~ Katherine Hepburn, as Miss Rose Sayer, in The African Queen, 1951
|De kindermoord in Bethlehem|
~ Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, 1590
|The Massacre of the Innocents|
~ Peter Paul Rubens, 1610-12
“All species expand as much as resources allow and
predators, parasites, and physical conditions permit.
When a species is introduced into a new habitat with
abundant resources that accumulated before its arrival,
the population expands rapidly until all the resources
are used up.”
~ David Price, Energy and Human Evolution
'At some point the planet can't keep doing us a favour.'
Not until I was on the way home did the following question occur to me - (of course!). One of Guy's premises is that industrial civilization must be brought down as soon as possible in order to save as many life forms as possible (I think it's too late to matter, personally, but that's another issue). As Guy accepts that there is currently no politician that will - or could - make such a proposal (heck, they can't even promote minimal conservation), then at exactly which point in history, in what society and from which leader could that proposal have derived? How far back in technology would you have to go to halt the march towards irreversible destruction? Iphones, internal combustion engine, forging metal, the wheel, fire? One impossible impediment is that in order to be effective, any cessation of “progress” would have to result from a global understanding, but to get to the point where global communication is feasible, would mean technology has already surpassed anything remotely sustainable.
So there! Aside from some incredulous mutterings, that comment was ignored. But where the cracks turned into chasms was on the treacherous shoals of gender politics, of all things. And here, I thought that was ancient history.
Actually, the simple answer he could have given when asked why all his examples are patriarchal would be the verity that there really aren't any matriarchal examples to choose from, but instead he took offense and as more discussion ensued various prejudices emerged. It was like the cork had popped and there was no pushing the carbonated beverage back into the bottle. After he asserted that Russian women believe feminism in the west is a “failed experiment” and prefer the current stereotypical roles, I asked him “What about Pussy Riot?”* He barked witheringly without any elaboration - “They're idiots” and moved on to the next question. Well, they may be idiots but they clearly represent SOME segment of women in Russia who dissent from patriarchal privilege, especially as it is embodied in the church and government.
*everyone knows I love Pussy Riot.
I would have thought people otherwise enlightened would be also be well aware of gender inequality issues, but as Guy later pointed out, those at the top never feel the pain and subjugation of those underneath them. Also, as another person observed, people attuned to peak oil come from across the political spectrum. Some of them are very conservative and not the least concerned about social justice.
Coincidentally it happens that since I've become interested in the relative influence of nature/nurture - or put another way, in evolutionary imperatives v. cultural norms - I recently ordered a used copy of “Sex at Dawn; The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality”...but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. So a quick google search found a couple of research papers indicating that Orren's view is, um, possibly outdated. One is an amusing article about a study tabulating the tips earned by lap dancers, which indicates that somehow or another, whether through olfactory or other physical motion cues, men actually can get a pretty good idea when a woman is fertile. More seriously, a scholarly 2006 presents a “Reevaluation” of the genetic evolutionary "loss of estrus" and undetectable ovulation. I mean, if anyone is interested. Worse, a diatribe relating to Orren's divorce turned up too, perhaps revealing a less than egalitarian personality - but such acrimonious events bring out the worst in people and no doubt there is another side.
Here, I’ll save you the trouble:
The landscape is beyond peculiar. There are fields full of dead shrubs.
Last year's remnants of seed pods haven't even decomposed.
Diseased vines coil and twine, tortured, up old fence posts.
Standing dead hulks line the roadside.
Along the edges it can be seen.
This barn isn't quite abandoned, but it's lovely.
I love the weathered boards, the idiosyncratic shutters and the patchwork of broken panes of glass.
Dutch doors under the overhang can be seen beyond the rusty barbed wire.
Everywhere you go, stacks of dead wood are found.
A little further on and I came across a terrific relic.
A cluster of buildings is slowly rotting.
Vines protrude from windows.
That's a huge oak on the left and below, an old maple.
It looks like long ago, there must have been a devastating fire.
The cornerstones are massive.
I didn't dare go very close anyway, because parts of it are ominously teetering.
There were several outbuildings, almost impossible to see concealed behind the trees.
I heard this structure before I saw it.
It is situated alongside a little creek.
I imagine it must have been a place to keep dairy products cool.
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
~ Shakespeare, The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158