Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Rant on Ants

Welcome to another rant on ants. Rants on ants are always the go-to essay for all great writers when they have nothing else to say. Because -- and this is where you nod -- we all have the same problem with the little buggers.

Emerson did a rant, as every yawning 8th grader can tell you, in his essay on Self-Reliance:
All men's prayers to be rid of ants are a disease of the will, making a disease of their creeds. You must do it yourself! But they say with those foolish Israelites, 'Let God smite this pestilence, lest we die trying. Heed thou, comfort any man of us, and we will receive thy help.' Everywhere I am hindered of my brother's despair for ants, because simply shutting his own door is no relief; to say otherwise is to believe fables, both against man's ability and of God's desire. Every mind may prove itself a mind of uncommon activity and power, with the innate cleverness to smite ants quite apart from Divinity!
Locke, Lavoisier, Hutton, Bentham, and Fourier, each one took up mental arms and successfully killed ants, for the most part. The system one chooses will be in proportion to the depth of the thought, and so the disposal of ants is within the reach of each pupil, if not for complacency. Exercising self-reliance, the pupil shares the delight of the learned in subordinating them to man's greater will, as a girl who has just learned botany enjoys seeing a new earth and new seasons thereby.
And yet how many will not learn, will not act! They do not yet perceive, that light, unsystematic, indomitable, will break into any cabin, even theirs. Let them chirp awhile and call it their own, until they're overrun with ants! Yet, if they are honest and do well, presently their problem, common to all, will die away and vanish, and the immortal light, all young and joyful, million-orbed, million-colored, will beam over the universe as on the first morning, before the first ant darkened this sod. 
And I believe it was De Quincey, in Confessions of an English Opium Eater, who observed:
If a man “whose talk is of ants” should become an opium-eater, the probability is that (if he is not too dull to dream at all) he will dream about ants.
Heh, that's a good advertisement for opium! I'd love to see some before and after pictures of opium-eaters! I'll bet they about scratch themselves to death in their sleep! Then they wake up, eat some more, go back to sleep and finish the job. All thanks to ants.

--BEGINNING OF MY ANT RANT: "Everything's Little, Everything's Big" --

I've been killing ants. I hate killing, but sometimes I just have to do it. Like when I'm overrun with them.

Thinking of ants, I observe that they seem to be very tribal. At least that's what I imagine about them. Queen ants, drones, sort of similar to bees. One of the weird things about ants is how much weight they can carry in relation to themselves. Like me trying to carry all the groceries in at once. That's why I choose plastic, although it's a killer on the hands.

That said, ants are also the ultimate punctual being, showing up at the butt crack of midnight the first day of spring. Somehow -- planned obsolescence -- the poison from last year expired yesterday and is ineffectual! Weird, because I know when I hit obsolescence it only made me bigger and better.

So that leaves me trying to kill them one by one, a hopeless task only presenting a tiny glimmer of hope by the certain knowledge that though they're numerous, they're not infinite. Were they infinite, I'd have to step up the pace of killing to keep up. Although, strictly, anything infinite necessarily tramples itself to death.

Falling short of that, it's up to me to kill them, even if it's against my conscience. I feel sad for the Queen, back in the nest, going, "WTF's going on with the drones? Either a revolt or some guy killed them." She has other worries too. The last few drones, seeing she offers no protection, might quickly evolve a patriarchal society, arming up for mutual protection. Leaving her to submit, accept a ceremonial role, and occasionally dress as a humble nurse to console the wounded in battle.

The thing that freaks me out about killing ants is how they must look under a microscope. Because I know if I had better eyes, they'd look immense and a horror. Then I'd see the true terror of the whole thing. I'm already thinking of it and feeling sick. This also goes for any truly microscopic being, but I have to say it's not sentimentality; I just prefer living and letting live, but, you know, you hate to be overrun. Too much mercy's a thankless thing.

Still, think of how big an ant is compared to a truly microscopic being. They're like a redwood! Now imagine the downside of that. Ants have to poop. Can you picture the droppings from something the size of a redwood all over your Formica counter? Not to mention the food on your counter, bananas, etc.

But here's the killer to the whole thing. Regardless of what we do, the future is wide open for ants and other vermin. Because, friends, I hate to break it to you, but I don't see the human species making it literally millions of years. But ants no doubt will...

Something like this is happening: We're macro but live in micro time. They're micro but live in macro time. We think we're "so bad" because our country's a little over 200 years old. Big deal. The creatures in macro time don't even think about celebrating till it's been a million years. So we destroy our environment, stupidly, because of this micro time thinking. But ants -- all they need is air, water, and whatever food happens to be handy, so macro time is theirs.

Someday, though---- Someday, long after we're gone, maybe they'll be like us. Maybe the little will become big, the size of dinosaurs, and demand too much from their environment. Until a meteor, the ultimate ant poison, comes blasting from the distant reaches of outer space, and finally gives them their comeuppance. And who knows? This is a great thought, who knows if it's one of our own space probes, arranged by our smartest scientists 100 million years in the past, that is the very thing to tilt that meteor toward earth! Isn't that great? That ants become complacent, being rid of us for 100 million years, and yet we still manage to kill them in the end.

No comments: