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News ::
On the Historical Value of Underpants made of Hedgehogs. (english)
26 Jun 2003
News of an odd but irrefutable observation. This should help reconciliation freewheel effortlessly downhill for miles.

What follows is meant to give a shot in the arm to those who think living on this planet is a good idea and should be fun. It is also offered as a free gift to the tribally, religiously or nationally aggrieved amongst us, whose numbers diminish not. It was news to me, when it dawned on my slow brain, and may be to you also. This notion is hence called, with profound modesty, Ravenscroftís Rule. It is my sooth, and I am going to say it. I donít care if it was sayed in 1329 by a famous Sufi monk from Patagonia, I am not well enough informed to know of him and claim plagiaristís rightís. It is so called because it seems to be my one chance of making my pencil mark on history apart, that is, from what it implies itself, which makes all that utterly irrelevant.

Here is Ravenscroftís Rule: Prehistory was Perfect. R2P2. If you are happy to be here, prehistory, that is history pre you, was absolutely perfect. If it had been the minutest bit different, any time between the big bang and the little one of particular relevance to you, you would not exist. Someone else would be here instead.

This follows from two rather simple biological observations, which are both utterly definite and irrefutable. The connection should have been seen just after the microscope was invented, but it seems it was not. Or at least, I never heard. Observation one. Each one of us is the product of just one particular sperm and one particular egg. Underline particular. Walk anti-clockwise round it, and look at it from the south on a grey day. Flip it over and scratch it. Still the same. Change either the sperm or the egg and there is absolutely no way you can get the same person.

Now for observation two. At any given joyous and chemically explosive romantic meeting, there are millions of sperm about, and almost any one of them will do, just fine. So, split-second timing was required to get the outcome that produced you. It was not of any particular importance to the universe that the result should have been you, and not any one of a million other possible people. If you think about it, it was a close call, a hairline finish. You and I and everyone else almost didnít make it. We are the products of wild chance and of very long odds. I do not for a second expect you to care a ratís about whether I made it or not, and you will appreciate in return that I am not particularly fussed about you being there or not, as we are never likely to meet. Odds being what they are, one of the other million would probably have been far sexier, friendlier, keener to part with their money to my advantage, or just more willing to read the junk I write. I am an incurable optimist, as you see. But, if you are having fun, or even if you are just marginally this side of suicidal most days, you might care to think about the circumstances that gave rise to you. Unless you wish to remain forever a bit biologically deluded.

So, if history had not been exactly the way it was, never mind that your mother and father would not have met, that is trivial. Your sperm and egg would never have met anyway, and someone else would have got all your chocolate biscuits and your toothbrushes. You are post-1944 Jewish? Adolf was on your side, sport. Your great-grandparents may well regard you as a traitor for this, if they experienced his various kindnesses themselves, but that is their problem, and not your fault. You are a post-1788 Australian aborigine? Most of the folk about are the later models, these days, I suspect. If so, Jimmy Cook and Co were essential to your being here. No Jimmy, daft hat and daft ideas and all, no you or me. Other folk, sure, just not us. Equally essential, in both cases, of course, were Ghengis Khan, his pony, and the prickle he once sat on instead. And the trilobites. All of them. That butterfly in the Amazon, in 1405? That too.

They do not teach the iron realities of personal prehistory in schools. Schools always have been mostly either collections of little boys and girls for priests to play with, or training grounds for patriots that generals will later cremate outdoors. Some are in between or out on the fringes of those high ideals, but they mostly donít do much better on this particular front. The perfection of personal prehistory makes it very difficult to induce and maintain the group-grudge. That in turn makes it difficult for priests, professors and air force pilots to live off the labors of the benighted and resentful herds. Nationalism and religions all sort of lose their ginger without the long-hallowed gripe.

I hope this helps. If not, I wish you a lifetimeís supply of underpants made of hedgehogs. You may not be grateful, but someday millions will be.

Hooroo. Peter Ravenscroft. Copy freely. Midwinterís day, 2003.
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