While I was rebuilding this website after it collapsed like a house of cards a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that perhaps I should finally explain a thing or two:
What is pelshval? Or who? And what is he, she or it doing here?
The Norwegian word “pelshval” means furry whale. There is no such thing, you will argue, as a furry whale, and I will concede that you are most probably right. But can we be absolutely sure? To this day new species are being discovered, not least in the sea, species that have been there forever, but have managed to evade our attention. If whales are as singularly intelligent as they are said to be, could there not be some individuals who have had the sense to stay clear of humans?
At any rate, just as so many other species, the furry whales will have become extinct by now, if they ever existed, except – perhaps – for one single individual leading a solitary life, keeping out of site, in the seemingly endless seas surrounding our continents. It must be terribly lonely down there; nobody to sing to in waters that are no longer pure and hardly even refreshing.
Things have changed, for the better for some of us, for the worse for others. Personally, I remember a time before all my friends started spending the better part of their free time lolling around in social media on their smart phones. I won’t even begin to enumerate the sweet memories from back then – from before then, that is. I’m sure you have some too, if you’re old enough. If you’re not that old, you will coolly tell me that my memories are selective, that there is plenty of stuff I decline to remember. And you will be right, not just probably right. You will be absolutely right!
But that does not alter the fact that some of us are a little slow. While most whales have discarded superfluous fur, there might be at least one who has not. While most people have lost interest in wasting time finding a lonely spot by a river where they can light a small fire and lie on the bare ground singing mournful songs to the stars, some very few have not.
And while most of us get lost, from time to time, in sweet-smelling memories of the camp fires of our youth, a minority obstinately ruminates on the bitter leitmotif that something invaluable has been lost and can never be retrieved without a great communal act of will. The shorthand for the previous sentence is: We have irretrievably lost our way.
Since time immemorial, our species has found ways to form tribes, to cooperate tribally, to share and sacrifice tribally. I’m not an anthropologist, but I find myself wondering whether a human tribe’s existential raison d’être isn’t merely an enemy tribe. If all Russians and all Chinese were to commit collective suicide, what would we in the West do? Would we then, finally, buckle down to doing the right thing by our planet or would we also commit collective suicide?
The furry whale shakes his shaggy head as he circles the continents. No, premeditated collective suicide is not on the agenda, neither for the one nor the other block, just the average human’s great confusion of ideals, visceral reactions, misunderstood science, childhood traumas, loves, empowerment, bad digestion, unhappy marriages, vengefulness, etc., etc.
Solve all that, the furry whale snorts, and you will heal the planet. Else, we will see involuntary collective suicide.