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My successful ancestors

This is an excellent comic at Abstruse Goose that illustrates the depth of our evolutionary history. The ending is a downer, though; shouldn’t the protagonist have been enlightened and encouraged by this information?

Comments

  1. Fukuda says

    Large cold-blooded killers

    My eyes wandered over this sentence for an entire minute… sheesh.

  2. chigau () says

    …shouldn’t the protagonist have been enlightened and encouraged by this information?

    Especially the part about getting laid.

  3. says

    I guess the point is we don’t really want the answers, we just like to wallow in the questions, but after reading it, I’m left with the feeling that I’m glad I procreated…

  4. Siobhan says

    I understood how the protagonist felt. There’s a lot of weight of hope and expectation when I think about how many people lived and loved and died to get me where I am today. I want my life to, in some way, honor all it took for me to be here. It’s easy to feel like you’re failing them in some way when you’re not as intelligent, or prolific, or artistic as this or that person.

  5. some kind of internet name says

    Beh. My ancestors have plenty of other descendants to count on doing something.

  6. says

    There’s a lot of genetic egoism in that whole end premise.

    So, it IS fascinating to think about all the amazing chains of luck and great genes that led to you being alive today! Wooot for evolution.

    But just like it’s silly to imagine that there’s a grand purpose for you here on earth, it’s equally silly for your ancestors to slag on you because you don’t fulfill the promise of all the generations of awesome genes and amazing luck.

    What am I going to do with my life? Well, frankly, I don’t recall asking to be born, and while I’m pleased to have been born, my ancestors had no way of knowing that I was going to be at the end of this chain at this point in time. They were just trying to live and not get eaten by sabretooth tigers or mowed down by Normans or survive the dawn of the industrial age without becoming a page in The Jungle.

    Positing evolution as sacrifice is pretty damn ridiculous. It’s an imposed narrative, and it’s almost as arrogant as saying, “Hey, worship me! I brought you into being! Live your life to my standards.”

    As it happens, I like life, and I like the idea of continuing that giant chain…but I’m under no illusions as to whether or not my descendents should have to live their life a particular way just because I made minimum wage in college and survived the housing bubble collapse. They’ll live their life, should they get one, and I’ll live mine.

  7. says

    Eh, I found the whole thing silly. Ancestor worship and emphasis on Breed! Bleah.

    I find it rather remarkable I’m on the planet at all, especially given my particular circumstances and I’m happy to be here, however, breeding is the last thing I’d ever choose to do and plenty of my ancestors aren’t admirable in any way.

    The point? Is there supposed to be one? Survive and enjoy yourself, do good if you’re able.

  8. tominwv says

    I have to borrow other people’s words to get my thoughts out.
    So close it hurts.

    My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry
    by James Tate

    There’s a fortune to be made in just about everything
    in this country, somebody’s father had to invent
    everything–baby food, tractors, rat poisoning.
    My family’s obviously done nothing since the beginning
    of time. They invented poverty and bad taste
    and getting by and taking it from the boss.
    O my mother goes around chewing her nails and
    spitting them in a jar: You shouldn’t be ashamed
    of yourself she says, think of your family.
    My family I say what have they ever done but
    paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes
    of plastic squalor and human degradation.
    Well then think of your great great etc. Uncle
    Patrick Henry.

  9. says

    Wait… was it my job to knock up some random girl back in college? Because otherwise, my whole life is a waste since I’m married to an infertile woman and would get a vasectomy the moment I found myself divorced or otherwise single.

  10. speedweasel says

    Great comic. Being both a breeder and a father, I could totally relate and I didn’t need the morale of the story shoved down my throat, I was happy just to sit and think about it for a bit afterwards.

    :P

    Hmmm… I just realised that my killfile won’t work here :(

  11. Brian says

    Eh, I found the whole thing silly.

    Yes, that is roughly the point of any given Abstruse Goose comic.

  12. Prof.Pedant says

    One of the things about depression is that you can have a very thorough understanding of the many reasons you have to not be depressed and still be depressed. Depression is much better when you do have reasons to not be depressed, but that knowledge only partially ameliorates the depression.

  13. Louis says

    I wouldn’t agree the message of the comic was to advocate one “purposeful” or “directed” view of evolutionary biology with one modern individual as the culmination of the manifold generations of successful fuckers. Or that “successful fucking” is the Universal Culmination or Purpose of Life (TM). {meta: there isn’t one. Deal with it like a grown up.}

    Rather, as others have pointed out, it’s about the slightly odd, and extremely painful, oddly rational irrationality of clinical depression. It’s not for nothing that there is a term called “depressive realism”. This poor chap is, in his depression, imagining all his (very real) ancestors and noting their success in one narrow field of endeavour, plus maybe a couple of others, then irrationally personalising it. This very skewed appreciation of reality makes him feel worse. The cartoon’s about THAT, not about advocating a specific view of the Universal Culmination or Purpose of Life (TM).

    All the hallmarks are there. The black and white thinking, the unsupported demands (this SHOULD be such and such a way), the personalisation, the ignoring the positive evidence, the very selective thinking etc. We all do them to an extent, but they can become features of psychopathology when in extreme mood states like clinical depression. THAT’s what this guy is experiencing. Either laugh along with the author in noting this slightly self involved thought process, or sympathise, or both!

    Louis

  14. says

    Man, I feel bad now that I most likely will not be having offspring. I will be a failure in the eyes of my ancestors. :(

    Oh well.

  15. says

    Things like this make me feel a little sad my unique genetic heritage is going to die with me, since if my boyfriend and I have children, I’d make sure we adopt.

    But it’s less important with respect to humanity and perpetuating the species in general.