Wednesday, October 12, 2011
On the Origin of Tepees
Reading On the Origin of Tepees by Jonnie Hughes. The subtitle is the evolution of ideas (and ourselves). Hughes and his brother Ads are driving a Chrysler westward across America to find how Ideas evolve. The title is homage (and messing about with) Darwin's On the Origin of Species. So, here's Darwin mulling over and over the Idea of survival of the fittest. Hughes decides that the whole thing isn't so much Darwin had a great Idea, but a great Idea had Darwin. This is the nature of genius. But like cowboy hat design, barn roofs, tepee construction (3- or 4-pole?), most Idea[s] have tiny evolution steps and can be traced with careful study to a collaboration of ideas. It took hundreds of years to invent the wheel, design change by design change. And here we are in the 21st century, with human evolution tracing back billions of years to a one-celled something that started collaborating with other one-celled somethings to become a superorganism, made up of somethings we can't see but who make it possible for us to hang around shopping for groceries and reading books. On page 193, the footnote reads "That's why our chests never cease to rise; we are looked into an oxygen service agreement signed over a billion years ago between our ancestors and a class of wacky prokaryotes with an unequaled talent for getting hold of the energy in food." Life with a capital L goes on. We are an eukaryote. We are host to many organisms, working out of awareness, swapping stuff for other stuff so we can go on living. I think where we will travel in the rest of this book is into our next evolutionary phase. Noosphere territory. Maybe humans are transportation for Ideas. Can hardly wait to find out.