One of my favorite scenes in science fiction literature comes from C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, the third installment of his "space trilogy." The scene is the "Banquet at Belbury," Belbury being the headquarters of a DARPA-like institution called the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments, or N.I.C.E., for short. The N.I.C.E., like its real-life counterpart DARPA, is involved in all sorts of grizzly craziness in the name of "science" and progress. For example, its director, a man named Jules Wither, practices astral projection, while the rest of his "institute" is conducting barbaric (and cruel) experiments on animals, and one group of scientists are involved in a gruesome project to keep the head of a recently guillotined murderer in France alive behind glass, with lots of solutions and wires, which head becomes a kind of "portal" for an entity or entities, and an object of worship to the scientists involved.
All this comes to a head when the N.I.C.E. has its annual banquet with its staff at its headquarters in Belbury. Craziness (of an entirely different sort) ensues when a magician casts a "Babel" spell on the proceedings, and speakers suddenly start speaking gibberish, and with no one able to understand anyone else, panic breaks out among the assembled technocrats and scientists. They're sent scattering to the winds when the N.I.C.E.'s tortured animals manage to break out of their cages, pursuing their tormenters to the utter dissolution of the N.I.C.E.
Well, that was a long way around Harvey's Barn to get to my point: there have been a very few unusual incidents involving animals in the past few years, if you've been paying attention. There was that strange incident in the UK of pigeons (I believe) attacking a 5G tower and pulling out the cables, for example. In that "Banquet at Belbury" spirit, K.J. spotted the following article and sent it along:
The elephant herd, which traveled 482 kilometers from a reserve in Xishuangbanna Dai prefecture, reached the outskirts of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. The wild animals wreaked havoc, walking along city roads and sticking their trunks through the windows of residential buildings, despite efforts by authorities to divert them from densely populated areas.
Authorities announced that it was “forbidden to approach or view the elephants” after the herd reached Jinnin, one of Kunming’s seven neighborhoods, late Wednesday night.
Video footage taken from the ground and from the air by dozens of drones showed the elephants wreaking havoc as they passed through residential streets, entering the streets and eating crops.
Authorities in the semi-rural Jining district issued a notice urging residents not to leave corn or other produce in their yards that could attract elephants, and warned people to stay indoors and avoid contact with them.
A group of 15 elephants passed through towns and small communities along their route, blocking streets, looting barns and causing about $1 million in damage. No injuries were reported.
On Tuesday, the herd showed up at a nursing home and shoved its trunks into some rooms, forcing one elderly man to hide under a bed.
Roads were blocked by trucks, and 18 tons of pineapples and corn were scattered in an attempt to steer the elephants away from the densely populated Jinnin district.
The wild herd had been living in the Xishuangbanna Dai Reserve, but left its territory more than a month ago and began its destructive march.
Last week, the elephants wandered into the streets of Eshan City, near Yuxi, and stayed there for six hours, with residents warned not to leave their homes.
During that time, the elephants roamed the streets, broke into barns, ate from garbage cans and chewed their way through nearby farmland.
That, in essence, is the story. Reading between the lines a bit, it would appear the elephants left their territory to seek out greener pastures and better food.
But I cannot help indulge in a little fun high octane speculation... Elephants are smart animals; they have memories (extremely good ones, if the old adage is true), and exhibit other signs of intelligence, such as grieving over dead members of their herd. I have to wonder if we might - with incidents such as this - be looking at a kind of "revolt of the animals" ala the "Banquet at Belbury," when "enough is enough" and they take matters into their own hands.
I suspect it's not as far-fetched an idea as it might at first sound. After all, the praise of animals (and quite a bit else) is invoked in some of the Psalms, and I suspect - given the literalness of some of those invocations in other instances and contexts - that those should be taken rather seriously, and that interfering in that relationship has an unknown "inflection" point or "line in the sand" which to cross is to court disaster.
But what do you think?
See you on the flip side...