|About the Book|
We are the masters of our planet, but we are not very good masters. We are, in the blunt phrase I saw a zoologist use the other day, a plague species. Sometimes, one feels the world would be better off without human beings. This isnt necessarily a counsel of despair or treachery. Our true loyalty should be not to mankind but to our genes, and most of those genes are to be found in other species who are far less destructive. It would almost be a relief if the beautiful and savage animals we share the world with could take it back from us and relieve us of this responsibility we are not equal to.Oddly enough, the author I know who is best at giving a voice to these feelings is Rudyard Kipling, in his short story Letting in the Jungle. The villagers have angered Mowgli and his friends. Now, the jungle folk return in force, led by Hathi the elephant and his three terrible sons. The ending and the concluding poem are unforgettable:The four pushed side by side- the outer wall bulged, split, and fell, and the villagers, dumb with horror, saw the savage, clay-streaked heads of the wreckers in the ragged gap. Then they fled, houseless and foodless, down the valley, as their village, shredded and tossed and trampled, melted behind them.A month later the place was a dimpled mound, covered with soft, green young stuff- and by the end of the Rains there was the roaring jungle in full blast on the spot that had been under plough not six months before.MOWGLIS SONG AGAINST PEOPLEI will let loose against you the fleet-footed vines--I will call in the Jungle to stamp out your lines!The roofs shall fade before it,The house-beams shall fall,And the Karela, the bitter Karela,Shall cover it all!In the gates of these your councils my people shall sing,In the doors of these your garners the Bat-folk shall cling-And the snake shall be your watchman,By a hearthstone unswept-For the Karela, the bitter Karela,Shall fruit where ye slept!Ye shall not see my strikers- ye shall hear them and guess-By night, before the moon-rise, I will send for my cess,And the wolf shall be your herdsmanBy a landmark removed,For the Karela, the bitter Karela,Shall seed where ye loved!I will reap your fields before you at the hands of a host-Ye shall glean behind my reapers, for the bread that is lost,And the deer shall be your oxenBy a headland untilled,For the Karela, the bitter Karela,Shall leaf where ye build!I have untied against you the club-footed vines,I have sent in the Jungle to swamp out your lines.The trees--the trees are on you!The house-beams shall fall,And the Karela, the bitter Karela,Shall cover you all!__________________________________Appalled by the dreadful things I was reading in Oreskess and Conways Merchants of Doubt, I suggested to a friend the other day that it might be interesting to start a political party called Exterminate Humanity. XH would have a simple agenda: using only legal means, it would support all initiatives which showed promise as possible ways to make human beings extinct. It would for example try to block funding of renewable energy, maximize production of greenhouse gasses, push for increased nuclear arsenals and discourage investment in SpaceGuard and other anti-meteorite defenses.My suggestion was meant ironically, so I was rather disquieted by my friends reaction. She considered it for a moment, then nodded. Yes, she said thoughtfully. Sounds like quite a good idea. But maybe she just wanted to show that Australians could be more ironic than Europeans.