Mark A. Carter

RECYCLING: baby eating,
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 writer 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, anyone?

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 be recycled.

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 recycling too.

And for that reason I am scared. I am scared that our world will be destroyed by the cosmopoietic, geopoietic, and xenopoietic 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. Gone.

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 Daily-News, only 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.

Portrait of Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas 1718
People are so Gulliver ...
I mean ... gullible.

The solution 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:

"I 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."

There 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 meat tenderizers?

Rod 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 book." Yikes.

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, or light.

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?


HUMAN MEAT weight 72 kg TYPE: free range
People 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 the 1998 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.

The geometry of mass infection presents certain conceptual re-evaluations for us about our place in their Colonization.

This 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 wipes out 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.

Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut, 1493

Ring around the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes, Ashes,

We all fall down.

Roud Folk Song Index #7925

Recycling human beings gives a whole new meaning to the cry heard often during the dark ages when the Bubonic Plague ran rampant throughout the Middle East and Europe and wiped out four hundred and fifty million people between the years 1346 and 1353: "Throw out your dead." Oi. Never.

NOTE: 450,000,000 people died in Europe and Asia from the Bubonic plague sometimes called the Black Death in a mere 8 years.

If the Black Death returns in the future, and it has recurred many times over the centuries, and we are starving, I don't know. Perhaps we'll cook our dead. The meat that we acquire from the butcher counter at the supermarket is quite dead, after all, but nicely packaged and sprinkled with nitrates to make it look like live kill. But meat is meat. And I would rather see a family member recycled through me than through the gut of a stranger.

I'm sure the government will find a way to sanitize the diseased carcasses of Plague victims and press them into some form of Soylent Green wafer. But, if we are abandoned by the government in our time of need, and left to our own ingenuity, we may have to cook the dead in the old fashioned way in order to survive. So, I have included a recipe. Feel free to add Curry s'il vous plaît. Enjoy.

RECIPE: To cook a family member who has perished from Yersinia pestis, you must be sure to kill the bacteria. In culture, this can be done by exposing the bacteria to phenol then heating to 131 Fahrenheit for fifteen minutes. But that process would render meat toxic and unpalatable. Instead, I recommend that you dissect the cadaver into thin cutlets. The gluteus maximus or gastrocnemius muscles would make excellent choices. Marinate in red wine for an hour. Place a quarter cup of canola oil in a deep skillet. Turn the heat on high. Place the cutlets in the skillet. Add chopped garlic and onion. Sprinkle with pepper, poultry seasoning, and salt. And turn cutlets regularly until golden brown on both sides. Serve with potatoes and mixed vegetables. Garnish with Posies. Et bon appétit.

This recipe works for most things dead.

Just to be safe, I'll have my cutlet well done. Thank you very much. Sorry Virginia. For a great snack, chop off dead fingers, marinate, barbeque well, and serve up in lieu of chicken wings. I call them Zombie treats. Right. Sure. You bet.

Me thinks, me does, that it's safer to become a vegetarian.

By the way, if you take this rant seriously, you may have an AB Normal brain. For those of you who haven't seen Young Frankenstein, 1974, by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, and just don't get the obvious word play, it means that your brain is defective and may have been recycled. Check yourself for a zipper neck. Am I the only one?

Read: Antisocial
Bug-Eyed Monsters
Social Media
Time Warp
Thought Crime

Now you know.

from the imagination of Mark A. Carter - writer

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