Or I will just walk the road bare-foot
Pass by women selling green mangoes
There I will take in all the shouts
And the groans, and the whispers
Of humans, waiting for death…
——Alarmson Kamanga, Mutterings of a Common Man
On a small planet, by complete accident, intelligent animals invented a thing called knowledge
I am afraid to say that our century marks the end of human life at large. That we will advance beyond this age is a perpetual utopia, and a mere crippled hope against a sea of doubts laid out before our very eyes. That life will cross the yawning chasm we have been unknowingly digging for centuries is outright provocative. We have reached the chaos of the beginning, and our much revered intelligence is at a loss. We do not know what to do, and most of all, what we are doing. We hop from this system to that system, from this theory to that theory, but still we are perishing. We are swiftly dying, this fact we know, but we do not want to accept. This death of man, following the death of God announced by Nietzsche and Hegel, is what Michel Foucault warned us of in the century that just ended. He was basically pointing to our future. So here we are, dying.
If we are to cross this chasm, if we are to cross at all, we are to cross not as human beings, nor as Nietzsche’s supermen, but as something sorry and pathetic, something way below all other living species. We will cross the bridge without our senses, without feelings, without our brains. We will cross emptied of our conscious, and that means death. In other words, we will cross as mere automations. Man will be the first to subvert Darwinism, by standing it on its head. Or if we are to abide by the Word, then this century marks the end of the world, the time of the second coming. That we will subscribe to any remedy I doubt, for we are one way too long.
During the enlightenment period, the period of the sons of Copernicus: Newton, Descartes, Spinoza, the world was kindled, and was by and by set ablaze; the human mind was now the center of knowledge, from scholasticism down to empiricism, on to rationalism and Kant’s transcendental doctrine. The sun, not God, was now the center and guiding power of our world, although Descartes, Spinoza and others tried to defend His importance in various versions. Even some of the theistic philosophers like Descartes and Spinoza were greatly affected by this. The belief in God was defended in a calculated way, basing on principles similar to mathematical principles. Everything became mathematics. Laws of physics governed the universe, without any particular purpose, as opposed to Judeo-Cristian belief. All man had to do then was to harness this universe, using the knowledge he had acquired, for his betterment and advancement on this earth, the only planet where he is adapted to live. So the business of forcing logic onto nature began, with little knowledge of the aftermath. This was the beginning of the downfall of man. By this I do not mean the Christian conception of the downfall which stipulates that there was a disagreement between God and man, and the latter cursed the former. That is for the theologians to decide. The downfall I am talking about here is the inquisitive mind of man that has contributed to the destruction of the planet earth, the only planet on which he is adapted to live.
Because man has always thought that he is the only living species that matters, he has meddled with the planet the way he has wanted to, endangering thereby other living species. Imagine that one day all the lions of the world, all the snakes, all the crocodiles, all the scorpions, imagine that all the beasts should one day say enough is enough, and organise themselves, and wage a war of terror on human society. Imagine they should find us on the road, in our luxurious cars that smoke the planet; imagine thousands elephants, in this war of revenge, should find us on this road, charging. Perhaps that will be the time we will know that we are not the only animals on earth! That time, the more timid Christians will call upon their Messiah, “oh Christ, help us in this end of time!” still selfish, thinking that the end of the human race is the end of everything, as if we are the only living creatures. Whoever said that humans are special animals should be burned alive, for this is a tall lie, and a deadly fallacy induced in otherwise ignorant folks. Just look at the twenty first century mating behavior in say dogs and humans. Which species mates for the right purpose?
The whole human life has been reduced to a mere joke, a mistake that I have always found hard to live with. What we value most in life is what actually takes us to our early deathbeds, but we do not know. We are busy building, affirming, reaffirming, inventing, selling, buying, and most of all, cruising through time in automobiles and air planes, yet we do not know we are speeding the time of our own extinction. We think through all this we are building a better world, a world of prosperity, but we forget that we left peace and prosperity behind us long time ago. We have become hollow men, with nothing inside us but the thought of how to get money, how to earn power, how to become the center of influence. We seem to live in communities but each one is alone, each in his own ambitions, and each bent on becoming his own king. Temples are built to enrich a few, and impoverish many, and this is why I hate temples. All this makes me sad, because I love humanity so much, and I love humanity with all my heart.
Man has built a fragile machine, a tower that is not only bound to fall crumbling to the ground, but also one that will crash the whole of human race, for we are all scrambling to its summit. And we are more connected to this machine than we are to our fellow human beings. The loss of a fellow human being is no longer greatly felt as the loss of our car, our gadgets, our atm cards, you name it. I have said time and again that the mighty God (if he be there) should spare himself the trouble of destroying the planet, man will soon destroy it himself. The only painful thing is that we are too ignorant to know that we are on that road to self-destruction. We have left peace and prosperity to the farmer and the farmyard in the village, though this tower we have built is closing in on him now. The only thing that science has taught us, to which she seems blind, is that the continual accumulation of waste material by a species in its habitant will in the end wipe out its population, and if unchecked still, will lead to a species extinction. But this is not surprising, one rarely practices his own preaching. (Or maybe the problem lies in the identification of waste material)
The science man, the engineer, is most the revered man in our age, because he is the most intelligent, and understands the workings of the universe. From time immemorial he has been on a quest to improve the world around him, to make it fit and more comfortable for human beings. In this he forgets that the planet is not only meant for human beings, that his life is strongly tied to other natural things that inhabit the planet, living and non-living. His main aim has been to make it possible that man should at last do no work, should just sit there, and everything should be done for him by machines. And this is possible, and has already started happening, but we don’t know it marks the end, our end, for labour is the measure of man’s survival, and to deprive him of it is to put his life to an end.
The science man, with his ingenuity, has built wonders, and man loves wonders, scientific wonders, above all else. So we drive upon the roads, smiling, happy that at least our time is being saved, a great service to time! Or listen to what this great service to time has done for us, listen to the great poet of all times!
And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads,
And no man knows or cares who is his neighbour
Unless his neighbour makes too much disturbance,
But all dash to and fro in motor cars,
Familiar with the roads and settled nowhere.
Nor does the family even move about together,
But every son would have his motor cycle,
And daughters ride away on casual pillions…
Clear and deep message, for those who love the truth. That is Thomas Sterns Eliot, a poet who wrote long time ago, introducing the world of doom, our world, our wasteland, to us. But who among us, how many among us, bother reading him? Who among us dare read him, how many among us? And who among us, in attempting to read such poets, as part of scholarly requirements in the Arts Departments, or part of discussions in Writers workshops, how many of us really grasp the implication of the words we read?
All this madness has come from the west, from Europe and America. All the leading Philosophers I have mentioned were Europeans. They were the ones who plied the lid off the pot of knowledge, that potent pot! That nuclear dynamite! From this knowledge the western man has learnt how to abuse the planet, how to smoke it to death, and now it is dying. Because he also fears extinction, he now remembers that there are people whom he sidelined in his forward movement, those on whose backs he stood while building his tower. He now recalls them, and with little donations implores them to rebuild nature, plant trees, stop burning charcoal, and so on. He wants African jungles, and other third world jungles, to be preserved, so that, when he is tired of sitting up his towers in New York, in Paris, in London, he should come to Africa on vacations, and enjoy our nature here. He wants poor peasants to starve so that nature can be preserved for his amusement!
Still great work of subjugation rolls on…….(To be continued next week)