Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-12-2018, 07:02 PM
Patrick Murtha Patrick Murtha is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Kansas
Posts: 137
Default The Narcissist, a brief sketch

An ape squatted before Charles. And Charles found himself staring at this creature and wondering why evolution had left these poor primates behind. He looked at Huxley—the ape before him—and thought, “Perhaps he might have been my uncle. He and Uncle Gordy had so many points of comparison, the mammoth nostrils, the hairy arms, the ears lost somewhere along a massive skull. They both grunt and pound their chests.” He remembered having seen, as he had passed the chimpanzees, a plaque that read: “Pay more attention to the similarities between humans and apes. These primates are the ancestors of homo sapiens. It is generally concluded that humans are merely developed anthropoid.”

The ape, Charles wondered, is so much like man. In a way, he thought, he is art. This beast stands like a mirror to man. The coincidental comparisons between man and ape, and even art, are striking. There are three letters that make up art and ape, just as there are three letters that make up man. And this mystified him more. The logic astounded. He might have even called it awesome, but Charles had grown to dislike that word for no other reason than it was often used by his rather barbaric younger brother, whose insights into even the most drab of things, such as grass types and glass shards, often pinnacled in one of two words “cute” or “awesome.” Nevertheless, this new-realized commonality pointed him in the direction of a tidy logical syllogism: ape is a three-letter word, art is a three-lettered word, and man is a three-lettered word, and all contain a’s. Therefore, art, ape and man must not be too different from one another.

The ape rose and shuffled away on his knuckles. As Charles continued to ponder the primate, he felt that he was staring into a mirror or rather a picture of himself and perhaps even all man. As that thought began to waft about his mind, his nose caught a pungent odor. Behind stood Charles staring down into a pile of steaming crap.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-23-2018, 04:58 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,450
Default

Hi Patrick:

The narcissism in the title seems to refer to looking at an ape and seeing oneself. Seeing the world in terms of ourselves. And, I guess, seeing ourselves as more advanced than apes.

The mirror echoes Narcissus' pool, though Charles isn't falling in love with ape, he is seeing himself there.

The protagonist is called Charles for a reason, I take it, and the ape is called Huxley, after Thomas Henry Huxley, I'm guessing, "Darwin's bulldog". So, is this aimed Darwin, evolutionary theory? This is what is narcissistic?

The part about three letter words also seems to be ridiculing proceeding from similarities saying look: humans are a bit like apes, and the word man and ape and art a bit like each other. So is the idea that assuming a that apes and humans have a common ancestor is a foolish idea? That we are reading too much into the similarities?

The ending: I read it, the ape craps and walks off. The ape being Charles' reflection makes it seem like Charles' has crapped. Is this just saying evolution is crap? Or the narcissism of the anthropocentric view as seeing ourselves as more developed than apes is crap? Or the crap is the apes comment on Charles?

So, overall, I'm not that exactly what the argument is here, or even quite what/who the target is: Darwin or humans in general? Or maybe I'm completely misreading.


Some more specific points:

a plaque that read: “Pay more attention to the similarities between humans and apes. These primates are the ancestors of homo sapiens."

It's hard to imagine a zoo having a plaque like this that so misconstrues evolutionary theory. Darwin's claim was that apes and humans have a common evolutionary ancestor, not the we were descended from them. I guess it is a work of fiction though, but even so.

It is generally concluded that humans are merely developed anthropoid

Should that be "anthropoids", plural, to match "humans"? Alternatively, "a developed anthropoid".

The ape rose and shuffled away on his knuckles. As Charles continued to ponder the primate, he felt that he was staring into a mirror or rather a picture of himself and perhaps even all man. As that thought began to waft about his mind, his nose caught a pungent odor. Behind stood Charles staring down into a pile of steaming crap.

I don't think the last line is very clear, but it needs to be. Behind what? I find myself wondering. Rereading, I think the idea is that if Charles were staring into a mirror (the ape being his reflection), then the pile of crap he sees behind the ape, would actually be behind him. Is that it? But I think the last line is too far from the mirror setup, a couple of sentences back. Also, if Charles is looking in a mirror, and the ape is his reflection, the ape has already gone, so there's no him (ape as Charles) for the pile of crap to be behind.

"all man" strikes me as an odd construction. "All men", maybe, or "all of mankind"?

Hope that helps,

Best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 02-23-2018 at 05:02 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-25-2018, 08:25 PM
Patrick Murtha Patrick Murtha is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Kansas
Posts: 137
Default

Matt,

Thank you for the response. The idea of the story began after a visit to a zoo where they actually had plaques lining the pathway in the monkey and ape section which stated very similar ideas. My point is, which I do not think comes across so well, is that the focus is being forced too much on the similarities in order to convey a theory, but there is a lack of looking at the dissimilarities as well. I want to show that a thing is not only defined by what it has in agreement but also what it has in disagreement.

I chose the title narcissist because the narrator believes he is looking at an image of mankind. I had hoped the piece would develop into a longer work, but the thoughts died with the ape crapping. And so, I posted it to see if something could be revised, to get thoughts on the matter. (I confess, fiction has been a thorn in my side as I have begun much and never completed a thing.)

I appreciate your comments and I will ponder your ideas.

Sincerely,
PM
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,878
Total Threads: 19,488
Total Posts: 253,302
There are 143 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online