My old friend, Ben House, recommended a book to me, which I promptly purchased and read. He was right, I liked it (though I haven’t quite figured out the author’s over-abundant use of ellipses). Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech is a powerful argument against Darwin’s theory of natural selection. While disagreeing with some of Wolfe’s conclusions, I did find his closing observation to be picturesque and powerful:
Last night I was riffling through the pages of a textbook on Evolution. I came upon a two-page spread with a picture on the left-hand page of a chimpanzee and her baby settling in for the night upon a three-pronged fork in a tree. On the right-hand page was a picture of a troop of gorillas stamping down a stretch of underbrush into crude nests for the night.
I looked up from the book and out the window upon two rather swell hotels, just a few blocks from where I live in New York City, the Mark and the Carlyle, which is thirty-five stories high… two air-conditioned, centrally heated, room-serviced, DUX-mattressed, turned-down-quilted, down-lighter-lit, Wi-Fi-wired, flat-screen-the-size-of-Colorado’d, two-basin-bathroomed, debouched-silk-draped, combination-safed, School-of-David-Hicks-carpeted, Bose-Sound-systematic, German-brass-fixture-showered hotels … full of God knows how many humans who expect at least that much for their $750 per night and up … and in the distance the peaks of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Citicorp Building, and the very tip of the top of the new Freedom Tower … and in between, a steel field of towers 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 stories high.
It occurred to me that the two bedtime scenes, Apeland’s on the one hand and Manhattan’s on the other, were a perfect graph of what speech hath wrought. Speech! To say that animals evolved into man is like saying that Carrara marble evolved in to Michelangelo’s David. Speech is what man pays homage to in every moment he can imagine.