Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Apocalypse #5, The Animal Kingdom #1

 "Lionesses don’t keep you from your butterflies?”
 "They seem to think it’s gone farther away. I don’t suppose it would hurt me,” Mr. Tighe said. “And even if it did—when I think of the number of butterflies I’ve caught—I should feel it was only fair. Tit for tat, you know. The brutes—if you can call a butterfly a brute—getting a little of their own back. They deserve to.”
 “In England perhaps” Anthony allowed, “but do you think altogether? […] “Haven’t the animals had it a good deal their own way on the earth?”
 The other shook his head. “Think of the great monsters,” he said. “The mammoth and the plesiosaurus and the sabre-toothed tiger. Think of what butterflies must have been once, what they are now in the jungles. But they will pass with the jungles. Man must conquer, but I should feel a sympathy with the last campaign of the brutes.”
 “I see—yes,” Anthony said. “I hadn’t thought of it like that. Do you think the animals will die out?”
 “Perhaps,” Tighe said. “When we don’t want them for transport—or for food—what will be left to them but the zoos? The birds and the moths, I suppose, will be the last to go. When all the trees are cut down.”
 “But, objected Anthony, “all the trees won’t be cut down. What about forestry and irrigation and so?’
 “O,” Mr. Tighe said, “There may be tame forests, with artificially induced butterflies. That will be only a larger kind of zoo. The real thing will have passed.”
  “And even if they do,” Anthony asked, “will man have lost anything very desirable? What after all has a lioness to show us that we cannot know without her? Isn’t all real strength to be found within us?”
 “It may be,” Mr. Tighe answered. “It may be that man will have other enemies and other joys—better perhaps. But the older ones were very lovely.”

Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion (1933)