Simon and Garfunkel gave us a take on the reality of life back about 1967 with this particular recording. Sure, it was a fanciful look at zoology but I think it mirrored out news sources and daily events. I had to wait a couple of years before I heard this song, it did not make Armed Forces Radio until about late 1968. Well, Tet was more important as a celebration. But to think that zebras are reactionary is quite striking. As for monkeys being honest, not on your tin type. As it was, the Zoo was merely a metaphor for the world, if you like, or the world news if you are more exacting. MSNBC is just another hazy shade of winter? Yeah, it could be. More than likely it is a den of jackals snatching what sustenance it can from a very limited viewership
So the Russians like giraffes are insincere, what else is new?. Switching authors, this is the winter of our discontent, a novel I read when I was twelve. Can’t say I totally understood the premise, as a child on the cusp of semi-maturity I found it boring. But one does tend to finish what one starts, seems there is character to be gotten by doing so. Sort of like going to war. Only I don’t recommend that as a personal practice and I speak from experience. Well, how many individuals remember Edwin Starr? I love Eddie Murphy’s lipsynch to the song in the movie “Rush Hour” with Jackie Chan. Well, 1970 was a little late for me but I could feel the angst. So it is with the problems of the Ukraine. I am, in some respects, a historian in that I read a fair amount of history and god knows I watch enough documentaries on the subject. I discover new ares of interest and one of those areas has been eastern Europe. I have read a few books on the various countries but I’ve never studied the war on the ‘Eastern Front’ as conducted by the Germans and the Russians and their minions. But the little bit I have read, and let me tell you, you can get lost in the amount of information, enough to choke a PhD candidate, it was an extremely vicious war. So here we have Russian separatists killing Ukrainians over land both have shared so much blood in the past. If Putin withdrew his support the Russian separatist would collapse to the superior numbers of Ukrainians. Ukrainians have little love for Russians. Their past is filled with subjugations by many different countries. the Poles, the Lithuanians, the Russians, the Cossacks, and so forth. Well, I might as well tall of the history of the Poles as well. That entire area is one nest of unhappy people with pedigrees of grievances.
The Greeks, on the other hand have a long history of conquests and subjugation. The first real history books, those of college level, were of the Greeks. To read Pericles and the Peloponnesian Wars was an invitation to the historic tradition of understanding culture and movements in civilization. I was fourteen at the time and had discovered those American Heritage bound magazine books. There was always a bit of world history in them as well as the usual American fare. The world was wide and open and I was eager to learn. I can’t even remember all those books. I read histories of military campaigns and conquests in the Mediterranean, the civilization of our known world. Except that the Egyptians had a great deal of input prior to all that. What would I have done without Will Durant? I still haven’t made it through all eleven volumes, but I will before I come to lay my head to rest. Yes, it’s all happening at the Zoo.
I find that it is much easier these days to take the long view of the world. I don’t think I’l ever read enough history but from what I have read I have been able to form an opinion that looks at both the past and the present and sees what possibilities are offered for the future. We tend to think of historians as backward looking, stuck in the past events at best and impossible of thinking of the present, let alone the future, at worst. But history is more the study of patterns. A pattern is little more than the recurrence of events that have similarities that join them together. One computes batting averages and earned run averages in baseball to the same effect. The past tells us something about the possible future occurrences In psychology we call it habituation. Surprise, surprise, that is one way to view patterns of behavior. Behaviorism is more about probability than anything else. Given a set of past behaviors what is the probability that that a certain behavior will come to pass? We bet on horses, boxing matches, football games, anything that provides predictable patterns. Did you ever notice that few people ever bet on the weather? Somehow we just don’t trust the weatherman.
Life is full of Zoos. We call them corporations and government agencies. We might get sacrilegious and call them religions. But human activity is this arena in which we act and react. It is, in the words of Desmond Morris, a Human Zoo. Yes, I read the book way back when. That is the wonderful thing about knowledge, it has its patterns that guide human understanding. And what is the payoff at the end? I can’t say. Perhaps heaven is understanding something more of the world when you exit than when you entered it. Not that I wish to exit anything soon. I rather fancy myself as a kicker and a screamer. I have always been a misfit, a nonconformist, and a nonbeliever, so I see no reason to go gentle into that good night. Meanwhile I will continue to observe and report, rail and rant, when necessary. We need more disruption in our lives, we need to be challenged, we need to be able to state our beliefs and our objections. We need to stamp around in our boots and make noise to show that we are alive, that we exist, that we are. We are in this human zoo.