There is a lot of indications of what humans intrinsically are—and what potentials we hold—if we even only focus on our skin. The lack of profound hair shielding our skin tells us we are not intended bodily to be in the colder climates, and presumably the physical abilities we would need to perform well in a cold climate go well beyond a mere patch fix like clothing (or even evolving bodily hair). Simply viewing the advent of clothing, or the whiteningL of the skin, is a simple cause and effect view of the human body that would deny a holistic understanding that our skin system evolved (or didn’t evolve) to deal with certain climates and other features of an environment along with the rest of our body systems; sometimes one bodily system strives ahead (or downgrades quicker) masking a deficiency in other realms, such as our not yet evolving hibernation capacities. The white skin example I think shows our bodies making the best of a bad situation more than a true adaptation; white skin by itself does not provide all that is needed to deal with a colder climate, and in fact may be an indication of a lack more than anything to heighten the overall functioning of the human. When humans are caught or ensnared in an unfavorable environment, our technologies and our bodies might adapt over time, but never (or not yet, as it may take many millions of years) to the degree to make us as thriving as we were in the naturally best environment from which we had strayed. So we’ve gotten to a meta-stable, survivable position, one that can be maintained so long as we keep our education intact to broadly teach the non-instinctive survival skills (those that must be learned). So long, too, as we keep in balance and not in an over-reaching of the natural resources that can support these inefficient energy demanding lifestyles that are inherent to the human animal outside of its balanced scope.
So back to skin (including the skin on our back!). Our exposed skin might at first sight seem like a vulnerability, and indeed it is if you throw us in to a harmful chemically laden environment, a photonically dangerous environment, or a thermally disharmonic environment—all environments we’ve imposed on ourselves. However, I think that to think of skin as a vulnerability would be an ahistorical view that fails to grasp what would have been very advantageous millennia ago in not just a different climate, but also a very different social environment. When we were in primordial tribes (quite different than Hobbes’s “cold, brutish, and short” depiction, which was really a projection more accurately describing his own gloomy time in 17th century England) our skin was our cellular membrane, the rest of us the internals to a single cell in a multi-cellular milieu of many other persons. Lots of sex and cuddling would surely be understatements for some of the most common activities occupying these deep ancestors of ours. The body language of our modern times is presumably sophomoric and underdeveloped compared to the potentials of bodies communicating sans clothing, arbitrary taboos and restrictive cultural norms. Two (or more) bodies physically touching on a plurality of points, whether sexually or in a normal state of interaction (potentially playful), would communicate vastly more and on many different experiential levels than some ad hoc utterances used to representatively convey internal states. The immediacy of bodily contact makes mediated linguistic contact both inefficient (due to its narrow and restricted uses, and that it must be learned and doesn’t make use of the suite of hormones and multiple senses—merely the auditory sense) and unattractive—only domesticated encaged dogs bark, it is reported; voices would be saved for singing and other harmonizations that synthesized concurrently with other actions.
Absorptive skin would allow minerals, vitamins, and moisture to be gotten transdermally, and toxic metabolites and compounds would be more easily gotten rid of through the skin without the risk of re-absorption due to clothing blocking a full exfoliation, alleviating some of the workload on the other cleansing systems. The vibrations and other indications of existence and change emanating from one’s environment would not be dampened and muffled by clothing, but would more immediately be appreciated and responded to accordingly. For example think of the time difference to realize it is raining when you have several times more skin exposure ready to feel the rain, such as when laying (almost or completely) naked at the beach, or able to feel the humidity changes, versus in full dress with just hands and face exposed.
Our bodies long for this heightened contact, both with other humans as well as other natural temperature appropriate objects, and it has been the job of our culture to train our brains and build dilapidated muscle memories that deafen our ability to hear what our bodies yearn for. A full deafness would be akin to death, and we have not yet reached this low point and fully repress every true bodily need and desire. People still choose monogamy and/or a pet to reach a lower but stable “meta-stable” position where their needs are malnourished but not totally unnourished. Dogs and cats, which do not offer nearly the skin contact nor other affections that we truly need, keep many from breaking down (and possibly breaking out) from these silly relations; surely domesticated pets offer some infrared and other mammalian love energy, but it is not the potency which our bodies truly demand to thrive. Thus we are left to atrophy as humans are simply not available to most of us, due to the responsibilities imposed by inherited cultural requests for separatism, economic requests for being away from situations conductive for interaction (i.e. the work environment), and other divisive forces devised to try and convince humans they are not animals. This end, where humans are so devoid and alien to love that we don’t even have energies to seek for it, is what we are creeping towards by the generation. There have been many stark indicators, such as the peculiar platonic ways of the Puritans in the western context, and probably many more examples that any of us would usually not pay a second thought to. We are in many ways further along this path of bodily alienation (considering social media “social”) than even these fundamentalist groups, though a confusing cultural collage filled with visualizations of the tabooed actions would make us think we are quite sexualized.
The longer we winter ourselves in cold climates and even colder cultural clothing, the longer we should expect the winters to be; waiting for life is to prematurely introduce death. Thriving is taken off the table, and mere surviving is the best we can hope for.
LI didn’t make the time to research the specifics of the skin whitening to determine if has been shown to be either a more efficient skin type for lower sunlight environments, or a result due to long term lack of sun, or another adaptation that serves to do damage control for losses incurred on a hairless animal that was previously in a sun-rich environment. This is one of many shortcuts I’m afraid I will have to make in the upcoming years as “perfection becomes the enemy of good enough”.
– Tame To Save: Fire Dancing Ritual
– Upcoming post about northward migration
– Upcoming post about tribes and tribal importance