I wrote a blog post – a poem, really – about watching the planet from a distance. We sometimes think that what we have around us is of utmost importance, but it’s probably not, it’s just a jot in time.
Well, as I read the book, Against the Grain, and I see that civilisations fall almost as often as they spring up from the sweat of their subjects. I am feeling less attached to this one we are currently living in.
The history of our planet is basically people doing bad things to other people and species to keep themselves in the lap of luxury if at all possible.
The last century is an anomaly in giving any power (superficial though of course it is) to the common man (or woman, if she’s really lucky.)
If we see all the stuff written about past civilisations, all dug up from the ruins, often when those now living in those places have no idea about them, no memory, no stories, just some stones they might have found and used as foundations for their own houses, we see how fragile, how faint is the mark of these societies, really. They disappeared most of the time.
So what if we disappear too?
In the past, the people subjugated by these states didn’t all die – many or most escaped back to a former type of life, and were probably happier for it, definitely better off in terms of diet and health. So why lament the demise of the rulers?
I live in this world, of course. I am dependent upon it. If it were all to disappear tomorrow – as I said back on New Years Eve 1999, when we wondered if the Year 2000 bug would stop the world – then I’d be dead in a matter of months. I can’t just walk away from the status quo, go and grow beans and catch animals. I am attached to the technology for life, and though I teach my children about wildlife which might help them when the cities are destroyed, my daughter is equally diabetic and unless I learn how to distil insulin from dead deer and rabbits, we’ll be as dead as anyone else when the disaster hits.
But people will survive.
Some will walk away, south or north where the weather is better. Humanity will continue, just as it did after the collapse of other societies. Some people will remember how to live outside the shelter of our cities and society. Apart from the plastic everywhere, this small snapshot of history will become as forgotten as the rest.
Our descendants, if we have them, will build their cities on top of ours, like we have on others, so our buildings will be discovered accidentally some day like we find the remains of the Roman walls and medieval castles when we dig out subterranean car parks.
The beech trees will survive, shifting north and south, possibly all the way to Antarctica, where they once grew before during a time when the world had a similar atmospheric CO2level to today. Most of the other plants will probably struggle on, too, though much of the fauna will die out, to be replaced eventually in time by other species.
It’s a real fucking pity, a goddam waste, that we allow this to happen. It’s stupid, stupid, stupid, to quote some fuckwit from the annals of insurance fraud. The age of stupid, like the documentary.
We could keep the world looking the way we want it if we move our asses.
To allow it to change from how it suits us is like letting the house burn down because you’re too lazy to pick up a fire extinguisher.
I remember visiting Niagara Falls years ago, and being told that the quantity of water allowed to flow is much reduced not just to produce electricity, but to ensure that erosion doesn’t move the falls upstream – which would mean having to move the viewing platforms from where they are now. And that would be silly.
If that kind of sense was applied to our current problems, we would see a lot more action on the climate change front.
Our society might have a sea-change in our economic activities, but it will be unnoticeable on a grand scale, just like the difference between agriculture in England growing turnips in the 18thcentury is indistinguishable from growing grain in Egypt two thousand years ago.
But moving London, Alexandria, Miami and all those other seaside towns kilometres inland will be a major change that will be seen clearly in the archaeological record of our planet.
And because we won’t be around to explain it, they’ll be confused as fuck as to how stupid we were. Stupider than Easter Islanders.
So Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson was in the news the other week – in hot water, again – for being Politically Incorrect. Being a wanker, is the term he’d understand. Being more than normally so, that is. We all know he likes to poke fun at Mexicans for being lazy. He apparently used the N word when saying the old rhyme to choose between two things.
This is Clarkson’s apology:
“Please be assured I did everything in my power to not use that word. And as I’m sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts weren’t quite good enough.”
He actually said that.
What a wanker. If he knew enough to not say the word aloud, he knew enough to not actually say it at all, and to replace it with anything else. “Tiger” is the word I heard in Boston when I lived there. If he said it, he meant to say it. End of fucking story.
Reading another article about his apology, I saw Clarkson had plenty of fans and others supporting him. I was a little concerned at one quote saying he got away with such indiscretions because he was too powerful to get rid of – it reminded me of a certain ex DJ who was very popular and had the BBC fixed just the way he liked it: too scared to stop him doing his despicable things.
I was temped to comment on that, but I have decided that commenting on newspaper articles is like trying to have a rational discussion in the middle of a Jerry Springer show (or a Spanish chat show, on occasion): it’s fucking pointless, because nobody else is there for a rational discussion, just a shouting match.
Anyway, back to Clarkson. Aside from whether he is or isn’t a racist, and the notion that all such Englishmen who believe in the superiority of their former Empire being intrinsically racist, he thought he could get away with it, as a joke. While Jeremy might really believe it was only a joke and not meant to offend, I’d love to see him say the same thing where I used to work in the South End of Boston, or in the South Bronx of NY, or South Central LA. Anywhere outside the South Bank of the Thames.
And as for those people who claim we always said such things, well, yea, I remember saying it before I ever understood what the N word meant. But it ever entered my head to say it in company once I was an adult – even in the company of people of Jeremy’s generation and attitude.
