Man, When Perfected, is the Best of Animals

Ten points if you know where that quote comes from 😉

This is something I meant to post a few weeks ago, and I’ve lost all of it now but the fundamental point. Never mind. It’s still worth noting.

Society has spent millenia praising and revering the intellect. Man is a creature of reason, we are told; all that separates us from animals is our ability to plan, to think, to rationalise. The people accorded the highest honour in our culture are the ones whose professions require great intellect, feats of mental gymnastics: traditionally, doctors, lawyers, pilots, bankers. These are the steadfast pillars of our society, the trusty, the reliable, the people who can witness documents for you. Because everyone knows that artists are flighty, actors are liars, and writers – well, they could make anything up.

The right side of our brain, home of creativity, imagination and to some degree, emotion, is not prized so heavily. There is a video I show to my creative writing classes about a man whose epilepsy was so bad, the doctors decided the only feasible course of action was to sever his corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibres that connect the two halves of your brain (fascinating video, only ten minutes, go watch it). It concludes with the scientific researcher noting that they have a saying around their lab: don’t leave home without your left hemisphere.

Personally, I would like to reject this implication. This statement is, in essence, saying that the only worthwhile human is one who can think, reason and observe. The right hemisphere is superfluous; we can get on perfectly well without it.

Ridiculous. A human who does not feel, who cannot empathise, who cannot imagine or create – what on earth kind of human is that? Not human, obviously – a robot. I think it’s telling that one of the most difficult factors in creating artificial intelligence that can pass for human is not in making a computer reason, but in making it imagine. People, let us not fool ourselves: sympathy, empathy, feelings, creativity, intuition, imagination – we can’t live without these things either.

Reason alone does not set us apart from animals – and even that is a claim that grows more tenuous by the hour. Chims make spears. Crows solve logic puzzles. Elephants craft fly swats. Dolphins use sponges, otters make nutcrackers, degus (small rodents) use rakes, and octopuses make coconut-shell armour. Dude. COCONUT-SHELL ARMOUR.

Art, culture, creativity – our right hemisphere is JUST AS IMPORTANT in constructing our identity as humans as our left hemisphere. (And, intriugingly, creativity sets us apart from animals in much the same way that reason does – i.e., tenuously. Dolphins play with bubble rings. Elephants can paint portraits of other elephants. Apes use sign language to communicate feelings). Why does society value it so little (comparatively)?

Possibly, because it seems untrustworthy. Creativity occurs largely in the realm of the subconscious, making it appear somewhat like magic at worse, and unpredictable and finnicky at best. Still. That’s no reason to dismiss half of what makes us human. I mean seriously. Come on.

I’ve remembered what inspired this: an article by Elizabeth Esther where she talks about the way that society shuns ‘overly emotional’ people. Sure, ‘overly logical’ people aren’t exactly a bundle of fun sometimes, but there is nowhere near the stigma against them, against interpreting a situation through our physical senses, as there is against emotional people, against interpreting life through the lense of our emotions. Which is stupid, because as noted above, the depth of our emotions separates us from animals just as much (or, yes, just as little) as the heights of our logical reasoning.

Fundamentally, I suspect, it’s got to do with the fact that we seek an unalterable objective reality – ‘truth’. Which again does nothing more than reveal our bias; we only strive to be objective (in essays, research, debates, etc) because we subjectively believe it to be important. But that is probably another post altogether; I’ve rambled definitely enough.

The Making Of…

We’re nearly out of baby wipes. I went to the supermarket about a week ago, intending to buy some (along with groceries for the week), and came out with none. Every single brand except one was choc full of parabens (emerging research – example – shows that high concentrations of parabens are found in breast cancers, and that they encourage tumour growth; the exact link is as yet unknown, and of course, for every study linking the two, there is a study claiming no link – and bearing in mind the fact that a lot of scientific reserach is funded by companies who have a significantly vested interest in parabens NOT being linked to breast cancers… Well, let’s just say I’d much rather be safe than sorry.), and the one that had no parabens was – yay – the organic brand, but – boo – more expensive than I was willing to pay.

Given I’d read like a year or more ago, when still pregnant, that making your own was dead easy, I figured it was time to give it a try. It’s taken a week and of course I decided to do it on the day when I’m sick and feel like my face is going to explode. Maybe trying to distract myself from how ick I feel? But anyway. I’m quite pleased with the result.

I decided to go with the spray-on method. I’d bought a box of wipes (rather than a packet) relatively recently, half-thinking that I’d use the box to make my own wipes when it was empty, but reading around and thinking about it, there doesn’t seem to be a way to avoid making new batches of wipes pretty frequently with this method – too much liquid in the box, it’ll spill everywhere, and the bottoms ones will be soaked and useless, not enough liquid and the paper towel that is the base of the wipes will dry out, and as a friend pointed out, there is always the potential for mould o.O

So. Another blog I found talked about using cloth wipes, and to do that, you just dampen the cloth before using. Tried that at one point, and it was massively inconvenient, because I’d sit down to nappy-change and realise I haven’t wet the cloth, and kid was now half naked, and it was all just too late.

Enter the spray bottle. Which, once I thought of it, I saw in a bazillion places around the web, so you know. A friend linked me to this page, with some ‘recipes’ on it, and being the person I am I mixed and matched. This is what I ended up doing:

 

  • Boil some water, and make a large mug of chamomile tea. The brand I have also includes citrus peel, rosehip, and liquorice root. Double checked, and all are not only safe but good for the skin, so win there.
  • Add the mucousy pulpy insides of an aloe vera leaf. I think it was probably a little less than a tablespoon of the gunk in the end.
  • 4 drops of lavendar essential oil (remember to go easy on the essential oils as they can irritate the skin otherwise).
  • 2 ish tablespoons of grape seed oil (or any good-for-the-skin oil).
  • Put it all into a spray bottle, top it up with cold water if there’s room, wait for it to cool, and use! Spray it onto cloth wipes or paper towels or whatever else you’d like to use, and change those nappies! :o)

 

Also under the category of ‘making of’, I’m in the middle of making a batch of the world’s most heavenly body butter today – it’s in the fridge cooling. It smells like chocolate, you can spread it on toast, it hydrates without stripping your natural oils, and it really is just amazing. Recipe is from my friend Steph here, but instead of coconut and macadamia oils I used grape seed and apricot kernel (and lessened the amount slightly to compensate for the fact that neither are solid like coconut oil). Can’t wait to see how it turns out!