FIRST PART - BASIS
Chapter 3 - THE ENCOUNTER
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3E. Family and clientele. Instances and roles. Chiefdom. In-Group (We-group) vs Out-group. Group conflicts. Violence
Chapter 3 - THE ENCOUNTER
When approaching Homo's emergence, palaeoanthropologists show three sensitivities. The ones are struck by the suite of environments that encouraged bipedalism, as we developed in our first chapter. Others are very attentive to cranio-facial contraction, which completed the selection of orchestral brains, the theme of our second chapter. Quite naturally, this third chapter will follow the course of the third sensitivity, impressed by the very social aspects of simians to which Homo is related.
The last theme is historically the most recent. It is only since 1960, under the broad influence of ethology and the enthusiasm of the first discoveries of the couple Louis and Mary Leakey on Homo's African origins, that Jane Goodal started studying in situ common chimpanzees (pan troglodytes); that Dian Fossey studied Gorillas, Biruté Goldikas Orang-utans; that several universities created laboratories dedicated to the social behaviour of primates; that finally, in 1970, the in situ study of bonobo chimpanzees (pan paniscus) of the Zaire equatorial forest started. The bonobos are the closest to man and have only been known since 1930 by their skeletons.
Yet, all these studies converge to demonstrate that social life has played an extremely important selective role for primates. If we only look at Chimpanzees, which are the closest to today's Homo genetically (the last common ancestor is situated at 7MY), we note parahominid social characteristics. (1) On territories spreading over several square kilometres, the hierarchical disposition favoured by primates does not take place around the females as with other apes, but around the males, forming alliances, and therefore inviting to a first distribution with socio-technical extend and duration. These males display scarcely protruding canine teeth and the male/female ratio is not very contrasted, which seems to indicate that these are not primates with a harem, like Gorillas, but rather that their organisation is more balanced between males and females. They are hostile to their neighbours <PP,51>. (2) We find a group collaboration, even a tactic or strategy of hunting, as well as sharings and circulations during the consumption of the prey. This consumption, aided by manipulations, is an intermediate practice between the frenzy and the meal, which also opens to some extent and duration. (3) Communication methods use differentiated sounds (the Saimiris use around twenty) and the visual pointing of objects (rhesus monkeys spontaneously see what attracts the visual attention of a congener <R.Feb 2000,7>, to what probably contributes the primatal vision in relief <1C1>). (4) The urge to explore, generally observed for large apes, reinforces, opening to some otherness, the social forms of allostasis. Curiosity is underway since small apes. (5) The permutability of social roles activated by the characteristics above puts in place certain ploys (lies? detouring attention?) contributing to help everyone to articulate in the group as a singularity. (6) The periods of life are extended. (7) Finally, if we total up all this, some acquired features, whether technical or social, are passed down inside the group and from generation to generation in an intense intercerebrality <2A8>.
Such social predispositions added to an increased brain and progressive bipedalism enlighten the appearance of Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, the Paranthropus, which is of direct interest to the anthropogeny. As long as we use a sufficiently strict vocabulary. (a) By not mixing up the instrument, which can content with a local and transitory efficiency in the prolonging of the body (with chimpanzees but also otters), with the tool, which etymologically supposes panoply and protocol, and in any case supposes transversalization. (b) By not calling language what is merely communication, and which is already very effective since Birds, or even Bees. (c) By not being to quick in saying that the frontal coupling of Bonobos, despite their absolute originality in the animal world, are face to face coupling. (d) By not assimilating the singular articulation in the group to a "self-consciousness" that even Leenhardts Kanaks did not possess. (e) Finally, by not designating as cultural the transmissions that ethologists would simply qualify of "ritual" in Huxley's sense of animal ritualisation <4A>. Paleanthropology has nothing to gain from hasty assimilations or forced distinctions.
3A. Transversalized specific similarities
It is then convenient to say that the encounter (r-encontre, in French) is hominid whereas the encontre is simply animal. (a) Contre (against) marks the shock of simultaneously congruent and disparate energies in the standing position. (b) En signals the exotropic and endotropic cerebrality of the approach. (c) Re (in French) shows the reciprocal, intensive, thematized, re-duplicative therefore distancing character that transversality and frontality (in front of) and the face-to-face give to the event. Etymologically and semantically, the encounter (r-encontre) will one day be comparable to respect (spicere, looking inquisitively). And also to reverence, where fear intervenes (vereri). In Dutch, ontmoeten, the equivalent of "encountering" also supposes a means of contact, moeten (meet, meeting), and a face-to-face, ont- (*anda, anti, ent-, gengenüber).
