I’m going to have to agree with you completely on your ancient astronaut theory. The Eveny were clearly a slave worker force for Soviets who had harnessed alien technology. The flying reindeer were just one of the many tools the Eveny had to use to complete their work.
I really appreciate your mention of the Eveny’s domestication myth. I’m almost reminded of Bulliet’s distinction between the various animal-human worldviews that came out of the enlightenment. The implicit idea in foreign cultures that animals share a close kinship with humans always makes me pause. I think it would be extremely interesting to spend a class brainstorming how our culture would change if we were to hold some of those similar beliefs. Even if we never live in a such a culture, I’m inclined to believe that adopting some of those foreign principles might really change how we approach daily life, even during experiences not explicitly related to animal-human relations.
I agree with you on challenging Bulliet’s assertion that animals were domesticated for any sort of ritual or belief. Once again, we have a case of Bulliet possibly not being as educated in evolutionary history as we’d like him to be. I would suspect that humans established animal relationships for survival and pragmatic uses long before we developed ritual religion. Now, humans may have been ‘superstitious’ of the world around them, or scared of routine and harmless natural phenomena, but to argue that we had religion before consistent food sources and a few basic animal relationships seems silly.
I’m glad you discuss the introduction of some harder science into our readings. While we haven’t actually proved causation with the adrenaline theory, the correlation certainly adds a few guidelines to the debate of how far humanity can domesticate animals. I suppose I fall in between you and Diamond with my opinion on domestication potential. I agree that we can probably domesticate more animals than Diamond cares to admit, but I would qualify that by saying it doesn’t matter to Diamond’s hypothesis on human development. I’d say Diamond has already accounted for all the species whose domestication would lead to significant societal superiority. Other animals that he may not consider or admit to, like the silkworm, probably don’t provide enough of a benefit to be (in my opinion) a center part of a discussion regarding the development of human civilization through domestication.
I’d really like to hear more of your thoughts on Bulliet’s initial assertion of animal sex (including with humans) and slaughter being commonplace. I understand your experience may be radically different than those of his referenced subjects, but I suspect you have a better understanding and viewpoint than most of us.
I agree with your opinion on his initial fantasy vs. experience assertions. I cannot imagine that animal sex and slaughter properly conditions somebody to anything remotely healthy. Fantasy desensitizes as well, so can we really imply domestic society is superior?