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Literary Darwinism: It survived deconstruction, …

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by being too trite for words: Here’s a sample from Sean Kean’s pod tranny:

One example is a book called The Rape of Troy by Jonathan Gottschall. And what he does is, he analyzes the sources of the conflicts in The Iliad – a little bit in The Odyssey too, but mostly in The Iliad – and he tries to look at it from the point of view of the number of available young women for men in the society, and he finds that there’s a lot of conflict. And most of the major conflicts in The Iliad are based on trying to find young women for the men to marry. That’s a little bit of a simplification, of course, but that’s the basic conflict in the book – over and over again they’re fighting about having women to marry. And it sort of gets at that they’re really fighting – even if they talk about honor or wealth or other things – in some fundamental sense, they’re really fighting for their evolutionary legacy.

Mmm, just as I suspected Sean Kean is suffering from evolutionary tone deafness. As it happens, the story really is about honor and wealth (to the extent that wealth confers honor), and about one man’s anger when he is dissed: To make that clear, it begins, Sing, Goddess, the wrath of Achilles … ”

Sure, all those guys wanted girls, except for the ones who wanted guys. In some places we take that for granted, like going to the bathroom. What’s of interest in the story is the role of “respected/dissed.” I’ve read far more insightful analyses of the Iliad from specialists in street culture than I’ll ever hear from literary Darwinism.

Is respect about spreading one’s selfish genes? Clearly not, because the reward could be either a girl or a boy, and the street capo is just as likely to be driving his knocked-up girlfriends to the abortion clinic as to the maternity hospital. It wasn’t much different back in the days of Homer’s Iliad.


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