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BANQUET AT BELBURY GOES LIVE?

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:

Angry herd of 15 elephants wreaks havoc rushing through 7 million Chinese city

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...

47 thoughts on “BANQUET AT BELBURY GOES LIVE?”

  1. Banquet of Minke Whales.
    An international group of scientists has called on Norway to halt plans for acoustic experiments on minke whales. They say the process of capturing the animals and subjecting them to noise will be “stressful and frightening”. The project, the largest of its kind ever attempted, is due to begin any day now. The Norwegian authorities say the aim is to get a better understanding of the levels of noise pollution that whales can hear.
    The experiments will take place in the remote Lofoten Islands.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57432290

  2. And yet ‘we all use the spider net to communicate or do we really?
    I ll be praying that Ganesha takes her sweet hearts into the fold.

  3. And yet ‘we all use the spider net to communicate or do we really?
    I ll be praying that Ganesha takes her sweet hearts into the fold

  4. Elephants are one of those animals I’ve always found fascinating and endearing… My guess for this odd behavior is 5G or some kind of geophysical or EMF disturbance, natural or manmade (e.g., something messing with Earth’s magnetic field, some kind of weaponry).

  5. It will be interesting to see where these elephants stop. Will it be an area free of 5G? Also, elephants can communicate over long distance using, I believe, low frequency sound that is below our hearing threshold. Any word on whether these elephants are communicating with other herds via low frequency on this migration?

    1. Good point about elephants and low frequency hearing even infrasound that is below 20 Hertz.

      Elephants not only pick up infrasound (below 20 Hertz) with those big ears or pina like structures of elephants but can also generate infrasound that is picked up by other herd members within a few kilometers away. Elephants producing infrasound remains a study in motion.

      Infrasound comes from a number of sources other than elephants like earthquakes, volcanoes, ocean waves, and a few other causes that put the atmosphere into motion. Distant lightning will produce thunder that has infrasound levels. Even mega base units of car stereos can produce infrasound, but they’re not considered the usual natural phenomena that does. The human hearing mechanism is equipped to hear down to 20 Hertz. Infrasound is below that.

      There’s a fun online audio generator that might help the curious to explore sound propagation here:

      https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/

      WARNING! Careful with sound levels with pets around the speakers while learning how to operate the various functions. You might startle them. Adjust the sound level to a low setting starting out.

      1. Here in the UK, Ofcom monitors radio signals and EMF signals and sets limits.
        https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/204053/emf-statement.pdf
        Ofcom will include a specific condition in the Wireless Telegraphy Act licence requiring licensees to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits on EMF exposure. This condition will apply to all licence classes which authorise equipment to transmit at powers higher than 10 Watts EIRP (including, for example, the licences of mobile phone companies, TV and radio broadcasters and most point-to-point microwave links).
        Ofcom says it intends to apply a similar approach for equipment that is EXEMPT from the requirement to have a licence and that is authorised to transmit at powers much higher than 10 Watts EIRP, such as certain types of satellite terminals and military installations.

  6. anakephalaiosis

    Orson Welles was a giant. To curtail his voice was not only wrong, it was sacrilege. That was shooting buffalo from train window.

    From the buffalo point of view, train cars run by, full of devils, that bring death, to the voice of the land, the mighty prairie stepper.

    Men and animals are indistinguishable. It is the folly of the domesticated slave, not to see the difference, in his own fallen state.

    The roaming beast is a rock-and-roll animal. Born to be wild.

  7. Yunnan Province (394,000 square kilometres, or 152,000 sq mi) is a “Global Biodiversity Hotspot” blessed with ~17,000 species of higher plants and unique animals found nowhere else, plus five UNESCO World Heritage sites. Almost half of China’s 56 recognized ethnic minorities, speakers of over a dozen different languages, live in Yunnan.
    The government has focused on rolling out 5G to promote economic development in what is one China’s poorest provinces. As of March 2021, over 20,000 5G base stations had already been built and the goal is to provide full coverage by blanketing the entire province with 200,000. How this massive deployment will affect the plant and animal life, as well as the human inhabitants remains to be seen.
    Does the elephant migration have anything to do with the 5G rollout? Hard to say, but these wild elephants have been followed day and night (infrared) using drones, and they have exhibited some uncommon behavior: the entire herd lay down to sleep (most elephants do so standing up) and they have even figured out how to turn on faucets to relieve their thirst.

    1. Apparently the Wuhan experimentation of 5g taught nothing… the good news is that these bureaucratic juggernauts just go forward until sooner or later they fall off a cliff.

