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01/01/22

Why "Losing head" is no longer an idiom?

Why does the ignorant one pulls through? The origin of the human brain belongs to the main mysteries of evolution and one of the most controversial topics in biological science. Why did evolution at some point in time chose to support brain development for one of the primate species? Why did the brain evolve so rapidly in such a short period? And why has homo sapiens' brains been constantly losing weight for 30,000 years?

To answer these questions, one will have to turn to the interesting metamorphoses that took place with the most favourable ancestors of mankind millions of years ago. Before the advent of Homo Sapiens, evolution took place in the traditional way. As we all know from our Anatomy and Biology school lessons The "fuel" of evolution is polymorphism, variability, variability within one species. If the external conditions of habitation did not change, the characteristics of the species remained more or less conservative, if the conditions underwent changes, then polymorphism was the only way for those creatures to survive. Adaptively of a gene turned out to be more suitable for the changed conditions and thus improved the species quality. When the variability of new genetic variations did not solve the necessity of adaptation to the new changed conditions, the population died out. Natural selection is the eternal opposition of a plurality of features and environmental pressure. The animals, who managed to find food, survive cold and procreate successfully, lived. Others became extinct.

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The frontal lobe, which became the morphological basis of human intelligence, originally had the task of inhibiting animal instincts. This structure is in control of our innate and automatic self-preserving behaviour patterns, which ensure our survival and that of our species. The first of our three brain functions inherited from ancestors is what scientists call the reptilian cortex. This brain sustains the elementary activities of animal survival such as respiratory system, adequate rest and a beating heart. We are not required to consciously “think” about these activities. The reptilian cortex also houses the “startle centre”, a mechanism that facilitates swift reactions to unexpected occurrences in our surroundings. That panicked lurch you experience when a door slams shut, a looming silhouettes in darkness, weird squeaking sounds somewhere in the house, or the heightened awareness you feel when a twig cracks in a nearby bush while out on an evening stroll are all examples of the reptilian cortex at work. When it comes to our interaction with others, the reptilian brain offers up only the most basic impulses: aggression, mating, and territorial defence. There is no great difference, in this sense, between a crocodile defending its spot along the river and a turf war between two urban gangs.
Only thanks to frontal lobe work, we are able to restrain our instinctual will to grab the last piece of a cake in the plate and offer it kindly to a child. The evolved frontal lobe dictates our ability to share, to refuse food and thereby maintaining relationships within society. Now and then, we all hear stories about folks who are too concerned about losing weight try to eat as little as possible eventually developing a disease called anorexia. It is almost impossible to force a person with this disorder to eat, and modern medicine is powerless to help the matter. Interestingly, 60 years ago, when medicine was not so humane, patients with anorexia underwent a complex surgery that involved a sharp scalpel cutting off the frontal lobe in the lower part of the temporal region. After a while, these patients regained their appetite and returned to normal life. Oh, well, almost normal. Control over the animal instinct and its abuse were no longer in action and a thought of sharing food would never visit their heads again.

Another function of the frontal lobe was the support of social connections among the ancient hominids. Those who were unable to share food were either eaten/beaten or expelled. Therefore, in just a few million years, the frontal lobe of the human brain grew very quickly and eventually became the basis of mind. Man is a genuine part of nature and for a long time the evolution (If we follow Mr Darwin’s approach) of the human brain followed the same biological patters as it did with other primates. It didn’t go very fast, and the very appearance of primates (about 65 million years ago) cannot be considered some kind of a pinnacle of evolution — it’s nothing more than the adaptation of mammals to new environmental challenges. However, those were not the changed that could trigger the substantial development of human brain. What were those unusual conditions that arose, that radically changed the nature of the evolution? To explain the reason for these revolutionary transformations, scientists wrangle over different forms of the so-called speech-social-labour theories. Some say that since our ancestors developed the art of communication their brain took a radical change, others claim than there are many species of animals known to use sophisticated communication systems, and advanced community structures, but those have not led to the emergence of a large brain. So what happened?

Apparently, the archetype of the human brain was formed in a rather unique environment in the result of a long-lasting biological process. At some point in time, about 15 million years ago, very favourable conditions for the life of any mammals developed in eastern Africa. Then in the subtropics, in half-flooded places, in shallow flowing water bodies, some tasty and nutritious prey animals - invertebrates or fish - prospered in huge quantities. A not-less-in-its-quantity group of predators led a sate and fully satisfy life. Among the latter were our distant ancestors. To picture the ease of a hunting process we may look at Norway today. Where you can see how, during the spawning of herring, bears come on their hind legs and, standing there up to their chest, scoop up caviar with their paws and eat it until they are full. Similarly, our ancestors just had to enter the water and draw lightly with their paws in order to gorge themselves. All this led to the formation of a group of species that practically dropped out of the selection system: why change if the environmental conditions are close to perfect? However, as known, with an excess of food, animals are not interested in anything at all, except for reproduction. The abundance of food, thus, increased competition during reproduction and, as a result, became the reason for the race for dominance.

One of the consequences of this condition was development of speech, which, apparently, originated in that period. Speech could have arisen as a way of organizing joint actions, and perhaps began with simple sounds or, for example, singing, like among modern gibbons. It was possible to impress the female with real success in hunting and abundant prey, which added attractiveness to the male, increasing the chances of passing on his genome to future generations. With an art of speech, a male could just tell a female creature about it and get the same laurels of the winner in her eyes, without making any real efforts. In the biological world, the principle of any interaction is based on the following: the fewer actions and the greater the biological result. Therefore, imitation of action with the help of speech has become an invaluable quality among archaic anthropoids. Speech became a profitable product, and became a base of intense selection, as it allowed achieving a faster reproductive result. In fact, speech emerged as a form of deception, and deception was effective then and today.

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25/11/21

Antinomy Of Truth/Lie

At a time when the common aim of scientists worldwide, is to advance technology, uncover gene programming and decipher the laws of the universe while competing with one another in the world that evolves at the speed of light, the impact those scientific processes themselves have on our planet and their consequences for the future of Earth have never been more acute.

The threat of guided discovery in any scientific field, the discovery that is framed by the political needs and economic opportunities, is not only unpredictable but also hazardous. Blinded by the competition, scientists are forced to deliver findings within the set time frames as if a production factory that leads to mistakes, the inferiority of results, inability to scrutinize thoroughly the concomitant side-effects and harmful consequences.

The plot takes you to a moment when genius scientist Damien Durand wakes up in the year 2673, having fallen asleep in 2018, he is astonished to find himself in an alien, hostile and senseless futuristic world.
With only a matter of months to find out if his brilliant intellect can help in this new reality, he finds his life is at stake as he is surrounded by untrustworthy creatures and has to fight for his ideas before it is too late.

The book contemplates one of the possible scenarios of the future development of humanity. It is both food for thoughts and a consoling sanctuary for any curious mind.


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14/05/20

E M M A ?

In today's article, I would like to talk about the fresh adaptation of the cult Jane Austen’s novel “Emma”. Unfortunately, I will not be able to provide a comparative analysis with previous adoptions; perhaps, I will do this later in a separate article, because… well, I want to say a lot about the version of 2020. I do not intend to offend anyone by my subjective opinion. I am writing the following just because my heart is aching with sadness as Jane Austen (one of my favourite writers) deserves a more serious treatment in my opinion.

De Wilde, who made a name for herself as a rock photographer by shooting such stars like the Rolling Stones for publications including the New York Times, says she sought to bring the rock star spirit to the characters in her adaptation of Jane Austen's famous novel Emma.

Ms Wilde and screenwriter Eleanor Catton, known for being the youngest person to win the Booker Prize (The Luminaries), tried not to think about previous versions of Emma (or the book itself) as they worked on the script. According to de Wilde, she wanted to bring out completely different aspects of Austen’s work to the audience than previous adaptations bore. The main focus for her was the comedic aspect of the novel. “Part of my pitch was to incorporate elements of a screwball comedy while keeping it in the period frames,” de Wilde says. Well, there are only the frames (of paintings on walls) that can be granted with the word “period” after all.

This film will really take you some time from the very beginning to calm down from the first shock and continue to watch it with a slight condescension to the complete disregard for: the strict English society rules, the complete mismatch of the props (mainly food, modern wheel chocks, the pinned jacket of Mr. Churchill (meant to look rich) and, of course, hairstyles of some of the characters). The frantically intrusive musical soundtrack at the very beginning, the thundering insertions of a rural chorus without musical accompaniment (that literally made me shuddered with horror at how fast the impression worsens), should have convinced us, we understand how sprightly and amusing the film is supposed to be.

There is also something I could identify as some startling buttock action. A despondent Mr Knightley is seen completely naked from the ... er ... rear right at the beginning. My favourite moment is his close upped attempt to tuck the shirt into his trousers without… how shall we call it… exposing his main asset to the big screen. Emma herself, standing alone with her back to the fireplace, swiftly pulls her skirts to get the full benefit of a roaring open fire, without obviously troubling herself to ascertain that the servants are not nearby. (Note she apparently does not wear drawers (naughty Emma), alternatively the production budget was cut unexpectedly and poor Anya was left without any sort of panties).

Luckily, these indiscretions happen at the very beginning, after which the movie keeps its full period costume sedately in place and looks more or less decent, except for the strange panic attacks of Mr. Knightley and the erotic swallowing of strawberries by Emma. You know, watching poor strawberry finds it’s end in her mouth even a not faint-hearted one would get a heart attack under the terribly unblinking gaze of Anya Taylor-joy, which even in relation to the strawberry, bears something calculating and predatory.

Taylor-joy plays unfamiliar Emma, not the one you were thinking of reading Jane Austen. You know, the author back in 1816 at the time of the first publication of her novel said, "I Think Emma is unlikely to be liked by anyone but me." I do not think even she would have liked this Emma.

Anya is particularly good at the legendary unpleasant moments, outbursts of arrogance, annoyance, malice and sadism in which Taylor-joy clearly resembles the evil rich kid she played in Cory Finley's recent Thriller "Thoroughbreds". Emma constantly humiliates the annoying old Miss Bates (Miranda Hart, who was brilliant by the way) in front of everyone, constantly demonstrates overplayed fatigue from the obsessive attention of the unfortunate, who considers her as a friend. The most striking act of despicable cruelty during a picnic, for which Emma is known to be criticized by Mr. Knightley (at least someone) with too soft words, "this was bad." However, Emma is so vain that later, when she seems to repent (very not much indeed), the sense of her supremacy is so pitchy that she cannot bring herself to apologize to Miss Bates, leaving us to wonder how deliberately this revelation of the protagonist character has been exaggerated by the actress.

Sometimes the casting and production work well, sometimes not so well. The excellent actor Josh O'connor is forced to play the pantomime role of Mr. Elton, which is not really suitable for him. Maybe he would have brought something more interesting to the role of Frank Churchill. Sometimes the look of the movie is a bit bland, and the “Gypsies” who at one stage attack Miss Smith are kept coyly off-camera.

Johnny Flynn is dubiously masculine, as Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam was more intelligent and status-oriented, in the 1996 version), with prickly morals that conflict with something sensual. He shows no interest in Emma until he dances with her at one of the parties. And there, my dear friends, we can safely characterize the moment as: "He was suddenly hit by love." So abruptly and intense that it looks like acute heart failure, but it turns out that the man was just overexcited with the unaccustomed, and then lays down on the icy floor of his living room to chill out, after scattering the clothes that he managed pull off without the help of servants.

However, the real revelation for me was Mia Goth as Harriet, a gawky, maladroit yet engaging and touching portrayal of a lonely and rather scared young woman who looks as if she has been crying herself to sleep. I applaud her! The actress coped with her task brilliantly well. She could do a dishy sweet, good-natured Emma, if…if only...

Enhancing the foppish mannerisms of Elton and other characters, de Wilde also tried to make fun of the rigid class system—which Austen did with clever verbal duels, puzzles, and comic sketches in her work. The Director chose a different path, a simpler one. A running joke throughout the film is that there are always beautiful desserts laid out (modern acid colourful macaroni), but only uncouth characters like Emma's lowly protégé Harriet Smith eat them.

When Mr. Elton's new, nouveau riche wife (Tanya Reynolds) visits the Wodehouse stately home and brags about her money in an attempt to prove her status, Bill Nighy's alarmed hypochondriac (adore him) Mr. Woodhouse is so incensed that he is unable to let go of his teacup, leaving a servant to pry it from his hands. The servant snatches it out of his hands (hardly a servant dared to do so back then). It would look funny if it were a living room of the twenty first century.

Near the end of the film, in a moment that could have been pulled from a raunchy teen super bad comedy, Emma and Knightley seem to finally be about to kiss, but she gets a nosebleed. De Wilde says that this scene took inspiration from her own experience of getting nosebleeds at the wrong time (what does it have to do with Austen’s Emma?). “This event also solves the problem in the film,” she claims. “There is one inherent problem, which is that this story,” (it is about the work of Austen), “has a predetermined ending. Usually, when a scene of this kind takes place in a movie, you expect it to be over pretty quickly, but Emma still has a lot to do after she agrees to be with Knightley, so I wanted something to always interrupt the possibility of a happy ending to their kisses," the director admits.

