chase scenes serial #11

humans not parasites? Of course we have civilizations, we are productive. But as I watch the bison spend the entire day eating grass I wonder what good the productive capacity is in us‡. When the ice caps melt and raise water levels by four hundred feet (400′), and EPCOT Center is under three hundred feet (300′) of water, and every coastal houses’ shingles are littering the surface of the embiggened oceans, what good is this notebook. Should I not have spent the whole day eating dry roasted peanuts? Or reading instead of writing? Or saying “yes” instead of “zuh?” There are trees planted on the top of a flat hill outside of Bismarck that spell out “BISMARCK.” The landscape of North Dakota is so flat that you could not possibly make it out from the ground. I just flew over it en route to Min/St. Paul. We are high above the clouds now that we raced from Medora along route 94. They closed in on the airport as we approached. When we were visiting the art deco WPA era state capitol on Friday after our Coffee Break, I saw a plane fly over the grounds. It looked low and it hung an east over the capitol office tower. There must be only one flight path out of Bismarck for that is the one we just took. From the

chase 06

This issue of human value, or in general, the value of our existence in general, must be weighed at the level of the individual, and I believe can only be weighed by the individual themselves. As far as I can say, humans are the only organisms that are able to reason through judgments such as these, so, it would stand, that we cannot then, if only responsible for our own beliefs and purpose, judge other types of organisms on their usefulness, bison and wood ticks for example. The frames of reference are too discrete and incomparable. There were moments in the hike where we would muse about “eating grass all day,” perhaps it was an awful existence, in my frame of reference, but the peace under which these creatures currently lived was certainly preferable, and I daresay of more value to them as organisms, and of more value as organisms to the environment, than their poor contemporaries being harvested for Ted Turner’s restaurant chain. The man leafleting directly to my left just successfully obtained a woman’s phone number. Apparently she is “staying with her sister out in Stone Mountain.” I wonder, were I to ask the man why he thinks he is of value, not in any context, not ‘to other people,’ ‘to commerce,’ or ‘to the intertwined systems of nature,’ what his answer would be. Would it be different than my answer? What would my answer be, I cannot say. It would most likely be bloated and circular, meaningless. To actually answer these questions I think it is first necessary to answer a question, a fundamental question, does anything have value outside its capacity to perpetuate your own life, or to perpetuate other systems, and then, what is the value in their perpetuation? There is some of that circular logic I feared I would have no recourse to avoid and no ability to rise above.

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