|The Third Culture||Delta Willis|
Weird Ape Fouls Planet
In the spirit of tabloid headlines (Ted No Longer Fonda Jane) my Exclusive, Untold Story would be headed Weird Ape Fouls Planet.
Granted Bill McKibben got very close with his book The End of Nature, but there continues a pervasive denial that stops this story from honest resolution.
First, of course, we'd rather not hear about it. At the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival we discussed the dilemma of presenting the dreadful conservation stories without depressing the audience, which is another way of asking, Shall we not hit this nail on the head again? So beyond the various lobbies and doubts that obscure issues such as global warming, the media hesitate to offend, or to be redundant.
Secondly, it's a story I'd rather not research and write because it is a bummer. The first half I did attempt; I truly do think humans are quite a wonderfully weird, unique species and the story of our place within the evolution of life on earth is fantastic (and for many, still unbelievable.) But when it comes to our impact on the earth, the already palpable effects of over-population, I get bogged down in the details, or distracted by Untold Story Number Two (Equal Rights Amendment Never Passed U.S. Senate).
For example: there was a rush by health insurers to provide for coverage of Viagra use, but not of contraception pills for women. Enormous pressures remain for reproduction, from social and religious ones (the Vatican Rag) to the biological cues that inspired John Updike (The Witches of Eastwick) to put these words in the mouth of Jack Nicholson: What a Bait They Set Up. In a roundabout way the fallibilities of being human were covered ad nausea (Leader of Free World Impeached for Thong Thing) and maybe the reason that too will pass is because we would prefer to deny the power of these urges, on par with drugs and greed, plus ego, i.e. parking one's off road 4-WD Range Rover in front of the Hard Rock Café.
So I'm with Bugs Bunny, who said, people are the strangest animals because we have this ability to reason and yet that base stem of the brain, wherever it is located on your anatomy, tends to rule the day. Hollywood might be the only medium that can rattle our cage on such issues of perspective, truly seeing ourselves in context; journalism no longer seems capable of delivering profound, incisive news, unless you dare to have canines as sharp as those of Maureen Dowd.
WILLIS is the author of The Hominid Gang, Behind the Scenes in
the Search for Human Origins; The Leakey Family: Makers of Modern
Science; and The Sand Dollar & The Slide Rule: Drawing Blueprints