I recently saw a documentary titled “Encounters at the end of the world). It describes people that Werner Herzog (called narrator from now on) encounters in Antartica. At some point, the narrator discusses with a scientist studying penguins. The narrator asks if there is such thing as insanity among penguins, although he admits he is trying to avoid the definition of insanity or derangement. Could they go crazy because they had enough of their colony? The scientist replies that he has never seen any penguin bash their heads on a rock. But they do get disoriented. They end up in places they should not be, away from the ocean and the colony. The scene switches (with appropriate depressing music, giving you a taste of what is to come) showing a few penguins heading toward the open sea. But one penguin stops for no apparent reason. He does not head to the sea (feeding ground/survival) nor goes back to the colony (procreation). After a short time, he starts walking towards the mountains. The scientist explains that even if he brought him back to the colony, the penguin would then immediately head back for the mountains. And the journalist ask: But why?
The scene switches to a camp closer to the mountain. That damn depressing music hits home hard at that point. A similar behavioral penguin is seen traversing the camp already 80 km from where it should be. Human rules are: Do not intervene. Stand still and let the disoriented or deranged penguin be on its way. He is heading toward the interior of the vast continent, where no food is present. With 5000km ahead of him, he is heading to certain death.
The clip can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7kdDeGXUjI
My eyes tear up every time I see the clip.
What I noticed is the fact that both the scientist and narrator could not explain that penguin behavior. They use the words disoriented or deranged to try to explain the penguin behavior. I disagree with these terms.
As the penguin heads to the mountain, he turns and seems to look one last time at the colony. As the penguin walks, he does not stumble or show any sign of bodily impairment. He does not stutters and seems resolved. When he gets close to humans in the camp, he does not panic. He does not attack them. He simply goes around them. He does not seem afraid. At some point, he goes on his belly and slides to traverse a patch of snow. Sliding is a more efficient way to travel for penguins than is walking.
So besides the fact that he is heading for the mountains, nothing else in that penguin behavior seems to be a problem. What both the narrator and scientist are not considering is the fact that maybe, just maybe, the penguin might actually be sound of mind. Maybe he could not find a mate? Maybe he had enough of the crazy life of the colony? Maybe the penguin had enough of life? Maybe that penguin rejects survival and procreation, the basic programming of any living organisms? Maybe he understands the game and refuses to play it. So he decides to head for the mountains, to certain death.
He has exercised free will, knowing very well the end result of undertaking his current actions. It takes massive amount of determination to self-harm causing one’s own death (a.k.a. bashing one’s head on a rock). It is “easier” (I use the word very loosely here) to put oneself in a situation where death will be the end result due to external factors out of our control. That penguin will die of lack of food, predators (if any), or the weather.
I reject survival (as I need to kill plants and animal to eat and survive). I doubt plants and animals want to die. Does “Thou shall not kill” and “Do no harm” ring a bell?
I reject procreation. I do not want kids. I fail to see the point of bringing in existence other human beings. They will cause suffering themselves (eating plants and animals that do not want to die). They might (more realistically probably) act immorally (cheat on spouse, steal, lie, murder, kidnap, pollute, etc). They will suffer themselves from others and from life itself. So why would I even want to “share the pain” so to speak?
So I slowly head for the mountain.
I am that penguin.
I refuse this game that is being played on me (survival and procreation). When it comes to survival, horrible things happen. I will let others play the survival game and the immorality that will inevitably ensues.
It seems that animals, with smaller brains, are more aware than human beings…
They might understand more than we…
Comments of all kind are welcomed!