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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Friday July 09, 2004
09:05 PM

Shrimpy leftovers

[ #19780 ]
Dear Log,

An interesting passage from Bruce Sterling's book Tomorrow Now:

Otzi is a Stone Age gentleman who was revealed to us in the belle époque year of 1991 by the thawing of a European glacier.

The most striking thing about Otzi is his nifty kit. He is prehistoric and preliterate, but he has a little chin-strap hat, a knee-length woven-grass raincoat, and a reversible vest with stylish black-and-white stripes. He also sports leather shoes and a wide variety of knickknacks: an axe, a bird-catching net, a fire box of birch bark, a flint scraper, a horn drill, a stone awl, and about a dozen other keen tools and toys. He has everyday personal uses for sixteen different kinds of wood. He even has tattoos. Otzi lived and died around 3300 B.C., but that doesn't mean he was meandering around "being primitive" for our benefit. Otzi was very clearly an everyday guy with a lot of regular, sensible routines: tying his shoes, stitching up his hunting coat, and chewing some kind of gum (it left telltale spots on his teeth).


We severely disrupted nature long before we invented written history. Until very recently, we modern humans have had no idea what a truly natural world should even look like. Because a natural world looks pre-human. No human being since long before the birth of agriculture has ever witnessed a state of nature. There are no writings about it, no photographs, no records or documentation. The only portraits of it are on cave walls.

For my own locale here in Texas, the state of nature entails giant armadillos, sloths as big as hippos, three kinds of elephants, carnivorous long-legged pigs that can run like antelopes, giant bison, giant wolves, and giant bears. Minus human beings, those animals would all still be here. A natural Texas would look like the Serengeti on steroids.

So when we Americans are marveling at our moose, elk, the remaining bison, and so on, we're witnessing a radically impoverished fauna, the shrimpy leftovers of an ecological catastrophe.

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