Already before the encounter (r-encontre), we will note in every encontre the preliminary role of similitude. From the moment that vision became important, as is the case of apes whose smell decreased with the cranio-facial contraction <1C4>, Evolution supposed decided visual appearances, and the word species comes precisely from spicere, recognising from a visual examination. The specimens of a species must identify their congeners and distinguish them from those of other species (which does not exclude that some apes will play more willingly with specimens from other species than with rivals of their own species). Indeed, during phylogenesis, not only gametes can only pair following strict compatibilities, but fundamental behaviours such as hunting, coupling, the sharing of spoils, the education of the young, the production and occupation of the habitat and games are going well only inside groups with strong concordances, especially as in animality, relations are steered by stimuli-signals <4H>, that have little or no margin, except through the hazardous creation of new rituals <2A2c, 4A>. Besides, adhesion to the similar feeds perceptive-motor circularities, which are source of pleasure, which in turn supports the group circularity. Half a century ago, Portmann's Die Tiergestalt illustrated the importance of symmetry in the furs and feathers of wild animals <23A>. Before that, D'Arcy Thompson's On Growth and Form already signalled the limited number of anatomical - therefore embryological - forms of the living, and had inspired René Thom, the theoretician of the limited number (seven) of elementary catastrophes of the Universe in general <24B5>.
Like the animal encontre, the hominid encounter (r-encontre) falls into the global obligation of similitude, or at least intergroup compatibility and plastic coaptation and extra-group exclusion. However, already as a large primate and especially as a technician, Homo is inhabited by a strong urge to explore and the singularities of its standing body becoming increasingly ostensible have triggered an unending social curiosity. The allostasis of the differences will matter as much for him as the homoeostasis of similarities.
We must then insist on the event of the Universe that was Homo's organic evidence resulting from the standing position and hairlessness, both discovering organs and displaying them as a prestigious edifice in the environment and in the group. It is a remarkable case of functional bifurcation (jump) for the evolution of species. First, the human body became hairless for reasons of heat evacuation necessary for a long distance walker. But this natural selection in the narrow sense was probably soon combined with a cultural and even sexual selection, the most evident bodies being the most descriptive and richest in power through the indicia <4A> and indexes <5A> that they exhibited.
Consequently, the modalities and inventions of the hominid encounter (r-encontre) are infinite and any anthropogeny is its endless story. Yet some are constant: encounters of workers, encounters of ages and states of health, encounters of sexes, encounters of the family and the clientele. This chapter compiles these inevitable encounters at their elementary stage, for their role in the initial advent of Homo until, since the disappearance of Neanderthals 30 Million years ago, Homo sapiens sapiens remains alone in this species, with its small and great races <28F>. And we will have to conclude with the culmination of all encounters, that was the advent of the gesture, the visage, the look. And the thematized kiss and embrace.
3B. Collaboration and learning. Singular conflicts
Since Homo habilis, an omnivorous species that mainly fed on vegetables including semi-buried (roots and grains), seasonal observations (even a cycle of seasons) demanded quite precise first exchanges of specific space-time information. In the same milieu, the capture of dead prey abandoned by large predators (at the beginning hominid species are not capable of hunting large prey directly) have forced a scavenger Homo to some coordination to find, hunt, share and preserve meats. For example, when Homo had to convince a cheetah, more easily frightened away than a lion, to abandon the antelope it had started eating. The increasingly plane hands started sharing between them, from one specimen to another, the technicized, complementary and substitutable segments of food and of what was elaborating it. Intercerebrality <2A8, 29B> benefited from this. With the crossing of the hands, the brain of a technician, albeit rudimentary, is inevitably engaged in exotropic and endotropic interactions with the brains of the other members of its group.
So, the transversalizing technique determined this constant organisation of hominid encounters that we call collaboration, the working-with (laborare, cum) thanks to which the pack and the horde were slowly replaced by the community (munus, cum, shared service). The community was confirmed by what we call the company (bread-with, panem, cum) of the repast (act of feasting), which was the exemplary occasion of a regulated encounter between primates that had become more manual and more evident. Often threatened by famines, they were left with the choice between rivalry to death and solidarity.
Moreover, for the encounter, Learning will prove as anthropogenic as the repast. Learning (apprendre, in French) is prendere-ad (in latin), where the taking towards (catching) of classic Latin swerved to the taking to-for-with of lower Latin in a widened verification of transversalization. The taking in question is complex: it refers to prendere but in the hesitating form prehendere; Latin notes the same latent hesitation with prehensare and prensare, translated by Gaffiot as "trying to grasp (using repeated movements)". There is something progressive in hominid learning that puts what we acquire in a distanciation, a distance between the technician and the thing-performance, and also between the master technician and the apprentice-technician. In this sense, learning supposes brains moving from experience <2A1> to first bits of experimentation <2B2>. Learning methods are so anthropogenic that it is their changes that will produce the great breaks of hominid history, for example the passage from artisanal learning to industrial learning during the nineteenth century <29A5a>.
At the same time as they comprise coordination, the collaboration and the learning also comprise conflict. The conflict between two or several animals is short, an its themes are narrow. The conflict inherent to passing tools from hand to hand, passing mental states from words to words, and in any case of passing from indexation to indexation is constant and multidimensional. Both destructive and fecund, it sets hominid groups in permanent tensions that they regulate using rhythm <1A5>, in an alternation of tradition, contestation, game, provocation, altercation, negotiation.
3C. Education according to thematized and prolonged ages
Education supposes a much more complex and riskier encounter than learning. Already, with great non-hominid apes, ontogenesis gives way to rather stable and ostensible ages in the somewhat deployed bodies to give way to decided approaches and functions. So, infants, adolescents, adults and old people distribute themselves firmly. The clarity of ages must have contributed to the fact that leadership, a generalised characteristic of Mammals, should become for the great Apes a highly-differentiated subordination system, with clear permutations of positions during existences.
However, for Homo, the evident biped, - especially since the erectus-ergaster stage -, ages are not only distinct, but marked in the semiotic sense of the mark, which opposes a pole considered as logical, non thematized, non problematic, non-marked to other poles considered as problematic, marked, and objects of surprise, admiration, fear, attention, solemness. The non-marked pole was naturally adulthood, when the male or female hominid specimen has completed its growth and reproduces. But with this accomplishment, three marked stages contrast: (a) faraway preparation stage during childhood, (b) close introduction stage during adolescence, (c) loss and sometimes transcendence stage in old age. So many occasions of allostasis for individuals and their groups.
The Latin verbs educare and educere clearly indicate this effort of education that, from marked age to marked age, draws the educated towards the culture of the group (ducere) by ripping it away from simple nature (ex). Greek pedagogy's agôgè also said that education was a technical transport of children (païdas agôgeïn). The German word Erziehung also notes this traction outside (ziehen), but adds that it is simultaneously active and passive for both terms thanks to the active-passive prefix "er-" that we find in several fundamental words: erleben, erhaben, etc. In our species, the specimen always educates itself as much as it is educated. We can only educate someone who educates himself/herself. This is indeed an encounter in the strongest sense. We now have to see the anthropogenic stages of thus-understood education. We will not have too many difficulties doing this, since the articulation of ages is so important for Homo that all hominid cultures have intensely thematized it. Let us content with being cursive.
3C1. Childhood and "premature" birth
The examination of the hominid brain forced us to note that a certain "interrupted gestation" or "prematuration of birth", or "neotony”, or ”prolonged foetalisation" contrasting with the quicker specialisation of our cousins the great apes, created some remarkable anatomical and functional availabilities in Homo <2C>.
Furthermore, the advanced birth causes that the hominid infant is settled in a very long infancy stage during which it must intensify its globalizing and punctualizing visual performances, or constantly respond to looks and smiles, to discern the voices of surrounding people, and then, as language develops, to perform the extraordinarily difficult task of decoding the phrasing, phonemes, glossemes, syntaxemes of the massive language <10D> or detailed language <16-17>spoken around it. The child, meaning the non-talker (infans, fari, parler, in-) is therefore induced to build a domain that is both to a distance and in distanciation <4A> and to activate, in its nervous system under construction hard>>soft and soft>>hard <2A1>, a brain circulation that is at least as much endotropic as exotropic <6A>, in encounters which are as much internal (internalised) as external.
