I am going to build a tribe. It will be made of arms and legs and stomachs and faces. People with names will belong to these parts. And I will love them. And they will hopefully love me. And, somehow or another, we will function as a whole thing in this world. It will be grand. Sometimes.
Maybe – if my grand tribe is good and beautiful and smart enough (or just mighty clever and mostly obnoxious) – our whole will grow into a society. The little beating heart of my tribe will sprout veins and arteries and then more people with names and parts will want to be grand with us. Or we can make our own people in the tribe. That’s pretty handy sometimes.
Handy and grand. My tribe. People will like it. People like each other. Sort of.
For as long as we’ve been animals (forever), humans have been bumping into each other and snapping off into little pods of Together. We like Together. And we’re pretty much terrible at it. We’re pretty much terrible at being Together. Our orbits around our fellow humans are dangerous and messy and heartbreaking; we’re world class world-shatter-ers. We’re terrible at love, honesty, compassion and understanding. We don’t know how to cohabitate or tolerate. We bite. We smell bad. Cities are gross.
You should become a hermit if you’ve learned anything. Have you learned anything? We’re terrible at learning, too. Here’s something relevant:
Jared Diamond (who has an excellent name attached to his parts) does science with humans. Currently a professor of geography at UCLA, Diamond has also studied physiology, evolutionary biology and biogeography. He also writes books about humans and science. Here’s one: The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?. And this is something worth talking about – we’re all very good at talking; we like making noise. Here’s more:
Diamond’s latest book, The World Until Yesterday, surveys the differences between “traditional” societies (me and my tribe of grand peeps might fit here) and the modern hives of industrial and post-industrial circles. Taking readers on a search for how the old world can influence the new world, Diamond explores our interactions with each other as groups, seeking answers to how modern man can find social wellness somewhere between our roots and our future.
You can join Jared Diamond at 6pm this Wednesday, January 9th, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts  as he participates in this month’s Kentucky Author Forum  for an interview with anthropologist and fellow author, Sarah Hrdy. Tickets for listening to good talking are $20 per person – or $110 for dinner with the guests before the show. Sound like a plan? I think so!
The good talking will probably get really good here, and you will probably learn a lot – even if you’re terrible at the learning. It’s ok. We all are. Variations of Together is the kind of catastrophe we do best. There is a lot gnashing of teeth involved, because human tribes are messy and awful. And just so grand.
The Kentucky Center for the Arts is located at 501 W Main Street. For tickets, call the box office at (502) 584-7777.
Photo: Courtesy of Kentucky Center for the Arts website www.kentuckycenter.org .