Another Episode of Brain v Gorilla

When mariner moved to his current residence in a small Iowa town, he noticed that many families had leaf blowers. It is also true that town families have affection for any kind of two cycle engine some of which are cultivators, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, air compressors, lawn trimmers, car washers, paint sprayers and generators. In recent years some two cycle engines have been replaced by battery-driven power using Lithium. All these devices save (avoid) physical labor.

When he was younger mariner remembers old timers saying, “Back in the day we had to cut grass with push mowers” or “When I was seven, I had to rake leaves with a rake and burn them” and of course the classic, “When I went to school, it was uphill both ways.” Many more examples of saving labor can be conjured. Technology has changed the level of labor-saving opportunities: “Back in my day we had to forge and shape our pistols on an anvil.” Today, of course, just turn on your 3D printer and one will be made for you.

Mariner observes this tendency to avoid labor as a universal characteristic of all living things. The squirrel in mariner’s back yard raids the bird feeder rather than hunt for food; monkeys in Bangladesh raid street market fruit stands with the precision of a navy seal team rather than hunt for food in the surrounding trees; chipmunks greatly prefer a life of pilfering to a legitimate relationship with nature; Raccoons prefer the corncrib to rummaging in the forest.

In response, most folks would say, “And?” Being retired and of an idle mind, mariner has time to speculate on this important dichotomy in evolution. Imagine that evolution did not have a fluid-like motion of change and a cause and effect adaptation over eons of time. Imagine that evolution was a result only of serendipity and otherwise was a defined marching order set forth by a permanent genome. Mariner dares to say evolution would fail and species would disappear even faster than humans have succeeded in expiring them.

Humans in particular are quite adaptive to their own circumstances. Humans even have created their own environmental reality far beyond the influence of two-cycle engines – to the chagrin of Mother Earth, also subject to planetary evolution. It is evident that the conflict between Brain and Gorilla grows more intense. (If the reader must be prompted, Brain is the grey matter in our skulls that has an extraordinary imagination unbound by anatomical ethics; Gorilla represents our physiologic constraints as a primate on evolution’s tree. Brain has no difficulty, in fact, enjoys manipulating anything and everything it can from atoms to global atmospheres. Gorilla is bound to follow the current constraints of its body and an environment favorable to that body.)

Too slow to notice, there is a cause and effect phenomenon created by our supple brains. The simplest example mariner can think of at the moment is the ability of the brain to control fire. Before Brain, fire was a cleansing function, born of the Solar System itself that reenergized an environment. The recent fires in California demonstrate how violent and indifferent fire cleansing can be. But Brain turned fire into an every day experience used to keep warm, cook, and incorporate into chemical processes (oil, explosives, herbicides, nuclear bombs and most important, electricity) that are to the advantage of human ingenuity. These new processes go far beyond any physiological requirements held by Gorilla – and often are in conflict with those physiological requirements.

Those who are concerned about the state of Gorilla, e.g., physicians, physical therapists and the like, lament an invention by Brain: the chair. Gorilla has a skeleton and musculature that is ruined by sitting in a chair. For the vast majority of us, sitting in a chair is the dominant activity of the day. Sitting in a chair leads to general back pain, stooped posture, bulbous abdomen, accelerates atrophy of leg muscles and arthritis. Compression of the viscera along with fat caused by sitting all the time interferes with kidney function, digestion and oxygenation. Functionally, the chair deters Gorilla from performing the exercise needed to remain fit.

Mariner offers the chair conflict as a simple metaphor for all the divergent issues between Brain and Gorilla. The most important effect of these conflicts lies in the unnoticed process of evolution. In recent centuries, as conflicts increase both in number and impact, Brain has begun to have visibly negative effects on Gorilla. Further, Gorilla’s environment has serious problems. Gorilla and its fellow creatures are not doing well and constitute a modern major extinction of species.

It is the inventiveness of Brain that forces scientists to rename the present Holocene Epoch as the Anthropocene Epoch because Brain has such an impact on Earth’s environment.[1] Evolutionary activity typically follows a significant change in environment. Briefly, the primary demise of dinosaurs and the beginning of mammals and birds was caused by destruction of the Earth’s environment by a meteorite. While Gorilla hasn’t changed much in a million years and its needs have been met by the environment, Brain has separated its environmental needs from the traditional habitat of Gorilla.

Brain requires above all else a controlled, electrically-based environment. To emphasize this transition, the next era of Brain (AKA human) progress will be artificial intelligence (AI). AI will enable Brain to replicate human behavior in robots and androids, including perception through the five human senses (Gorilla senses?). Relative to all the immense changes of the next age, how long will it take for Brain to cohabitate with its new friends and not need Gorilla or Gorilla’s habitat?

Ancient Mariner


[1] An excellent and easy to read reference about Brain’s impact on Earth’s history can be found at

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