Correlatively, the prolonged and complicated hominid nursing will select a certain stability of the group, the family, the couple, with subtle differentiations of the encounter into instances and roles <3E>. Maternal attachment, and conversely filial attachment , apart from the homoeostatic continuity between engendering body and engendered body, was accompanied by the allostasis multiplied by the difficult first steps – motive, then technical and then increasingly semiotic - of the little Homo.
3C2. Adolescence and possibilized frameworks. The diversity of beliefs
Adolescence, which has been considerably lengthened since Homo erectus-ergaster, will be the occasion for dramatized encounters. (a) For Homo, the accession to a sexual life goes hand in hand with ostensible physical transformations due to the standing position such as the drop of male testicles and the emergence of female breasts, although the oestrus is visually hidden. (b) In a technician species, specimens nearing adulthood become threatening for the group because of their technical performances and physical strength. (c) Considering the gravidity (gravis, heavy) of pregnancy in a standing position and the overload of prolonged nursing, the age of the first sexual relations calls for rather detailed group regulations, directly for females and indirectly for males. (d) Studies conducted in the 1950 on Great Apes demonstrate that coupling supposes the example of experienced congeners; a fortiori for Homo. (e) The distanciating character of technical and sign systems means that the passage from a state of irresponsible dependence to a somewhat responsible sufficiency is problematic. (f) For Homo, possibilising animal, the moment of opening to full possibilization, adolescence, includes very specific violences. Today, at around 4 years of age, the child starts grasping practically that next to his own belief (the mental world it has built since its birth <20B>), there are other beliefs, those of others, with their own validity. But we will have to wait until adolescence before the diversity of beliefs, now thematized as such, forces each one to even more perturbing choices that they are more general and better perceived.
Therefore, we find everywhere initiatory rites (initium, declared beginning) of adolescent males and females. Initiations are often more demanding if the childhood was protected, and conversely <24BAa>. Using temporary traumas, initiations try preventing persistent traumas, or at least to give a global rhythm to future adult behaviours <26B2> that sleep, dreaming <2A5> or the daily dramas <26D> could not provide sufficiently. The rhythm mainly consists in combining allostasis and homoeostasis (both technical and semiotic) according to habits (habitus, method of being) of the group.
3C3. Old age and beyond
In the animal world, ageing implies mainly degradation, even if the dead bodies of some mammals - including elephants - seem to intervene for a while in the group's identity. To the contrary, as Homo became techno-semiotic, the old person could valorize itself through its collective and savouring memory, and through its wisdom (spaientia, sapere, savour), even more surprising that it contrasts with its anatomical and physiological degradation. On the other hand, only an old person can measure, as it has experienced them all, the extent to which the marked ages condition hominid specimens as a group and species, helping it to combine demands and tolerance. Finally, the extended corpse of the standing primate became sufficiently eloquent since Homo erectus-ergaster to communicate something of its prestige to the old body anticipating it. So, it is in three manners that, among a distanciating animal, old age, which is the overstepping of age, showed some transcendence or going beyond. Ultimate encounter between a down-here and a beyond, that one day will organise the extent in places for the living and places for the dead. And organise the duration in more or less delayed and renewed funerals at fixed seasonal times, sometimes over years (anniversaries/birthdays).
3C4. Adulthood as non-marked age
At the heart of the three marked stages: childhood, adolescence, and old age, adulthood is the non-marked stage. There is nothing to say about it as a stage. It will one day become the essential status of hominid specimen in Greece, where biographers dated the anthropos according to its akmé, at forty years, Dante's "mezzo del camin di nostra vita". In Pascal's France in the era of Discours sur les passions de l'amour, life began at twenty, the rest was preparation.
An anthropogeny will be sensitive to the fact that the Latin designations of ages pointed out the constant role that the food criteria plays for all living beings, including Homo, as they all come from the same root: *al (feeding). Adolescens is the fed at the beginning (al-, -escere, inchoate). The adultus is the fed when finished (ad, alitus). Whilst the old man altus is the magnified fed, in English old, expressing physical and moral stature.
