Tag Archives: monogamy

human by portions and percentages

there’s a new Aussie show on ABC1 that I’m really enjoying for its indulgence and humour. That show is Rake, about a highly flawed, disreputable barrister in Sydney.

A short segment of dialogue from the last episode has stuck with me.

 

Cleaver Greene, our anti-hero, has just slept with his best friend’s wife. In an effort to unload himself to his ex-wife, he starts talking about a nature documentary he watched about chimpanzees – how they’re 98.7% like humans.

“There’s this 1.3% disparity”, he says, “that apparently has something to do with our ability to program dvd players, but essentially they are us, and we are them.”

Followed by an ode to the chimp way of life: the women in competition, until they go on heat, which pitches the males into out-and-out war with each other. He bemoans the fact that humans are expected to stay married to the same person for a lifetime, no matter how dull it gets. Then:

“98.7% of us is telling us we’re morons, it’s just this 1.3% – the dvd-programming part – telling us we’re doing the right thing.”

This struck me as such a poignant picture of the human condition. And it really is what marriage feels like sometimes – the tiny, cultivated part of the brain at war with tens of thousands of years of biology.