It has been said that the domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature. Once someone experiences power over an animal, plant or vegetable, his desire to control his own species increases. The taste of having command over anything living flows through his blood like a drug as he suddenly finds himself craving, desiring, hungering after, yearning, wanting and needing more.
In my work-in-progress “Secrets of the World Wide Web” an African spider becomes a surreptitious, unseen advisor to President Obama, warning the president of specific events that could devastate our planet through the control of both nature’s web and the web of technology.
By unwrapping the assorted African myths and legends of Anansi the spider, a small, seemingly helpless creature, half-spider, half-man who manages to outwit larger and fiercer animals, always getting what he wants, I have begun charting out the overall mythos for the novel, borrowing a great deal of wisdom from African folklore. The fables of Anansi were utilized by slaves as a way of asserting their identity within the boundaries of their captivity. These myths were like magic mirrors in which all slaves could view both their own and their ancestor’s reflection, allowing them to gain a sense of hope and empowerment about their future, however trapped they felt in their immediate environment.
In many ways we are all modern-day archetypes of Anansi, half-animal, half-robot, caught in a complex world, spinning webs to catch food for our survival and building websites to attract and capture followers and admirers. We need animals and plants to sustain our bodies and we crave connection and attention, no longer just through our loved ones but through technology and social media to uphold our identities. Yet, we cannot all be sated with nutritious, plentiful food and meaningful relationships. Much of the world is starving – if not physically then emotionally or spiritually. As we long for our primitive drives such as food or sexual gratification, we also yearn for our instinctual freedoms, opposing any relationships that confine us or restrict this basic human desire. As Freud so aptly asserts in his seminal book, Civilization and Its Discontents our “quest for instinctual freedom is in direct opposition to civilization’s contrary demand for conformity and instinctual repression. Many of humankind’s primitive instincts are clearly harmful to the well-being of a human community. As a result, civilization creates laws that prohibit killing, rape, and adultery, and it implements severe punishments if such rules are broken. This process, argues Freud, is an inherent quality of civilization that instills perpetual feelings of discontent in its citizens.”
Thus, when Anansi secretly, subliminally shares with Obama what will occur on our planet if he does not protect our technologically advanced civilization, the president is called to action as he inwardly struggles to find a balance between allowing basic human rights and freedoms to his citizens while placing necessary restrictions on technological advancements and developments that could potentially harm humanity.