Are Human Beings Unique or Not? Part 2

Human beings are storytelling creatures.

How many times have I said this over the course of my life? Far too many to count. It’s my very most favorite fact about us. It’s a source of absolute delight to me. We’re the only animal that has been observed to tell stories. It begs a question in response to my last post re: what, if anything, makes humans unique from other animals:

Why didn’t I list storytelling as the characteristic that makes us unique?

Why did I end up with something as depressing as “we’re the only animals who sometimes hate ourselves?”

Storytelling is built into the most basic functioning of our brains. It’s how memory works. It’s how we make sense of the world. For something so deeply embedded in us, it can’t be something entirely unique to us—it must be based on antecedent mental abilities in the animal world. So, as with so many things, storytelling is a unique expression but not unique in its essential nature.

Continue reading “Are Human Beings Unique or Not? Part 2”

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Are Human Beings Unique or Not?

I recently took a leadership class that talked about ethics. The instructor said something interesting:

Humans are the only animals that rationalize behavior we know is wrong.

I think that’s correct—but I would add the caveat: “The only animals that we know of…”

When I was a kid, people still preached the idea of Man the Rational Animal. The persistent Enlightenment belief that what distinguishes us from other animals is our ability to reason.

Even as a kid, I knew this was a load of crap.

Continue reading “Are Human Beings Unique or Not?”

NaPoWriMo 2019: Reflections

I did it. 30 poems in 30 days. * It’s the most I’ve ever written in one stretch in my life. I didn’t write one poem per day—there were some days I wrote nothing and some days I wrote more than one—and I posted a couple out of order. But I wrote 30 poems in the month of April and each one was in response to the suggested prompts from NaPoWriMo.net.

I think some of what I wrote was pretty good. Some are clearly dead in the water. Most are somewhere in the middle—the seed of an idea, good to just have something written. The only one I think is really finished is the minimalist poem I wrote for the last day.

At this point, I should turn to revision. Work on the ones I think have potential, scuplt and polish them. But I won’t. I just don’t have the desire to do that work. I take satisfaction in the act of creating a poem but the work of finishing it isn’t something I find rewarding.

So I leave behind a scattered trail of creative but unfinished pieces. I’d say that’s lazy of me but it’s never been my intention to publish, so that’s OK.

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NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 27

Today’s prompt: “‘remix’ a Shakespearean sonnet.” (http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-seven-5/)

Sonnet 130: Remix

Sure, she ain’t no beauty:
some may say she’s ugly,
or to be more kind,
she’s plain. But, oh, her mind!

Her hair is just hair,
never silken thread there.
Her breath stinks, her eyes
are dull, but seriously, you guys?

She’s amazeballs! So she’s brash
and loud, and her ‘stach
needs to be shaved every week,
and her knobbly joints creek.

She’s as perfect for me
As ever someone could be.

Continue reading “NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 27”

NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 28

Today’s prompt: “try your hand at a meta-poem.” (http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-eight-5/)

This Is Not a Poem

These are not letters
Strung along the page
Communal symbols of sounds

These are not words
Laid out in sequence
Carrying no true meaning

These are not lines
Stacked one atop another
In a stylized cascade

These are not stanzas
Grouping thoughts together
Creating no true structure

This is not a poem
Without structure
Without meaning

NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 26

Today’s prompt: “write a poem that uses repetition.” (http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-six-5/)

Language Lies Languid

Language lies languid on the page,
languid lie the words, the punctuation:
lithesome commas, colons all business,
beckoning em-dashes, brutal full stops.
On the page, they beckon me to amble
through language, languid, eyes arrested
by brobdingnagian words, eliding
unappreciated work horses: conjunctions,
articles, bridges from clause-to-clause,
bridges from concept-to-concept.
Words lie on the page, attention lies
on the words, languid, lithesome, brutal.