The dragon fly grabs the insect, eats it, makes it dragon fly. The hawk grabs the dragonfly, makes is hawk, and hawk shit. Insect, dragonfly, hawk ... eventually the vultures get it, the worms, the bacteria: turn whatever into vulture, worm, bacteria ... The cat kicks dirt over its shit: gets it to the bacteria faster: recycling, hygiene, and esthetics matching.
The hominid was as reluctant as any creature to be eaten by the leopard, but before his control of fire, before tool making, s/he couldn't do much about it. With fire control, with tool making, man eats the bird, the deer, kicks dirt over his shit (or sluices his shit into the river), but when dead he still doesn't want anything to eat him. No matter what, the worms, the bacteria will get him anyway, but survivors of the dead succeed in cutting the leopard, the hawk, the vulture out of the circuit. So we can be reborn with our bodies intact.
Asked what he would change if he could change any one thing about man, Gregory Bateson answered "the fear of death." That's deep: and I agree wholeheartedly. I add a wrinkle though: I believe we should transmute our wish to be preserved into a yearning to be recycled: to live on in the guts, then the tissues, of the wolf, the leopard, the shark ... the worms, the bacteria. Hell, we're all descended from the hollow-bodied worms; and they're descended from bacteria: go back to the source, be grandpa: or part of him.
Our attempts to preserve ourselves has always been illusion anyway: on several levels. The makeup is just makeup, a cover. There's no evidence that anyone has ever been born again into his old body: and how could it be? Even the Egyptians scooped the brains out as an early part of the mummification process. Does anyone really think that they'll do well back in an old dead body with the brains scooped out? I'm just reading the delicious Elmore Leonard's Mr. Paradise. In the morgue, they snip off the guy's rib cage; they lop this that and the other thing out of the dead chick, put the parts in a plastic bag, stick the plastic bag back in the cavities ... What's anybody but a worm or bacteria gonna do with all that? And even they, the bacteria, will have to wait till the plastic disintegrates. Might be a long time.
I want to be eaten up by my beloved bass, my bluegills, so long victimized by me, fooled to their panic, pain, and sometimes death (me nearly always eating the kill: very few mistakes, spoilage, waste), when I'm freshly dead (should I die ahem naturally), chopped up only for the eating convenience of the fish (my habits concerning small freshwater fish, not sharks).
Yes, as the body ages, the teeth disintegrate, the hearing fades, the eyesight fails, the mind loses its threads, can no longer even watch a movie uninterrupted, I believe we should look forward to being Other.
Even the bacteria, even the damn matter, will return to the Void. Greatgrandpa. Greatgrandma. Not even sexed.
2005 06 06 It wasn't altogether chance by which I selected sharks as an example the other day: I'd just been watching a movie of great white sharks breaking the ocean surface as they hunted fur seals from deep below, off an island on the African coast. Now today's Reuters has a story about sharks taking spear fishermen as the latter spew the waters with blood from their fish kills: then tether their catch to themselves! Just remember: the humans are behaving dangerously in shark water; the sharks doesn't come up to their apartment, knock on the door, and say "Candygram," as Chevy Chase, with a papiermaché shark head, did to Gilda Radner back on SNL.
Last evening there was a news item about residents near Yellowstone complaining about grissly bears in their back yard. Why then are they living near Yellowstone? That's where the fell human socity is trying to recover a bit of bear population. If they move to Los Angeles, they won't find any bears in their yard.
I still often wade while fishing. But it's been a while since I kept my fish string tied to my waist, thirty, forty, one mad (and unconsciously illegal) time I had roughly eighty-five big bluegills on my string. Even so the alligators never came closer to my string than say forty feet. They followed, but kept their distance. What though if they hadn't? What if one had started eating the bluegills off the hind-end of the string and worked their way closer till they were chewing on my rump? Well, I hope I would have tried to get out of the water. But I assure you: after invading THEIR turf, I wouldn't have gone crying to the lawmakers. If, when I lived in the Apple, a 'gator had climbed up out of the sewer, taken the elevator to my floor, knocked and said "Candygram," I would have shot the interloper. My turf was mine, not his.