Explorations with light – from the 60s.
…is the title of a new book by Frans de Waal, famed primatologist and Professor of Psychology at Emory.
De Waal essentially argues that traits of empathy and reciprocity, the foundation for survival, human morals and law, are evolved from animal behaviour in particular primate behaviour. As such his work supports Darwin while contradicting Thomas Huxley’s view of humans as essentially selfish and competitive.
An April 17, 2007 article in the New York Times pointed to the remarkable similarities between humans and chimp social behaviour as well as the surprising finding that Chimps beat humans on certain types of memory test conducted with computer screens.
The chimp in this shot, taken in my studios in the 70s, learned to mimic my actions with the camera after watching me for just a few minutes.
Links to Professor de Waal’s work can be found here, here and here and for a longer piece, published in 2006, titled The Animal Self, covering the advances in studying animal behaviour see this article by Charles Siebert in the New York Times.
Faced with a flood of news about death, war, greed and propaganda it was easy to miss the story this month that the Galapagos islands are under pressure from excess tourism. This unique group of islands, an inspiration to Darwin and many others has enormous significance in the history of evolution. Destroying a remote delicate pristine wilderness like this, a living laboratory, is not just another tale of an ecology under threat. The Galapagos are symbolic of a fundamental human and natural imperative – a reminder that we are here, on this planet, to evolve, to emerge – and whenever possible – to smile!
Credit for the idea used in this photograph goes to my wife, Alida.
From Kurt Vonnegut’s New York Times obituary.
To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine,” summed up his philosophy:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”
This image of Bes was taken in 1964.