      1. It taught us nobodies that these folk are beyond our reach.
        It taught these somebodies more details in how to torture and hobble their prey.

  8. Too long ago since reading Perelendra. Remember reading Lewis 40 years ago and wondering throughout how evil the bad characters were and how intent they were and portraying those evils as random, casual and even innocent. And in some way good. I remember being bothered by it. Kind of like a parent having to endure a child’s terrible two’s. The year or so when a kid finds out the word “no” and is obliged if not devoted to exploring every naunce of the negative. Only this is on a cultural level. It’s provocative.

    What’s happening now reminds me of it going past just that childish exploration deep into realms of provocative bullying. One might claim that the only difference is the potency of the actor in evil realms.
    https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-psychopathic-problem-of-the-white
    As if this isn’t Nurse Ratched enough? #gulags #Solzhenitsyn

  9. Stories of this group moving from here to there enduring and/or causing trauma enroute and/or at destination brings to mind one uniformly unstated idea: why.

    True for humans and animals. What’s the motive? Why are they immigrating. With seasonal migrations, that makes sense just by virtue of seasonal stressors. Outside those usual stressors makes me wonder. How many Soros bucks does it take to simulate a migrant caravan walking 45 miles a day to the US border? How much stress does it take to make folk migrate from any country to another? Same for animals only a bit less easily grocked.

    What happened on a personal level with those 15 elephants that made them leave wherever, whatever, whoever they were with? Food levels? Other human/animal interactions going south? Tech encroachments?

  10. marcos toledo

    Maybe the other animals are trying to tell us to be an asset instead of a liability also other animals are not any more stupid than us. Native people might understand these incidents better and if we think about the other animals might have realized how comfortable life can be living close to us humans’ with access to food and shelter.

  11. Kunming is a beautiful, ancient city of about 7m people – not particularly large by Chinese standards. I obtained my Chinese driving license there about ten years ago. Yunnan province is also beautiful, largely agricultural, peaceful. The area where the elephants came from is inhabited mainly by the lovely Dai people, who are ethnically the same as the Thais. They still use elephants as beasts of burden, and many is the morning on my travels that I shared my breakfast with a baby elephant or two. They are indeed remarkable animals for whom I have the most enormous admiration and affection. Some say they are self aware, like humans.
    Given this bucolic idyll, imagine my surprise to learn that China’s first 5G users were in….: Kunming, in 2019. China is leading world in 5G adoption, and Yunnan is leading China.
    Sadly, I can’t say I’m surprised. Poor elephants. Poor humans.

    1. Mystery solved! That baby elephant grew up and is now the matriarch of her own little herd. She remembers fondly that human who used to share his wonderful lunches, which tasted so much better than everything else she ate in the forest. Now she’s roaming the cities in search of you and whatever human food she can get her trunk on.

      1. Oh, thanks for ruining my day, Roger! The thought of those inspirational animals in a state of distress, rampaging through The City of Eternal Spring, looking for me and a full English, is heartbreaking. Fortunately, the animals we met were all well cared for and well fed. They were very well mannered and would take whole oranges, bananas, etc, from my hand – but only when offered. What I found most memorable about them was their obvious potential for power and strength contrasted with the great gentleness and profound peace (and sometimes joy) which they actually exhibited. Gentle giants. Unfortunately, however, I have no doubt that some of the animals working on the plantations are sometimes abused – which, of course, has consequences of all sorts.

  12. So, hasn’t it been “enough” and “more than enough” for a long time? I would interpret it beyond enough: the structures, energy fields and dykes that were holding the society together might be broken.

    The chinese culture is quite superstitious and any such unusual event would traditionnally be interpreted as a sign for the future of the empire. Since the natural order or organisation is not respected by that vagabondage, I guess that this event could be understood as a sign of chaos or at least of a big change for China and the Chinese Communist Empire…

  13. The emotional intelligence of animals being displayed reminds me of the great documentary film of a few years ago, “Black Fish”, concerning a ‘Killer Whale’, male Orca. He was taken from his mother who was then killed in the process, to be trained to perform in some aquatic park in Florida. But he never forgot and it didn’t turn out too well. He was ‘psychotic’ and emotionally damaged. A heart-breaking account and a very salutary one for our treatment of animals.

    1. I think Rogan interviewed his trainer. Amazing interview. Monstrously evil management of those aquatic parks. Think that movie was instrumental in closing down many if not all of those parks. They are like burying animals alive.

