Monday, April 04, 2016


“Brown” people have come to be a kind of category of people indicated by their general skin color, which might not be technically so brown.  Roughly they tend to be indigenous people, from America, Asia, or maybe Australia -- free from the white Euro pattern, particularly that for men.  Their relationship to women, in particular, tends to be different from that of white men.  But not like the African black man.  (This is all fanciful and not particularly related to any surveys, statistics, or whatever -- kind of literary.)  I’ll let this part go until later.
Iain Glen

For now I’ll set up a new category:  “ginger” men from the redhead countries: Ireland, Scotland, the Nordics.  Oh, there are “ginger” women, too.  And a whole new set of relationships based on the runaway man, often one who goes to sea.  So in terms of gender roles, women must “stay put,” maybe under hardship conditions like a stone croft dependent on oats or potatoes or small domestic animals like chickens or goats -- high labor necessary for survival -- often using the herbal crafts and the nature-weaving of trees and standing stones, the stories of storm and sea.

But in terms of gingermen, they must be a hardy lot capable of aggression and drive, charismatic enough to secure the faithfulness of resourceful women and protective enough to return to her and her children.  They are sometimes impossible men -- going against the larger society for reasons of their own and resorting to physical violence when trapped, though hopefully not violent with their intimates.  And oh so vulnerable to alcohol, the dreaming, the dissociation of it, the narcotic temporary relief of pain.

This is the material of song and story -- usually with a tragic end.  Added to a seafarer’s personality (I have sea captains on both sides of my genealogy) is the 18th century revolution of the Ulster men that reinforced stubbornness, resistance to imperiums and authorities, bands of acid-based men ready for revolution, rationalism and enlightenment, idealism, subterfuge -- their backs against the wall.

I’m not talking about a cookie.  Not “inclusivegenderman” who combines the binaries, but the kind of person supposedly portrayed by John Wayne in “The Quiet Man,” which was directed by John Ford with echoes of John Huston. (They were fierce Johns.) This is the post-WWII man, a man who can’t “stand down,” not just because of himself but also because of the society.  I’m saying that elements of society push ginger men into behavior and attitudes possibly described as PTSD.  The kind of man it’s pretty tough to stay married to.  And yet that’s what some of us want:  to become beloved by an impossible genius fighting injustice.  Then maybe it becomes a relief that they are often away.   Maybe such a woman is herself culturally more male than mama.

Lately there has arisen a new explanation for this “type”.  It appeals to us because it fits into old ideas of how people fall into tribes and tropes that are convenient for our prejudices and labels that justify what we wanted to do anyway — like stigmatize the Other, even criminalize them to give ourselves an edge in the great competition of life.  We don’t admit this, of course, which means it interferes with ever being dealt with.

I’m talking about the discovery that Neandertals intermarried with “us” and left their imprint as surely as Genghis Khan did.  No question about it, in a tough world that depends on strength it’s the guys with the muscles and the bonded buddies who get the chance to make babies and also the fulfilled obligation to protect them to adulthood.  It’s so strange to look at the world through genetic implications — and they ARE only implications, not facts or even dependable images or fossils.  No one has ever seen a Neandertal or even the entire skeleton of one.  Except for things made of stone, their material culture is unknown, decomposed from hides, wood, and plants.

Ron Mueck's small scale lovers

When artists of the hyper-real began to create works like this by Ron Mueck, they made possible scary-real creations like this above.  These are not idealized figures, but actual worried, stressed, emotional people — it’s not just their realism, but their emotional content that impresses us.  Mueck plays with scale, so that some figures are huge and others are just parts.

So now it's possible to bring Neandertals "alive" as lovers, whatever form marriage took in those days.

Neandertal simulations  Maybe by Kennis and Kennis brothers.

Hyper realistic baby dolls are produced by named artists, just like anything made of marble or bronze, both because of the technical skills of artists and because our culture allows us to look at such things publicly, seeing ourselves. Valuing.

These baby dolls are so real they almost displace our own imagination.  They are used in therapy to help people deal with fantasies about babies.  And then there are ginger girls.
Ruet specializes in red-headed children, who arouse the same sort of ambivalent bond as images of the Neandertal or the nude — that is, they allow scrutiny that would be impolite or impossible in the ordinary world.  Genes for red-hair are connected to a change in the function in chromatin and have arisen at least twice from different mutations, but the genes for only one variation were found in the neandertal genome.

The other intriguing gene find is that for FOXP2, which has something to do with language, but no one knows quite what or how.  It just implies that these people might be speaking with more than their eyes.

All of this is part of our efforts to come to terms with what it is to be human.  Clearly, it has to do with the emotional content of the body, which arose from its evolved heritage as primates, but is now human and most clearly expressed in our faces, especially eyes which almost seem to be projecting beams of sight, something that can be felt even if you don’t really know anyone is looking at you.  

In fact, we can “read” each other emotionally even without talk or seeing eyes, simply by seeing posture and movement.  We are an expressive animal that can create bonds with others, maybe not even other humans, but maybe dogs or horses.  But even wild animals — very occasionally a shared moment with a bear or a stag.  That’s part of what taxidermy is about, the illusion of relationship, NOT trophies, NOT domination, NOT owning.

Science gives us only clues for the possible variations a genome can create.  It takes art to create something realistically ginger, convincingly Other in some way.  But I like to watch episodes of “Jack Taylor” or “Game of Thrones” because Iain Glen is a Gingerman who looks like my brother Paul.  I mean, it's not an Otherness, it's a similarity, incomplete.

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