Monday, November 30, 2015

Sort of a synthesis by a former cave dweller

Some of you may have noticed that Thanksgiving, 2015, came and went in the United States last week. That is what I did, too -- I came and I went .... mostly went -- away from my home, from my blog, from my routines. I escaped for six days. And, by the way, I will again toward the end of this week and toward the end of next week, although I might bring my laptop with me on those jaunts. Maybe. We shall see. I am hoping my next metamorphosis is under way.

Next, the photographs: Those who read here regularly may be aware that much of my life as a boy and a young man revolved around hunting. The photographs illustrate one reason why I no longer hunt. Like any skill, those who study hunting and practice hunting (and, I might add, have a natural talent for hunting), generally become good at it. This is to say that hunting should become child's play after a time, something any fool can become adept at doing. The photographs were taken on a frigid, windy day, with blowing snow and the atmosphere hazy with dampness, which obviously affected the technical quality. That aside, my questions are these: If I can learn to reach this proximity to a whitetail buck in the wild, anyone who claims to be a "hunter" should be able to do the same, right? Which means, would shooting this buck be sport or merely murder of an animal? Hunting really has not been much of a challenge since the days of the saber-toothed cat and the Pleistocene bears, and should be re-evaluated in terms of thinking of it as "sport." There is nothing sporting about it.

Next, the music: For me, a glimpse back to more interesting times and a means to wander in memory for a few moments; for Western Civilization, a reminder of what its indolence has set adrift and is on the verge of losing in the face of a merciless tidal wave. Do you really understand this ??

Here I am again, lost in the futility of disorder

I grew up in a town and a state which were about one hundred years old in context to the existence of the United States and in a country a few hundred years old itself. I have walked among ruins in Europe several hundred and even a few thousand years old. I have seen populations linked to Native Americans and other groups which, only a few brief generations ago, were still tied to the stone age.

All that is difficult for me to grasp at times when thinking in terms of the typical human life span, but what I really have to struggle to comprehend are the hundreds of thousands of lives of homo sapiens and homo sapiens sapiens which came and went in the hundreds of thousands of years before "now."

I am not thinking about "Lucy" or her hominin kin, Australopithecus afarensis, who walked our Earth more than three million years ago. My mind cannot firmly grasp such a span of time when measuring/understanding my own existence, which is measured in hours and months and years .... and, in breaths. Later, maybe I will try, but not today. Let us reduce those years to the hundreds of thousands, presumably a span easier to comprehend.

The word Neanderthal should be familiar to most. They have been known and studied for about one hundred fifty years. But, there also are the Denisovans, whose existence was recognized only about four years ago. This group split from homo sapiens around six hundred thousand (600,000) years ago. Wrap your conceptual self-perception around that, if you are able, understanding that DNA markers from both groups are among your own.

Mix into that cocktail established DNA markers of a known third species and of an apparent fourth. There is growing evidence of other archaic groups predating humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans. And, if you really are looking to complicate matters, jump way, way back beyond the establishment of genus homo and you will discover that we are a very late arrival to planet Earth and certainly not the first to believe we are the best, brightest and most beautiful ever to be born.

Our march toward becoming what we are today began millions of years ago. Regrettably, we, who are alive today, probably are closer toward ending that march than any of those who came before us.

My point for this, other than the fact it all interests me, is not to sound like a purveyor of doom and destruction or to say we live a purposeless existence, but to create a visual image of life going on from generation to generation of changing, evolving populations of varied human species. Then, place the visual image of those seemingly endless generations living in a single cave complex in, for instance, southern Siberia for a hypothetical number of years -- say one hundred thousand (100,000). Then, realize that throughout all those generations of beings and all those years of them coming and going, change was happening, but was almost imperceptible -- until now.

Imagine yourself, if you are able, seated comfortably before the entrance to that cave, watching the comings and goings of individuals, of sons and daughters as they become parents and then grow old and die, and each generation flowing into the next, affected by plagues, by changes in climatic patterns, by the appearance and disappearance of warlike strangers entering their habitat and departing from it .... seeing near-imperceptible change in garb, in diet, in weaponry, in appearance, in religious patterns .... imagine it if you can while you are seated comfortably as if in a theater watching a film rendition of every ancestor you have had during those 100,000 years, good and evil, happy and sad, intelligent and dull, everything which once was and has been transmitted into you.

So then, what does your existence mean in context of the next 100,000 years as your genes pass along this timeless trail? Or, is the trail about to abruptly end? Now that we have evolved into creatures wise enough to depart from living in the cave and have become the best, brightest and most beautiful ever to be born, will there even be another 100,000 years of us? Beyond the cave or, maybe, back into the cave, if at all? 

