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I am this penguin

by fxd45tsp

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!

9 comments
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9 comments

Once 1/10/2021 - 7:09 pm

This is great. I think one of the differences between penguins and humans (besides waddling, language, art, music, math and the arch) is that they don’t make annoying signs that say “You matter”. You can’t fault the one in a hundred thousand penguin that sees the futility of fighting windmills and decides to head for the hills. Smart bird.

fxd45tsp 1/10/2021 - 9:09 pm

Well the message I was trying to convey is my theory that the penguin, not only is sound of mind, but decides to commit suicide. He understands what his life has been and will be. He sees the futility in it. I think he is the smartest penguin of all of them. The other ones live according to their programming, not understanding anything. Just keeping busy (basically eating, sleeping, pooping, and procreating). Actually, come to think of it, that is the life of every animal on this planet, including humans. Absolutely pointless. Yep, very smart bird indeed! Good one for the annoying signs. They probably print those by the hundreds, bought by all the mental health institutions, schools, etc.

Specter 1/11/2021 - 12:42 am

I remember that scene even though I haven’t scene it for years. Very sad. My memory probably would have said it was from the other penguin movie.

My only reply is to your comments about plants and animals. I love animals so much, and I don’t want to be doing any harm either. But the one thing I always remind myself when I debate this is that plants and animals are plenty destructive too. It would be an entirely different discussion if humans were the only life form on this planet who suddenly looked around and decided they could eat the other things around them. It would be much easier to say that’s a deranged behavior that isn’t present anywhere else in nature. But some of the animals that I love so much are incredible vicious. A species of animal doesn’t care if they move into an area where they are “invasive” and other creatures will suffer for their presence. A plant doesn’t care if it is the type of plant that strangles out anything that grows around it and takes all the light and water for itself. As much as I am right on the verge of being someone who would be vegan, I just realize that violence and competition is part of everything on this planet. Down to the cat I own right now who is the most incredible being I have met on this planet. I have owned cats all my life but never one who has never once scratched or bit me or gotten upset, until this one. But this cat still possesses all the ability that if I let him outside he might kill a bird or a mouse or do something else destructive to the environment around here. I don’t like what humans are doing to the planet either, but I think your romanticism of other life forms goes too far. Like I said, if no other creatures partook in the sport of eating and killing, and they were all cute fuzzy things running around living in harmony, it would be easy to feel like humans are monsters. But my cat and other animals would all kill something in a vicious way that I would never have the heart to do. I guess the only remaining argument is if you want to say humans should be above all of that for being the only thing at this level of intellect. But I find that hard to follow, we are a product of this nature all around us, and eating and killing and suffering is a part of all that other nature too. Not only do animals kill each other but they’d be fine with killing any humans if given a chance.

fxd45tsp 1/11/2021 - 8:15 pm

Plants and animals are also destructive. Humans are also animals. We might be animals “gifted” with greater intelligence and a pair of free hands. But we are still animals. Any animal will turn pretty horrid when it comes to survival. To maintain life, something else alive has to die (or suffer greatly). You mentioned that violence and competition is part of everything on this planet. I would like to add the word opportunistic. Plants and animals (including humans) will, most of the time, always take advantage if given the chance, especially if survival is in danger.

Nature always goes back to balance. A few locusts might grow into a swarm, ravaging all plants in their wake. But at some point, when no plants are available, the swarm will die off. Slowly, plants will grow back from the dead bodies of the swarm. The swarm is not evil. They are just trying to survive, unfortunately at the expense of everything else. They do not invade because of hate or a wanton need for destruction. They just follow their instincts for survival. As human beings, we are “gifted” with greater intelligence. We have the choice of following our instincts or an idea. This is both beauty and a curse. A curse as we sometimes use it for despicable acts such as torture, murder, etc. And a blessing as we sometimes do great things (soup for the poor, animal shelters, sacrifice to save another, etc).