3C5. Illness and health as sociogens
Even with the particularly faithful elephants, illness results, after a while, in the exclusion or elimination from the group. Conversely, in the techno semiotic primate whose body is evident because of the standing position, illness often awakens every sort of clairvoyance of diagnosis and therapy. In turn, it induces the aesthetic and social exaltation of health and convalescence; Homo invented mourning feasts but also spring festivals. For the rest, with a standing primate, faulty rostral-caudal performances are often compensated by better transversalizing performances. Therefore, faulty health contributed to widen Homo's natural world with supernatural worlds. The anthropogeny will dedicate an entire chapter to illness, the privileged ground for encounter <26>.
The most homoeostatic and allostatic hominid encounter remains, more than collaboration and learning, education and illness, that of the sexes. Already because of the ostensible coaptating character of sexed appearances. Then because of the face-to-face coitus that the standing position makes available. Finally by a bisexual orgasm.
3D1. The coaptative appearances of male and female. Salience and pregnance
In the animal life, sexes are settled according to the various tasks of males and females with the signaletic distinctions useful to coupling. Amongst Mammals, which reproductive organs are hidden by the four legs and that mostly operate using smell, the originality of the Primates consisted in privileging vision sexually. Canines and weight differences are sometimes eloquent (at least for species with harems); the female's oestrus can be visually seen by the swelling and colour of the vulvae; the penis hangs in the male; pair of breasts of some female apes have a first geometric strength.
But with Homo's confirmed standing position, sexual areas of the organism were declared to vision, stimulating and defining the encounter. Hominid copulating organs appear in an almost central position, thematized by the length of arms where the hands reach them; later, they will be underlined by the pubic hair contrasting with the relatively smooth appearance of the rest. If the standing position hides the oestrus, the breasts are salient, even when they are not lactating; the penis only has a restrained sheath, the foreskin; the openly visible belly button marks the continuation of generations. One day, the trilogy of the belly button of the past, the breasts of the future and the sex of the present will punctuate Homo's sculptures, confirming him as frontalizing animal.
At the same time, the standing position declares the couple as such. Copulation organs are proposed not only as privileged attractors, but as coaptable organs, making each one the other-turned or the same-inverted. This coaptation is even more intriguing that it is probably difficult to situate perceptively and logically for a transversalizing animal used to juxtapose frontally the segments of its panoplies and protocols. The paradox created from proximity and distance of coaptable sexes will be a subtle and constant motor of the anthropogeny; we will insist on it using the term partition-conjunction <7H2>.
Finally, a particular complementarity resulted from the contrast between the techno-semiotic grasping that are more structural in males and more textural in females. Differential psychology notes in the latter the precociousness of fine manipulations and verbal fluency; during the orgasm, more numerous and different cerebral projections; a multiplicity of interconnected erogenous areas; possible tetrachromic visions (even pentachromic); greater facility to compensate the work of a deficient hemisphere by the suppleances of the other; a slightly different anatomy of the corpus callosum <2B7>, etc. Today still, testosterone rates, and this since the foetal development, are usually correlated with the usual tastes of girls for dolls and cosmetics and the fondness of boys for building blocks and lorries. These (usual) tastes would therefore be as physiological as cultural.
Would then some simple concepts define a masculine/feminine couple for Homo beyond these remarks? We think to salience/pregnance. In its 1988 Semiophysics, René Thom enjoyed generalising the fact that, in the universe, events are salient insofar as they emerge and individualise, pregnant (pregnancy, gravidas) insofar as they are in diffusive and infusive resonance with the others. However, the hominid groups that we know seem to have often managed to distribute, accentuate and therefore render culturally, techno-semiotically stimulating the saliences and pregnances by attributing by predilection the former to their males and the second to their females.
3D2. Coital face to face and bisexual orgasm
Ventral coitus that we observe in the Bonobo chimpanzees suggest that the properly confronted coitus could have become available rather early on to standing Homo, and be exploited more or less according to the culture of groups. Yet, even if only conceivable , a face-to-face coitus is a paroxysmal modality of the encounter because of the extreme static and dynamic similitudes and dissimilitudes which therein activate and passivate, composing as evidently as possible what we have just called partition-conjunction.
On the other hand, we only find the male orgasm in animality, the effect of which is the vital function of sustaining a prolonged and aleatory coupling <2A4>. With Homo, there is a female orgasm, which is rather similar to the male orgasm, although the cerebral projections prove more numerous and somewhat different. Perhaps the standing position and affronted coitus (at least virtually) have made copulation more aleatory still, supposing an increased perseverance of the partners. But it was also an availability for the encounter as such. The bisexual orgasm allowed reciprocity (reciprocus, going back the same path) and an alternation (alter, other of two) where the pleasure of one was obtained through the pleasure of the other in a rhythmical cohabitation of two bodies and two brains for an extreme realisation of intercerebrality <2A8, 2B9>. It completed making males and females organs into a unique organ shared by two organisms for a little while. In Homo, rut and heat became constant and thematized culturally.