      Brought to mind “The Cove.” Flipper’s trainer helped make that documentary. These are hard and invaluable things to watch. Feels like evil just gets worse otherwise.

  14. Currently, Elephants in the Indian News, earlier Pilot Whales, Birds, Dogs, Cats, Squirrels, Foxes, Deer, Bears, Alligators, Bees, Insects, and the list goes on. Remembered a Nez Perce saying,

    “Every animal knows more than you do.” ~ Nez Perce

    They’re educating each other to include this hominid upright simian type.

  15. One shouldn’t ignore Mother Nature, she has a habit of correcting us with little or no notice.

  16. Well what comes to mind for me is ‘pink elephants on parade’ from the movie Dumbo. Dumbo gets drunk, goes on parade, wakes up and realizes he can fly.

  17. My takeaway was the odd (insane is a better word) statement by the writer of the story that it was “forbidden” to look at the elephants. Next, it may be forbidden to think of elephants. Is the circus in town? Who/what are these clowns?

    1. Mr Sophistication

      A bit of context –
      Genki Dama:
      “What sets the Genki Dama apart from most ki manipulation techniques in the series is that it is fueled by the energy gathered from one’s living surroundings. The user, who must be at internal peace, focuses their thoughts on living beings around them — animals and plants, anything with a life force — and pulls on their energy.”
      https://dragonballuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Genki_Dama

      1. Internal peace is not just there, you need to be quite, close your eyes and listen, to change your tune to hear the song. The combining of complementary energies is the principle of life, through which all life is created.

  18. Robert Barricklow

    N.I.C.E. is so typical of the Orwellian use by dystopian governance;
    paving their good intentions w/a hellish leverage of structural powers. Although, DARPA’s reputation precedes itself; comparisons w/it are?
    Well, like hell itself.

    C.S. Lewis Sci-Fi book’s is looking more like reality, than fiction.
    N.I.C.E. is looking like the W.E.F.[World Economic Forum].
    Animals are making 5G; look more & more, like a Babel tipping point.

    Are the primary pieces we’re missing?
    Are they “gestalt” ones?
    Have they been cumulating?
    Resulting in pictures; like those of elephant rampages across China.

    Are those gestalt pieces are cumulating elsewhere?
    Are the results of some, being expressed in ways unseen?
    Is the whole picture is just that;
    much more than than what the world sees?

    Even, if the powers that be are withholding many of them from us;
    they too, can’t “see” the whole picture.
    Or, to put it better: the big picture.

    After all,
    All life on Earth is being threatened w/extinction[in one form, or another]. But it’s even much, much worse – a convergence of life w/a digital hell.
    Becoming something other than “whole”; something hellacious.

    No wonder “they’re” running amuck; like a bat out of hell!

  19. In Florida all the wildlife including bears and Florida panthers seem to prefer living in the suburbs. I live in a an area that is nothing but hundreds of homes on half acre tracts with a little swamp, parks, and empty lots spread thin here and there and its like living in a zoo. Go into the woods and the farther you get from human habitation the less wildlife you will find. Foxes raise and nurse their young in people’s yards and ignore everyone who passes, unless they get too close and then they run under the mobile home they live under. Two dozen deer raid my bird feeders every night just about. Alligators chase my top water fishing lures when I fish in the canal out back making me have to quit fishing. It seems to be a game to them. Step dad got a photo of a tired and thirst barn swallow landing on his finger and drinking water from a bottle cap he held up to it while he was fishing thirty miles offshore. I can sometimes gently ease lizards onto my hand to move them out of my way and they seem to know when you mean them no harm. They run instantly as if their lives depend upon it when my nephews and niece visit who have evet intent of catching and keeping them if they spot them. I suspect animals may be empaths and potentially telepathic. As far as the elephants go they likely got a new herd leader who has no fear of humans and smells the different foods humans have and has decided to seek it out.

    1. That sounds like predators are chasing prey into areas the prey consider safer than the wild areas. Hiding behind Mom’s apron?

      https://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/2020/11/21/florida-man-saved-his-dog-alligator-caught-camera-estero-backyard-camera/6375201002/

      Someone hooked me up with that on twitter. They set it to music (gangsta rap or something). Hilarious stuff. I would not have noticed unless they told me that the old man never lost his cigar in that. Curious how his fingers were afterward.

