Tuesday, September 11, 2007

aping (tr.v.)

Transitive verb: ape, aped, ap-ing, apes.

"To mimic slavishly but often with an absurd result"
"to act like somebody else in an absurd or grotesque way"

Suggested synonyms include : mock, parody, travesty.

Well, be that as it may, while in France most of our party spent a fabulous day going ape.

These photos are all courtesy of my BIL (thanks, Mr. M) - which accounts for the fact that I am in many of them.

I discovered not so long ago, through some of my teaching, that using the word "ape" to mean mimic goes back to the middle ages, when Western homo sapiens were taken aback by the extraordinary similarities between themselves and some of these animals. This resemblance was generally seen as inappropriate - a threat to our human superiority and God-likeness.

The idea emerged that apes were deliberately copying human behaviour, somehow trying to muscle in on our act - and so apes became a prototype or symbol for fraud, seen as imposters, flatterers, hypocrites. (Desmond and Ramona Morris did some interesting research on this)
Apes were often hanged (along with other animals) alongside Jews or heretics as a symbol of foolishness and wickedness.

Well, here we are, aping the apes.

I've sometimes showed a documentary to students about Shantek, an orang-utang who uses american sign language. Always one of them will comment that his communication is very limited, considering the many years during which he's been learning and using it.

I think his abilities to communicate through the signs invented by another species are more impressive than our attempts to negotiate the tree-tops where we don't really feel at home.

This picture below is LG.

She overcame her fear of heights. With a lot of expert and sensitive help from her cousin. (Thanks Miss A. M)

We'd gone to an English version of this a few years back, when LG was younger and considerably smaller. She had began well on the practice run but the rest of the routes were way too high and difficult and she quickly had to give up.

Not only is she older and larger now, but the French park is far superior. More relaxed, with more gradual increases in height and the option of repeating lower levels or going on to more difficult. Also much cheaper. Trust the British to offer an inferior experience and charge more for it.

LG finished (and enjoyed) the highest course and went back for more.

The best part - of course! - was the zip wires - some of them started at about 20+ meters high and disappeared over 100 meters into the trees.

Some apes who've learned human sign language have apparently invented their own swear words. Isn't that brilliant?!

I bet they would have had some funny and excruciating things to say about our efforts in the tree tops, and the system of clips and harnesses which assured our safety. The words "parody", "absurd" and "foolish" come to mind.

It was, however, BRILLIANT FUN.


Steve said...

That's FRANCE? It looks like Rwanda!

I don't think I've ever seen a park like this. If we have them around here it's news to me. Looks pretty fun, though, in a scary kind of way.

(I'm sure apes already think humans are a bunch of dangerous idiots.)

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh my gosh! Makes my stomach lurch just to look at the pictures. I salute you!! With my fear of heights there is no way I could go ape ... but it looks BEAUTIFUL and lush and I'm so glad you decided to swing from the treetops.

I notice, too, the clear blue sky, something you didn't see much of in Britain this summer.

herhimnbryn said...

Gulp! Great admiration from across the sea!

tut-tut said...

There is not one chance in a million I would be able to get up there.

Your France trip sounds like it was just amazing for you all.

la bellina mammina said...

Looks like great fun! Great to see you in the pics for a change! I just discovered a place here where you can do this too and I just told MR - my firstborn, that we should do this on Saturday....hopefully, I'll be as brave as LG and overcome my fear of heights too!

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

Fantastic images of airborne Pod.

Dumdad said...

My kids and my wife have done this. It's called accro-branche over here.

Brainbox insisted on doing it about three years ago at Centre-Parcs to conquer his fear of heights. It must have worked as he's done it several times since.

Akelamalu said...

You're so brave, you wouldn't catch me up there! Great pictures.

lettuce said...

There are so many different kinds of landscape in france steve, its one of the things i love. And i think the apes are probably right.

My sister, as well as LG, have overcome fear of heights through doing this Reya... maybe there is hope for you?

hhb - admiration for LG and those who are/were scared. I wasn't so didn't have to overcome it!

TT - yes, it was. Trying to dwell on it now our nights are drawing in

bella - as i said above, lots of people do overcome fear of heights through doing this - and you can start slow and low and build up. Great for kids confidence too.

shelly - I wish! no, airborne lettuce.

dumdad - doesn't appeal to you?

Akelulu - i think being fearless is probably stupid rather than brave. Bravery is overcoming fear.

kimy said...

zip wires ROCK!!! what fun
(chest pound)ah aha aha aha aha!!!

Pod said...

i can hardly make you out midst all the foliage! i would have had to have had much hand holding! not a big fan of heights, but i would have done it with a very tight bottie

Jay said...

This looks like an adrenaline-pumping good time, but weren't you the least bit scared?

Ex-Shammickite said...

I'd have to have a couple of stiff drinky-poos before I tackled the high wires, well, probably MORE than a couple actually.
I prefer to have my feet on the ground, I'm not the adventurous type. But it looks like it was quita a fun challenge, a bit like going on an Outward Bound course.
Interesting observation about the apes not appreciating convoluted human efforts to swing through the treetops.

Trac said...

OMG! And I thought I was brave just going on a cable car!?

I feel quite dizzy now...

Lynne said...

wow ... I'm in awe that you had the nerve and stamina to do this! I am not a real fan of heights and have a difficult time imagining myself dangling above the ground doing a tightrope walk routine!

Kudos to those that can! Great pics!

I have a close friend that worked with bonobos for a while. Her video clips that she would send me from time to time really gave me pause for thought. So smart.

Gary said...

I would be very much into doing this! I love climbing and balancing. Anything physical with a tinge of danger (and safety measures).

When I see things like this I wonder "What am I doing?". I don't get enough challenges in my life like this.

lettuce said...

Kimy - don't they? a-ahahahaaaa

i'd have held your hand pod. Not your bottie.

strangely no not at all Jay. First time I did it yes, just a little bit. This time - a couple of fleetingly momentary glimpses of what it might feel like to be afraid, i you know what i mean - but that was it.

Shammie, I don't think I'd want to do it after a couple of drinks

trac i think cable cars are more scary

lynne i think its fascinating how much attitudes to animals and esp. apes/monkeys have changed in the last century or so... not before time.

gary you'd LOVE it then. You just have to trust the equipment and then its such a blast!