Tuesday, January 26, 2021

That Clawing Feeling

It is said, if the earth were to experience all-out nuclear war, the only living things that would survive would be cockroaches. Some have said that lawyers should be added to the list, but others argue that they cannot be classified as living things. We hear that the matter has gone to court. 

If that were to be true, it would be worth proposing that the cockroach be the official life form of planet Earth, in the way the state bird of South Dakota is the Ring-necked Pheasant - an alien, introduced bird that dominates the agricultural center of North America, a region once teeming with Prairie Chicken, Long-billed Curlew, Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Trumpeter Swan, Ferruginous Hawk, and a hundred others, no make that a hundred and four and one more line of type and it's a hundred and fifteen. 

Similarly, if Earth were to have a global animal, any competent ecologist would propose the ubiquitous French poodle, of the genus Canis, whose global range exceeds that of all other species with the exception of its host, the human being, Homo sapiens, otherwise referred to as bloke, dude, bud, tellurian, featherless biped, naked ape, soft machine, state-building animal, mall rat, or one who burns his own home. The poodle is genetically depressed, filled with maladaptations, sickly and frail, insufferably optimistic, with poor motor skills, vestigial frontal and temporal lobes, and whose persistence despite the pressures of natural selection vexes all zoologists who study it. It is a wonder why it hasn't been buried by time and pressed into flat pages of the fossil record and filed away in the basement of a shuttered museum. Its persistence threatens to unravel the entire intellectual construct supporting the assertion that natural selection produces fitter species. It is Exhibit A.  

If Earth were to have a global bird, a case might be made for the plastic bag, which is seen flying overhead in all regions that experience weather, but, despite its organic chemistry, filled with carbon rings and hydrogen, it does not reproduce, respond to stimuli, metabolize, or adapt to its environment. As a result of this, some proposed that the plastic bag is a form of lawyer, but the proposition was quickly withdrawn when it stimulated powerful, self-replicating litigations. At which point, a case was made for the drone, another ubiquitous species, now seen rapidly populating National Parks across the world. 

If Earth were to have a global flower, judging from economic impacts, it has been suggested that it might be some variety of Cannabis, commonly called Lime Pillows, Butter Flower, Shmagma, Sinsemilla, or Almohada, but there has been an utter and sustained lack of interest in the suggestion. How that is possible blows the mind. Field corn (Maize) would be another candidate. It is also known as steroidal grass, night squeak, gene pool red, and conscience plant, the one that gauges the moral character of civilization. When humans feel humane they feed it to the hungry, as they devolve into their reptilian state, they burn it as fuel, feeding this intercontinental species commonly called "the economy." 

Ah, the economy. Like it or not, whether or not the economy is a living thing has been a matter of debate for centuries, and the debate will likely continue into the future, right up to the point where the beast incinerates humanity in a blast of its hot atomic breath. The thing replicates like the European rabbit, overwhelming its habitat and spilling over natural boundaries, digging under fences, hitchhiking in shipping containers, crawling into airplane cargo bays, establishing indomitable populations on every continent, at every latitude, and every altitude. It is omnivorous, consuming everything in its path, inorganic and organic matter, abstract and concrete objects, the living and the dead - vegetation, animals, birds, copper, coal, aquifers, open space, privacy, patience, generosity, kindness, and peace of mind. The heat it generates is said to be so intense - get this! - it can alter the weather. It responds to real or perceived injury by inducing global panic, blockades, and war. And, most remarkable of all, it is nearly unidentifiable - ask any economist to describe it - being able to adapt to any environment, occupy all niches, switching with ease from predator to parasite to prey to keystone species and all points in between. While it slips from our mental grasp, it is gorging on scientific truth and excreting virtual mountains of vile, pestilential disinformation. Unfortunately, our relationship has become symbiotic, and we have developed a taste for disinformation just as it has developed a taste for us. The current theory is, natural selection, operating in a disinformation-biased environment, selected for humans with disinformation-tolerant genes. Gradually, humans developed a dependence upon an amino acid only found in disinformation. Diets lacking this amino acid have been shown to cause loss of hypervigilance, aggression, confirmation bias, and illusory pattern perception, traits that are highly advantageous in a disinformation-based ecosystem.

Well, it has been argued that the sole objective of the economy is to convince us that it is not a living thing. Corporations are corporeal. They have civilian rights. This thing is respiring, circulating its black, oily blood, shifting roles, developing resistance, metastasizing everywhere, metabolizing everything. It's alive, but not in a way we know or understand. Like the frozen monster in science fiction, it may look dead, but that's its competitive advantage, its advantageous trait, its survival strategy. It's alive. 

We know the feeling. There are tales of humans who were thought to be dead, who were buried alive, and clawed at the casket until they ran out of air. We are tailored for this earth, we fit well, a custom fit, like an Italian suit, a bright man-sized life. But the air is getting thin. We are running out of oil, water, timber, space, patience, peace, air, even adjectives to describe this whatever it is that is eating it all. 

Hey, but before we go, we have to say, it's no contest. The biological representative of our shrinking Earth, this transformed, terraformed, shell-shocked, anthropomorphized house, beset by centuries of radical reconstruction, nearly unrecognizable to anyone who knew it decades ago, it's the economy. No argument here, it's like we were made for each other. Now, if we can just claw us both out of this jam. 

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