If the visual image is planted and you are comfortably seated and have the time to think about these things, do they mean anything at all to you personally?

I will answer my own question: Probably not.

I wonder if the time has arrived for me to start hunting again ....


Yannis Politopoulos said...

My friend,

There is a "lamp of metamorphosis" in your writing. Because your mind is a question full of future.
I am glad to read your thoughts.

Yannis Politopoulos

Fram Actual said...

I once thought of the journey through life as a circle as opposed to any other configuration, Yannis, and I still think that to be largely true. Now, however, in the same breath I will add that I believe this circle also is a spiral which, at times, maintains steadiness and, at other times, is either ascending or descending. These ascents or descents are where and when a metamorphosis is taking place in a person. In a sentence, I think it is possible to take Franz Kafka literally. I might go further with that thought someday.

In the meanwhile, thank you, for visiting me again and for writing a comment. I have been to your blog. It is impressive in many ways, and I will be going there frequently.

ANITA said...

Hello Fram!There you are!And what a BEAUTY!!!!the Deers in the wood!!wow!!Sooo amazing coming from you!!Could not belive my eyes you shoot these must had had a great holiday!!Ohh I wish I was there.And the music soo fit to the feeling of this post.

Where is the pic taken?do you have a new camera?

About the caveman and future..we are just some grass blowing in the wind Fram..We dont know how or when we are going to go..but we sure know..we live just this moment..So how do we want to spend it?
The caveman did live a great life..but Iam sure the time we

live in is better..(You should readJean M.AuelThe land of the painted caves)

Iam glad to see you here and looking forward to your next post.

Greetings Anita

PhilipH said...

An eloquent, interesting and instructive essay my learned friend. Sorry to write like a 'Rumpole of the Bailey' barrister, which of course I am not. But I did enjoy reading your thoughts on life, hunting and music choice.

Life, to me, is a straight line, an uphill climb. When we reach the summit we are very tired and glad to stroll quietly down to the valley and have a good long rest ... forever.

Hunting is not something of which I approve. We have matured beyond the need to hunt. I once went with some "sort-of-friends" to a castle in Kent - poaching trout in the lake in the grounds. It was at night of course, quite exciting, (I was only 30 or so) but it was so unfair ... there were scores of trout which were easily hooked. I did not catch a single one; I didn't try very hard. The excitement was that we were 'stealing' and could have been caught by a gamekeeper armed with a 12-bore shotgun! That was my one and only fishing expedition.

I know many people go fishing simply to sit in peace and quiet with a rod on the river bank, not really caring if they catch anything. This reminds me of the 21st birthday party of young George Haddington, his real title Lord Binning, the next Earl of Haddington. One of the farmers at the party gave George a brand new fishing rod and gave a little speech: "Happy 21st Georgie and I hope you have many happy hours sitting in the rain, hoping to catch something other than a cold."

I absolutely LOVE your choice of music today. This piece first came to my ears some sixty years ago whilst a TV advert for Hamlet cigars played this so appropriately as a relaxing theme for the product. It suited so well, having a fragrant cigar after a meal and just enjoying the moment. Wonderful music. There are many recording of this piece of course, highly suited to the piano as well as full orchestra.

I'm glad you have lost the interest in killing innocent and lovely animals. If you DO need to start hunting again please go after the scum of the earth if at all possible. You know who I mean.

All the very best dear chap.

Fram Actual said...

There remain large tracts of rolling woodland where I once lived in Dakota, Anita, and I go back there at times, mostly for a bit of pistol and rifle practice. While there was not much sound of gunfire on this trip because snow and wind and cold take the enjoyment out of target shooting, the weather never really has been a factor for me in the sense of wandering here and there in the woodland. Let the north wind howl; we cavemen simply laugh at it and enjoy the scenery and the sting of driven snow on our faces.

No, no new camera gear. I only buy guns and watches these days.

I am familiar with the books written by Jean Auel. In fact, I bought a set of five of her books about ten years ago as a Christmas gift for a friend. I was not aware of this latest book that you mention. I cannot recall why, but for some reason or other I was not interested back then in reading her books myself. I have been interested in such subject matter in terms of archaeology and anthropology, rather than fictional stories .... although, I always have been a fan of science fiction and fantasy novels.

In reality, the stone age still exists to a degree in some places, and less than two hundred years ago it existed in full force where I am living right now in the mid-America of the Native Americans. It is close enough still to reach out and touch, it seems to me.

By the way, I am leaving home again Wednesday morning and will not be back until Saturday or Sunday. I have not decided if I will bring my laptop with me or not, so I might not be making any rounds on the blogs.

