Composers, evolution and entitlement

Besides being great composers Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven share another interesting feature. None of them have living descendants. Beethoven was childless and Mozart had six children, two of whom survived in the adulthood. Bach had whopping twenty kids, eleven of whom died before adulthood. 

Yet, all their family lines dried up eventually. I came to think about this when I read Is there anything good about the men which stated that we all stem from a small minority of men ever lived. It is interesting that extinction might hit men as eminent as these three. They all were world famous (even though Mozart was a drunkard and Bach stubbornly kept composing music that was so last century), and while they weren’t exactly rich, all three were economically high above the vast majority of contemporary Europeans. 

But is this just cherry picking? Ok, Haydn: married, no kids. Schubert and Handel probably never even had sex with anyone in their lives. 

Except for a very short period in mid twentieth century, getting married and having children has never been something that could be taken for granted. And – this is even more important – even if you managed to get a wife and produce offspring, it is far from certain that your children will be as lucky.

I remember hearing about some famous Renaissance prince or something with last male heir in eighteenth century. I thought they had daughters too, but no, most died unmarried and even if they had children, their lines ended in some generations. How about the bastards? Famous name and nobody else to claim it, must have been a chance of a lifetime. No signal.

Bloodlines really die out. Evolution is still at work, even in a relatively modern societies and economically secure surroundings. We just don’t come to think about it because all of our ancestors and especially forefathers belonged to a tiny elite of evolutionary winners. Of course these processes are random to some extent and we don’t know what “makes” (of course strictly speaking evolution doesn’t have a purpose or direction) a winner, but it is evident that the race goes on.

Biologically speaking it is natural for men to die childless. Of course we can have a marriage institution which provides wife and family for the majority of men, but it happens only by outside force, and is besides probably very much at odds with our natural instincts. Have you ever seen photographs of hen parties with male strippers and drunk women? That’s female sexuality in its purest form. How about men? Do they fantasize about their old wives instead of lusting after random young girls? 

Monogamy might be a good choice and provide a steady and harmonious society, but in relation to human psychology it likens to an agriculture. Europeans lived for centuries and millennia on bread, but given a choice, we still prefer fat and sweets, which is a modern hyperreal version of meat and fruits, our main course of the 95 % of human history.

So, mister lonely guy, you might find a woman. You might even have kids with her and live happily ever after. That doesn’t mean you’re safe. How about your children’s mating success? Or their children and so on? Especially if you think you and your wife are both children of evolutionary winners but if you are below average in sexiness scale and so is your spouse, what kind of starting point it gives to your children? You might raise your chances by getting a hot wife, but that’s a lot harder. The step from ugly spouse to hot spouse is far harder than the step from no spouse to ugly spouse.

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