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I:Society

No.0 A Monkey of Two Tales

Alexander Zoltán

19.09.2004

ONCE UPON A TIME during the Napoleonic Wars, so the story goes, there was a ship wrecked off the coast of North East England, and the only survivor washed ashore was a Monkey. On encountering the Monkey, the local people, who were fearful of an invasion by the French, thought the stranger might be a foreign spy. After an interrogation, in which the creature failed to provide any satisfactory account of himself (in English, at least), the Monkey was condemned as a spy and hanged.
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No.1 A Rite of Passage

Alexander Zoltán

20.09.2004

BEING SHIPWRECKED in a strange land and facing a hostile reception from the natives is not the best perspective from which to appreciate inter-societal paradigm clashes first-hand. Especially if you are a Monkey suspected of being a French spy. But this was the prospect faced by a certain individual washed ashore on the east coast of England during the Napoleonic wars. According to legend, he was captured, condemned as a spy, and hanged.
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No.2 In from the Cold

Alexander Zoltán

31.12.2004

A few years ago, in a rural part of Scotland, there lived a man who spent his life entirely outside society. He lived among the woods and fields, and in winter took refuge in barns and unused buildings. To eat, he killed animals or took food from wherever he could.
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No.3 The Great Indoors

Alexander Zoltán

31.07.2005

Architectural theorists have from time to time used the idea of the primordial hut - sometimes referred to as Adam?s hut - as a mythical foundation-stone for their profession?s genesis and intellectual pedigree. This hypothetical edifice and its dynastic legacy has allowed architects to position themselves at the epicentre of philosophical discourses on nature, art, technology, humankind and society. Never have so many - or so big - words been lavished on such a humble construct of wood and void.
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No.4 Unaccustomed Subsistence

Alexander Zoltán

09.10.2005

In the bad old days, as we are told, a man could be hanged for stealing a loaf of bread. Even today, people in civilised countries can be shot dead for stealing, no questions asked, even if they may be desperate for food and water, as in a disaster situation.
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No.5 His Double Double Life

Alexander Zoltán

30.12.2005

A clunk of keys and a clash of metal signals the arrival of a man. The man shuts and locks the gate behind him and saunters towards a small shed on the sunny side of the field of allotments. A pair of ears has been alerted to the presence of the man, and very soon a pair of eyes is focusing on the shed. Some minutes later, the man reappears from the shed, holding a garden fork, and, between his lips, a cigarette. He looks around, smiles to himself, lights up, draws a puff and saunters off out of sight, humming to himself.
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No.6 His Lordship Goes To Town

Alexander Zoltán

01.04.2006

The low golden sun warms the last of the harvest crops as Autumn falls on an allotment on the edge of an old English town. Apart from the occasional breeze gently rustling the leaves, there is almost no sound, like the still of a summer day. But a thoughtful onlooker is well aware that the warmth will soon fade, and the easy pickings of late season fruit and vegetables will soon diminish to nothing.
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No.7 Simian in Civilisation

Alexander Zoltán

17.06.2006

"Hell is other people, said Jean-Paul Sartre, and if baboons were philosophers no doubt they would say that hell is other baboons." - Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works.  

Social animals have to put up with many annoyances that solitary animals do not have to worry about. As Steven Pinker has pointed out, these include theft, cannibalism, cuckolding, infanticide, extortion and other kinds of treachery. But that is just the start.  

 

 

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