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MASTERCLASS 2012
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THE NEW YORK WORKSHOP
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THE SOUTHERN ROUTE
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From the series "Wet fur"
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This little fellow is maybe not playing with his bath toy, but he should be happy. Some hot springs are favorite in Japan amid monkey tourists, and usually all the family is going to the sauna before to take a nap. The Japanese macaques are using the natural pools in the mountains, but, hey, none other monkeys are living that far north in the world! So, it's a kind of compensation (don't forget, the mountains here can be winter Mars). They eat, they bathe, they play. In fact, it's like being on a playground. Not all macaques are expressive (one of the reasons I'm more an ape guy if I may say), but in this genus, this specie is remarkable. Close in fact to my BBFs, the orangutans. The Japanese group is indeed very demonstrative. They are frisking or sulking, shy or daredevil, imprudent, inattentive. Some are mama's boys while others enter gangs of bad monkeys, playing tricks to the elders (and getting some huge hidings when caught).
I've got one story for you (but from 1952, not in my span of experiences). Around Koshima, monkeys like sweet potatoes (but who doesn't?). As you, I think, they don't enjoy the dirt on their vegetables. People have seen a female named Imo (such clever idea since imo means potato in Japanese…) shampooing a solanum tuberosum in the sea, in order to clean it from the sand. Soon the troop of muzzles came by the beach and did the same thing. There is more! Imo had found the potato tastier. She understood that the sea salt enhanced the taste, so she stuck her fangs into it, in order for the salt to spread into her lunch. Now, some people think it's just a legend. I think so too, but truth is such a relative concept… What is easily observed is that macaques adapt themselves very well (like here with the hot springs, or with the tourists' snacks). That's a clever process. About the strangeness of an absolute truth and to die for it (sadly so relevant today), here some verses from a George Brassens' song:
"Now, if it just needed a few hecatombs
For everything to change, everything fall into place,
After so many "great eves" when so many heads fall,
We would already have reached Paradise on earth."
Read the full english translation of the brilliant song "die for idea"

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