Breathers 2, Storyform
We don’t know of any other species that understand what stories are. Maybe New Caldonean crows. Quite possibly Neanderthals.
I suspect the ability to laugh is related to it. First the pratfall, then the laugh. A scene passes from left hand to right. Time passes. Connections are retained. Humor and story appear to be higher functions.
The wonderful author Frans de Waal recounted a story of Mama, the exceptional leader of a chimpanzee colony. Some human in a panther costume had been testing the colony’s reaction to his appearance across the moat. At some point he unmasked and the chimps understood that the human had been an as-if panther. De Waal saw Mama laugh. No other chimps. So intriguing — Mama was markedly intelligent. Was this an evolutionary moment? Did any of her offspring go on to laugh? It’s not reported.
Humor is a higher function.
Last week I introduced the notion of Breathers in my art. All creatures great and small. Mastodons to mites (and I admitted, thence to mimosa trees). Anything that keeps changing from within. Not because of geological pressures, or tsunamis or droughts. Though also subject to these. But Breathers follow rule-sets built inside themselves.
These facts intersect the artist in me in two distinct ways. (Leaving options open to expand.) Today I’m showing you the Breathers in my Storyform folder. They accumulate, any piece of art with a metabolizing being in it. I know I want to find narrative in them. Not my strong suit. But the idea has a very juicy pull. So far I image arranging them in sequences but I’ve tried next to none. It’s percolating. With words? Without? A ocean of difference right there.
Next week I’ll show the second of my two Breather fascinations, Surreal People.
Frans de Waal, Facebook public page
Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves