Fascinatin' Rhythm

Michael Cahill (MCBlueline@AOL.COM)
Sat, 10 Feb 1996 17:31:12 -0500

University of Chicago professor emeritus of history William McNeill has
recently published what looks to be a moving book entitled _Keeping together
in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History_ (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press. 198 pp. $22).

His thesis: Human society emerged, developed, and "keeps on" by coordinating
people's bodily movements in group labor, dancing, and military drill -- that
is, by "keeping together in time."

For McNeill, it's all about "muscular bonding." He speculates that Homo
Erectus's ability to synchronize common rhythms fostered emotional bonds that
in turn helped focus individual and group attention and effort, in hunting
and in sharing food. It looks like allied agitation with affines was
adaptive. Yeah.... Well, you get the idea.

The thesis a little strongly worded for you? Don't worry, McNeill
acknowledges the gaps in the supporting data. But a great effort. From a
two-step, he builds a tour de force.

Anyone who's ever gone toe-to-toe, in groups, knows what he's talking about.

Mike Cahill