(9/6/2007) In this dream I’m watching and old man taking his grandson on his first hunting and gathering expedition. The setting feels distinctly like my imagination of Native Americans in a woodland settings. There are inconsistencies though. The boy has blue-gray eyes and the old man’s face, while darkly tanned, shows distinctly Caucasian features. The two are wandering from a village of nomadic huts, only meant to endure a season and then abandoned to the elements. They take a small winding trail through the forest; the sort that would be consumed without a trace if not for the constant footfalls of the hunters and gatherers coming and going.
The boy is eager and quickly points out animals they could hunt or foods they could gather, but his grandfather nods “no” each time. A wild pig? No, the grandfather explains that this animal’s flesh is taboo. Forest chicken? No, taboo as well. Trout in a stream? The list goes on and on. Even many familiar plants like lush apples and succulent grapes illicit a dire warning from the boy’s elder.
It starts to dawn upon me that each of the animals the grandfather dismisses is something you and I eat now in our civilization. More so, these “wild” forms don’t look all that wild to me. Each is only slightly feral, more like a farm animal that has wandered off from its pen and become ruffled and dirty.
Also, I do not think that the grandfather is dismissing these animals for spiritual or ideological reasons. He is quite certain and quite correct that they are taboo because they are deadly.
Other images enter into the dream as the two wander…
- Across a “black river trail”; the remains of an aspalt road all but hedged to a footpath by intruding vegetation.
- A field of flat rock slabs used to grind nuts and grains into flour. Looking closely I can see the barely visible dates of births and deaths on them.
- Black, leathery sheathed vines that can be stripped for the shiny ductile metal within. Perfect for tools, hunting weapons and adornment.
My mind wanders to an earlier time. People are starving. Crops and animals designed and manipulated for optimal fecundancy are changing. Their very nature is becoming incompatible with the biological needs of their consumers. At first their nutritional value simply drops, their creators cannot digest the esoteric and novel composition of their tailored flesh and fiber. The results ripple across the vast food-producing belts of the world created famines and shortages, which in turn triggered strife and conflict.
This is only the beginning. Incomparability escalates to toxicity. In a ironic twist, the very process of harnassing genetic modification to humanity’s benefit gives those species a lethal defense against their former masters.
The cornerstone species of plants and animals that allowed the rise of the agricultural super-population of humanity have disappeared.
It dawns upon me that what I am seeing is the remains of humanity forced to rely on the second and third string food sources that remain.
I know its an alarmist vision laced with elements of Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel analysis of the rise of agriculture and animal husbandry, but I was surprised at how my dreaming mind initiately wrapped it in the form of a anthropology documentary.