The Hominid sexual encounter had to be a crucial selective and anthropogenic factor. Sorting species and sub-species within Homo. Sorting reproducible individuals within Homo erectus, then sapiens sapiens. Today, every Homo specimen results from the selective libidinal continuation of its species, demarcating feminity and masculinity. It is even a case where acquired, cultural characteristics exerted such a selective pressure on genomes that we could speak of an indirect heredity of acquired characteristics. The untalented were sidelined from reproduction. Homo only brings here to an extreme a constant of the adaptable Variation of species. In 1871, Darwin followed its On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, written in 1859, by The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.
3E. Family and clientele. Instances and roles. Chiefdom. In-Group (We-group) vs Out-group. Group conflicts. Violence
Despite the intensity confered to them by transversalization, the encounters of hominid collaboration, education and sexuality are nevertheless continuing very archaic phenomena of primates and mammals, those of leadership, an almost physical subordination of leaders and followers. The dominated wolf lies in front of the dominating wolf. For upright primate Homo, leadership will realise itself mainly according to the “high” and “low”, as a gravitational supremacy, static and dynamic, according to the three Latin degrees of superus, superior, supremus. This will result in platforms, tribunes, chairs, balconies. And, in a quick and reduced model, the inclination of the torso or kneeling of the inferior before the superior.
Romance languages testify of the two fundamental groups that dominated human history. (a) The familia gathers specimens as they gravitate around the generation and the education according to the problematic ages for an upright primate; the family encompasses the servants required on this occasion, and who are designated using the same verbal root as famuli. (b) The clientela encompasses the wider circle of those engaged in the permutations of a *woruld <1B>: exchangers of tools, materials, finished products and between which are distinguished the clients, in-clinated (cli<n>antes) and the patrons, "patroni", the "fathers", according to a designation that confirms that paternity, only imputable, is not necessarily blood related by opposition to the verifiable maternity.
Due to the standing position, the family positions of earlier primates became instances, i.e. thematic ways of standing-in (stare, in), of insisting, as the statues will do one day (stare), or imagos, these idealised mental images of the other and of oneself. By which the female generator progressively became a mother, then the Mother. With yet the Brother, the Sister, the older-dominating Sister, the Younger, the maternal Uncles, the Aunts, etc. When the relation copulation/generation was understood, - only yesterday in some Kanaks populations, - the male generator became a father, the Father.
Contrasting with the imago stability of family instances, the clientele determined the roles, little turning wheels, of "ro<tu>la", diminutive of "rota", the etymology of which shows well the substitution function for substitutive Homo. Because the client under an angle is often the master under another; in yesterday's England, the "client" was the seller, and the "patron" the buyer. In any event, the patronage/clientele of hominid societies put everyone in the place of their counterparts in the same time as in theirs, in an endless bouncing substitutability characterising the transversalizing animal <1A1 6G4>. Sometimes, the feigned or real submissions with "cli<n>ents" go hand in hand with increased powers (the pope is the "servant of the servants of God". Chiefdom was one of the modalities of patronage/clientele, but blended with the strength of an instance, called for by specific external threats, natural disasters and wars, and simply by the necessity to stabilise a custom.
The animal knows group conflicts: between species, in the relationship between prey and predator; inside the species, in the defence of the territory delimited by the specimen and its horde against congeners. For Homo, the group conflict and singular conflict take on a unexpected strength and permanence because of the systems of tools and signs that it creates, but also that it is. Technical and semiotic sets incarnate their articulations in groups, and in turn groups define themselves and stabilise themselves in technical and semiotic sets. Yet , these sets reinforce attacks and defences, but first they deepen and mark differences; signs are even differential by essence. Therefore, every hominid group, large or small, consists less in its own characteristics than in the oppositions with others, towards others. And sociology outlined its surest law, perhaps even the only one, by affirming that an in-group (we-group) can only constitute and persist in opposition with a/several out-group(s) ensuring it contour, consistence, permanence. And this for reasons reinforcing each other from the encounter and from the face-to-face of transversalizing primates, but that are essentially related to the cutting and slicing nature of techniques, and principally of analogical and digital signs. And here more to indexes <5> than indicia <4>. Unless they are indicia proliferating from latent indexations.
In Homo, this leads to the vertiginous violence of group conflicts, and sometimes singular conflicts. An animal conflict slows down or ends with the loss of strength of the opponent. Being technical and semiotic, hominid conflicts tend to be inexpiable. You have never done destroying a vis-à-vis that defines you differentially. And you have never done destroying a system of signs drawing advantage of its defeats, and even of its death, that marks its apotheosis. The animal does not persist on destroying its prey, it pushes it aside or devours it. The other Hominid, when its otherness is not taken back in the rhythm of love or friendship <11L2>, or neutralised by a moral, cannot be pushed aside, or devoured, even by cannibalism, which assimilates it intimately. Homo maintains a tirelessness destruction, which hardly knows recurrent conciliations, known as reconciliation. The semantic derivation of the Latin verb violare, from which comes violence, is eloquent. First, it expresses the deployment of the brutal, impetuous, devastating, almost animal strength, vis. But as we are speaking of technician and semiotician Homo, this first sense immediately slides into outrage, profanation, dishonour, transgression, with a sacred or legal aura. It is rare that the rapist (violeur, in Fench) is not a violator. We shall see this again when we speak of torment and torture <18K2>.
3F. The gesture (intergesture), the visage and the look. Awkwardness and shame
Three characters of Homo's body appeared in correlation with the encounter: the gesture, the visage, the look, which were both its cause and consequence. The etymology of gesture is very anthropogenic, since the Latin gestus is none other than the verbal substantive of "gestare", frequentative and intensive of "gerere", which designates at the same time: (a) Carrying, (b) making appear, (c) behaving, (d) managing. The gesture understood that way in all its dimensions is so close to the encounter that the latter often qualifies it as an inter-gesture, a daily theatre, on which we will have to insist when talking about the articulations of the hominid specimen <11H3>.
The visage emerged correlatively with the gesture. As the heavy muscles around the jaws became inadequate with less resistant food (meat and vegetables instead of roots and grains) and with the help of plane hands for fighting and grasping, the facial organs gained immediate and subtle mobility that made them indicia of physiological and mental states <4A> and indexes of intentions or will <5A>. In the new balance of the increasingly spherical head on its media occipital hole, the primate's rectangular face became a sort of table on which the essential organs for the life of relationship could be placed in a panoply: the breathing and pointing nose; the eyes framed by rather moderated eyebrows that no longer extinguished the eyes; the mouth with mobile lips; the chin, salient symphysis that supported the entire edifice for sapiens sapiens . Only the ears remained discreet, being intussusceptive. The hair, which ensured the evaporation on the spot (therefore refreshing) of the cranial sweat and protected from the cold with an air cushion, is a fine example of functional bifurcation, since, after having responded to immediate biological urgencies, it eventually accentuated the protuding transversalized display, which is the hominid face, using the selection of a hair system more recent than the archaic hair of the pubic area. If the origin of mine (appearance, in French) is obscure (beak in Breton?), the word visage, the "vis" (visus) of old French, has a meaningful etymology. It derives from the IndoEuropean root *wid, which seems to link intimately vision and knowledge, as shown in the Latin "videre" and the German and English "wit". Once it became a visage, the face became both object and subject of sight for Homo, who used it for reciprocal recognition and knowledge of the encounter.
Finally, the look (regard, in French) synthesized the visage, which already synthesized the gesture. Insistent vigilance (warde, guard, looking over, re-), the hominid look not only implies the convergence of both eyes (revolutionary acquisition of the first primates) but also the fluent states of the pupils according to the prevalence of the vagus nerve or sympathetic nerve, and according to the availability or reserve in the instant. The white of the eye, which constantly surrounds the iris of Homo's eye, confirmed the directions, openings or closings of the look <5B2>. Which will one day become a soul, just like breadth. Particularly because it betrays the work of the brain, with its vigilance and sleep, acuities and dreams, analogies and macrodigitalities, accentuations and smoothings, intercerebralities and withdrawals, its charges and purifications (discharges), its suspense of the presence-absence <8A>.
