Some images from a small book I made called ‘Where We Found Our Metaphors’ inspired by a conversation between Krista Tippett and Michael McCarthy.
Ms.Tippett: Ok, sorry, right, I - 500 generations of what we call civilisation and the 50,000 generations when we were part of nature, and your argument is that that is “where we evolved; where we became what we are, where we learned to feel and react, “ “where the human imagination formed, “where we found our metaphors and similes.” And that’s - it’s not an idea that I had ever heard expressed that way, but as you lay it out, it - in the way you’re talking about it, it makes sense in my body, what you’re describing. That that is still defining us.
Mr. McCarthy: The idea is not mine, and it’s not new. It’s about 40 years old. It’s a perception thy comes from evolutionary biology - that’s the neo-Darwinism of the late 20th century, and a particular branch of that, which is evolutionary psychology, which has been going, really, since about the 80’s. And the core perception of evolutionary psychology is that 50,000 generations that preceded us in the Pleistocene, which is the age of the Ice Ages, when we became what we are as part of the natural world - when we were wildlife, of you like; we don’t think of ourselves as wildlife anymore, but we were wildlife then - that those generations are more important for our psyches, even now, than the 500 generations of civilisation which have followed the invention of farming about 12,000 years ago. So that there is a legacy deep within us, a legacy of instinct, a legacy of inherited feelings, which may lie very deep in the tissues - it may lie underneath all the parts of civilisation which we are so familiar with on a daily basis, but it has not gone; that we might have left the natural world, most of us, but the natural world has not left us.