Blog: Dreaming Alive
by greggechols

The Fence Post # 6

A childlike attitude towards life will do the species some good. That's what one view of archaeology has shown.

Date:   9/16/2007 3:31:13 AM   ( 13 y ) ... viewed 2106 times

Are we doomed as a species to all be walking around in suits and dresses, running madly to the next business appointment while our cell phones are glued to our ears, acting as though life is a little too serious to be taken lightly? Perhaps a little childlike behaviour would serve us all, instead. Here’s page 34 from Hugh Milne’s amazing textbook on craniosacral work, The Heart of Listening:

Neoteny hypothesizes that the longer childlike characteristics are retained, the more the species is favored. Childlike characteristics in mammals mean experimentation, exploration of self and environment, and disobeying adult instructions.

Neoteny also means disregarding instinct and subjugating fear of the new and unknown to the thrill of discovery, or the enjoyment of risk. The resulting discoveries meant that the experimenters were favored—they were the successful, the powerful, the leaders. The childlike cranial structure and cortical “wiring” of the experimenters was passed on, and became the dominant strain—the model for cranial architecture.

Neoteny encompasses following one’s dream, one’s vision. We live to make our dreams come true. While all mammals undoubtedly dream of their own version of paradise, they rarely can do anything about it. Humans can act upon their dreams and visions, making them reality. Neoteny hypothesizes that the adventurer or crusader follows his star no matter what the risk; while many fail, those that succeed change the world: Columbus, Captain James Cook, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Martin Luther King. We live as we dream and sometimes, like King, die for our dream. We have shaped our world and our lives as we dream them; we become what we see. (p. 34)

That is what I’m talking about! Society says, “don’t live as an eight-year-old,” because society is afraid of those who follow their dreams; those that do are risk takers, bold, and will create change. That’s something society is not constructed to experience,change. Change means overriding the status quo, and that means disruption; we as a society do not like disruption. We want stability, the same-ol’, same-ol’. We want structure and balance. Neoteny doesn’t call for that, does it?

This is a beautiful theory, isn’t it?

Milne imagines that cultures that have flourished have carried this characteristic forward. Are we, as a culture, carrying aspects of “neoteny?”

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Ed.) (1999) says for neoteny “retention of some larval or immature characters in adulthood; attainment of sexua| maturity during the larval stage” (p. 778). However, here’s the definition for neoteric: “youthful, new, young: recent in origin: Modern.” Of course: remember the word neophyte? A beginner.

War and fear of “the other” doesn’t allow much room for neoteny, does it? I say get our troops back home, let’s get a little more playful, and kick this culture into overdrive with a little more fun.

Any takers?

The Collective Dreaming Project

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