The Dinosaur’s Prayer

I have deeply mixed feelings about the writing and legacy of Arthur Koestler. I own one of his books in my personal library, and my feelings about that book capture, in a nutshell, my feelings about the legacy and writing of the man. The Thirteenth Tribe is a book about the Khazar Empire, a long-lasting but almost entirely forgotten empire powerful from the 7th century to the late 10th century in what is now the Ukraine and southern Russia. Half of The Thirteenth Tribe is an immensely interesting book about this forgotten empire and its adoption of Judaism by its rulers in order to avoid falling into either the Byzantine Empire’s sphere of influence or the Arabic sphere of influence. Unfortunately, the other half of the book is a biased and terrible example of ethnology gone wrong by making unsupportable hypotheses about how the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe were descended from the Khazars.

And that fits Arthur Koestler’s legacy in a nutshell. He had obviously great intuitive powers, and he could come up with occasionally startling insights. But his left-wing antinominan self-hatred (typical among that sector of the Jewish population, sadly) did him no favors as a thinker and as a historian. For every Darkness At Midnight, where Koestler examined why it was that committed Communists would lie and incriminate themselves in Stalin’s show trials (a more insightful investigator would have understood that by virtue of their acceptance of Communism as a viable social system such people had already abdicated their sanity and good sense). However, being as committed to left-wing ideology as he was, Arthur Koestler could not examine the fact that Stalinism, for all its extremes, was only slightly less sensible than his own views.

Nonetheless, we owe a debt of gratitude to the man not only for his history of the Khazar Empire (if we must throw away his bogus ethnology), and not only for his frightening picture of Stalinist paranoia, but also for his work “The Dinosaur’s Prayer.” In it he lays down a problem that we all face largely because so many of us in society have been harmed by the worldview of Koestler and his fellow travelers like Gramsci. Many people love dinosaurs (I still do, and I especially did as a child), and we all know they are extinct. The dinosaur’s prayer is “a little more time” in the hope to fix wrongs before extinction comes.

Koestler was not alone in making that plea. In the children’s novel My Teacher Flunked The Planet, Bruce Coville makes the same plea. Through the mouthpiece of his idealistic young hero Peter Thompson, he has humanity pleading for more time and more instructors to mature and grow as a species and to avoid judgment. For Bruce Coville, as well as Arthur Koestler, understood at a deep level that humanity was worthy of judgment. And so did the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when they continually had Captain Jean-Luc Picard, plalyed ably by Patrick Stewart, dealing with the endless trials from the merciless and semi-divine Q.

What all of these disparate thinkers and writers understood is that our actions as a species merit judgment. They differ widely in worldview, and on what grounds merit judgment but they all understood that shared collective blame and faced collective judgment unless we had more time. Time is the friend of those in need. More time means at least more potential resources, which is why bogus evolutionary theories always include a lot of time for mutations to add up into massive changes, aware that without time there can be no possible evolutionary pathways. If even evolutionists can understand this (those whose mental powers are not terribly great, but whose faith is tenacious, even if misguided), then clearly the rest of us ought to see it easily enough.

But it is not time alone that is sufficient. Right now much of civilized world (and many of its citizens, myself included) are burdened with unsustainable amounts of debt. These debts were freely taken on, in the (misguided) hope that they would help increase resources so that later on the debt could be repaid. They were a calculated risk that, all other things being equal, things would be better later by borrowing now. And largely that hasn’t happened. Our society pays of present political problems with massive and unfunded social obligations, without the means to pay for them and without the moral will to do something to avoid reckoning except for making the burden worse. But we cannot blame our society for doing this since we as individuals do no differently.

The hope, of course, is that time will allow some sort of resources to develop or some sort of solution to develop that will allow judgment to be avoided. At some point there is some behavioral change required too if one wishes to avoid the chasm. If all one is doing is hoping that time alone will cause the problem to go away while doing the same sort of activity that got you into trouble, all you will end up is more trouble. More rope, apart from a change of behavior, will only get you hanged more completely or even further from the top of the cliff. It is finding those resources and changing behavior that is the big problem.

And so we pray the dinosaur’s prayer, recognizing that judgment day is coming for ourselves and for our societies but not able to really focus on the problem until it is very advanced. It is a shame that our societies or we ourselves cannot receive “intervention” for problems that merit judgment so that we can hit a ‘high bottom’ and avoid the suffering and misery of having to go all the way to rock bottom. Oh that we were wiser and had more sense, but most of us only learn through the school of hard knocks.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to The Dinosaur’s Prayer

  1. Some people were stranded on a deserted island and they thought to fullfil their needs. Some became carpenters and furnished the community with shelter and restoration as the need arose. Some became farmers and supplied the things of the earth and meat. Some became fishermen and satisfied their needs from the things in the sea.
    In time they were producing too much and needed an acceptable way to exchange goods and services.

    One day they were sitting at the beach and a man approached on a raft who was also stranded. The people of the community told the man about there problem and the man said that he could work it for them but he needed a warm place to rest and some food and fresh water.
    The carpenters built him a house and agreed to repair it when it needed it, the farmers brought him vegatbles and meat, and the fishermen brought him things from the sea and freash water to drink.
    The man was emmediately satisfied and told the people to return to his house in the morning and he would show then a way to solve their problem.

    When they met with the man the next day, the man announced that he was a banker and that he would print some money that they could use to solve their problem and he gave them all one thousand dollars. He told them that he could only loan them the money and would do this at the anual rate of 5 %.

    At the end of the first year the community meet at the banker’s house to pay him back but they are confused aboput where they are to get the interest to pay him.

    The banker says that he has another idea and that he would keep it to the books and so he reloaned them $ 950.00. [1]

    The Bible instruct us to lend without interest.


    • The Bible commands lending to others (particularly the poor) without interest because of a few factors: for small farmers, land and animals and equipment are really all they have. Farmers are particularly vulnerable because instead of receiving a steady salary (which was daily in biblical times for wage laborers) they only got “paid” at uncertain harvests, making them very vulnerable to usury. Additionally, seizing land through loans was a common way that the wealthy of nations like Babylon despoiled the common folk of their possessions. We aren’t supposed to be like the Babylonians.

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