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Monday, 20 June 2011

The Influence of White Ants on Literature

In his remarkable near-future saga The Logos Probe, science fiction author Jack Cross presents the 2080's in such a cold, pedestrian way that you're convinced you're there. In fact, in his 2080 dystopia, some things don't seem to have changed at all. For instance, Alexander Logos - the great innovator and tycoon - reads Maurice Maeterlinck whose "The Life of The White Ant" was first published in 1927. Jack, like Maeterlinck, sees these insects as a metaphor for us - and made the mistake of showing us some early drawings of his which we insisted he post on the blog. This he has reluctantly permitted.

Over to Jack:

Maeterlink is interesting. Let me quote him:

"In the terminary, the gods of of communism become insatiable Molochs. The more they are given, the more they require. And they persist in their demands until the individual is annihilated and his misery complete."

"...illness is not tolerated and feebleness carries with it its own sentence of death."

"They used to have wings. They have them no more. They had eyes which they surrendered. They had sex which they sacrificed...   ....They might almost serve as a caricature of ourselves, as a travesty of the earthly paradise to which most civilised people are tending."

The "communist" ideal has never worked. Nothing is more pernicious than good intentions. Those who want the best for all change nothing. The worst ants still end up sitting on top of the nest. Unfortunately, the cupidity called human nature is never accepted as a constant. Show me the practical socialist and I will show you a sham - motivated by  naivete, resentment or the cunning of "fortune's slave".

The "capitalist" ethos is no better. It believes in success for the selfish. Of course,  all are selfish. But not everyone is a jackal. The Logos Probe has equal scorn for left and right.

Is there any way out of this?

By now you will have observed how each parliament rapidly becomes a House of the Rising Scum. How each new government touts the same old promises without action. A politician know that, if he does anything he will be attacked from all sides. It's far smarter to merely promise because delivery is death.

"Always vote for the opposition."

You've probably heard that sage in injunction. The idea is to prevent any party becoming entrenched - because the dreary cavalcade of our leaders becomes more venal by the year. All that ever changes are the names on the brown paper bags.

So, in The Logos Probe, Alexander Logos, doyen of the age, remains  deeply cynical while promising the earth. As the powerful have always done, absorbing duplicity at the teat.

But back to the industrious white ants...

These insects, far older than humanity, coloured my early thoughts. I even attempted a cartoon series - using them to express what I felt. I'm no artist, so the drawings were crude but, at least, they expressed what I intended. Many years later, I rediscovered these primitive strips in an old trunk forgotten in a store-room. And made the mistake of showing them to Buzzword.

Should they be posted here?  Probably not. 

But some realist with a half-full cup may care to behold the crude and youthful genesis of The Logos Probe.