7 December 2015

‘Death needs to be in the air for us to be fully alive.’

Hunting is often a charged and divisive topic in Britain. In Being a Beast, Charles Foster writes bravely and with honesty about what he has experienced as its attractions:
A man with a gun sees, hears, smells and intuits much more than the same man with a bird book and a pair of binoculars. Death needs to be in the air for us to be fully alive. Perhaps this is because many hunts, before we started to go with high velocity weapons after harmless herbivores, carried a serious risk of the hunter dying, and every neuron had to be strained to keep the hunter physically alive. Perhaps it is because death is the one thing that, without any caveats, we will share with the animals; perhaps the first, exhilarating fruit of that perfect reciprocity is an ability to sense the world as the prey does: it sometimes feels as if you’ve got two nervous systems running ecstatically in parallel — yours and the stalked elk’s.
Speculating on the psychological impact of the transformation in the distant past of humans from prey animal to predator, Yuval Noah Harari may light on something true:
Most top predators on the planet are majestic creatures. Millions of years of dominion have filled them with self-confidence. Sapiens by contrast is more like a banana republic dictator. Having so recently been one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties over our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous.

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