August has almost dawned upon us, and I can already sense September looming ominously on the horizon. With the cooler weather I will begin the final year of my Masters course, and I must bid a sad farewell to pleasure reading for the next twelve months. I have therefore been devouring books rather ferociously before being forced to return to French modernism and other monstrosities, and consequently, I have just finished Michael Crichton’s 1990 masterpiece Jurassic Park.
I think we all know the tale. A wealthy, old man decides to create a dinosaur themed park to entertain the masses. Then there’s a cocktail of strange DNA, egotistical scientists and poor security measures, it all ends up really chaotic and everyone gets digested.
Aside from the death, adventure and exoticism, the story is actually a fascinating exploration of man’s ever-growing need to play God; man does not create the dinosaurs for any reason other than because he can. I recently went to watch Jurassic World at the cinema (amaze), the plot of which is based around a brand new dinosaur called Indominus Rex created because ‘normal’ dinosaurs have become too boring for the modern consumer. This new dino is Frankenstein’s monster in theropod form, made with a hastily assembled mixture of genes that inevitably deems it impossible to control.
Why is it that so much of mankind’s history is based on doing things because we can, rather than acknowledging our species’ abilities without the need to prove them? We have the ability to kill any living creature on earth, but why must we prove this by needlessly shooting wild creatures for sport? (Phallically-challenged individuals obviously exempt, poor things.) Developers with crumpled dollars oozing from their pockets gaze at a rainforest they have already ripped apart for profit, but they don’t stop; they simply rip it apart further, because they can.
In reading Jurassic Park, I was immediately made aware of just how fragile life is. Dinosaurs once ruled the earth – now they are all gone. As H G Wells depicted at the end of The Time Machine, the entire human race and everything we ‘achieved’ will one day be reduced to a layer of sediment. This doesn’t sadden me – it will not effect me or the life of my future children, and I am quite happy to imagine a universe where humanity ceases to exist and exploit.
But it has awoken in me a desire to enjoy life in all its simplicity. I used to be obsessed with being the ‘Best (insert occupation here) Ever’, desperately wanting to leave a legacy behind to ensure the memory of me would live on after death. What a load of balls. I’ll continue to work hard and have ambitions, but the most important thing for me will be to enjoy the life I have, treat people well and do things I like. Every morning I look out of the window at work and see rolling Hampshire hills dotted with buzzards, filling the air with the scent of rapeseed and manure and wildflowers. I earn less than other graduate friends and spend a lot of time in close proximity to sheep poo, but it’s the best job ever because I am completely in touch with nature.
I’ve always loved Jurassic Park (that theme tune arghhh) but since I was little, the overall emotion it has evoked in me is sadness. Their extinction is sad; their re-creation is sad; their exploitation is sad. I’d like to do my best to stop the first and last of these happening to the remaining creatures we share our planet with; the rest of the time I’ll spend eating cake.