Friday, November 6, 2009

Ant-agonists

Chain Reaction - Journey (mp3)
New Shoes - Pi (mp3)

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
                        -- Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Ants bother me. Philosophically, ants haunt me.

I'm not phobic. I don't lie awake at night worried that ants will eat me. Ants don't appear in my sexual fantasies or in my nightmares. I don't find myself scratching up and down my whole body at the thought of ants crawling up a pants leg or a shirt sleeve. Yet, more than any other living creature on this planet, ants freak me out.

Everything about them bothers me. They are the anti-humans: efficient and productive and undistractable. They are like The Terminator in miniature form.

When the day comes that Mother Nature finally decides to hand out the appropriate punishment to humanity, a consequence far more dire than Time Out or a spanking -- or maybe we'll beat her to the punch and cause our own mutually assured destruction -- creatures like the industrious ant will move up the evolutionary ladder. Our face will fall off the earth's totem, and the ant will move closer to the top.

When our Great Gettin' Up Mornin' comes, as Morgan Freeman calls it in Glory, perhaps the most frightening part for someone like me is that even those things we casually consider immortal die with us. Our literature. Our great works of art. Our philosophies. Our politics. Our forms of government and means of organization. Our technology. All of these things will die with us.

Even someone like Shakespeare, who in many ways had convinced me he was immortal, will have had the stake driven into his undead heart. (Yeah, I believe there's a heaven, but I'm hard-pressed to think we're gonna give a shit about Shakespeare or any other earthly thing there. If so, I'll consider it a pleasant surprise and dance a little earthly jig in celebration.)

If it seems like I'm stating the pathetically obvious here, I apologize, but what I've had to accept is that, ultimately, Kansas was right. Eventually, at some point on the horizon, all we are and all we've done really is dust in the wind.

Know what else bothers me about ants? I go back to this quote from John Adams:

“I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.”


Ants don't do any of that shit, and they aren't losing sleep at night wondering what it's like to get a master's degree in political science or Elizabethan poetry. I can look down on them and step on them with my nice dress shoes and laugh at their naked single-mindedness, and I can mock them for caring nothing for politics and war, or mathematics and philosophy, or natural history and naval architecture, or painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry and porcelain. They care about the queen. And one could argue they don't even have enough brain power to care about any of the things they do. They just do. Ants ARE the Nike slogan.

Caring and wondering and worrying and musing is left to us silly mouth-breathers.

For all of our amazing brilliance and advanced states, their species will outlive our species.

I'm just not sure how to handle that part. So I just step all over their mounds every chance I get. Give 'em more stupid busywork. That's what I say. Not like they're gonna put me on trial or unleash some ant detectives to track me down or anything. Might as well enjoy my superiority while I'm around to lord it over them.

"New Shoes" was provided by Pi's music promoters, and I encourage you to search this lady out if you find the song worthy. Pretty good, no? As for Journey, I have begun to concede to the viral revival of their pop-rock catchiness after having mostly successfully ignored it since college.

4 comments:

Bob said...

Are they crawling all over your kitchen counters, too?

BeckEye said...

I totally get that. Ants make me want to puke. I can't stand the sight of them. When I see one in the kitchen, I just imagine all the shit they've walked through all day long.

Of course, living in NYC has made me realize that ants aren't the WORST creatures on the planet. Roaches are so much worse.

Bob said...

Where ants lead, roaches will follow.

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