Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicks dig artists (for evolutionary purposes)

In a recent Newsweek article, Jeremy Mcarther discussed the " Art of Instinct" a new  book by Denis Dutton, the basic premise of which is that art serves an evolutionary function,  and that members of the species who could communicate and create better were essentially selected for by prospective mates. Here's his two central arguments;

"  First, creative capacities would have helped our ancestors to survive in the hostile conditions of the Pleistocene, the epoch beginning 1.8 million years ago, during which Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. An ability to invent and absorb stories, for instance, would have helped early humans work out "what if" scenarios without risking their lives, pass along survival tips and build capacities for understanding other people around the campfire. The best storytellers and best listeners would have had slightly greater odds of survival, giving future generations a higher percentage of good storytellers and listeners, and so on."

"Second, on those long, dull savanna nights after the day's hunting and/or gathering was done, a big vocabulary and a creative streak would have improved a man's chances of wooing a lover (and thereby passing on his genes to a child)—just as an amusing woman would have been more likely to entice the guy to stay (thereby boosting the child's odds of survival). According to this view, which Dutton derives from the psychologist Geoffrey Miller, evolution turns the brain into "a gaudy, overpowered Pleistocene home-entertainment system" for winning and keeping lovers."

I don't know about all this. Aren't creative types; artists, writers, musicians more likely to burn out then regular folks. The creative gene, in my opinion, somehow coincides with the one for self-destructiveness. And don't many artists, particularly the one's without trust funds, go through the majority of their best baby-making/survival of the species ensuring years broke. 

Yes, the artist will get more play, woe is me types always do ( at least from girls like me). However, I feel like the male artiste, while fun for baby-making, is probably not best adaptive choice for baby fathering. Perhaps, back in the day a big vocabulary wooed a woman. It still works on me, but I'm probably not the best hope for survival of the human race. However, I feel like many woman these days find a big checkbook more likely to ensure survival.


  1. It all depends on what type of artist he is...I'm married to one (and am one myself) but he's very meticulous and doesn't create based on "feelings" but rather on statements. And I find him quite entertaining....

  2. Some say that all people are born equally creative -- it's just what happens to us through life which might damage our creative ability, or what our outlet for creativity might be.

    Normally, if someone is uncreative, it's because someone has 'put down' a previous creative endeavour.

    Most kids are rather creative :)

  3. Thanks for these comments. As Ari says, she find her husband entertaining. A VERY old story, Ari -- prehistoric, in fact. See:

    Best wishes,