I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m going to be writing anything of real informative substance today, despite the fact that I brought my laptop with me and am using it to write this. There will be no sugar discussion and no discussion of the neuropathology and pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s today. For that (and other things) I apologize.
Unfortunately, I had almost no sleep last night—perhaps two or three stretches of nearly a half an hour at a time, not really any more. In between, I’ve been having trouble with GI issues, presumably from something I ate. I felt like I was going to throw up a lot of the time, though I never did.
That’s all very pleasant, I know.
I apologize for being such a downer, but it’s apparently just the way I’m built. I’m not one of those people who was put in this world to bring joy or to be a shining light or to cheer people up. Not that I think anyone was “put” in this world for any purpose. People just happen like everything else, and things just happen to them.
I think my first real, visceral encounter with this fact happened forty-two years ago this Thursday, December 8th, when John Lennon was murdered. I had just turned eleven a month and a half earlier.
I’ve written before about the fact that I literally cannot remember any time in my life when I was not a Beatles fan, being the third born in a family of three children, all of whom were/are Beatles fans, with my birth coming at the very tail end of the sixties. All my life I’ve known most of the Beatles songs by heart. I don’t remember learning them, they’ve just always been there, like nursery rhymes but better.
And then, of course, John Lennon, who had just released his first new album in years, was shot dead outside his home by a “fan” who likened himself, apparently, to Holden Caulfield. This was, perhaps, the beginning of my realization that the human race is not worth preserving, protecting, or saving, which later came to be expanded to pretty much all life on the planet and possibly in the universe.
John Lennon, who brought great beauty into the world, whose work continues to bring joy to millions upon millions of people—and who rightly said that it was more appropriate that the Beatles were honored with MBEs than soldiers, since the soldiers got their honors for killing people and the Beatles for making music—was dead on the pavement in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the man who killed him, instead of having been dunked up to his neck in Drano for ten minutes a day until it finally killed him, is still alive, with three hots and a cot daily supplied by the people of New York for the past forty two years. The killer has lived longer since that murder than John Lennon had lived when he was murdered. And the killer is still eligible for parole, though for his sake, he should hope he is never granted it.
I had originally put that cockroach’s name in the previous paragraph, but I decided not to include it after all. I have no desire to contribute to any perverse reward of him being famous for having destroyed a brilliant artist.
Meanwhile, the likes of Donald Trump and Herschel Walker and Vladimir Putin are well-known public figures, the former alive and “well” in his late seventies, and are even admired and respected by a fairly substantial group of people. And, given the number of people who wear tee-shirts commemorating and revering Che Guevara and other historical politically/ideologically motivated murderers, and the failure of so many on the left to recognize how like the Soviets and the Maoists—and other, preceding Inquisitions—their attitudes of ideological conformity and historical revision are, it seems unlikely that history will vindicate and lionize those who actually worked toward enlightenment, toward peaceful, just societies, the rule of law, freedom of expression, and above all the necessity of free exchange of ideas for advancement and improvement; there is very little reason to hope that the human race will improve.
Such improvements as have been made, as have happened, are the products of a vanishingly small proportion of the members of the human infestation. The vast majority of humans are no more advanced than the average australopithecine as far as their personal contributions to society go (to be fair, they are mostly no worse, also).
And don’t make the silly, naïve mistake of imagining that other animal species are kinder or gentler or more in balance with their world than humans are. They are simply less competent, less powerful, and so cannot exceed their natural equilibria. If their predators are removed, prey animals multiply until they drive themselves into starvation, usually taking other species with them. When predators gain advantages, analogous catastrophes occur. It has happened numerous times in natural history.
Life, to a very good first approximation, is characterized by selfishness, fear, pain, and loss. “Nasty, brutish, and short” doesn’t begin to provide an adequate summary, though “quiet desperation” is indeed the state of many humans.
Honestly, I’ve become so disenchanted with this planet, with the universe itself, and with existence, that if I were so inclined, I might dedicate myself to the destruction of all life, simply to prevent the pain and suffering of future generations.
But I’m not certain enough, and I have no respect for certainty that exceeds the degree of its justification in evidence and argument. And I don’t have much sympathy for those who willfully infringe on the autonomy of other creatures, intelligent, pseudo-intelligent, or otherwise. So basically what I try to do now is endure, perhaps hoping for something that will change my mind, until I can make my quietus.
But I will say this: if John Lennon’s killer were brought before me and I had a weapon, I would gladly kill him. I dislike having to share air with him. I know that he suffers, and that he had no more choice in doing what he did than anyone else does, but I don’t really care. There are plenty of far more innocent, far more benevolent, people than he who suffer, and who die, while trying to do their part to make the world ever so slightly better, or at least to do no more harm than they absolutely must. It’s not a matter of thinking that he “deserves” to die, though by most estimates he probably does. But “deserves” is a vague term, and is used too often to justify atrocities. So I would not claim any right of justice or vengeance or anything of the sort. I would be making an aesthetic choice. “My” world is uglier with him in it, and it would be that much less ugly with him dead. I don’t want to see him suffer, nor do I want him to suffer. I simply would like him gone, just as I would like to paint over a stain on a fresco.
On that pleasant note, I’ll call this blog post to a close. Apologies for being such a downer, as usual. I wish I could feel “justified” in trying to be optimistic, or at least to feel supported in that by a preponderance of evidence and rational argument. Alas, I cannot bring myself to that conclusion. So, I will instead conclude this writing for today.
Great rant, Robert! You’re like Michael Jordan: You bring your best game when you’re ill. 😉
Humanity is a vast fetid field of weeds that is redeemed in my eyes by the presence of a few surpassingly beautiful and fragrant flowers here and there.
There are some good ones. Is it worth it to put up with the rest for their sake? I don’t know. And I don’t have the right to decide for other people, so…
Human infestation – good description!
Life, as in our existence on this planet, is very tough for the vast majority of animals and humans. Of course humans are also animals…
I do not subscribe to the happy-club, but nonetheless greatly value the beauty and joy brought into the world by music, art, books and any such creative efforts.
And no, your post, nor you are downers. Your writing exposes the world as it is, not as we (often) wish it to be.
“…imagining that other animal species are kinder or gentler or more in balance with their world than humans are.” This is a new thought for me.
I’d be interested to see more of that line of thinking, if you feel like writing about it sometime in the future.
“Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancaster” is over my head? Help me out!
It’s a line from the Beatles song “A Day in the Life”, appropriate to me for the purpose of this post because of it’s reference to the seemingly trivial and random fact noted by John in a newspaper about the number of potholes in the city of Blackburn in Lancashire, in England. It evoked for me the senselessness of so much of the world.
Thank you for the explanation and context.
I am, sadly, not that familiar with all the Beatles’ songs lyrics.
No worries, but I certainly don’t hesitate to recommend them if you’re interested.