Monday, May 05, 2008


Smits's work equips him to bring the orang-utan's plight to a global audience. His tales include that of a female orang-utan who stumbled from a burning forest with her child. She waited until a human drove by then remained deathly still as the man raced from the car, rescued her baby and drove away.
Only when she saw her child was in the hands of humans did she turn around and clumsily go back into the smoke of the burning forest," Smits says.
Willie Smits Thinkers of the Jungle: The Orangutan Report
Melbourne launch (see BOS)


Ann O'Dyne said...

well I am sorry I read that.

don't get me started on those bloody Indonesians burning the Sumatran jungles.

I worry about animals all the time.
all animals.

boynton said...

I should have had a Beelzebug-style warning for you, Ann.
I myself was haunted by something, re. this book, that I read in the Hun over the weekend.

And I turn away from distressing animal stories on the teev too.
I like to keep a Jane Goodall quote in mind though:
Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.

Juke said...

It isn't animals, or just animals. It's life, the grace notes of existence as much as the necessities.
We don't need orangutans, or elephants, which are being slaughtered anew for their tusks as rising demand for ivory chopsticks builds - hello China!
There's no bright line anyone can point to, just a place where these things exist, and a place where they won't. How can the loss of something like the orangutan be measured, by who, to what scale? Not measured only felt.
I was thinking about Goodall just the other day, how hard these times must be for her.
So much easier to get comfortable people to care about endangered animals far away, hard as it is to get them to see the danger when they do lots of them will care. But many are less and less comfortable now, driven to concern with the immediate and personal.
None of these burdens will lighten soon, except as strength is brought to bear them up.

Nabakov said...

The way to feel good about this kind of story is to remind yourself that if the situation was reversed, few wild animals would show us such compassion.

The way feel really bad about this story is to realise that the act of one primate trusting its child to a member of a related species under extreme circumstances is so rare as to warrant it being singled out like this.

And juke:
"It's life, the grace notes of existence as much as the necessities."
is a very graceful way of summing up why there's reasons beyond the pragmatic needs of biodiversity for us to keep others not like us alive when we have the power to do so.

A very subtle but powerful refrain running through William Gibson's first cyberpunk trilogy is that 50 years in the future, horses are extinct because of some virus. The globalised world he paints doesn't miss them economically nor do many characters even remember them personally but it adds very effectively to a subtle sense of loss and dislocation that pervades those books.

And a world without horse, cats or dogs or even no other animals would truly be hell on earth. Our human lives would still go on but with a great big echoing reverberating void in our souls.

Juke said...

Yah nabakov, thanks, the original had more of those but I previewed it while offline and it vanished like smoke.
"...human lives would still go on but with a great big echoing..."
but there's maybe some void-ridden souls here with us already, no? Who don't miss what they can't feel. It's humane stewardship versus sociopathic pillage and wreck. Chipmunks versus the termites.
Anthropomorphs versus the mechanoids.
Only complicating the confrontation there's the viral growth of life-forms that actually need conditions as are.
Thriving in this as it is.
People confined to wheelchairs aren't going to be real keen on getting rid of sidewalks and highways, are going to see them as necessities, because people confined to wheelchairs want one thing more than any other - to be equal participants in the world. Over time given the right conditions we can all more or less become wheel-dependent. Have.
What were asset and augmentative become so necessary life is unthinkable without them. And the big wheel just keeps on turning.
The aliens argue the replaceability of everything. One human unit by another, species have always been going extinct...etc. etc. ad nauseum.
You'll still hear some project the remanufacture of extinct animals as adequate response. And the shame is distributed into such fine granularity it's close to invisible, except for those moosh-heads who take these things on, to levels near debilitation. Like me.

boynton said...

Courage indeed.

meanwhile: disappearing acts

meanwhile: while I was horizontal @ dentist this week, Foxtel was playing some doco: Life After People (I guess for the purpose of relaxation)
Humans won't be around forever, and now we can see in detail, for the very first time, the world that will be left behind in Life After People.
which is a weird projection of great void, for 21st Century Foxed.