Brief Notes no. 6— by Wimal Kalapuge dated 18 June 2020

I am prompted to follow-up the series of my BRIEF NOTES with the following extract taken from the book titled HUMAN DESTINY written by the eminent scientist Lecomte du Nouy and published in 1947.

This book is very informative and full of substance that will fascinate any reader interested in the subject of human evolution.

As for instance at page 18 (Mentor edition) it says “The Chicago exposition in 1933 was thus entirely lighted by the closing of an enormous switch commanded by a weak ray of light emitted forty years earlier by the star Arcturus.”

The following extract is taken from pages 92 to 94 of the Mentor edition to illustrate the depth of his endeavor in the analysis of the subject matter of this book.

Incidentally, the most recent assertion of international authorities that excavations at Pahiyangala caves reveal the existence of human beings capable of using bows and arrows some 48,000 years ago in Sri Lanka, contradicts the. the claims of Cro-Magnon race of 30,000 years, as mentioned by Le Comte.

“Everybody seems to agree, however, that the first representatives of the ancient Cro-Magnon race appeared about 30,000 years ago, in the recent Paleolithic.

The first real civilization, that of later Cro-Magnons, is about 20,000 years old.(?)

These men were tall; six feet three on an average. Those living in the Mediterranean region measured six foot five and a half. They had high foreheads,broad faces, straight noses, and protruding chins. Their cranium capacity was greater than ours. They were beautiful specimens of humanity. But the Cro-Magnon was above all a great artist. The paintings which adorne his caverns are often admirable. His sculptures, his engravings on bone and ivory are wonderfully realistic, his tools and his weapons are superbly decorated, his jewels and ornaments are remarkably ingenious and graceful. The height of Cro-Magnon culture was probably reached 12,000 years ago.

These useless manifestations — this word is taken in the sense of “not absolutely necessary to maintain or defend life” — mark the most important date in all the history of mankind. They are the proof of the progress of the human spirit in the direction of evolution, that is, in the direction leading away from the animal. The primitive “useless” gestures of man are in reality the only ones that count. They carry the germs of abstract ideas, of spiritual ideas; the germ of the idea of God disengaged from pure terror, the germ of morals, of philosophy, and of science.

The other motions, the ancestoral gestures, necessary for the maintenance of life and for the prolongation of the race, which were the only important ones until then, are relegated to second place and only serve to enable the first to manifest themselves. If we need a proof of the fundamental, essential difference between man and the beast, the inconceivable, unpredictable birth of useless gestures would furnish it. Nothing comparable was ever produced in the course of the thousand million years which have gone by. One single, imperative preoccupation; the struggle against the pangs of hunger, the struggle against the enemy and, periodically, it imposed periods, the excretion of the immortal cells, the gametes. Then death.

Amongst the insects, an excessive specialization restrains still further the role of the individual who disappears in the impersonal personality of the society, the hive. Each being is but a separate organ, blindingly pursuing a task which derives its reason of existence from other inexorably determined gestures. They are stomach, ovaries, jaws, independent muscles with no chance of surviving separately, when parted from the group.

Everywhere, and always, infinitely varied in form, these useful gestures are strictly directed toward the conservation of the species, even if the species is incapable of evolving and is a failure destined to disappear, or to vegetate indefinitely.

Then suddenly, liberation. The new being, MAN, changes his master. He escapes from the grasp of the physico-chemical and biological laws.

Esthetic desires and ideas are born in him and can be materialized by his hands. The satisfaction of his appetites no longer suffices. He looks at his universe as before, but now he sees it. He thinks, he copies, he invents, he learns. The sense of beauty is revealed to him. He adorns himself, he seeks and combines colors. His weapons and his tools must be something more than utilitarian instruments. They must be beautiful. He engraves, polishes, and sculpts them. The most current objects thus symbolize his twofold reason for existence; to perpetuate the race and to contribute to his evolution. In the exclusively human realm of ideas. The appearance of the esthetic sense, which very quickly reaches an extraordinarily high level,is the first tangible evidence of the new orientation of evolution, the real origin of pure thought. The esthetic sense is the primitive source of intelligence, of symbolism, of writing, of all the means which will condition future development.

Man hunts. He builds traps for wild animals. He creates a magic of chase, an unreal chimerical world led by the sorcerers, who are capable of dominating and of advising the crowd. All these details are revealed by the paintings in the French caverns. But, as we have already stated, it is much earlier, in the sculptures, which were probably the first unnecessary gestures, that we must seek the proof of the idea of another world, of a survival. The desires and the needs of the dead are the same as those of the living. The living must help them, give them the objects they may lack or want when they awake. Even in those times the human being wished to endure. The primitive cult of the dead during the Paleolithic was the starting point of all the care men have taken of those who have gone. It is the origin of all the concepts that at first were superstitious, later religious and philosophical in form. — (End)