Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Long before, or perhaps at about the same time, James Lovelock came up with his Gaia Hypothesis, Gahan Wilson wrote an essay about "It".

Gahan Wilson, who I am surprised to find is still alive, is a cartoonist in the same genre of dark, grotesque humor as Charles Addams. In his essay entitled "It", Wilson speculated that the Earth as a whole was an organism, which he called "It". He did Lovelock one better in assuming that this organism was teleological, that it had a will and a consciousness. (Lovelock, I think is careful to not assign any conscious will to the Earth, to avoid seeming a bit too New Agey and kooky).

Wilson - since the essay, as I recall, was published in the National Lampoon - was under no compulsions to be all serious and scientific-like. His argument was that the Earth had decided to reproduce, and so "It" decided to evolve creatures that could move out into space, and take a baby "It" with them. "It" probably tried and failed a few times with evolving things. If the creatures didn't work out, the creatures would be folded back into the mix and a new attempt made. "It" doesn't really care so much about the creatures so long as they do what "It" wants, which is to develop space-faring technologies. If the creatures need to tear up parts of the planet, lay waste to some of the landscape to get at metals and resources and stuff, well, no problem. It's not like "It" hasn't been through worse throughout the course of Her 4 billion-year-plus lifetime.

Wilson speculated (this is the 70s mind you), that the reason humankind was building megamalls and developing disgusting processed food was to get used to the cramped and unnatural living conditions expected in the journeys through space. Funny thing. Wilson came across something that may actually be true to explain trivial fads. (Although the processed food shtick is still going strong).

I for one think Wilson may be on to something. I'm not all that serious about it, but it's an idea I can entertain. Not necessarily that "It" has any specific proposal in mind for us (or if it does I can only hope that it is sufficiently ironic and grotesque to satisfy my Wilsonian sense of humor). After all George Carlin speculated that maybe the Planet wanted Plastic, and the sole purpose of humankind was to give the Earth plastic. And now that we have done this, the planet is pretty much done with us, and we will all "be shaken off her back like a bad case of fleas".

But I do think that "It" being the vast, lava-gutted, rock-hided, giant monster organism that "It" is, makes no small plans.

1 comment:

  1. I can get behind that. It's not too great a leap. I have felt like "It" has been trying to shrug off humans for a while now.