When we were young, there was a place in North West England called Windscale. Basically they were in the nuclear fuels business, but it was not a happy few years. They were always dogged by scandals, usually about leaks and however unfairly, they became a bit of by word and a butt. Eventually it was decided to change their name to Sellafield and re-boot their image. Perhaps things have gone better since, or perhaps they have stayed the same. Certainly the name hardly trips off the tongue in the resonant manner of say Cambridge University, The Massachussets Institute of Technology or even Prada.
Names are important and what you call yourself says a lot about you. There is a huge difference for example in a name like Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett Ernle Erle Drax and Aaron Wead, for example. It tells you who you think you are , the sorts of places you hang out, and how highly you rate yourself. (apologies to any bearers of the above names, living or dead- we use them purely as examples, you understand)
So it goes with species. About one and a half million years ago, when humankind was but one species struggling among many, we called ourselves Homo ergaster. It’s a good name. It means working human. It gives the picture of a basically honest, laborious species that bashed out no-nonsense stone tools, brought home the food and were happy enough, it they’d had a good day, to sit around the fire and maybe sing a few songs. (Point of information: downloading was unknown back then) Humble, down to earth with no fancy frills and no self delusion.
Then about 250 000 years ago, along comes someone who recommends that we changed our name to Homo sapiens . The “wise” man. Oh yeah? “oh we’re so clever now, we have dinner parties and art, darling. Making things like tools is so last ice age, we’re a knowledge economy now”. And so it goes.
Look at the results. They are the fruits of vanity. Overpopulation. Ecological and atmospheric catastrophe. Drugs, bizarre sexual practices and drink everywhere (well not absolutely everywhere, but certainly a lot of other people seem to be up to it). Art that you have to pretend is good, even when you know it’s rubbish. Our gardens paved over to give safe havens to millions of metal monsters which congest the cities and run over our pets. And all this why we wait to be replaced by intelligent machines who know a lot more about knowledge economies than we do.
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, as the Proverbs would have it. Or was it Ecclesiastes? It doesn’t really matter. The point is to abandon this silly, self-regarding name we have called ourselves and form a Joint International Committee to look for one more befitting to our moral circumstances. How about Homo humilioris, as a starting suggestion?
#homosapiens #homoergaster #art #tools #fire #globalwarming #extinction #sellafield #MIT #imageconsultant