We Are All This Polar Bear, Praying for an End to This Madness
We are animals, a screaming missile of hunger and horniness shooting straight from the womb to the tomb.
Jessica Andrews/Ocean View Photography
This article first appeared in VICE Canada.
Man is an animal sick unto death.
All the rest of the natural universe moves like perfect clockwork, each atom spinning past the other or colliding or splitting into pieces according to invisible laws that are both baroque and breathtaking in their final abstract simplicity. The planets follow their paths around the stars as surely as the salmon swims upstream into the paw and maw of the bear. There is no thought or knowledge. There is only intimate, direct connection down through the raw thrumming power of biological instinct, sparks thrown off from chemical reactions following the sublime mathematical order that God ordained In The Beginning to carry all things across the garbage heap of history.
But humanity—what a mess. Consciousness is the pinnacle of Creation and it is wholly out of place. The elegant order of the universe is fractured to pieces by the very mechanisms that make thought possible. Language is a sieve, a veil, a dark looking-glass that carves out a space in the ceaseless flow of sensory experience for us to think and be. It is the bittersweet fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
We suspect the world follows a system but we don't know what it is. We have collectively spent a lot of time trying to find our way back into the order we dimly observe around us, thousands of years trying to escape the endless cycle of suffering, generations trying to puzzle out an order to the murderous chaos we call life.
They are, at best, haphazard guesses. We are like a blind man in a dark room trying to mark a path through an obstacle course. We're getting better at mapping out the area but we still don't know shit about where we are or what we're doing here or how to turn on the light. After years in the darkness, with so many other attempts at Enlightenment ending in the plantation or the gulag or the residential school or the ovens, it's increasingly fashionable to throw up our hands and say lol nothing matters, fuck it, there is no order, take what you want and pay what you can.
Despite our pretensions as budding masters of the universe, we remain misshapen cogs in the cosmic machine. We are animals—a particularly fucked up and miserable creature, a screaming missile of hunger and horniness shooting straight from the womb to the tomb. The awkward mesh of animal instinct and the gaping abyss of human desire means we are forever out of order, forever trying to fill the void, forever imposing our disorder on the world around us and it is wreaking absolute havoc. God is dead and we have killed Him and made chicken nuggets out of the corpse.
We have put men on the moon and turned wolves into pugs. We have built sprawling air-conditioned cities in the Arizona desert and we use liquefied dinosaurs to speed around in big metal death machines. We have been on this planet for less than a fraction of a second in geological time and we've already put the fucking thing into a terminal fever.
Glacial ice, millions of years old, sloughs off into the sea never to return. A lone polar bear, driven south from its Arctic Eden in search of vanishing food, stumbles across a lone metal cross on a lonely winter island on the edge of the North Atlantic. He saunters over to it and hunches down, placing his paws on it and looking plaintively to the sky, mirroring the primal rite of man's banishment from God's light, echoing the words of the prophet:
All of us growl like bears, and moan softly like doves. We hope for justice, but there is none. For salvation, but it is far from us.
The bear continues on in silence. What he searches for is elsewhere.
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