The Dance of Evolution, or How Art Got Its Start


By Natalie Angier

What is the evolutionary value of art and why do we humans spend so much time at it? At a symposium at the University of Michigan in October, Ellen Dissanayake, an independent scholar affiliated with the University of Washington, Seattle, offered her sweeping thesis, nimbly blending familiar themes with the radically new. By her reckoning impulse is a human birthright, a trait so ancient, universal and persistent that it is almost surely innate.
藝術在進化上有何價值,人類又為何- 費這麼多時間在藝術上?10 月在密西根大學一場座談會上,西雅- 華盛頓大學特任教授、獨立學者艾倫- 狄桑艾亞卡靈巧融合熟悉的主題和激- 進的新觀念,提出令人折服的論文。- 照她的估計,藝術衝動是人類與生俱- 的權利,是一項非常古早、普遍且持- 續的特質,幾乎可以斷定是天生的。

But while some researchers have suggested that our artiness arose accidentally, as a byproduct of large brains that evolved to solve problems and were easily bored, Ms. Dissanayake argues that the creative drive has all the earmarks of being an adaptation on its own. The making of art consumes enormous amounts of time and resources, she observed, an extravagance you wouldn’t expect of an evolutionary afterthought.
某些研究者指出,人類產生藝術特質- 個意外,是大腦進化解決問題後容易- 得無聊的附帶產物,狄桑艾亞卡則主- 張,創作驅動力本身就具有自我調適- 所有特徵。她說,藝術創作耗費龐大- 時間和資源,人類在演化過程中不可- 能有此大手筆的餘裕。

What might that deep-seated purpose of art-making be? Geoffrey Miller and other theorists have proposed that art serves as a sexual display, a means of flaunting one’s talented palette of genes. Again, Ms. Dissanayake has other ideas. To contemporary Westerners, she said, art may seem detached from the real world. But among traditional cultures and throughout most of human history, she said, art has also been a profoundly communal affair, of harvest dances, religious pageants, quilting bees, the passionate town rivalries that gave us the spires of Chartres, Reims and Amiens.
根深柢固的藝術創作意圖會是什麼?- 弗瑞‧米勒和其他理論家曾提一說,- 為藝術是性的誇示,是炫耀某人創作- 基因的一種方式。狄桑艾亞卡再度提- 不同見解。她說,對當代西方人而言- 藝術看起來可能抽離現實世界。但她- 說,在傳統文化之間,以及在人類大- 分歷史裡,藝術也一直是一種深入社- 的活動,豐收舞,宗教慶典,拼布聚- 會,充滿激情的城鎮對抗甚至給了我- 夏特勒、蘭斯和亞眠的尖塔。

Art, she and others have proposed, did not arise to spotlight the few, but rather to summon the many to come join the parade. Through singing, dancing, painting, telling fables and otherwise engaging in what Ms. Dissanayake calls “artifying,” people can be quickly and ebulliently drawn together, and even strangers persuaded to treat one another as kin. Through the harmonic magic of art, the relative weakness of the individual can be traded up for the strength of the hive, cohered into a social unit ready to take on the world.
她和另外幾位學者說,藝術的興起並- 是為了凸顯少數個人,而是號召多數- 加入活動行列。經由歌唱、舞蹈、繪- 畫、講古和狄桑艾亞卡稱為「藝術化- 的其他活動,人們興高采烈地快速聚- 一起,甚至陌生人都受感召而像家人- 般彼此相待。透過藝術那種不可思議- 和諧力量,個人相對的脆弱可以換成- 體的力量,凝聚成一個準備對抗世界- 的社會單位。

As David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary theorist at Binghamton University, said, the only social elixir of comparable strength is religion, another impulse that spans cultures and time.
如同賓漢頓大學演化理論學家大衛‧- 隆‧威爾森所說,唯一具有與此相同- 量的社會萬靈丹是宗教,宗教是另一- 個跨越文化和時代的驅動力。

Perhaps the most radical element of Ms. Dissanayake’s evolutionary framework is her idea about how art got its start. She suggests that many of the basic phonemes of art, the stylistic conventions and tonal patterns, can be traced back to the most primal of collusions – the intimate interplay between mother and child.
狄桑艾亞卡所提演化架構中最激進的- 素,或許是她對藝術如何開始的見解- 依她設想,藝術的許多基本元素、風- 格傳統和調性模式,都可追溯至最原- 的親密關係:母子間的親密互動。

After studying hundreds of hours of interactions between infants and mothers from many different cultures, Ms. Dissanayake and her collaborators have identified universal operations that characterize the mother-infant bond. They are visual, gestural and vocal cues that arise spontaneously and unconsciously between mothers and infants: the calls and responses, the widening of the eyes, the exaggerated smile, the repetitions and variations
研究過許多不同文化的數百個小時親- 互動後,狄桑艾亞卡和共同研究者辨- 出母子連心的普遍運作模式,就是母- 親和幼兒之間下意識的自發眼神、手- 和聲音暗示:呼喚與回應,睜大眼睛- 誇張的微笑,以及這些因素的重複和- 變化。

To Ms. Dissanayake, the tightly choreographed rituals that bond mother and child look a lot like the techniques and constructs at the heart of much of our art. “These operations of ritualization, these affiliative signals between mother and infant, are aesthetic operations, too,” she said in an interview. “And aesthetic operations are what artists do. Knowingly or not, when you are choreographing a dance or composing a piece of music, you are formalizing, exaggerating, repeating, manipulating expectation and dynamically varying your theme.”
對狄桑艾亞卡來說,母子相連密切配- 的行為模式,看起來很像人類許多藝- 創作核心的技法和結構。「這些模式- 化的活動,母親與幼兒間親密聯繫的- 號,也是一種藝術的活動。」她接受- 談時表示:「藝術家做的事,正是藝- 術活動。有意或無意,你編排一支舞- 或創作一首曲子時,就是在為你的期- 賦予形式,加以誇飾、重複、操縱,- 並生生不息變化你的主題。」

In art and dance, as in love, if you don’t know the moves, you really can’t fake them.
在藝術和舞蹈,如同愛情,如果你不- 得如何行動,真的連想裝都裝不了。


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