Historical Footnote: Homo sapiens
The real demise for H. sapiens happened after some idiot savants thought the whole of existence could be conceptualised as an atomised machine around 1600 years after the birth of a man who actually tried to point out some truths in direct contradiction to ordering life by hierarchy and machine (which was then completely turned on its head by something called “the Church” …. see “Religious Cults – Earth”). Irony again. Irony is important for an understanding of H. sapiens.
The mechanical deterministic idea resulted in the worship of the narrowness of quantified technocracy, consequently narrowing thought, and creating hierarchies of knowing. That new hierarchy treated white lab coats and dark suits as symbols of wisdom – sort of a new cleric and ermine robe thing. It treated romance with disdain, and placing reflection, thought, community, as well as the emotion of experiencing nature, live music and poetry far below a new form of ‘life’ involving the occupation of hours obediently sitting in a cubical, looking through a light pulsing screen at numbers in columns and rows.
This mesmerising hypnotic state replaced all wider meaning, and people went home to watch reality TV, corporate advertising with lots of bright colours and yelling (nine-ninety-nine!!!! was a favourite), all in search of accumulating what they were conditioned to believe are ‘treasures’ and happiness, of a measurable kind. Unmeasured happiness didn’t count (haha, little pun there … hahum … yes, well).
Madness was, of necessity, redefined. Those who noticed too much under the new order, were ‘mad’. Those who didn’t notice anything at all besides dollars that didn’t exist in any real sense, were ‘sane’.
Need I mention irony again?
This new order created the justification for new measures of superiority, and the right of might to use new technocratic power to colonise and eradicate others and the planet (aka “resources”), with even ethics reduced to calculation. What the Wider Sentient Universe (WSU) knows to be vices became virtues.
The last stage was the worship of a new god, ‘Our Lord Market’. The madness of reducing beauty and meaning of life within and beyond the material plane to those things that obediently stayed still long enough to be measured, was insane enough. Not to be outdone, H. sapiens took a further quantum leap into absurdity by reducing all those selected quanta into an imaginary thing that didn’t even exist other than in the mind, called ‘dollars’. More imaginary dollars meant more ‘worth’.
By contrast, what was meant by, for instance ….. experiencing the soft fall of snowflakes on your cheek, holding and squeezing the warm hands of someone dear with which to share, wreathed in a smile, listening to the sound of a descending rainbow with a warbler accompaniment, beside an outdoor crackling log fire …. was …. precisely …. zero.
The consequence of this delusion involved giving prestige and policy making power to those personalities with the least reverence for life and others. Warblers, snowflakes and rainbows kept moving, were annoyingly inconsistent, refused to behave in predictable ways, and were obviously ‘subjective’ – and therefore ‘bad’ because meaning shifted with observer. Because such beauty could not be placed in a spreadsheet, it ceased to exist within the apparently superior technocratic H. sapiens (ha) mind. I think that is called the irony of objectivity … it isn’t an object that a wise sapiens can demonstrate objectivity toward if said object doesn’t behave to sapiens subjective metaphysic. Because their subjectivity of theory-laden observation involved metaphysics, and you can’t put metaphysics in a spreadsheet, it was only right for them to not even think about their subjectivity, because – according to their highest levels of technocratic thought – it cannot possibly exist. This is a convoluted and roundabout way of saying, well, boo hoo to beauty then.
And so the consequences rolled one to another to another. The consequence of that delusion of misplaced concreteness by only noticing numbers that stay still and behave was the inevitable destruction of planetary functions – which are not numbers but contingent verbs – necessary for human life (let alone meaning). The consequences also weren’t too crash hot for anyone who happened to live with the apparently deluded belief that they lived in a community, and thought it remotely reasonable to look at rainbows in the arms of a lover lying beside a log fire.
The consequence of wrecking planet and community was a form of wilful – and not very sapiens at all – mass suicide. This is a trait common throughout the WSU in those communities who worship personality cults, especially when they wear a uniform involving either pure white or professional black.
Henry David Thoreau, Alfred Lord Whitehead, R D Laing, Prot from the planet K-Pax, children and other thinkers tried to point out the madness of it all. But only the flower people were listening. They went to live on the land and await the inevitable.
And so ended the story of the very short-lived species, Homo not so sapiens.
Chris Perley is an affiliated researcher at Otago University’s Centre for Sustainability with a governance, research, management and policy background in provincial economies, rural sociology and land use strategy.
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