Friday, February 27, 2009

Taboo Equilibrium

Years ago I reminded a friend, there are public establishments in NYC where one can engage in condom-less sex with total strangers. But if I walked in there with a lit cigar, I'd be in trouble. My rhetorical skills toolbox containing only a sledge hammer & feather duster, at the time I just let the comment stand as example of absurdity.

But there's not a thing exotic about backwards green comets merely because we never saw one before. Similarly, maybe there's nothing the least bit absurd about certain mass social behaviors.

When Madonna kissed Britney slap on the mouth in front of millions during the cesspool, I mean MTV awards, likely nary an eyebrow raised among the collective audience. Had the girls taken the stage wearing mink coats though, coulda been a riot maybe.

So stop laughing Dave and figure out why that makes perfect sense per as yet unwritten laws of human tribal behavior. OK, how about the number of taboos must remain nearly constant in a tribe, to maintain social equilibrium?

Rate of change for tech advancement, increase in collective knowledge of our physical world, nearly infinite. Rate of individual brain's ability to absorb change, very finite. That's one of the built-in contradictions in our existence as both herd and solitary animals. Whenever rate of change exceeds the absorption rate of a critical mass of individuals, there's gonna be bad trouble. Call it Nazism, KKK, or radical Islam, but it's just the graph working.

What if human tribes are somehow innately aware of that? What if unconscious bulwarks exist all over the place, trying to forestall stampedes? Perhaps the struggle to maintain a constant number to taboos is one such bulwark.

So if public sex is now Okie-Dokie, something must replace it as a taboo. After all, nobody wants to get AIDS and secondhand smoke at the same time. That's just icky! Similarly, within driving distance of me there is statistically likely a young woman who's had two abortions, but won't eat Tuna, since some Dolphins lose their lives in the Tuna catching process. Tens of millions are angry about the prohibition of gay marriage in the US. Probably the only thing that could enrage them more would be a mink coat.

Absurd as it seems to me, it's just a backwards green comet of human tribal behavior, going about its biz. The number of taboos must remain fairly constant.

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