The Alien Ant Farm
Below is an excerpt from the essay “History and Biology” by the great Revilo P. Oliver. The piece (parentheses added to make Seidenberg’s origins clear) reminds us of the idea that the opposite of life is not death, but “un-deadness” or a zombie-like existence.
IN THIS PERFECTED socialist world there can be no change and hence no history: That is why the perfect man of the near future will be, in Seidenbergian terminology, “post-historic.” Everybody will be happy, because there will be no individuals — only organisms that are a part of a species and have no separate consciousness. To see how attractive the inevitable future is, you have only to reflect, dear reader, how much happier you would be, if you were an ant or a cockroach in your basement.
You would operate by what Mr. (((Seidenberg))) calls “pure reason.” You could not possibly be affected by religion, art, literature, philosophy, science, capitalism, racial discrimination, or any of the other horrid things that will have to be blotted out anyway in the interests of Equality and Social Justice. You could never have a thought to trouble you. You would have no consciousness; hence you would not know that you exist, and would have no organ that could feel pain when somebody steps on you. What more could you want?
If you are so reactionary as to prefer to be conscious, even at the cost of being unhappy from time to time, you may be amused by the similarity of Mr. Seidenberg’s vision of the future to the scene described in one of the oldest of the Babylonian tablets, on which the cuneiform characters represent an oddly sibilant and staccato language: a-na mat la tari kak-ka-ri-i-ti-e ila istar marat ilu sin u-zu-un-sa is-kun, etc.
To the land whence none return, the place of darkness, Ishtar, the daughter of Sin, her ear inclined.
Then inclined the daughter of Sin her ear to the house of darkness, the domain of Irkalla; to the prison from which he that enters comes not forth; to the road whose path does not return;…to the land where filth is their bread and their food is mud. The light they behold not; in unseeingness they dwell, and are clothed, like winged things, in a garment of scales….
Of all of mankind’s nightmarish visions of a future existence, that Babylonian conception of the dead as crawling forever, like mindless insects, in a fetid and eternal night has always seemed to me the most gruesome.
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