Stephen Kahn

Watch out for the Wichi

In Bad news on March 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm

 My wife and I are continuing to read the cheerful BBC book, Tropic of Capricorn. Simon Reeve, the author, seems to be a cheerful person, even as he travels to and reports on misery and suffering all around the world. Perhaps Dr. Ilardi should study his life style, nutrition, exercise schedule, and so on to see how he combats depression. Perhaps it is that he keeps moving. Perhaps a nomadic way of life combats depression.

We are currently reading about the indigenous people of Argentina, the Wichi. As with the San of Botswana and the aborigines of Australia, they were well-suited to their habitat and their habitat is now being wiped out by “civilization.” (In this case, logging and replacing the forests with soybean factory farming.)

Before civilization depressed them, they were not depressed. Reeve describes a honey-gathering expedition in some remaining forest. The tribe gathers wild honey from fierce bees. The honey is delicious, with a complex flavor like no honey he ever tasted before. (I wondered, like a rare vintage wine?)

 The bees attack the gatherers fiercely. (Reeve gets stung on the nose.) At the end, the Wichi guide says, “We must be going now. A bigger swarm is coming.”

First, who has time to be depressed when you are slurping up wonderful, rare honey and fleeing killer bees?

 Second, I ask again, should civilization be saved? Why?

Anyway, it may be too late. A bigger swarm may be on the way even as I type this. I am going to go to the gym and exercise. My personal trainer served in the military before becoming fitness director for the gym; perhaps he will organize us into a militia to defend the island, while the peace and love brigade of transition Whidbey will throw flowers at the killer bees.

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  1. I love the under-stated, calm delivery of that line: “We must be going now. A bigger swarm is coming.”

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