Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Monkeys

As little as a year ago, if you'd asked me for my honest assessment of the immediate future of humanity, I'd have summed it up in two words... "We're fucked".

Hmmm... is that really two words though? "We're" is a contraction... the Schrödinger's Cat of grammar... "It's two separate words; but look it's also just one!" And no theoretical vivisection involved.

Actually, thinking about it, the dual "wave/particle" nature of light would perhaps have been a better analogy, seeing as there's no state change involved... no "contraction event"; no "cat asphyxiation" so to speak; that could differentiate between the two alternatives.

That said; even the wave/particle thing isn't right. Because in a way, a contraction is two words implied by a single entity, rather than both the single word and the two words simultaneously. Which, if you ask me, is going to be a problem for any physics metaphor to handle adequately...

The natural role of religion then.

I suppose - in many ways - a contraction is a little bit like Our Lord Jesus... a Man, certainly, but one who implies and embodies God on this plane. Now if you'll all open your bibles to the book of Ezekiel and repeat after me: "Oh Lord, how is it, that so many people, take this madness seriously..."

Seriously folks... take Ezekiel... please!

But really, when you read Ezekiel you're forced to the realisation that people who claim the entire bible is the literal Word of God are significantly madder than people who wrap their head in tin-foil to stop the aliens controlling their dreams. Significantly madder. Y'know... which is fine. People should be allowed to believe whatever mad shit they feel like, but I don't like the idea of having a tin-foil hatter in the White House.

So anyone even madder...?

Which is pretty much where this blog entry came in... the future of humanity and it's potential fuckedness.

(Listen, you think it's confusing reading this shit? Try having to think like this; it's exhausting!).
I had a professor who said if you think of humans as angels it's a shit of a scene, but if you think of them as monkeys it's the most amazing thing you ever saw
- Terence McKenna
I guess in a sense I still think "we're fucked". But these days I don't see it as the end of the world. Just the world as we know it. Deep down I understand that any grandiose proposals I might make to salvage 'the best of the modern world' within a sustainable future are doomed to failure.

Because we're monkeys.
One day we'll live on Venus,
and men will walk on Mars,
but we will still be monkeys,
down deep inside...
- Talking Heads (The Facts of Life)
That's the inescapable fact of the matter. Even the people wearing tinfoil hats understand it. Unfortunately the society we've built, the lifestyle we've adopted and the systems which sustain it are about to face a threat which - in order to successfully address - requires us to behave in decidedly unnatural ways for monkeys.

And though I hate to admit it; I'm fairly certain most of us aren't up for that.

But the good news is that we're probably less-seriously fucked than I thought a year ago. I'd say the odds are significantly against extinction for instance. Which is a major improvement obviously. So even though my plans for a centralised European Resource Bureau assisting with the management of multiple low-impact technically advanced sustainable communities may be folly... like teaching monkeys how to herd cats... there can be little doubt that - as a species - we'll somehow muddle through the next century and emerge a very very very tiny bit wiser.

Because when you look at New York and remember it was monkeys...

Well, let's just say I don't think it's time for us to lose our dominant species status just yet. We started in southeast Africa (far as we can ascertain) and now some of us are living in houses made of ice in Northern Canada. We live on top of mountains, in jungles, deserts and on tiny islands in the middle of massive oceans. There's even a handful of us living in orbit right now! So yeah, we'll find a way through this alright.

Sadly, that statement isn't the same thing as lauding the bottomless ingenuity of humankind and announcing that all will be well. That a new invention will soon solve the resource depletion issue. Because it won't. Because "the resource depletion issue" will inevitably destroy our current civilisation. Because it's going to happen very soon and it isn't a dress rehearsal or a drill. It's going to happen to us. And we are staggeringly ill-prepared.

The natural monkey response is to continue what we've already begun... gather round the remaining resources and kick seven shades of shit out of each other. It's what monkeys do. We'll do very serious damage to each other and the very planet we live on. We'll alter the world in unpredictable ways, and hurt each other in sadly predictable ones. We'll commit atrocities and holocausts, and then we'll limp away to lick our wounds and start over from scratch. We'll muddle through.

It just won't be pretty.

Though it could be. It really could. But only if we accept a paradox. Only if we transcend being monkeys for a couple of decades.

Pretend to be angels a while.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rowan said...

I have nothing intelligent to say about this post. But you might be amused to know that my local branch of Waterstone's had The End of Oil under "Reads for the Beach."

22/5/05 07:26  
Blogger Kinch said...

Interesting that you should insult monkeys like that, the kinds of monkey's we most likely evolved from (the Bonobo and the pygmy chimpanzee) have, overall, incredibly loving societie's and do not attack one other, they also show fairly high intelligence and altruism. However i agree with you, humanity will pull through (let's stay positive) but I hope it won't be as you say.
For an interesting look at the human condition I highly suggest you check out www.humancondition.info and read everything there (or at least 'Beyond the Human Condition' in the 'Publications and Reviews' section)
It will either blow your mind or piss you off, either way, get back to me at iwasneverdean@fastmail.com.au

29/8/05 16:35  

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