Snowy California?!? WTF?
Just east of Lake Tahoe is the smaller Donner Lake, which I drove by on my way from California to Colorado in 2005. The lake and surrounding area was named after the Donner Party, a group of pioneers braving the Sierra Nevadas in 1846 to travel west to California, and who subsequently became trapped by snow in the unforgiving mountains. The story is unique and tragic as many of the party didn’t make it out, and those who did staved off hunger by cannibalizing some of those who had perished. It’s an interesting story in it’s sad comic irony, but also from an anthropological perspective; a commentary on the definition and boundaries of humanity.
Is the civility of a species determined by it’s normalized behaviour when survival is favoured, or by the range of possibilities when threatened; times of stress providing perhaps a more accurate definition, and most certainly painting the underlying fabric of morality as a more broad-brush spectrum, touching extremes in both directions. Is modern western society today an illusion of the higher ethical range born by over-compensation of politically correct, and bred by an inflated value on the individual versus group? A false sense of security, and pretentious self-satisfaction at how empathetic we’ve become in an age of plenty; where the keys to artificially enhanced survival rest behind the glass of battery powered defibrillators in public spaces and pharmacy counters pushing pills; and on the shelves of supermarkets from where you can’t quite glimpse the smoke from power generation stacks steadfastly firing electrons out into the grid of nonchalance.
Well stocked supermarket shelves and relatively cheap energy are fueling the degradation of basic survival skills; and amidst the so-called refined, there’s a tendency toward high-brow disdain for such low-fi, tacky meat-eating savagery; which is perhaps tip of arrow for primal instinct and the will to live. Or is it the other way around, the human condition adjusting for survival requirements in real time; real-time here being generational divides a generation wide. Could the apathetic entitled children of the new millenia spring forth from the sofa and translate the plot of a video game into real-life skills if the need arose in a serious enough way; or would the will to live be too much trouble to merit pausing the video game long enough to yell up to their mother for a sandwich…haha…now that’s cynical! Has the human condition for some devolved to the point where it’s too much trouble to survive; or is that something so engrained in the firmware of the mind as to not be possible to consciously contradict?
On another note, there used to be a punk rock band in Halifax called Donner Party Reunion…I’m pretty sure I saw them play back in the early 90’s. Here’s a video of them from the old Flamingo.