24 February 2009

Monkeyspheres Part Deux

Since I've been thinking about the phenomenon of the monkeysphere lately I've begun pondering who gets included and by what means they are included in our personal concepts of who is real and who is not. I wonder how the monkeysphere theory relates to the internet. If verbal communication replaced grooming (which maintained group ties) to help establish and maintain the monkeysphere what role does electronic communication, with no physical interaction, play? Is the internet only the latest incarnation of that-which-replaces-social-grooming? Maybe "replace" isn't the right word. I don't think the internet will replace the spoken word, that seems pretty unlikely. After all, verbal communication didn't stamp out social grooming. If it had we wouldn't have hair salons, barber shops and makeup counters and the like. Now that I think of it, you could perhaps include tattoo and piercing shops in that social grooming category too. But I digress...

Are people we've never met but electronically communicated with part of our personal monkeysphere? I imagine it probably depends on the individual internet user. I think many of my internet acquaintances are included in my monkeysphere. In fact, I converse with more people online than I do face to face. Since I like internet socializing more than face to face socializing I think I include more internet acquaintances in my monkeysphere than people I've met in real life. Hmm, "in real life": I guess that term doesn't mean what it once did. After all, internet conversations are conducted in real time and it's real people doing the typing. But since it doesn't include social grooming, or any other physical interaction to stand in for it, is internet usage creating a new kind of monkeysphere. Maybe the intersphere? Ethersphere?

I also wonder about animal companions being included in our monkeyspheres. Being an animal lover I, of course, include all six of my dogs in my monkeysphere and a whole lotta kitties too. Once upon a time I even included a fish in my monkeysphere. I know there are plenty of people who consider pets to be little more than stuffed animals but I don't consider them to be my kind of human so I'll leave them out of this. I wonder when animals first became pets, back when wolf-like animals first became attached to humans, if they were included in an ancient’s monkeysphere. Ancient dogs were hunting partners and a potentially life-saving security warning system. But were they loved? Was there affection between early humans and early dogs? I can't help but think there was and that early dogs were included in many a monkeysphere.

And since I'm an earthy, tree-hugging, Earth Mother-worshiping greenie I wonder if our plant cousins can be included in our personal monkeyspheres. I think it's entirely possible and plausible. I know I've been deeply attached to certain plants and trees over the years. I still remember the sadness I felt when our beautiful, gigantic tulip poplar was cut down by the corporate assholes that eminent domained us out of our home when I was a wee lass of 7. And there have been other trees and plants I've been attached to and saddened to lose. So, yes, I think plant life can be included in our monkeysphere. Again, I know there are plenty of folks who feel nothing for, or from, plants. But, like those who feel nothing for animals, they are a different beast than I and have little to say to them as I don't think they're fully alive.

That, of course, brings us to the Earth Mother herself. She is not the same as a human. But she is alive. She breathes; she grows, ages, changes, suffers and flourishes. She is that from which all life springs. She is all, she is everything. So, yeah, I definitely include the Earth Mother in my personal monkeysphere. And, obviously, many, many, too, too many people don't. And that's what's so wrong with our culture, with our civilization, with our very race. All too many humans see the Earth as inanimate and lifeless, as a tool or resource to be ruled, conquered, manipulated, used and abused. Too many humans are so focused on their own little monkeysphere that they cannot see what should be at the heart of it: the Earth. The next thought that naturally occurs to me is "how can we encourage the inclusion of the Earth into the monkeyspheres of those who disregard her?"

How to grow our monkeysphere? How to help others grow theirs? That's another post for another time...


Sloth Womyn said...

hmmmm. This has so many implications on so many levels. I don't even really know where to start.

Here's what I keep thinking about.

With natural selection at work, evolution is so that our bodies are evolved to our environment of about 10,000 years ago.

We are always about 10,000 years behind. An example of this is the "instinctual" fear of snakes and spiders. That's because 10,000 years ago, those with a healthy fear of snakes and spiders survived and procreated. Those who didn't, were dead.

Many of our societal ills can be explained by this phenomenon. The monkey sphere is one of those explanations as to why we live in such a messed up society. Big cities with a whole lot of diverse people challenges our wiring. We are wired to live in small communities with very little diversity, hunting and gathering for survival.

Humans have lived a certain way for 1000's of years and then all of the sudden, within a 500 year period, industry is born and our way of life radically changes. What stress for our brains! Like calculators, we accept one kind of input. Ever try to input binary numbers on a calculator? You will always get the wrong answer! The calculator just isn't wired to understand binary input.

I feel that there is a force at work that has catalyzed this sped up evolution. Call it deity or evolution or whatever, but something is pushing us towards a new way of being, in other words, our calculator is getting an upgrade.

