Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Need of Greater Guidance, Honey

Questions have been asked as to exactly what would constitute a viable "higher self" totem animal in prison populations. See the nudiustertian post.

Bet that got your attention.

No nudes, boys. And no nudes is good nudes where my particular physique is concerned.

But to return. It has been asked: just what does Mina prescribe in her program to have inmates choose a totem representing their animal embodiment and then a "higher self" animal? That first part is fairly self-evident, although it does require extensive knowledge of various animal species in order for an individual to select his (or her) totem animal.

Having inmates choose a "higher self" animal, however, is where the real work happens. Raises questions not just of who they are, but who they might ideally be.

Initially Mina worked only with female inmates, whose purported wider corpus callosum allows for greater facility with symbolic thought. I have no quarrel with any argument giving moral superiority to the fair sex (though despite what the Marvelous Mina would seem to demonstrate, intelligence itself is obviously less gender-biased), but research has yet to establish superiority in the female corpus callosum.

Lost you already, have I? Keep up the pace, mate. You're letting yourself slide here.

Corpus callosum. A white matter structure connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres. Here's an illustration, for those in need of visual support.

Often regarded as the "seat of the soul," such as there could be said to be one. Descartes was even more specific in locating that particular site, calling the pineal gland, a pea-size gland in the same vicinity as the corpus callosum, the true seat of the soul. You might have heard of it as the third eye pictured above in a mask from Bali.

But I.. tigress, as illustrated in this spectacular photo by Nirmal Ghosh.

Considerations of 'higher animal self' are complex, and better left to a more thorough explication when it isn't quite so close to my afternoon libation. Let it suffice to say it's a process requiring considerably more thought and knowledge than one might expect. You don't just pick a species out of thin air and think you've got it, by Jove. Wouldn't one, for instance, tentatively think the choice of a Greater Honeyguide, Indicator indicator, as one's "higher self" would be a perfectly fine choice?

One would be wrong.

Sounds salutary at the outset. Found in sub-saharan Africa, vital to the subsistence of indigenous groups such as Bushmen who depend on the honey found in the bees' nests where these Honeyguides feed. Even serves that function for ratels, otherwise known as the honey badger.

But what further investigation yields is that it is what is known as a brood parasite, laying each of its eggs in a different nest of another species. That in itself would be merely a case of maternal abandonment. Or euphemistically, distributing the task of rearing among one's community, a wish dear to the heart of any aggrieved parent. However, upon hatching in these hospitable host's nests, the Greater Honeyguide chick has a membranous hook on the bill that "it uses, while still blind and featherless," to kill the host's own offspring.

Heard of bite the hand that feeds you, but murder its young is altogether another matter.

Some "guide" that.

Well, it's time. Off to badger my own honey for a tall glass of Mr. Beam.


d. chedwick said...

the female hummingbird is pretty amazing.

cbb said...

You have inspired an interest - I will check it out forthwith!