      1. Not working for them. Florida Panthers in the suburbs as well as coyotes and bears. They usually just move around at night. The predators do stay more on the outskirts of too heavily developed areas though and are a lot more elusive than the deer. Gators love dogs because dogs have no fear and come right up to them. Easy for them to catch. When the big gators are around you hear them get a hold of a deer every now and then. Neighbor kids are small and keep swimming in canal even though they have been warned that a gator mangled a four year old girl’s foot in that canal a few years ago. Since then people usually have the bigger ones hauled off by catchers if they hang around too much. But those kids splash around too much and its just a matter of time before a big one comes to investigate. I think they do feel safer around people plus there is better foraging in suburbs. I do hear gunshots sometimes early in the morning so I do think some of the deer are being taken by a few people now and then but most people leave them alone. Could be shooting bigger gators though. Don’t see too many of them anymore, not like there used to be. Just a lot of little gators mostly.

  20. My wife and I recently retired in Falmouth, MA. She takes a bicycle ride every morning on the great bike paths we have here. For the past month or so she has been returning from her excursions with tales of strange animal behavior. Specifically, three days ago she mentioned an entire family of foxes, a mother and three babies strolling right down the middle of the path paying no attention to the bikers. The next day she saw a huge snake on the path. Something odd is definitely occurring in the animal world Dr. Farrell.

    1. Has there been a noticeable change in human traffic in the last 18 months? Our neighborhood (suburbs with 1/4 to 1/2 acre lots) has far less traffic now than we’ve ever seen. Domestic and wild animals are behaving much differently now. Much more relaxed. Except that airborn predators are much more common.

    1. Dolphins run in pairs, threes, fours and groups of groups. And they war on other groups. The biologists I read this from originally started studying them by swimming and boating with them and learning individuals by distinct marks. Soon figured out most marks are scars. First speculated that these were shark attacks. Learned later sharks stand no chance with dolphins. Scars were dolphin inflicted. They play and fight constantly. They move in unison and coordinate amazing tactics and strategies.

      Found our later that they name themselves and have advanced language. If memory serves their brains are bigger than ours with most of the larger part devoted to their sonar system. It’s advanced enough to let them see in 3D. Have also read of them using it as a weapon. Have read evolutionary biologists speculate that how advanced, developed and proportionately big our brains become is mostly epigenetic based on food supply. Advanced brains require predation to increase EFA’s since brains are mostly fats and cholesterols. Kinda wonder what a dolphin with hands and opposable thumbs would be like.

      Even more curious that octopi have their behavior given their odd brain structures and placements.

  21. When one has friends who worked for zoos one hears stories of this sort for a variety of animals, but the elephant stories always get one’s attention. Part of this may be their sheer size and gentle disposition. When angered elephants can be devastating. When on display elephants are sometimes kept in enclosures from which they could escape with a little effort, but they seem to be perfectly satisfied if food is plentiful, the space is large enough, access to streams and water is regular and their company is entertaining. Yes, I do mean entertaining, for elephants do like interaction with humans for stimulation when they are familiar and non-threatening. If mistreated, elephants do remember. They are intelligent. They will attack as a herd. They will coordinate their attacks in a preplanned manner and demonstrate some tactical skill. The behaviors may appear rudimentary by human standards, but the skills are there. Similarly, other pack animals are known to share many of these same traits. Wolves. Coyotes. Lions. Tigers. Primates. Dogs. Then, there are the stories of animals who seek out human intervention when in trouble. Even birds of prey can develop bonds of friendship with humans who assist in moments of crisis, even to the point of displays of affection. My point is, if you care to look at the data objectively and just lay it on the table without any bias, one will come to the conclusion very quickly that animals in the animal kingdom are intelligent. They exhibit varying degrees of spiritual awareness. They have a complicated relationship with human beings. They can become very attached to human presence and enjoy human interaction for stimulation. They can remember injustices. They will, on occasion, seek revenge. And, they have definite patterns for fight or flight depending on the type of aggression they sense in their environment. If we think they are a sub-species whose value and contribution are not of any value, it is we who need to think twice. I know some of these comments are gaining biblical overtones, but it is as if the animal kingdom knows humans were meant to be stewards of the world–and we have done a poor job ordering it. Then again, there are the reptiles–and their behavior is, well, totally different altogether…

  22. Perhaps the elephants are remembering when the planet was free to roam before the milk toast humans put them on reservations. “Take back the planet”

    1. Yes. It is as if this pack decided to “do unto others as they have done unto us.” Elephantine retribution for injustices served.

  23. Lemuel Gulliver

    Well, a similar scenario was part of the movie Avatar. A movie all about Nature being destroyed by Technology.

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