As an artist who has worked with several media, I am familiar with feeling attracted to a particular medium, imagination engaged, and having to wait until I can exhibit some facility before I have an experience of creative closure. It took almost a year of sowing before I was fairly facile at creating puppets. Watercolor skills were long in coming. I practiced with pencil and ink, literally for years, before I felt confident that what would come out was close to what I had to say.
I’m now slowly building writing skills. My first book-length work posts shortly. It was built from the short essays that comprise this blog. At the same time, I’m learning video production, accompanying these short blog essays with Elia’s and Jordan’s music and Creative Commons contributions by artists and amateur photographers and videographers from around the world.
Engagement in theorizing on human origins and the dynamics of human and biological evolution is similar to, if not identical to, creating art. Participating in art, I feel drawn toward a medium while experiencing that which wants to be expressed. Medium and content feel closely allied. The process or medium used to express the experience, and the experience itself, feel closely related.
By merging a medium with my own experience, art emerges that is based upon making sense. Theorizing how evolution operates, like art, I at first feel drawn to particular ideas, books, disciplines and authors, intuiting that here an answer lies. I feel that once I have accumulated and stored the content I am looking for, patterns will emerge that will offer an experience of integration. Congregations of ideas, books, disciplines and authors feel to me like an artistic media. My attraction to a knowledge cluster is predicated on my intuiting a hidden integration that when matched with my experience will offer epiphany.
Right now, I am feeling aware of a congregation of information in an area I don’t know well. I don’t know if I’ll find myself flinging my attention in that direction. This information area has to do with the relationship among nonhuman animal populations, social structure, sexual selection, neoteny, acceleration, endocrinology and ontogeny. My studies have revolved almost exclusively around humans. I’m sensing a deep and evocative story accompanying an understanding of how these principles work outside humans.
What I’ve been drifting toward is evolutionary theory based upon principles of maturity. This is a complement to evolution based upon conception and death. Darwin’s theory of natural selection, as an exposition on the survival of the fit, describes both the impact of demise on the survival of specific traits, and the power of a belief in heritability, how a being is conceived to inform a future life. Between death and conception, or conception and death, is ontogeny, or maturation. Integral to understanding evolution is how maturation influences and is influenced. Exploring social structure, sexual selection, neoteny, acceleration, endocrinology, pubertal timing, environmental influences and ontogeny, we can begin to get an idea of how evolution operates outside of death and conception. The artist in me intuits that an evolutionary epiphany accompanies an understanding of evolution’s other half, the part which happens while beings are alive. It’s not just about when they are conceived and die.
An artist presupposes that integration is inevitable once a medium is respectfully explored. A theorist can enter discipline explorations with similar sensitivities. Presupposing connection is easy for an artist. No violation of orthodoxy is implied. Presupposing connection for a theorist can be heresy. In a reductionist milieu, to behave as if something is true (connection between not obviously connected parts) that has not been proven true is often considered deeply inappropriate.
As an artist, I often feel compelled to find connections among two or more things which are not obviously related. It is an obsession. It is an obsession that periodically offers an experience of integration. As a theorist, I feel compelled to discover and reveal connections among things not obviously related. For me, epiphany results.
Presupposing connection offers an experience of integration. It’s the same in science and in art.