I saw a video a few years ago about 2 brothers coming up on a moose stuck in snow. Literally, the moose could not move (maybe just the head slightly). The brothers could have easily killed the moose with an axe. I mean, free easy food. Yet instead, they dug the moose out and let it go. They did not gain anything, besides the satisfaction of doing good. They could have been opportunistic yet they chose not to.

The power to chose is something that gives great power to all animals, penguins, humans, etc. Just like your cat that could, if he wanted to, scracth, bite, etc. But he choses not to. Now, would he chose otherwise if you died and your body was the only meat he would have access to? I dare say probably. Just like any humans that if, put in corner, will fight to the end.

We have more in common with animals than we think although we do not like to admit this because it “makes us look less intelligent”. At least that is the best way I could describe it. And that might be arrogance. So really there is no debate here as we agree on pretty much everything. It is just communicated in different words.

Hazy Day Sunflower 1/11/2021 - 9:59 pm

Gosh this was beautiful. To leave on my own terms. That what I want. That penguin, it was leaving on its own terms. Why do folks freak out about this? Why can’t we just leave on our own terms? Don’t be sad, this was my choice. In fact throw a fucking party, instead of dying slowly of cancer or some awful bone degenerative disease, I chose to walk away on my own terms.

I have a friend who killed herself 18 months ago. I miss her. But I understand. In the end, she left on her own terms. I didn’t say this of course, folks would call me cruel, or attention seeking, but I’m proud of her. She was fucking done and left. Sure she left a shit show behind her, but death is never pretty, whether it is self inflicted or some shit show of a disease, car crash, or house fire. Death is never glamorous or romantic. It just is. So if I, or you, or anyone else on this god forsaken planet decides they want to chose the time and date, who am I to say no? Who am I to judge when you or I want to leave on our own terms.

I chose to be that penguin.

fxd45tsp 1/12/2021 - 8:59 pm

All suicidal individuals have this in common: They see no value in life and chose death. They might do so because of mental/physical pain. Or because they lack the will to live. Regardless of the reason, death seems better than life. And common folks not only do not understand this concept but would rather you continue living so they do not feel bad. Because they cannot accept and let go of the person. If you truly love someone, would you not give them what they want (or at least stay out of the way)?

Your friend is not a coward or selfish. She decided she had enough. It is her life, her choice. So damn right you are to be proud of her. Probably the best way to honor her memory and life on this planet. If she can see this, she would probably want you as a friend further down the road. Because you understand. As for leaving a shit show, it is not like she could do this in accordance with laws. If our laws and society accepted suicide, she could have discussed it with her loved ones/family/friends/etc. They would probably accept more or at least say their last goodbyes. All affairs would have been sorted out before her departure leaving very little details to finalize. But since suicide is viewed as horrible, we must hide and do it in the shadows. Not really our fault. If we mention we want to die, you immediately get locked up in a mental institute (a prison) for which you have committed no crime. And you are not getting out until you get drugs pumped into you and/or a psychologist/psychiatrist clearing you good to go.

A few years ago, I visited an “old folks home”. In the reception area was really old peoples (most of which in wheelchairs) not fully aware of what was happening (senile, drugs, sleepy, half-blind, you name it). It did not seem human to keep them alive in their conditions. No human dignity left, just shells waiting to die. If we actually had empathy and compassion, we could honor their request to suicide (for those that desires so). On their own terms, surrounded by loved ones. Note that I am not advocating for murdering old folks. I am just saying that if any of them requested it, it should be provided. I mean, we do it for our pets that we love. Why not those we love even more? I know if I was in such a situation, do not keep me alive, suicide me (if I could not do it myself), and do not resuscitate. Suicide is taboo. But not on this site!

Nobear 1/14/2021 - 1:18 am

I wonder if this penguin had a mate… if not I could see why he left for the mountains, he couldn’t find one

fxd45tsp 1/14/2021 - 5:11 pm

Are you saying there might be one in the mountains?

Just kidding, I know what you mean. It is easier to go through life when you have a partner than none. Now, that is not the end all be all recipe though. It just helps to attenuate problems.

Hazy Day Sunflower 1/17/2021 - 11:38 am

Sometimes it is worse.

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