Another comedic element can be seen on the posters for the film. When the de Wilde was asked why she called the film "Emma.” (Yes, with a period at the end), de Wilde replied, "Well, because... it's a period piece!”

In general, this title is the only thing that features period in the entire work, despite the excellent work of the screenwriter in composing dialogues close to the book and the excellent work of the film crew, who chose interesting angles and, in principle, the work is bursting with dynamics.

I like the earlier film adaptations of 1996 and 2009, but it is a matter of taste, of course. Perhaps, for those who have not read the book, the film will look like a good comedy based on some classic novel.

We will wait for the next adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" which has already been announced for release this year.


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05/04/20

Why do we enjoy reading fantasy?

I think that many people will agree with, perhaps, the most popular answer to this question: for the same reason people like to read detective novels, mystery stories, historical sketches, or any other types of narratives – in order to escape from the routine of our mundane lives. The main variable that changes from genre to genre is how strong the abstraction from reality must be to tempt the reader. Different types of fiction require different degrees of fiction. For example, some of us primarily want to read historical novels and autobiographies. Such readers don't think it's worth reading any science fiction as they are offering stories that could not be projected in their life. "Give us something practical, something real, from which we can gain experience of interacting with the world around us,” they say. Others mostly enjoy hard science fiction (which doesn't violate any laws of physics), but they don't enjoy soft fiction (which is more flexible about generally accepted laws). Perhaps some of us want to look into the future, which will be possible if humanity continues to move confidently along the chosen path, such of us cannot bring ourselves to believe in something radically contrary to the rules of existence, even for a short time.

Other readers, on the contrary, reading fiction, either do not know (or do not care) about the violation of known science. They are perfectly entertained by lightsabers and flying cats in space. Or, Perhaps, they just focus on some other plotlines in the story? Similarly, fantasy readers go even further in their imaginations. They don't just like to enter a world with modified or expanded laws of science—they like to enter a world where there are alternatives to science, where the universe works differently than we know, and they can completely ignore science in favour of imagination. This allows them to escape the mundane by entering a world where magic is real. For a few hours, it is a vacation to the land of unicorns or elves, fallen angels and brave heroes. Many people to my grief, condemn fantasy novels as unethical escapism, a lazy retreat, or a harmful distraction from reality, thereby causing them to be a challenge to the real world.

However, people do not just tend to, but also need to indulge in daydreams from time to time. Isn’t it great to take a short break from reality to relax? As Tolkien once said in his preface to On Fairy Tales, “I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out . . . ? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison walls?” Naturally, not all science fiction novels are written in the same way or for the same reasons. The works differ greatly, because the intentions of the writers are different, and sometimes not so easily guessed.

Some writers write fiction for the pleasure of creating a good and unique escape from the everyday world, and the best of these novels are full of humour, love, adventure, melodrama, and magic. Magic is not necessarily a type of “wingardium leviosa” spell. Sometimes it's just a way to see the world. There are other novelists who seem to enjoy creating a whole world of their imagination, which they populated with characters who haunted authors’ own imaginations, and acted out their own personal dramas. Some of these books are written with lyrical intensity and grace. And when we look at fantasy as imagination, we see that there are as many endless ideas and worlds as the imagination of mankind is infinite.
There are many literary tools such as sophisticated humour, satire and irony that make the stories that come to life from the pages of books resonate in our hearts and make us smile. That is why humour is so important to me and that is why I tend to have it in all my works regardless the genre. Literature is multi-faceted and magical in itself, regardless of what genre the author uses, taking you on a journey through the pages of his or her work.


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22/01/20

“Antinomy of truth”

- the first book of Antimony book series.
Damien, a young smart French research fellow presents his findings that too revolutionary for the current understanding of laws of physics and mathematics. His works on time form and matter as well as his diploma thesis in zero vibrations role in quantum technologies open him a way to a dream job and world recognition. Little did he know that in a four hundred year period his works would cause an internecine confrontation between races of our Universe. Why would he care? Will he ever be able to change this future?


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16/11/19

“More haste, less speed”

- the second book of the new Fantasy book series “The order of supreme power” is on Anabelle’s desk now. This one will focus our attention on another of magnificent Order warriors – the youngest of them all – Avite. Oh, poor man has no clue of what awaits him when he is heading to fulfil his duties. Rush always ends up in quality loss. Or does it not?

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