Perspectives from Paul Broca to the Present
Author: Melissa Monroe
View: 7372Many thousands of years ago, prehistoric humans cut holes in each other's skulls. For a century and a half, scholars have been arguing about why. Some believe that the procedure was a primitive medical operation; others argue that it served a ceremonial or religious purpose. What is at stake is the fundamental nature of human thinking: "Was prehistoric man essentially scientist or priest?" The debate has played out against a backdrop of territoriality, aggression, xenophobia, rapacity and delusion that suggests a less flattering view of human cognition and motivation. On Trepanation and Human Nature: Perspectives from Paul Broca to the Present is an essay in verse that traces the history of this debate, and considers contemporary cases of skull-boring. The poem is also an examination of the myriad and often bizarre ways we communicate, incorporating found language from many domains: anthropology, medicine, legalese, contemporary self-help literature, and the manifestos of the dubiously sane.