Thank you, Anita, for your appearance here and your comment. As I look out the window at the snow-covered ground, I am glad not to be a caveman at the moment.

Fram Actual said...

Hmmmm .... Rumpole, you say? Now that you mention him, Phil, I sort of miss him .... or should I say I sort of miss Leo McKern. Actually, I miss him not only as Horace Rumpole, but also as Number Two, as Zaharov, as Moriarty, as .... well, you catch my drift. It is enjoyable how a name here or a reference there can stir pleasant memories.

I suppose I experienced what might be described as an epiphany in respect to hunting. I will not explain it further here other than to say it happened to me on a beautiful, autumn day hunting alone along a lakeshore in my canoe. I decided I never wanted to kill anything again. There have been a few times when I have failed to live true to that ideal, but I have done well in an overall sense, I think.

Fishing is another topic. I never came across a fish I liked the taste of, which might explain why I never had a great deal of enthusiasm for fishing, even as a boy. Why catch fish if you do not wish to eat them? It is a simple two plus two formula for me.

Which reminds me, I do not condemn all hunters for two reasons: One, if you shoot it, you eat it. Hunting for any other purpose I do condemn. Two, without hunters there would be considerably less support for firearms ownership in the United States, and I believe in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Consitution more than any other.

Your own experience with fishing sounds more like an adventure than a fishing trip. I liked the speech given for "Georgie" -- humor, truth and a bit of a teasing taunt for which there could be no response but laughter.

You have known this piece of music longer than it has been part of my world, Phil. It came to me when a step-father (of sorts) entered into my life and brought with him classical, opera, Broadway and assorted other music. This music continues to be very much alive among my memories. It is amazing how many lyrics to film and Broadway songs still linger in my mind today from hearing his music. In fact, I probably have a greater grasp on those lyrics than I do of rock 'n' roll lyrics simply because most pre-rock singers enunciated rather than slurred.

There have been a few occasions in recent years when I have wished I were a few years younger and was able to resume hunting in the manner to which you allude. It is largely unrealized, but there are a few Americans (and, probably, Brits) who are fighting in the Middle East not for ISIS, but with other forces, notably the Kurds. It is infuriating to me to know people are being butchered, and to realize those who have the power (U.S. leadership) to stop it do nothing. We are governed by impotent, immoral cowards. As for me, as Dirty Harry once said, "A man's got to know his limitations." I have passed the crest of the mountain, too, in a physical sense, and would only be a weak link in a chain of sustained operations.

By the way, I see there is a new film out about the Kray brothers. I hope to see it, and assume you will if you have not already.

Thank you, Phil, for coming to my blog and for leaving a fascinating comment. Take care, mate ....

A Cuban In London said...

Right, first to the coincidences. I am listening (and watching) right now to Andras Schiff playing Bach

I was talking to someone at work today about hunting and how back in the day it was all about feeding oneself, the family and even the tribe. How one's skills were put to the test whereas now, it is done mainly as... you guessed it, a sport.

And yes, I agree with your conclusion: time to get back on the hunting trail. :-)

Greetings from London.

Boris Estebitan said...

Tienes un gran enfoque sobre la vida, saludos.

Fram Actual said...

Coincidence always has seemed to be a word/a reality that bounces back and forth between us, CiL. That has been true ever since our paths first crossed in 2009.

In my region of the United States and even more so in some other locations, hunting continues to be a way to supplement the larder. This certainly was true for me when I hunted, not from necessity, but from knowing I was capable of living off the land should the need or the desire ever arise.

But, while I have not done any research, I am certain the majority of hunters (or, shall we call them shooters ??) are less interested in a food source than they are in "having fun" and/or in securing some manner of trophy. And, I think there is an ever-increasing number of absolute idiots like the Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, roaming loose with guns. Palmer, you might recall, won his place on the roll call of infamous hunters by shooting Cecil the (somewhat tame) Lion. Such "sportsmen" are beyond pathetic, I think, and must be perverse in ways even beyond their mindset about hunting.

It probably demonstrates a measure of my own perversity, but I hope karma catches up to this dentist in a very painful fashion.

So, thank you, CiL, for coming to my blog and for sharing your thoughts. I am always pleased to find that you have been here.

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, for the kind words, Boris. Trying to figure out what "we" are doing here, what "I" am doing here other than simply hanging out -- here at this place and at this moment of time in an inexplicable universe -- has been driving me figuratively crazy since I was around your age.

So, what are you doing here?

I am teasing now. Thank you, Boris, again for your kind words and for your presence.

Something special ....