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Heavenly creatures

Planet Earth hosts a huge variety of species which live in a certain state of harmony. From chimpanzees and ants, to the cute koalas and the alien looking praying mantis, all creatures on earth share and breath the same gaseous substance known as oxygen with the strangest and yet most common member of the animal kingdom, the human being.

 Yes gentlemen, we are certainly the craziest and weirdest creature on earth, we can not fly, neither can we create spider webs or submerge hundreds of feet below sea level. But we do have one thing that other species do not have, and that, my dear sirs, is sweet beaurocracy; it would be impossible to imagine pigeons stamping documents in order for them to fly across the skies of Barcelona or salmon paying some fee to travel up river.

 Beaurocracy is not something new, in fact it is as old as we are and there is enough historical evidence to support that since the dawn of our species men had some sort of control methods to carry out their daily activities. I do not know if it was during those times that a supreme being appeared to men and asked the: “Pardon me gentlemen, but if you want to continue with your venture towards becoming the dominant species on the planet, you’ll have to rend tribute to us, your creators.” Then men asked: “How?” And it was those words that marked us forever. “Checks and balances of course.”  And we chose checks and balances and here we are… ants also received that same offer, but it is clear that they declined it.

The Egyptians and the ancient Chinese were noted for their complex beaurocratic systems; after all, the first major written piece in human history is about laws and beaurocracy, the Hammurabi code. Even the first major work of literature, the epic of Gilgamesh has some vestiges of these magnificent processes and let’s not talk about Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, which were plagued by corruption and inefficient systems. Yet for some reason, historians call the period in which Greek and Roman civilization thrived as the Classic Period; maybe because they all dressed in white robes and were all part of the beaurocracy.

 Centuries passed, and gentlemen let me be honest, nothing happened. A part from numerous wars, plagues, deaths, love and romances, and maybe some great pieces of art, human beings continued to be the same old creature that tries to keep control of everything. However it was not until the XIX Century and early XX Century that a series of individuals started to question our own existence and purposes in life; Names like Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, Camus and Kafka. It took us thousands of years to come up with a term that defines us as a species: Kafkaesque in honor of Mr. Franz Kafka. Let me note, that many of his generation also satirized society, but none of them had such a sexy last name that could represent all of us; our species’ denomination is sexy, its Kafkaesque.

We are heavenly creatures after all….

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3 thoughts on “Heavenly creatures

  1. Very nice. Though it seems hard to escape if we’re going to occupy the planet with insect-like numbers (6 BI and counting….). It may be that while chimps are our closest relatives, in genetic terms, bees, termites, and ants might be our closest cousins in cultural terms. Note that bureaucracy is, in relative terms, a recent human creation. For several hundred thousand years, at least, we lived in small hunter-gatherer groups that were by and large egalitarian, healthy, and fed by a diet with a greater level of animal protein than most post-neolithic societies have had access too. Of course, these were also very xenophobic warrior societies, too, that greeting strangers with a kill first, ask questions later attitude. Costs and benefits and tradeoffs. I do know that in my Kafkaesque city I can walk the streets at midnight with millions of others and feel relatively safe. Tradeoffs….. Nice post. Keep it coming. Heavenly creatures all.

  2. Also… Franz Kafka, from a letter to Oskar Pollak, 27 January 1904. One of my favorites!

    I believe that we should read only those books that bite and sting us. If a book we are reading does not rouse us with a blow to the head, then why read it? Because it will make us happy you tell me? My God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy we could, if necessary, write ourselves. What we need are books that affect us like some grievous misfortune, like the death of one whom we loved more than ourselves, as if we were banished to distant forests, away from everybody, like a suicide; a book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.

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