"Monkey faces", by TERADA Torahiko (寺田寅彦)

(This was first published in the April 1933 edition of 文芸意匠 ["Literature and Design"? "Literary Design"? Dunno.] I'm working from the Aozora Bunko text.)

In the the movie Maruga*, monkey familys appear in some scenes. The baby monkeys resemble humans much more closely than the parent monkeys do. To be specific, they look like old people. To be even more specific, they look more like old women than old men. It makes you wonder -- maybe if humans lived much longer lives, they'd gradually come to look like adult monkeys do. And indeed, the 100-year-old ladies that get written up in Western picture magazines often do have monkey faces.

Suppose that as living things get older, they become "superior". And then grant that as humans age, they start looking more and more like monkeys. Wouldn't we be forced to conclude that monkeys are superior to humans?

Conversely, if we insist that monkeys must be inferior to humans, wouldn't that mean that both monkeys and humans become increasingly inferior as they age?

These are the theories of Human-Monkey Relative Worth and Elder-Younger Relative Worth that you might come up with based solely on facial features.

Similar theories of relative worth are quite common in the world today. Judging people based on their possessions; trying to rank humans according to the colour of the skin; creating a scale for hiring and promotion based on exam and mental test results; deciding on a social system without considering anything other than economic issues: these are all the result of such theories.

This is something to think about.

* I have no idea what movie he's talking about.

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Looks like the film is "Bring 'Em Back Alive" -- see this page -- according to a cached list of J/E film titles I found on Google. Googling for Japanese title + 映画 + 原題 turns a lot of these up, btw.


Aha! I tried title + 映画 but didn't think to add 原題. Thanks! By the way, are you back to blogging semi-regularly now?

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