Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday Road Trip Part 1: Field of Corn, Dublin OH

If you've been around me at all this past week, you've heard me say at some point "I am an apex predator." It was in that Chronicle movie I won't stop telling people to see. Each moment in that film is done so well, I can't really tell you about it contextually without spoiling, but an apex predator is an animal with no natural enemies. Nothing hunts it, it's the very tippity top of the ecosystem. So yes, I am an apex predator. So are you.

 On the way down 71, we talked about the evolution of animal morals. What I don't understand is this. Predators are naturally smarter than herbivores, the prey. Predators are given the gifts of forethought, strategy, logic, higher communication skills, quick improvisational thinking. These are all things that allow us to function beyond the flight impulse. They are mental capabilities that have allowed us to develop giant complex brains, language, emotion. Humans could have never developed from herbivores. Gameplay, murder, the hunt made us who we are.

 But yet all those same gifts are seen now as hallmarks of an "evil" personality. If you are scheming, tricky with words, highly rational, those are qualities of a villain. And the "good" qualities are herbivore characteristics - innocence, simple intention, calmness, instinct without analysis. So when did we decide that cows were "good" and we were "evil"? Is it guilt from the constant murder that allowed us to survive? Or was it imposed upon us by other humans in power who out-apexed us, and wanted a morality that would encourage their civic and religious populations to be placid and quiet, instead of independent and tricky?

When we call you "good", what we mean is we're pretty sure we could kill you easily.

Then there's this - a monument to corn. Probably meant as an indictment of Big Farm, but in a couple hundred years, when the office parks have fallen down and the plaques are buried, then it might as well also stand as a memorial to the birthplace of agricultural hybridization, Ohio oh. And these are the dots I want to connect here - that agriculture also enjoys this stigma of "good" for all the same herbivore reasons - simple, sincere, quiet. But agriculture isn't some timid pretty thing. The entire human history of bloody war and world conquering, minority oppression and religious empires, might have been avoided or at least lessened if agriculture had never become vogue. Once people start staying in one place and accumulating things, then Money and Power becomes a Thing you can keep for a long time, and personal empires are possible, and corporations are only a few celestial footsteps away. Monsanto was a glimmer in the Fertile Crescent's eye, but it was definitely there. It was waiting for it's birth into our universe, like all patient hell demons.

 Not to say our history would have been less gory if the sedentary herbivore life hadn't took, our psyches are based in blood and sport after all. We might though have a version of society where less people were so stunted, if our worth wasn't based in accumulation of product but skill and smarts. If we all knew we were apex predators. At the very least, there would be less of us, and there would be far less corn. Think how different music would be. Even the way we view our environments, would there really be as many straight lines?

Since the Internet is the new Agriculture, I wonder how that will change us? Will it reverse some of the damage while leaving the good parts? While creating its own bad parts of course, that's how this whole history thing works.

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