Monday, March 23, 2015
Day 25 Among the Endangered Silverbacks
The Anthropologist's Take
5:46 AM. Arose at 5:46 AM. Had a powerbar, checked last night's journal, and went to the western slope.
6:13 AM. Took observation of initial group activity. The herd is on the move. Group 4 is traveling somewhere. Appears to be Group 8.
6:18 AM. All the packs have moved frequently since the beginning of my study. Lots of socialization but no major changes. Still, today I feel like something's up.
10:27 AM. Group 4 and Group 8 definitely meeting. Silverbacks encounter each other. Group 4 Alpha defers! Group 8's Alpha is an older male, broader and heavier all around. Group 4's Alpha, who I nicknamed "Teddy" on Day 1, makes an obvious reduction in posture and yielding body movements before this new Alpha.
10:33 AM. After his submission ritual, Teddy exhibits extremely unorthodox behavior in line with his earlier submissiveness--he is left with the younger members of the pack while all of his females shift to his superior's control. Group 8's Alpha already had one female in his harem, now he has five. The dominance just oozes off him as he leads them away from Teddy and the children. I'm getting horny just thinking about it.
11:14 AM. All of both packs' females fawn over Group 8's Alpha, who seems to be the head of this new group. When one silverback yields to another, a new Alpha is clearly appointed to control the harem of the new pack formed as a result. Teddy may be forced to become a loner for a while. My poor subject! The young are crawling over him and he eats a little to comfort himself.
11:55 AM. Long minutes pass as the females continue to pour attention on the new Alpha. It is colder than ever, but still I managed to sit in the one tree that had ants. They're a common variety around here--they got into my cargo pants and bit me a dozen times before I got out of my perch, stripped down, and swatted them away. Note to self: bring more bug spray along on the next expedition.
12:18 PM. It appears as though Teddy, the new secondary male, or Beta male, has discovered some food. Everyone else is converging upon it except for some of the females. Did the new Alpha prohibit them from eating? They are some of the younger but physically mature ones. Maybe he doesn't want them eating around Teddy?
12:41 PM. The younger mature females are definitely not being allowed to eat. They have remained away from the others while the others are eating and socializing. The new Alpha is keeping them away from their former harem-master. Alphas always protect their women from Betas.
2:12 PM. Looks like the feasting is finally over. Teddy has to leave the group for some reason--sent away by senior male? The females groom the new harem-master.
2:15 PM. Teddy has been allowed to return to the group. He is left with the young while the new Alpha again takes the females away. More grooming! Will there be mating this quickly after a show of dominance only a few hours before? Memo to self, buy more ventilated clothing for next expedition. I know the sexual tension around here shouldn't be getting to me, but it's just so...so SOMETHING, so spicy, to think about the kind of mastery these beasts have over their females. If I wasn't on the job, I'd touch myself and not stop touching myself until the sun went down.
3:06 PM. Day's observation almost complete. Soon it will be time to return to the lab to report on the 25 day spread. The bigger, older silverback remains in charge of the harem. I have decided to call him, "Teddy Senior." I'm gaining a little more affection for him as I peruse his bedding material through my RED Digital Cinema zoom-lens. I don't think Teddy Senior has mated with any of the females yet, but they have groomed him and he has disciplined two of them on two separate occasions. Teddy Junior is all but forgotten.
3:18 PM. I can't take these ants anymore. The wind is beginning to pick up. At least I'm cooling back down a little. The Alpha display from Teddy Senior is incredible. That quickly my entire perspective has been confirmed. It's just like it is back home.
4:09 PM. Hiked back to base camp. It's been a tiring trip but also wonderful. E-mail updates went to the entire department every few days, and during the layover between my flights back home, I have a skype meeting with the director of research, to discuss the effects of my findings. This might seem mundane to a lot of people, but it confirms everything we've suspected for years about not only primate behavior, but human behavior as well.
"Ted? Ted? You know, I hate it when you just watch football the entire visit!"
Ted smirked. "You wanna go see the old man, you go see him."
"But he's so booooring!" protested Alexis. "I had to look through these slides for, like, hours! And his study smells like 'Old Spice'!"
Smothering a giggle, Tracy added, "And old farts! I swear, he was letting silent-but-deadlies the whole time we were back there, like he thought we couldn't tell."
