and cadaver with garlic and onion
The first fragrant
olfactions of summer quaffing
from his local garbage container have stimulated
world famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter to revisit
Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' and to
rant about recycling taken to the
Doomsday extreme, about baby
eating, Black Death cadaver dining with garlic and onion,
and Zombie treats. Leftovers,
The consensus is that recycling
is a good thing. Go green.
At least the people who are making money from our
curbside recycling think of recycling as a good thing.
We are recycling more and more products. But the predictive nature
of Science Fiction suggests
that we may end up recycling more than we bargained for. And
that has me worried.
Originally, I was not in favor
of recycling. I saw it as a money
grab by the people or families,
if you catch my drift, which were already heavily invested
in the waste management industry. But
what the Hell? Somebody has to do it. As the years passed,
I thought it better to recycle my aluminum beer cans than to
mine fresh bauxite, refine
it, and make new aluminum. But as time passed and I saw so many
things being recycled: electronics, glass, metals, paper, and
plastics; and the piece de resistance:
urine aboard the International
Space Station into drinkable water once again, it forced
me to ask the speculative question: where does it end? And I
didn't like the answer. In my opinion, some things should not
One of the conclusions
in my thesis: The Doomsday Theme
in Science Fiction, University of Windsor, 1981,
was that Science Fiction is
predictive. And I still believe that conclusion is valid. Every
technological marvel that we have today was envisioned by
Science Fiction writers years, decades, and sometimes
centuries before they were made manifest. I fully believe that
Science Fiction is the inspiration
behind innovation. But I also believe that
Science Fiction is the harbinger of disaster, and if
we can imagine it, those kinds of disasters will occur too. As
scientists often mention when they talk about
Extinction Level Events: It isn't a matter of "if."
It is a matter of "when." And it applies to
And for that
reason I am scared. I am scared that our world will be destroyed
by the cosmopoietic, geopoietic,
sources of doom that I mentioned in my thesis. I am frightened
that I will shortly be living in a
dystopian state. And I shudder at the thought of recycling
being taken to the next phase.
The world is
already overcrowded and our human population is growing at an
alarming rate. I have looked at enough bacterial cultures to
know what lies in store for us as a species. What I saw in the
closed system of a petri dish will be the same for the human
population in the closed system of our planet. Our population,
like the bacterial population, will grow exponentially to a spiked
maximum and then expire in its own excrement. Extinct. Finished.
Part of the problem
now is that we can hardly feed ourselves. There are too many
mouths to feed, too many unemployed people, and too many helpless
and hopeless. And the increasing number of natural disasters
of late associated with a solar maximum and the corresponding
tectonic activity of our planet, see
makes matters worse, as does the ravages of global warming and
the corresponding devastation to our farm lands, habitation,
and infrastructure. We can only give handouts while we have extra
food here in North America. Once our own food supply is jeopardized
by a new drought in the prairies, as the Russians just experienced
in Ukraine, and as North America experienced in the 1930s, the
people in Ethiopia, who have been subsisting on our generosity
for years, will finally succumb. And we ourselves will not be
too far behind.
of Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas 1718
are so Gulliver ...
I mean ... gullible.
is an old one. It was written approximately three hundred years
ago but could be modified to accommodate us here in Canada and
the US if famine hits us. It will not be favorable. A general
public outcry would ensue. But if our survival depended on its
implementation we would adopt it. I am reminded of the
Donner party and, in another instance, of the expression,
"Soccer players eat their dead."
What I am talking about is a variation on a solution
suggested in a satirical essay by an eighteenth century Irish
author named Jonathan Swift.
Yes, it is the same person who wrote
Gulliver's Travels that many of you may have seen
in its truncated film version for children but never read in
its entire version for adults. He is also the author of
"A Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People
in Ireland From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and
For Making Them Beneficial to The Public" known
simply as "A Modest Proposal"
published in 1729.
And therein rests our conundrum
and our solution. Swift suggested
that the poor people of Ireland
fatten their newborns and, at the age of twelve months, sell
them as roasts. What he actually said was this:
have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance
in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year
old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether
stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it
will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout."
you go. The people of Ireland
and elsewhere were aghast at his satirical proposal.
But would we be aghast if we were starving and all babies were
fair game, or perhaps seniors? I know
old birds are tough to chew. But isn't that why we invented
Serling proposed something similar. He saw humans as
alien fodder in the "To Serve
Man" episode of The
Twilight Zone from 1962
based on a 1950 short
story by Damon Knight. Beguiled
by promises of an alien Nirvana,
humans line up to travel to the oh-so-perfect
alien home world. But just in time, translators of the
alien tome come to a stark realization. What comes to mind is
the famous line: "It's a cook
Mandatory extermination at thirty
years of age as a means of population control is envisioned in
the Science Fiction film
Logan's Run from 1976
based on the 1967
dystopian novel by
William F. Nolan and George
Clayton Johnson. Here the oversized
bug-zapper called the Carousel
is used to disintegrate human beings. But according to
the First Law of Thermodynamics:
energy can be neither created nor destroyed. So, I hope
that the Carousel converted
or recycled the energy of the disintegrated
Last Dayers into something useful like electricity, heat,
Human bodies were
hijacked while people slept and replaced with pods that
quickly grew into vegetative replicas
of them while the people withered and died in the
1956 film Invasion of the
Body Snatchers based on the
1954 novel The Body Snatchers
by Jack Finney. Here
again, energy is converted and people are recycled albeit into
vegetative alien replicas
of themselves minus their irrational and violent demeanors. That's
good, isn't it?
MEAT weight 72 kg TYPE: free range
in North America consume chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys now.
Around the world, dolphins and whales are also consumed. But will
it be humans in the future? Where do we draw the line? Respect
the rights of these creatures to live a life. It's better for
them. It's better for you. In case you're thinking about going
vegan, chick peas make a great protein substitute. Who needs meat?
Rather than embalming the dead
and having their flesh turn into wax six feet under, in the
1973 Science Fiction
film Soylent Green,
based on the 1966 novel
Make Room! Make Room! by
Harry Harrison, human beings are recycled into processed
food wafers. Screech to a mental halt.
What? To me, this is the ultimate in human recycling
and a very real future possibility. I will forever look at
energy bars with suspicion.
Chris Carter and
Frank Spotnitz played with the
First Law of Thermodynamics too when they suggested in
Science Fiction film: X-Files:
Fight the Future that an alien virus resembling black
oil could infect our human bodies and illicit
spontaneous repopulation of aliens in our place. And
the aliens don't even look like us. They are utterly alien in
the worst way. They are not benevolent like the
pod creatures envisioned in
Body Snatchers. These green aliens with dark eyes
are vicious. They indeed are the Bug-Eyed
Monsters with sharp claws and teeth that your
grandma always warned you about when she tucked you in
at night. And they take everyone by surprise.
geometry of mass infection presents certain conceptual re-evaluations
for us about our place in their Colonization.
isn't Colonization, it's spontaneous repopulation. All our work...
if it's true, then they've been using us all along. We've been
laboring under a lie!
Who ever thought
recycling was so controversial, dramatic, and sinister. Oh my
And what would
we do if and when hoof and mouth
disease or an insidious influenza
all of our domesticated animals? Without beef, chicken, lamb,
or pork to eat, our cats and dogs would soon find a place into
our stew pots just like Swift's
one year old Irish babies. The common call:
"Come here, boy. Come here," would take on
a new and sinister connotation. And what would we take on as
pets. Let's hope it wouldn't be apes.
Pierre Boulle showed us where that would lead.