What Jeremy and his ilk need to understand is that you can’t do or say certain things nowadays, despite the fact that you or me or everyone always used to. We just don’t do that shit any more.
As a kid I used to call people a faggot or a fairy with impunity. I didn’t know any better, but nobody would catch me saying it now – even those, like Jeremy, who might laugh as if it was funny. Fat people were an easy target to poke fun at, but that’s just not funny anymore.
It’s not so much setting an example, as adhering to a set of guidelines that I believe should apply to everyone, in a society I would like to see. Like not littering, even though I know I could get away with it; teaching my child not to litter, and having to explain to her that there are indeed people in the world who throw their cigarette butts on the ground, and having no answer to her question: “What we going to do?”
“We’re going to wait till such dickheads grow a brain, love,” is, unfortunately, the only answer.
Even dickheads like Jeremy Clarkson can grow a brain, I believe.
The world has changed; in many ways for the worst (and Jeremy no doubt has many opinions about this as he pisses around the countryside in fast cars – full discloser: I sometimes drive, and I sometimes enjoy it; I watched a few episodes of Top Gear and I did enjoy it, especially the actors doing laps. But do I give a fuck about the difference between a Lamborghini, a Maserati and a Ferrari? No. Do I care what size the engine is? No. Would I prefer to be able to either cycle or travel by jet pack? Yes.)
In many ways, though, society – even our shitty parasitic Western one – has changed for the better. We’re a lot more civilised in some respects, and humane.
Perhaps being civilised creates some minor inconveniences. Since smoking was banned in bars, we all like not smelling of smoke after a night out. Do I like having to go outside on the street to have a conversation with my smoking buddies? No. Do I disprove of my mates who throw their butts on the ground? Very much so. (And your time is ending, littering cigarette smokers, very fucking soon. Before my 3-year-old is allowed to read this blog, you won’t be flicking your butts with impunity – just like the shit-leaving dog walkers’ time ended [and I was one of them back in the day, we all were]). There are more rules to living in a globalized world with going on 8 billion people. Get used to it. More rules are coming.
Which brings me to farmers. The dumping of carcasses a few weeks back at the bottom of a scenic cliff in Ireland is a symptom of someone who doesn’t really care about animals, who views them as objects. While I am a hunter and have no problem killing animals, I am not callous about how they die, and I don’t condone the dumping of useful animal carcases. (It is a pity that there are few birds of prey that could have availed of the meat. Perhaps when the kind of farmers who say that his or her forbearers always shot and poisoned raptors just like they still do to foxes, have ceased to do such things, there will be.)
Perhaps the owner could not afford to feed the cattle and horses. It’s better to kill the horse if you can’t feed it than let it starve. Of course, a little bit of swallowing pride might let you spend your last dime on a fucking phone call to the ISPCA (shout out to all the good men and women there!). But even if you are going to kill it, a quick death, rather than pushing it off a cliff would be more humane. The removal of ear tags suggests that the animal was dead before going off the cliff, but the presence of a live horse on the top and absence of machinery tracks pushing the carcass off the cliff (nobody has the strength to do it by hand) shows the animals were probably alive, so the ears were cut off while they were alive. A horse trusts its owner, knows him or her, and damn well knows it’s about to be pushed to its certain death. It’s less humane than borrowing your neighbour’s shotgun, or bolt gun. (What farmer can’t afford a blot gun?)
The farmer who did this obviously sees nothing wrong with what he did. Like the people who still drown puppies and kittens rather than get their dogs and cats spayed (cheap in Ireland if you’re a pensioner).
But we just don’t fucking do that shit anymore.
We don’t allow people leave children unattended in their car, or anywhere else. Not even for two seconds while they run into a shop for a pint of milk. You can’t have your kids babysat by anyone under sixteen. We don’t have kids in cars without child seats and booster chairs, don’t drive ourselves without seatbelts, and certainly don’t drink and drive anymore. We don’t leave our dogs in the car in the sun, or chain them up in our garden. We don’t shoot them when they’re too old to be useful. You don’t leave sheep ignored for months on the hill, or have horses unshod because it’s expensive to shoe them.
Sure, there are some folks who still do all these things, including let their kids bounce around the back of the car (which some of us reminisce about, having 8 kids in the car: two in the front seat, one in the back window). There are people who ignore their dogs’ shit, who still dock their dogs’ tails and who get their ears pinned. In Spain there are yet many hunters who shoot their dogs at the end of the season rather than spend the money feeding them till next year – and fuck me blue but do those cunts (sorry Maia, a very bad word, but it was the only apt label) make me mad for giving other hunters a bad name.
The point is that though a few idiots linger in their insistence that they should be allowed to do what they’ve always done, nowadays the rest of us disdain those people.
The rest of society has shifted around such people. Just like it’s shifted around Clarkson and he’d better move soon, too, or his popularity will shift. Because if he doesn’t, then before my 3-year-old can read this blog, even if she were let, it will be politically uncorrect to like the clown (read wanker).