The hominid brain selected an area controlling the recognition of visages-looks, as we know by those who suffer from wounds in that area and suffer from prosopagnosia (prosopon, visage, agnosia, non-recognition), which prevents them from recognising even their close ones. This area extends to the inferior side of the occipital lobe and frontal lobe and occupies a considerable, almost equal, place in the two hemispheres of the brain. This would seem to indicate a significant simultaneously analogizing and macrodigilitizing work, a close relation with deep affective centres, tight connections with sight (little or none with hearing and language, since subjects suffering from prosopagnosia still recognise the others through their voice). This brain area is clearly announced with the primates, who already need to recognise the visage of their congeners.
The gesture, the visage, the look are per se the place of the eight properties that we recognised in the rhythm <1A5>: periodic alternation, interstability, accentuation, tempo, self engendering and suspense, convection, strophism, distribution by nodes, envelopes, resonances and interfaces. They are therefore threatened by awkwardness, this left-handedness (wrong on the right side), so-called because frank macrodigitalisations usually happen in the right part (adroite, in French) of the body since Homo habilis, who was right handed according to the angle of attack of his tools. The wild animal is never awkward, as some domestic animals sometimes are, although they are more uncoordinated than awkward. Awkwardness is specific to Homo.
To awkwardness we can compare shame, which is a radical form of it, and in some ways a primary form . Shame results from the evidence of the upright hominid body. This evidence means that the shamed may be, either temporarily or usually, a for-other before being a self, or still, a for-oneself under the species of a for-another. Shame results and feeds from all those states where the body no longer coincides with the "I" of which it is the body , and escapes to its control more or less. It is the physical flaws which focus the attention of the vis-à-vis in the encounter; the ostentatious salience of an organ, such as a large nose; trembling; vegetative movements of some organs, such as the erection of the penis and the tip of the breasts; vasodilatory and vasoconstrictive reactions in paling and blushing. The situations thereby created are the causes and effects of shame in a circular causality that often create a snowball effect. Laughter is the essential remedy <6E2>. Shameful laugh, mirthless laugh, frank, liberating or liberated laughter, depending on the degree of success.
Contrary to western theory, which opposes tears to laugh, Léonid Karassev (European Humour, L'humour européen, Lublin-Sèvres, 1993) suggested that the antithesis of laughter was shame, as the tales and novels unconsciously confirm, even in the western world. But for an anthropogeny, laughter is rather the contrary of shame, or its remedy. With tears, which are also liberating.
3G. The kiss and the embrace
Latin osculum well describes the kiss as the "small mouth" (os, visage, -culum diminutive), where the encounter culminates for a primate with an upright body and visage. Here the buccal mucosa operates. It is the most preceptive and the most motive mucosa in a mammal articulating words and having sucked a teat with a developed areola for a long time; crossing so at best the inside and outside of organisms in contact. The kiss serves the hominid encounter as submission, domination, reciprocal acceptance, investigation when linked to the flair of sweat and breath, and therefore to the secret intentions of the other. The kiss happens mouth to forehead, mouth to cheek, mouth to mouth. But it is always quite copulative, and the French verb baiser is sometimes synonym of coupling.
And to translate embrace, the Latin amplexus is as anthropogenic as the osculum. It signals how Homo's diversely extensible, closable, wedging arms are capable of intense and subtle implications. Amplecti means playing with pleats and folds (plicare) so that two are not simply duo but ambo, meaning realise "two at the same time" (am, amply), by opposition to uterque (two each on their side). The accolade (collar to collar), the tightening of the hug (étreinte in French , stringere, holding) like the hug of the knees of the supplicated by the supplicant (subplicare, bending on knees), the German hugs show the physical and semiotic diversity of the phenomenon. But it is without doubt the Latin amplexus that best signals the embrace according to all the dimensions of the limbs, of the thought and of the speech in a transversalizing primate <1A1>. We shall not be surprised that the best word here is Latin, since it was in Rome that was invented the lateral in(de)finity, gathering itself in interiority <13H, 30D>.
Everything that touches indicialities (indicium) and indexations plays a key role in the encounter, seeing that gestures and words are themselves very often only indicium and indexes. It would therefore be interesting to revisit this chapter after the two following ones dedicated to indicium <4> and indexes <5>.
Henri Van Lier
Translated by Paula Cook, 2016
(Last update, October 12, 2017)