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Our Tools Make Us (And Our Literature) Post

Critical Writing
Language: 
Year: 
2017
Page Numbers: 
39-59
Record Status: 
Tags: 
Abstract (in English): 

At the start of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, two tribes of apes get into a fight over a watering hole, and one group drives off the other. The apes who have been driven away are depressed, and just sit around moping when one of them gets the idea to use a thigh bone of some large animal as a club. First he tries it out on a few dried ribs that are lying about,1 then he uses it to bring down one of the tapirs that had, up until this moment, lived peacefully among the apes in an idyllic, Garden-of-Eden symbiosis. Suddenly, we are back at the watering hole, more of a mud puddle really, and the ape that invented the club is at the head of his troupe, all of whom are armed with their own bone clubs. The larger, stronger apes are still there, furious at the reappearance of the weaker group. They attack, using all the usual monkey strategies for waging war: shrieks, baring of teeth, pounding of chests and quick feints, during which the individual who’d invented the bone club stands upright—more like a man than an ape—and when the leader of the other pack rushes at him on all fours, he uses his club to bash in this ape’s brains, and we can’t help but be struck by how the tool has made the man. No matter what Benjamin Franklin says about Man being the tool-making animal, it’s the tool—the club—that made this ape stand upright: it’s impossible to swing a club when walking on all fours; from a hunched-over, ape-like position, you can’t get the leverage needed to swing a tool to chop wood, hit a golf ball, win wars, and so on.

Source: Abstract by the Author

Pull Quotes: 

 

Given the massive literary databases that already exist (formerly known as libraries), given the increasing complexity of projects that AI systems are taking over (Watson is now being used to write medical diagnosis), can the writing of literature that is indistinguishable from a human author be far behind (especially if, as is the case of most best sellers, wattpad authors, and critics, aesthetics are of minimal concern)?

Works referenced:

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Record posted by: 
Patricia Tomaszek