Ted grinned, but waved at the girls. "Don't make fun of your grandfather."
Alexis made a face at him. "Like it was your problem. Every time you drag us there, you just watch ESPN like a doof, and make us put up with him."
"Suze?" Ted compressed his lips into a line, giving Susie a meaningful look.
Exhaling slowly, Susie turned to her eldest daughter. "Sweetheart, he's serious. We all need to check in on him now and then. How would you feel if this was our last visit there, and that was the last thing you ever remembered saying about him?"
Alexis thought carefully. "Relieved?" she offered, eyes sparkling.
Pretending to check the driver's side mirror, Ted tried to hide his laugh.
Susie frowned at both of the girls. "Well, at least you got to see Grandma."
"I like Gramma," shrugged Tracy.
Alexis made a noncommittal noise. "Anyway..." She perked up. "Did you see that weird guy in the tree across the street? What was he doing up there?"
Giggling, Tracy said, "He was sitting on ants--I saw."
"He was, like, fapping," Alexis confided with hushed seriousness. "He was looking in their window the whole day."
"Girls!" Susie rubbed her temples. "Oh, I am so drained. Please, please be mature about all this. " She drew several long yoga breaths. "Dear?" Batting her eyelashes appealingly, she turned to Ted, who was just about to merge onto the freeway. "I love you so much, sweetie." After a careful pause, she asked, "Do you think we could get Chinese tonight? Pleeeease?"
Ted thought. "Long as you put on those ribs tomorrow, yeah, sure."
"Oh, thank you!" Susie leaned her head against his shoulder. Shutting her eyes, she listened to the sounds of muffled truck engines, trying to decompress from the day.
In White Boiz, How to Pick up Women, and How to Pick up Women, Part 2, we've looked at a portion of internet marketing which capitalizes on bourgeois men's issues, and which primarily goes by terms borrowed from the femboi/transsexual community ("Red Pill" and Matrix-franchise-derived terms), and the lower class African-American community ("Game"). A small portion of this cultural phenomenon includes people discussing institutionalized bigotry, which can be interesting and meaningful up to the point that its own inherent selfishness--namely, its feminism-like narcissistic focus on domestic men's rights contra global death and misery tolls affecting exponentially more men and boys in exponentially more serious ways--causes the good portions of the critique to collapse, like feminism, into a vulgar caricature of decency which attempts to resort to collective punishment as the only possible defense/solution.
The majority of the bourgeois men's issues blogs are, like the Occupy Wall Street movement, reacting adversely to something only when it begins to powerfully affect the bourgeois. E.g., it's fine if judges throw black men in jail for being unable to pay criminally-deranged levels of child support based upon "imputed income" during recessions for forty years, but once it affects some young white people who work in IT, it's a "new wave" of feminism that absolutely must be stopped in the interests of all men. (The OWS comparison is that American blacks have been living under those same financial hammers for centuries, and OWS didn't become national news until some white bourgeois students started disliking their student debt, then trying to connect their burdens to the larger historical injustice. Which isn't to say that OWS was "wrong," but there's certainly a comparison to be noted there.)
Ergo we have all of these delightful new masculinist blogs and literature-producers that look exactly like feminist literature, only with the pronouns and jargon largely reversed. The marketers are making money by advocating various collective punishments, and everyone, even well-off white people in Britain and America (a lot of the men's rights stuff comes out of the U.K., actually--way more than you'd think, because just like with feminism, the hypothetical financial Powers That Be in London may be reasonably speculated to foster social movements based around collective punishment and rationalized bigotry), likes playing victim.
From certain temporal perspectives, it becomes easy to see the ebb and flow of movements like these, particularly when they originate among an imperial seat's managerial classes. Why, then, would this one waste time discussing the anthropological example above, where it's so easy to tell that the perverted dunce in the tree had completely missed the point?
