need.

God Bless Australia.

Joanne said...

At least you took something from the book, that it got you thinking and wondering, always a good thing. To label an entire culture, though, as naive makes me wonder about the author's naivete.

Hammer said...

Analog Photoshop for the walk-in masses. Nice.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,

I was just reading your comment about my letter meme, thank you for the salute.

But I was just wondering what rules did I twist a bit. I thought the only rule was to enjoy, I did not see any on Willow's site, Should I redo it with the untwisted rules. I will try if I strayed too far off.

Please let me know. But I did enjoy what I worked on. And thank you again for the good words about it.

Take care and God Bless.

Reya Mellicker said...

Hammer - yes. I believe you'll also notice that there are several "don't take photos" signs on the walls around the sculpture. We stopped taking pics as soon as we noticed them.

oops.

Reya Mellicker said...

No visible signs in these two pics ... see? It was such a psychedelic experience I'm still tripping on it!

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Why not?

Hilarywho said...

Where would we be without "why?"

This sculpture is like "Cloud Gate," better known as "The Bean" in Chicago - by the same artist I think. It's always flocked with tourists taking photos.

tam said...

i think the idea of a naive culture is a complete myth. All human groupings are sophisticated in differing ways.
What next? I am starting James Martin's The meaning of the 21st century. You read it?

Barry said...

Beats me, Reya. But I can't stop wondering either.

Steve said...

Anish Kapoor's work is so amazing, isn't it???

Funny you should mention this book -- a colleague of mine just gave it to me today! I'll let you know what I think when I finally get around to reading it, which may not be for several months...:)

Bee said...

I have a very incurious mind when it comes to some things . . . but I never stop puzzling over human behavior, which is endlessly fascinating to me.

The question of whether or not life has meaning (and if it does, where/how/in what do you find it) runs through everything for me.

I read an interesting editorial recently that claimed we all have a tendency to gravitate towards those who think like us . . . when really we should expose ourselves to those who don't think like us. I suppose a change of perspective -- like this installation?(correct word?)can be instructive.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, the more one studies history the more we discover the myths or ideas of what we believed to be true often aren't at all.
In fact it makes my head spin that there is so little certainty.
Wouldn't it be peaceful to be a really stupid person who has all the answers to everything and doesn't bother to THINK at all?

Delwyn said...

Someone once said that questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to unlock...

I have always thought that people who are confidently secure in their convictions and in their meagre knowledge are the ones to worry about.

Ronda Laveen said...

Why? Because we can. Because we have such wonderul neurosynaptic activity hopping from dendrite to dendrite. OH YEAH! And your photos brought back some long-term memories from the past.

Reya Mellicker said...

Tam, I haven't but now I'm definitely going to go find it. I ordered a book about the music of the Neanderthals today. That should keep me amused!

Hilarywho - YES, same guy. The Chicago piece sounds amazing. I would love to see it sometime.

Bee my favorite people are those with whom I share many beliefs, but not ALL beliefs. I never learn anything from completely like-minded folks (but ... are there any of those??). If I have nothing in common with another person, any attempt at conversation is frustrating and nonproductive.

Hammer is a perfect example of a friend with whom I have lots - but not all - in common. I always walk away from any conversation with him just a little bit smarter.

Delwyn, yes! And Ronda, From Dendrite to Dendrite would be a great blog name!

Ronda Laveen said...

From Dendrite to Dendrite, it is!

karen said...

fantastic photos! and thanks for the link - my learning experience for today.. this is the sort of thing we miss out here, but there are other compensations of course!

Peggy said...

"Why," indeed. It's one of my favorite questions in life. I have an endless curiosity and feel that need to understand. Lovely and problematic, all in one!

Bee said...

You are right, of course. Conversation without some rapport or feeling of "yes! you get what I'm saying" is either tedious at best or infuriating at worst.

Amy said...

It's such a thought provoking question. The Why of Why. It prompted me to dig a little into my brain a little and I realized (and this is just me personally) that I have almost completely stopped asking "why" about things. It seems to directly correlate with my separation from all things religious and my "letting go" of the things I know I cannot change and the things I realize it's not important for me to know.

I don't need to know how the Universe was created or why. Doesn't bother me a bit not to know. It only matters that it's here and that I take care of it so that it survives.

I'm going to think on this some more. You've made my wheels start turning.

That's quite the figure you're showing in your self portrait! What fun!