Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You're Not Going to Believe This Sh-t

The Internet is a deadly, deadly thing. It will eat your time up like a fire eats paper. Information you never thought about, would be perfectly happy without is always just a click away. Worse, one click invariably leads to another and then another . . . . But once you've clicked, lo, here's this fascinating bit of information about the world you live in or an equally fascinating look into the consciousness and sensibilities of another human being. How someone else is experiencing life, how they see it, how they feel it. Or images of the world, or art, or music, or poetry. Such stuff is irresistible to me. I could happily click my life away in front of this screen. For an information junkie like me, the Net is an addictive drug. I have to severely limit the doses.

Which brings me to the subject today. There's no delicate way of putting this. The subject is shit. Specifically human crap. More specifically the immense, reeking, rancid and dangerous problem it presents. Let me trace my journey to the toilet bowl. As usual every Monday, I read the latest post on Jim Kuntsler's blog, Clusterfuck Nation. Kuntsler, as you might surmise, is not the cheeriest of people, but the future he paints, dire as it is, seems inevitable. Human beings have an amazing ability to deny the plain truth of what's right before their eyes and embrace some alternate reality. No, what they do is conjure up a vision of the future that invariably is some version of the world they know. Human beings aren't good with world-changing scenarios. Human beings don't like to think about catastrophe which is usually the way the world changes. In fact, catastrophe and human short-sightedness are as inevitable as anything you can imagine in history.

So anyway, I read Kuntsler and then sample some of the comments, which leads me to this link, a book review of a tome called The Big Necessity – The Unmentionable World of Human Waste, and Why it Matters by Rose George. After the first line of the review: "Every day, you handle the deadliest substance on earth," I could not stop reading. Here's the gist of it. What the hell are we going to do with all our shit? It is deadly, toxic stuff--"a single gram of faeces can contain 'ten million viruses, one million bacteria, one thousand parasite cysts, and one hundred worm eggs.' Accidentally ingesting this cocktail causes eighty percent of all the sickness on earth." We already have a huge problem, and it's only going to get bigger. The Western way, flush it away, send the shit to the nearest body of water: lake, river, ocean, is--guess what?--no good anymore. Treat it? An illusion because it uses gargantuan quantities of a commodity that's already scarce and getting more so: water. Read the review, it's worse than you think, and it'll probably elicit similar thoughts to mine: Great! Here's another insoluable problem we're facing--global warming, depletion of about every resource on earth, endless wars, ethnic cleansing, billions of hungry people, corporate globalism, and now this! This shit is just too much to deal with. How, on the basis of what we've seen so far, can we possibly expect that the current species of human being to be equal to the task of solving any of these problems? I'm not sanguine about the prospects.

I had one more click to go. Since the review was itself pretty good, I simply had to check out the author. His name is Johann Hari, a Brit, who writes for The Independent. He looks like a baby; by my calculations he's only 29 years old. He's got a resume of somebody who's been writing for 50 years. Makes me jealous. I really had to resist the impulse to read more of his stuff. Instead, I decided to cheer all of you up by informing you of yet one more way you're contributing to the death of the planet.
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