Jared Burton has written a beautiful and soulful folk song capturing humanity’s uncomfortable and ambivalent relationship to evolution. I find the lyrics emotionally and intellectually challenging. But I can’t decide if I agree or not with the orientation to Nature that he seems to be advocating here. See what you think.
In watching the above, I think of Antonin Artaud’s “Theatre of Cruelty” in the sense of the artist bringing an audience up against uncomfortable truths. I also think of the painful exchange Shakespeare depicts between Hamlet and his mother when he says to her, “I must be cruel only to be kind.” (Act 3, scene 4, 178). Still another association is Jane Austen: her heroines are always, it seems, quite ironic about their society’s endless competition for resources (estates) and sex partners (mates). Yet they themselves still play the survival of the fittest and sexiest game. What else can one do?
It’s hard to want to fit in to so nervy and competitive a human environment, yet that is what Nature is as well. Even the flowers are overheated vaginas with reproductive imperatives and claims on territory. And the bees they attract aren’t enjoying their itty-bee lives: they’re as obsessive as Woody Allen and focused as commuters on the 405 freeway. They’re busy. To fit in to nature, it would seem, means taking sides and entering the mosh pit.
But, of course, Jared is being Dionysus in his gentle manifestation. He’s easing us along in the midst of change. He’s calm like Barack Obama. But there’s a reason Dionysus is the god of wine: a person needs something for intoxication and distraction before the maenads of evolution finally arrive and tear you limb by limb, bringing you into your next metamorphosis.
Evolution brought us to the dance, but the catch is that nobody gets out alive. Wine is the consolation prize of any wild party, and the choices aren’t just red or white. Intoxication may mean watching television and getting your tetanus shot every ten years.