Saturday, November 10, 2007

E.O. Wilson on Civilized Termites

Our cultures and values seem highly variable to us but in fact are very specialized and very epigaic [living and foraging above ground] and diurnal [active during daylight hours] mammalian. Here, for example, are several of the values that we could expect to characterize termite cultures if they had attained the intelligence threshold of civilization: loving dank darkness, photophobic, with a refined taste for lignin and cellulose and for music consisting of sophisticated phermonal song, faithful to the taboo against reproduction by any caste but royalty, and devoted to the duty of consuming injured and dead nest mates. Civilized termites...would consider the very conception of human existence a nightmare.

From E.O. Wilson's foreward to The Literary Animal (p. ix).

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