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The Aesthetic Animal$
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Henrik Hogh-Olesen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190927929

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927929.001.0001

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The Human Peacock

The Human Peacock

Body Ornamentation and Artistic Behavior from Tribal Society to Modern Primitives

Chapter:
(p.77) 5 The Human Peacock
Source:
The Aesthetic Animal
Author(s):

Henrik Hogh-Olesen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190927929.003.0006

Chapter 5 focuses on the human need for embellishment and artistic expression through song, dance, and music. Why do we do these things? Is it due to sexually selected behavioral traits, whereby those who stand out and flaunt their special qualities are selected as partners and thus further their genetic heritage because the artistic energy they exhibit is reliable evidence of fitness, which lets the world know that these are good, strong genes exactly like the peacock’s tail? Or is it, rather, that we must understand these exertions through their collective value as social markers that unite us and inform the world that we are dealing with a close-knit group united by a shared mind-set? None of these functions need be mutually exclusive.

Keywords:   body ornaments, dance, fitness indicator, group cohesion, modern primitives, music, piercings and tattoos, scarification, semiotics, sexual selection

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