As with the past couple of weeks I’m still recycling. The post coming up (Careful With That Axe, Eugenics) was originally published on March 2nd 2011. I’ve no idea now what the programme being discussed was, but it was probably ‘Horizon’ or somesuch. Prior to posting that, however, I’m just going to take a moment to scream WELL DONE, JESS at my friend Jess (obviously) who last night scored a magnificent victory at a local slam poetry event. And believe me, when I say magnificent I mean magnificent, with Jess garnering a unanimous nine votes from the nine ‘tables’ voting.
Along with Jess the Tunbridge Wells Writers (the writing group I attend) were also represented by Lucy and Alison, meaning that from a total of nine slammers the TWW’s delivered over a third of the performances, and very well received they were too! If you’re a writer living in or around Tunbridge Wells (and it doesn’t have to be poetry – we’re a very broad church) you really should make contact (click on the link above), because we have loads of good things going on right now and much, much more in the pipeline. I didn’t slam on this occasion, and given Jess’ reception I’m glad in a way I didn’t (not sure my fragile ego could have taken it!) but will probably give it a go next time despite the fact that my poetry is not really at the slam/performance end of the market. Not quite sure what the name for my end of the market is, but it’s that muddy bit right in the bottom corner where they chuck all the old fruit and veg, and I’m the old guy in the brown mac selling cheap disposable lighters and knock off ‘designer’ watches from a suitcase. Still, we’ve all got to start somewhere, and who knows, I could be the next Purple Ronnie…
Anyhoo, well done again, Jess, and here’s some old stuff that will be new to all my WordPress readers:
CAREFUL WITH THAT AXE, EUGENICS
There was a programme on last night about human evolution, investigating whether the advent of ‘society’ has halted the evolutionary process by removing the necessity for change. The conclusion was that rather than negating change, social developments like animal husbandry and migration have pushed our development by refining beneficial adaptations like increased tolerance to dietary or environmental variation. Interesting as the programme was I couldn’t help thinking it was all a bit obvious, really, and the science pretty much established anyway.
I remember, about half a century ago (I think it was in ‘The Bedsitting Room’, first performed in 1963, but if not certainly in one of his books from that era), Spike Milligan positing the theory that modern man would evolve with his mouth repositioned on the top of his head, in order that when running late he could shove his breakfast in his hat and eat it on the way to work. Of course that hasn’t happened, despite the accuracy of Spike’s predictions about increased time and work pressures, because hats, unless you happen to be a prat in the mould of Pete Docherty, have largely fallen out of fashion. Instead, we’ve developed technological innovations like Danish pastries and Styrofoam coffee cups so we can eat and drink kak on the hoof without the need for cutlery or china.
The next logical step, evolutionary wise, will be for our ears to develop small sponge like protrusions that can absorb liquid nutrients drip-fed into our systems via mobile phones and in ear I-Pod headsets; it’ll just be a case of remembering to reload them with a liquid hybrid of soylent green and baby bio when we bung them on the charger each evening. I’ve heard Apple are working on the headphones already, and have a prototype I-Pad with a cup holder (provisionally named the I-Pad Espresso) ready for unveiling at next year’s CrapCon Festival in San Francisco.
While ear lips at this stage remain firmly in the realm of science fiction, it is evolutionary fact that children in developed countries are reaching sexual maturity at an increasingly young age. Theorists have theorised (as they are wont to do) that this is due to dietary change and scientific advances, these twin factors providing health and nutrition benefits favourable to accelerated growth. Opponents of these theories, however, point out that in evolutionary terms there will usually be a biological advantage to adaptation too, and it is only in recent years that this biological imperative has emerged from socio-political considerations like increased unemployment, benefit cuts and housing shortages. For many poorly educated, increasingly impoverished school-leavers seeking financial wellbeing and opportunities for independent living the only available options are the welfare system and assisted housing. As the eligibility criteria for both tighten, the benefits of childhood pregnancy, and the biological ‘edge’ arising from accelerated maturity, become increasingly apparent.
Confirming this as a socio-political rather than anthropological adaptation, researchers have noted that while sexual maturity among lower class females is happening earlier, emotional maturity is severely stunted, whereas ‘gals’ from middle and upper class backgrounds tend to finish university and / or more successfully negotiate areas like contraception. While the latter does not necessarily indicate ’emotional maturity’ it does at least suggest a level of common-sense that seems selectively eradicated from the genetic blueprint of their sink estate sisters. Sexual maturity in boys seems fairly consistent across the class spectrum, though it has been noted that working class boys tend to focus their sexual attention on girls rather than the shared packet of digestive biscuits favoured by many public school pupils from more privileged backgrounds. Emotional maturity in boys, recent research suggests, is something of an oxymoron.
As an interesting side note on the issue of class and evolutionary development, a baby girl was recently born in Birmingham with small apertures in her earlobes to accommodate, as the child’s mother put it, ‘a nice pair of studs’. Geneticists have yet to work out the full implications of this, but parent and child have been signed up with Max Clifford, who is negotiating a million pound book deal with the same publishing house that provides copy and syndication for Katie Price.
Another angle the show explored was that of genetic engineering and its likely impact upon our evolution. We are already at the stage where a child’s sex, eye and hair colour, likely intelligence and many other aspects of development can be modified prior to insemination. Obviously this raises huge questions surrounding issues like eugenics, but having said that does the world really need another Jeremy Clarkson? While the technology obviously does represent something of a double-edged sword, genetic modification and social engineering will enable us to eradicate things like empathy, morality and conscience – subjective emotional responses that have no role to play within our 21st Century society.
So, what do you think the future and evolutionary development hold for all of us? There are the obvious ones, obviously, like Texter’s Finger and Gamer’s Thumb, and with all the internet porn there is about I’m sure there will be a huge growth in the incidence of penis envy among the teenage male population, but I wonder if there will be any positives emerging as well?