A quote about Nature that sounds smart but is wrong

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

This initially sounds smart:

“We like to romanticize the wild, raw, majestic beauty of nature. But when you take a closer look, nature is really just a giant fuckfest. That beautiful bird chirping? It’s a mating call. That pretty little bird is trying to get laid. And why does the peacock have such beautiful feathers? To attract females. Because he’s trying to get laid.

Animals in the wild spend their entire lives trying to stay alive, and to mate. That’s it. They eat, they sleep, they fuck, they raise their offspring. That’s the meaning of their lives.”

– Oliver Markus Malloy

One has to wonder if this person has ever walked through a forest and simply looked around. Malloy’s comment is simply wrong, and obviously wrong, to anyone who’s ever spent much time watching animals. When I visit my mom’s house, and look out at the backyard, what impresses me most is the opposite of what seems to impress Malloy. My mom has a bird feeder, which she keeps full, yet the birds only eat there two or three hours in the morning, and then two or three before sunset. When I look up at the trees, I see the birds there, but they don’t seem to be doing anything. They are not eating, even though the bird feeder is waiting for them. They are not singing. They are not flying. They are mostly just hanging out.

Of procreation and eating Malloy says “That’s the meaning of their lives”. That is a large claim, and there is no evidence for it. Possibly the birds sit on those branches considering the meaning of existence, or maybe not. I don’t know how to ascertain this.

This truth has been noted about most large animals: that they spend large amounts of time simply chilling out. They like to relax. If we measure meaning by time spent, then we could argue that relaxation is the meaning of their lives. Or in the case of cats, we could say that sleeping is the meaning of their lives.

There is a kind of politics implicit n Malloy’s words, but they are disguised as a kind of allegory about Nature. But the allegory is entirely wrong. And therefore the politics are very likely wrong. Never trust a man who relies on allegories but can’t be bothered to make the allegories accurate.