Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quote unquote

Two quotes for you to ponder. The first is from anthropologist (and screenwriter, although I presume he was wearing his anthro hat when he wrote this one) Robert Ardrey. The second I have only just discovered but I imagine is widely known in Toller's circles, and is from Carl Jung.

"But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses."

"There is no coming to consciousness without pain."

My kneejerk reaction to the first is this. Firstly, I think I'd prefer to think of myself as a fallen angel than a risen ape, although I think I am in reality a combination of both.

Secondly, (hmm, you probably can't have a secondly if it's a kneejerk reaction - let's pretend it's the other knee) if the stars knew me by my poetry they'd think me very odd indeed.

Thirdly (it's an elbowjerk reaction this time) I like the juxtaposition within the quote but can't help feeling that, particularly in the current climate, it sounds a bit like an excuse for war. The fact that we were once armed killers, and no doubt retain many of the genetic features that made us thrive as such, does not mean that elements of the human condition that may have developed at a later date should not now take precedence.

We marvel at the massacres not the treaties because we should know better, and because the treaties sadly seem to have a much shorter legacy than the massacres.

With regard to the second quote, anybody that's known Toller for, well, five minutes or more will know that studying consciousness is a very painful thing, eased only by heavy drinking and heavier chaffering.


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