The media seems transfixed by the recently captured two-headed red-eared slider turtle. [Link] During my sixty plus minutes of exercise at the gym yesterday – sixty minutes of aerobic exertion plus a few minutes of therapist mandated exercises for strength plus change of state time – I counted no less than four exposures on the morning news/gossip/misinformation television programs.
While taken by the cuteness of the beast – and yes, I realize that is a misuse of the term since the poor wee beastie goes far beyond being bow legged – I cannot help but think of how this poor wee beastie is an analog, if not an iconic model, of modern society. There is an old saying, or at least my father and members of his generation told me it was old when they told it to me, that a turtle is noteworthy because it makes no progress with sicking out its head (or neck, depending on the person telling the parable.)
The point of that parable being that a turtle may reside safely, for the instant, hidden inside his shell (and yes, I know this too is a simplification,) but may only go anywhere (and gather food for survival!) by taking the risk of compromising that safety.
The point of the model of society here is that this particular two-headed turtle can make no progress even if it does stick its neck out. As soon as its belabored motion in one direction is not acceptable to the opposite head, it may and will oppose the motion, thus compromising both progress and safety. What a wonderful representation of our modern society here in the Yankee republic!
One is also drawn to note that the survival of this poor creature is likely enhanced by captivity. In a natural environment, food gathering would be impeded and likely unbalanced by its two-headedness. Hence in captivity it loses its freedom but obtains greater survivability. The question is how can we warp this situation to exalt modern society?