H. RIDICULUS ON THE SAVANNAH
“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate
and the desire to hide.” —D.W. Winnicott
This one shows an imaginary human species (Homo Ridiculus) in a fantasy scenario to illustrate my thesis that the other great apes—gorillas, orangutans, chimps and bonobos—can’t be anything except what they are. And that we, humans of bigly brains, can be like any of them. We can adapt to all kinds of cultural or natural environments to allow most of us to survive there. Some better than others, though.
For example, when we are young adults we generally act like chimps or bonobos. We form groups to hang around in, giving and getting loyalty a top priority but generally having a good time. Things do change. We seem to have a competitive streak that is only temporarily repressed by the fleeting camaraderie of youth; soon enough the our “us against them” attitudes becomes “me against you” ones.
We become more like gorillas as we “mature.” The flexible hierarchy of the chimps now become much more structured and based on brute strength. With a difference though; our measure of that strength not muscle but money. And the harems of the silver-backs—not just straight males in our version—are not several mates at once, but in a series. And there are, as well, non-sexualized (for the most part) harems in workplace hierarchies.
And some of us, we who are too old to be chimps and too poor or unattractive to thrive in gorilla homes and offices, adapt an orangutan lifestyle. We will occasionally hook up for sex if the opportunity presents itself but other than that we stay solo. Loneliness or solitude? Sadness or contentment? Can’t say, orangs don’t share.
Let’s now talk of art. For chimps art is play, for gorillas it’s work and for orangs it’s just something to do. Like I said earlier, we with our bigly brains are flexible socially, and we can do more than just be chimp-ish when young, then go gorilla or orang when we grow up. W can have chimp, gorilla and orang-like attitudes and gestures at the same time and use each as and where needed to succeed or at least cope. It’s an art in itself choosing which when, and so not it’s always successful.
The art part of this post shows some humans enjoy chimp-like camaraderie around a campfire but others in the suburbs in the distance are probably doing gorilla stuff—subduing or submitting. The unseen painter must then be an orang, given he’s painting himself as outsider, but he’s sharing more than most do. So is there some chimp left in him? Maybe, it was fun then, remembered fondly. Some gorilla too? Probably not, that game is not easy to keep up if your heart’s not in it.
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Yes, it’s another art for artists sake art-like object. No apologies, though. When this one (#26, more than one per fortnight since resuming the craft) is done, I may do one of the ones on my list that’s more general. Most of the ten or so ideas there are that. I could also go back and revisit other ideas done in different media years even decades ago. There are hundreds of those. New ideas are constantly popping up too, they push their elders further back in line. So maybe I’ll do something altogether different. We’ll see.