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New Yorker article on bonobos

I was just reading an article on bonobos from The New Yorker (that I found via aldaily) called ‘Swingers’, that I thought was going to dispell the idea that bonobos are the “hippy chimps” because, I guess, I’d like to think that monkeys are better than that, or rather, because I will only very grudgingly acknowledge the hippy ethic as sensible. Just kidding, no I really just like to hear about dispelled myths and broken dreams.

anyways, if you didn’t already know (and i didn’t, and do only from reading this article) that the bonobo (or at least the idea of the bonobo as peaceful, incessantly sexual, female dominated, etc. all that jazz) has caught (at least in the hippy circuit) on as kind-of rallying point against those more chimp-like tendencies that we would rather forget about (warlike, plotting, heirarchichal,etc.). i guess this is just something for people to identify with, to find an identity in, for justification and to get righteous about. the point is that i guess we should be more like bonobos, but why bonobos? it doesn’t follow necessarily that because bonobos behave in some way that therefore we should to. there doesn’t seem to be any necessary connection; we could just as well be talking about penguins. i guess it is just easier to identify with monkeys, wanting to reassure the bonobo species, lend a helping hand to the little fledgling humans, because we see promise in bonobos, encouraging them where our species may not have had the same encouragement, just a bunch of big scary dinosaurs.

in the article, primatologist Craig Stanford (who, i guess, is trying to expose this image of bonobos for what it is) says of bonobos in comparison with chimps and others, “Instead of saying, ‘These are variations on a theme,’ it became point-counterpoint.” it is easier to grasp this counter-point dichotomy, we are quick to make such distinctions. and really, when you take all of the species of primates/flowers/birds/etc. it does come down to ‘this one has this characteristic/feature, and this one does not’, a distinction is a distinction. there is just a difference at which level you are making it. if you are making it at a very general uninformed first-impression of sorts, then it can possibly become such blanket distinctions.

but really, the role already existed, and it was just a matter of time before we held someone/something up to idolize it. we were on the lookout, we see what we want to see sometimes, and the incongruencies with our ideal are rationalized away or conveniently resistant to memory.