Those who will survive and procreate are the ones who will be able to adapt to this new state of consciousness. Why and what for? I can only begin to imagine.

Rose Weaver said...

Hi Livia,

I find this to be such an interesting concept and agree with you, but do have a question which nags me. Some seem to have the capacity for much larger monkeyspheres which seem to include, as you suggest here, all manner of life, as well as no limit to the number of humans with which they come into contact.

I feel this has to do with empathy; one's capacity to empathize with all manner of life, or Spirit. I'm wondering if this empathic capacity enlarges one's monkeysphere, and a lack of empathic capacity could also reduce it.

An example is a serial killer's empathic capacity which seems to be incredibly small compared to someone like the Dali Lama or Ghandi. Does this make sense to you?

Best, Rose

Anonymous said...

You know, I had never thought of online groups serving the same function as social grooming among primates--but I think you're on to something! That's how I use Facebook and blogs, it seems. I go over here and check this one out, pick-pick, then go over to the next one, pick-pick. LOL.

Livia Indica said...

Sloth Womyn, Wow, you amaze me. I agree with you in that the rapid rise of technology and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are not jiving with how we evolved. Likewise our small monkeyspheres. I wonder if those of us who might try to expand our monkeyspheres will be survive.

Rose Weaver, slow down! I haven't gotten to the saints of the world yet! That's for the next post! LOL You've totally read my mind in that those who have a seemingly much, much bigger monkeysphere than average are a key part of the discussion. I think empathy is key and that Ghandi, etc. were either born with a larger monkeysphere or managed to enlarge them. Stay tuned.

Riverwolf, yep, that's exactly what I was thinking. Instead of social grooming we intellectually groom via the internet.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

I would have(was?)been that hermit, sitting on the edge of camp, away from the 'human' monkeysphere, when there was a stray, or pack-ousted pup, approach-- out of hunger, likely.
I'd have tossed him/her a scrap or more, because, as humans, our need to anthropomorphise would have led me to do so.

Thus I see our relations with animals coming to monkeyspheredom...

And I can only agree on the plant tangent. And ache, too, for the loss of your poplar...

And as to the question of how real are our e-quaintances...

How real am I to you?

On that subject, and linking to my post tonight, i'll have directions to the Solstice menana.

E-mail me if you're still "in" (a chance to meet real. I look forward to this one!...) We can exchange emails or I can post comment on your blog with understanding that directions to my land are for your eyes only...

Excellent writing, my Lady!

Yes, you are Goddess Incarnate.

More Very Soon, INDICA.



Anonymous said...

Sloth Womyn makes an interesting point. We must adapt, and while we may be wired to live in smaller communities, the world just no longer operates that way. In fact, some of our biggest social problems, in my opinion anyway, stem from smaller insulated communities that are having trouble adapting to new paradigms. And in order to evolve to the next level, we must look beyond ourselves to include the plants, animals, the Earth itself in our monkeysphere!

Moonroot said...

Very interesting concepts. Looking forward to your next Monkeysphere post!

Livia Indica said...

Hey Cygnus, I'm there as long as I can get the nerve up to do all that driving and you can guarantee you're not an axe murdered, or a Republican, ya know, whichever. I'll get an email off in a bit.

Riverwolf, yes, I see your point. We must adapt or figure something out because the days of small communities is on the way out.

Hey Moonroot, me too. Just waiting for inspiration.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

TRIPPLE AWARD is yours for the typing-- i mean, taking!

kazari said...

Maybe this breaks all the rules, but I think people can have more than one Monkey Sphere.
Take my aunt, she was a school teacher, that lived in the same place her whole life, taught at the same school for 30 years.
So her first monkeysphere is all our crazy family, and the friends she's had forever. But then at school there's around 150 kids that she knows, and cares about, and cares for.
And then, because she's been there forever, a lot of her ex-students keep in touch, and many visit, so she knows and cares about them and THEIR families. And she's really involved in the community that revolves around the school...

Basically, it's impossible for her to go to the shops without running into 10 or 12 people she knows. And she doesn't just know their name, she knows who their brothers and sisters are, what they do for a living, when they moved away, when they moved back... worlds within worlds.
I think we must have room for more than one monkeysphere. Our physical friends and family, our online friends, maybe school friends.

Livia Indica said...

Hmm, you may be onto something there kazari. Maybe there's a monkeysphere for our innermost loved ones, a perhaps slightly larger one for the next level of friends and acquaintances and an even larger one for others. And you raise another issue: I wonder if children get their own monkeysphere? Very interesting.