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Tarzan's Way

Last night we watched from the hotel terrace as a giant cargo ship cast anchor in the Tyrrhenian indigo and proceeded to unload fresh water for the whole of our sunburnt island, an enterprise which from that vantage point seemed a triumph of technology over nature.  A moment’s reflection, however, would have neatly reversed the argument, suggesting that the economic elites of Europe vacationing in the Aeolian Islands had come here craving nature’s apotheosis and technology’s undoing.

What we have here is a reversal of polarities by now so familiar it is no longer an isolated anomaly.  It is rather a kind of systemic schizophrenia, which has taken hold of the world we consider First—in contrast to the Second and Third Worlds, almost universally regarded as unambiguously in need of reason’s ministrations.  Needless to say, that is so because a vast majority of people with both the inclination and the leisure to linger on the terraces of expensive hotels and to ponder equally dear ethical dilemmas hail from that schizophrenic First World.  They have long decided what’s best for others and can now afford the luxury of doubting what’s best for themselves.

Given the choice, men in suits crave to be Tarzans.  It is worth noting that the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic hit the bookshops simultaneously with the opening salvos of World War I, an unprecedented calamity that demonstrated to...

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