A side note about Anthropology
It's interesting (although duplicated in nearly all other fields, still interesting) that, when you deal in anthropological pedagogy and literature, anthropologists talk about how they need to avoid mistakes like the ones above, whereby they project their own desires and cultural assumptions onto the behavior of the subjects they observe. They even teach graduate-level courses where they're supposed to learn how to identify the effects that such biases can have on their research. And yet, even though they teach this, their open admittance of the problems does not cause them to question any of the core tenets of their discipline--let alone the idea of the discipline itself, or its development and paladins over the course of the centuries (by whatever name). Like medicine and politics, anthropologists are wedded to the idea that, no matter how rotten and crumbling the foundation of their entire history and worldview, they can make things better if they continue building new floors on top of their leaning skyscraper.
Returning to "Alpha Males"
This one had posed the question as to why we would waste time discussing such flawed examples as why Ted and Susie's trip to visit Grandpa and Grandma could make it appear to a foolish observer that Ted was submitting to his fat, stinky, weak, broken-hipped old father as an Alpha, and handing over all the females to Grandpa to augment Ted, Sr.'s harem. Why?
Firstly, because the idea of "alpha" specimens still has such a powerful hold on the western consciousness. Like other little-boy fantasies of domination by strength and presence, the coveted western idea of assigning people letters of the Greek alphabet based on presumed prowess draws upon the same thing as almost everything else upon which western culture is based: mangled lies of crony capitalist, free market evolution. The observers who made the original error in propagating the sexualized, classificatory "alpha" fetish were making almost exactly the mistake that the silly example which began this post spells out.
Rudolph Schenkel's 1947 study, "Expressions Studies on Wolves," was exactly the study that the Silent Generation wanted to see after the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden. It was a crappy, terrible study, in which researchers observed a family unit of wolves in (obviously unnatural) captivity, and then concluded that the deference that wolf cubs showed to their mother and father meant that there were "alpha males," "alpha females," "alpha wolves," et cetera, along with other "lesser wolves" (obviously betas, gammas, or something else).
The study has been thoroughly debunked, even by its original authors (see Dave Mech's page, which still hosts the original study), yet it had such a profound impact on modern "science" that it massively shaped nearly all avenues of zoology, as well as politics, economics, human sexuality, and now, in 2015, confident idiots quite earnestly playing caste games on blogspot, unaware that their favorite Greek lettering system is less accurate than Margaret Mead's wishful work.
(It's hilarious enough that all of these rich Anglos are using Lana Wachowski's terms to define themselves as manly, but when they're also using the lettering system borrowed from the Athenian boyfuckers to describe their superiority through comparisons to someone who studied animals at the zoo, the snickers are rather more pronounced.)
Primatology was thoroughly affected, also. Most westerners' impressions of gorillas (along with lions, whales [see Moby Dick for waaaaay too much fantasizing about big males leading harems of females; you can try Call of the Wild too, if you want more of a flavor of Americans getting into the idea of animals as sex-fantasy projections], and other animals that make Anglo boiz get shivers of masculine feelings) are still centered on the "dominant male controlling female harem" notion that is, simply, a human fantasy projected onto complex animal relations by a bunch of guys who wanted to get together in tents in the jungle to talk about gorillas more than they wanted to swive women. But that's another subject.
Even in such a modest arena as dog training, the hierarchical "pack theory" favored by the Anglosphere is still being re-re-re-debunked. It's simply too appealing for so many people to think that they need to be an alpha to their dog that, nearly seven decades after the broken study, teenagers at friggin' Petsmart are lecturing corporate executives about it when the latter bring their children in to learn how to make Fluffy sit.
You may have never heard of Rudolph Schenkel or his study, or his retraction of its conclusions as erroneous, but if you have any experience of the make-believe perception of "alphas" out there in the western world--in human social dynamics; pet social dynamics; business leadership; watching a nature show; political analysis; job interview advice--then you've felt the effects. Not just of that one study, but of two generations of scientists building entire theory sets upon it, and continuing forward with them even when the original study was conceded to be an abject mistake.
So why did we talk about this, anyway? Well, we talked about it because, if you're still clinging to the idea that mercantilist evolution doesn't set social prescriptions, maybe looking at all of these pickup-artist bloggers will help you see a connection between inductive science created through the projection of personal fantasy (I'm here because I'm among the fittest, I'm the heir to "alphas," I have a chance at being an "alpha," etc.) produces bad results as well as incorrect ones. A single piece of misplaced fantasy, if it resonates with a group in the right way, can have tremendous consequences.