“The Science of Success” by David Dobbs

See The Atlantic Online (Dec. 2009):

Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people. (my emphases)

How dangerous would be an orchid mantis: a virile prophet(eer)—dissembler, metamorph, sexual cannibal (orchis Gk “testicle” + mantis Gk “prophet”).

The orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus)

Here‘s one catching a wasp.

For Roger Caillois in “The Praying Mantis” (1934; 1937), the mimicry of mantises represents the death-instinct (a.k.a. Thanatos), what Claudine Frank calls an “anti-Darwinian, anti-utilitarian, universal instinct d’abandon (instinct of letting go)”—or “expenditure,” to use Bataille’s term (69):

the mimicry of mantises . . . illustrates, sometimes hauntingly, the human desire to recover its original insensate condition, a desire comparable to the pantheistic idea of becoming one with nature, which is itself the common literary and philosophical translation of returning to prenatal unconsciousness. [. . .] [F]loral transformations, whereby the insect loses its identity and returns to the plant kingdom, complement its astonishing capacity for automatism as well as its seemingly insouciant attitude toward death. (The Edge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois Reader, ed. Claudine Frank, trans. Camille Naish [Duke UP, 2003] 79-80 [66-81])


One thought on ““The Science of Success” by David Dobbs

  1. Pingback: 2010 in Review [sic] « Te Ipu Pakore

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s