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Unread December 18th, 2005, 02:18 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Exclamation Human Accomplishment, Sisyphus, & the Red Queen

Per Bak, p. 122, refers to Red Queen effects in which a change in one species is matched by changes in its predators and prey. A faster rabbit pays of in faster cats, faster cats turn slow rabbits into dead ones. Stuart Kauffman describes the same effect for sticky frog tongues and the evolution of slippery feet on flies.

Camus drew a similar metaphor with his "Myth of Sisyphus," a stately anecdote about a Greek guy punished by the gods. The punishment consisted of tugging a boulder to a mountain top and immediately watching it fall back to the sea from where Sisyphus would again push it back to the top. The moment of indecision, the illusion of choice, the willingness to accept fate, led Camus to decide that "one must imagine Sisyphus happy."

Perhaps Camus had the same exhilaration enjoyed by a goose the first time it flies above 26,000 feet or a fly that walks off a frog's tongue or a biker after his first 700 mile ride. Perhaps as Aristotle noticed: we enjoy most the things that we do well.

There may be one foundation under the fly's success and Murray's observations on human accomplishment.



Bak, P. (1996) How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality. NY: Springer-Verlag.

Murray, C. (2003) Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts & Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 NY: Harper Collins.

See also:

Ridley, M. (1993) The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. NY:Penguin.

Copyright, 2005, James Brody, all rights reserved.

Last edited by James Brody; December 18th, 2005 at 04:20 PM.
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