The Very Hungry Ape

The man who wrote “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” has just died. I had never actually read the children’s book myself, but I fancy that the title plus basic knowledge of caterpillar behaviour tells me all I need to know about the plot. Well, In addition I gather from news items that the continuous chomping was somehow justified or even made inspiring by the fact that the larva was destined to turn into a butterfly.

But wait just a minute. The thing about that insect family is that it is not possible to say that the creature “is” the caterpillar, or “is” the pupa, or even “is” the imago. If we assume the third thing, that is merely our bias in favour of something that we enjoy seeing. One might just as well say that the imago is the genitals of the caterpillar. It would probably be best of all to say that the creature “is” the DNA, which takes some very different morphological forms. The plant world is not dissimilar, as anyone knows who has tried to get rid of dandelions or bindweed; whatever we see above ground is not the really important stuff.

In any case, I know of a Very Hungry Beastie that munches and munches and munches, stripping bare everything around him, and who notably fails to pupate and re-emerge as something more beautiful. It is called a Human. And this is where I would start my Gnostic indictment of creation in general and our creation in particular. Some human cultures do not eat every day, but starve or gorge according to availability. I think we can safely say that this is culturally learned, and that the human being as most of us know him is a sort of Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Particularly in my lifetime, sit-down “meals” have almost ceased to exist, and the youngsters snack continuously like cows grazing. Not to wax superior; in fact both models cause me unease. To me the need to eat every day is a burden rather than a joy, and whenever you get refugees piling up against a barrier, as so often nowadays, the world in general gets a sense of that burden. I have no faith whatsoever that any green-technology transformation will save seven billions of this Very Hungry Human.

Posted on June 21, 2021 at 14:41 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, Defying The Demiurge

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