Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Monstrosity. The monstrous. I’ve been thinking about them lately. Entities whose growth runs riot, beyond all rational or irrational bounds, to the point where they outrun the ability of nature to contain or tolerate them.

We have many monsters in our time; in fact, this may be the age of monsters. The United States as an empire without the opposition of the Soviet Union to balance or contain it (or its "free" economic system). Until 2006, the Republican Party, as exemplified by the Bushies, without the constraint of a viable Democratic Party to curb its unprecedented abuses of power. Israel, the sole nuclear power in the Middle East yet still claiming to be under seige, to justify its attempts to destroy an entire people, an entire region. Wal Mart, the retailer with buying and selling and hiring practices so ruthless that no Sears, much less local retailers, can compete with it. Microsoft, whose stolen operating system has become so integral to the manufacture of PCs that none any longer even question its hegemony. And of course our revered human species, now at 6 billion and growing, whose triumph over every predator and dominance of every ecosystem now threatens the survival of all life on earth, including its own.

In each of these cases, the success of the species or business or political or national entity runs so thoroughly amok that, like the dinosaurs, it leads to monstrosity. And as with the dinosaurs, nature or the universe at some point responds, and strikes back at so monstrous an imbalance. For that is what monstrosity is: imbalance. The lack of a predator, of a competitor, of a legal constraint, of an inhibitory factor which normally balances growth in a natural system, which indeed defines natural systems. All natural systems thrive on this inhibition vs. growth dance. The ancient Taoists imaged the idea as the yin/yang figure: where black exactly balances white, where one curve exactly balances the equal and opposite other. Where this inhibitory factor is temporarily lacking, on the other hand, monstrosity arises. And you have growth without limit, domination without limit, the crowding out of all other attempts to grow or be or survive.

Until, that is, enough is enough. Until, that is, nature responds with tiny counterbalancing factors, little revolts, small denials of hegemony, miniscule organisms that grow in the shadows of monstrosity too small to be noticed. Until they strike. This response, this natural restoration can be cruel and indifferent in the extreme. It can be a worldwide bacteria or virus, an Aids epidemic, a shift in the climate, a sudden rise in an opportunistic population which says no, which optimizes itself by preying on the wealth and size of monstrosity, which initiates terror in the night. And when it comes, as come it must, monstrosity must collapse of its own weight, a weight which allows it to be surprised, knocked off balance, rendered helpless to respond quickly enough, precisely enough.

Now, at this moment, the signs are growing that monstrosity, the monstrosities mentioned above and others not even thought of, are reaching critical mass. The planet is gathering its destructive responses. The universe is gathering its miniscule minions. Which is at it should be. For nature not only abhors a vacuum, it harbors a repugnance for monstrosity, which it must, in the end, retard, reverse, cause to collapse of its own weight, and disappear. Whereupon all the little entities which have been crushed beneath it for so long can rise, and dance upon its putrefying, recycling, unwept-for corpse.

Lawrence DiStasi

No comments:

Post a Comment