Monday, September 7, 2015

On the Transformation of the Wordl

On the Transformation of the World



Juergen Osterhammel is a German historian and the author of The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the 19th Century. These journal entries are reflections on that book:


At the outset of his enormous history, Osterhammel considers the fact that the 19th century presents to us. What was its ostensible self-presentation? Osterhammel supplies two answers: opera, presented in magnificent opera houses, and city-planning.

In Austin, Minnesota, where I live, the topography of the 19th century remains omnipresent and functional. The land, formerly frontier prairie, is surveyed in a grid of townships and sections established before the Civil War. Villages are also designed according to a grid oriented around railroad connections. The locomotive and its train, of course, is the primary engine of the 19th century, the archetype of that era. Cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul built on rivers preserve 19th century industrial districts. The ruins of the great mills along the Mississippi are artifacts of the 19th century and the orientation and structure of the city itself was established at that time. When I was in College, I recall the acres of decaying warehouses built riverside and extending the length of several football fields over the bluffs flattened for their construction. At the center of this complex of four or five story structures, all of them brick and lined at street side with great pier-like docks was the huge square tumor of warehouse for ice storage, a windowless monad like a great brick idol.

If you live in the United States west of the Alleghenies, you probably live in a 19th century terrain unless, I suppose, you are in Los Angeles or Overland Park or Eden Prairie, a city established for the use of cars. The 19th century is railroad-driven in the Midwest. But the trains are gone – the colossal lines drawn across the land are, now, like the incisions into Atacama desert near Nazca, the memoranda of a great project that has ceased to be relevant. On the old right-of-way, people hike or ride bicycle on bicycle trails and, in the forlorn little villages lost on the prairie, trains no longer stop.


Repositories for accumulated memories and knowledge were important to the 19th century. Osterhammel identifies institutions of this sort as arising from political imperatives – deliberative bodies required public resources to support their legislation. Information was systematized in encyclopedias. This, in turn, resulting in the democratization of knowledge.

But, of course, for every advance there is a corresponding set-back. Democratized "knowledge" isn’t really knowledge at all – it is just a compendium of facts. Facts either exist within a context or without context. Encyclopedia facts are presented without context as self-sufficient. This falsifies those facts. Every fact is an abyss, an intersection between a variety of disciplines and innumerable other facts. By democratizing factual information, 19th century institutions conveyed the notion that the truth is simple. But, it seems, that the truth about anything is almost unimaginably complex.



We take for granted certain creatures of the 19th century. As an example, broad circulation newspapers reporting relatively current news didn’t exist until the middle of that century. (The American Civil War, widely reported by foreign correspondents using telegraph links, seems to have been a major incentive for the development of mass media news.) A chicken-and-egg circle of causality connects mass media with the other great 19th century creation – the realistic sociological novel. Novelists mined newspapers for sources; an interest in the quotidian reflected by newspapers engendered an interest for realistic fiction.

I understand that some of our best new filmmakers are relying upon You-Tube as a source for gestures and mise-en-scene. Some day, I suppose, a great index of facial expressions, gestures, tones of voice, varieties of harangues and brawls and accidents will be compiled with You-Tube as its raw material. We will learn to see the world again via You-Tube.


This morning, a radio announcer on a financial news show said: "The World shouldn’t get worked-up about this yet. Just because the Shanghai stock index is down, it doesn’t mean that a ripple-effect will occur." Three elements in this broadcast deserve consideration. First, there is an assumption that there is something called "the World" and that it can act in a concerted way – this is an assumption of synchrony. Second, the World can be affected by economics in Shanghai. Third, the news here reported is not that the World will be affected by something happening in a Shanghai market. To the contrary, the news is that the downturn in stock values in Shanghai need not necessarily affect the World – in other words, the news is that a remote or local development may not have a universal effect. The newsworthiness of the notion that a local event is not necessarily World-changing suggests a presumption in favor of the opposite – that is, that things happening in Shanghai generally affect things happening in Austin buried in the American Midwest.

Osterhammel’s book contains an interesting chapter about "Temporalities" – that is, time as experienced in various parts of the world in the 19th century. In some parts of the world, the fossil fuel revolution began in 1820; in other places, fossil fuels as energy were not common as late as 1920. Japan experienced modernity in the 1860's while European countries and the United States had been "modern" states for, at least, forty years earlier. Osterhammel notes that the first event synchronized as world-wide, that is, the first truly "world-creating event" was the flu pandemic after World War II. The second such event was probably the great Depression of 1929. The atom-bombing of Japan in 1945 was also world-historical. And, after the Second World War, world history has become increasingly synchronized. All our communication and computing systems are vectoring us toward a common destination. The problem is that we don’t know what this destination will be.


Counter-factual speculation: We know that western Europeans restlessly explored the non-western world, reported on the characteristics of foreigners and their cultures, and sought to impose their values on them. This European impulse is as old as Herodotus and foreign to the civilizations that flourished in China and Japan. Chinese emperors devoted their energies to mapping their territory and governing it and showed no interest of any kind in the lands and peoples beyond their borders. Japan, although influenced by China, was not interested in dispatching explorers to Europe or the Americas – the first treatise written by a Japanese visitor to the West was published around 1848.

Chinese culture was technologically ascendent between 700 and 1400 A.D. What would the world have looked like if Confucian missionaries had explored the coasts of England and proselytized the Europeans to follow the model of their civilization.


The 19th century is the era of the razor’s edge boundary. Before the 19th century, liminal territories existed between major powers, zones of uncertain influence, transitional areas where identities and linguistic usage was ambiguous. Nineteenth century rulers were obsessed with establishing territorial borders – something that England and other imperialist powers imposed on their colonies much to our modern chagrin. Razor’s edge boundaries, of course, are profoundly unnatural and, as Robert Frost reminds us, there is something in nature that doesn’t abide a wall.


Center and periphery, capitol and province, seacoast and inland territories – this is the dialectic of geography. Thus, we have the "cosmopolitan" outward-looking New England seacoast and the provincial, introverted Midwest.


Osterhammel: No State is "modern" without a land registry and the legal right of its citizens to dispose freely of their real estate. In the United States, land survey ordinances of 1784, 1787, and 1796 were the engines of modernity. These ordinances imposed a geometrical linear cartography of the grid, a mapmaking paradigm developed to chart the featureless sea, onto the prairies and mountains. The uncharted land of the American west was perceived as a kind of vast, empty seascape.


Population demographics tends toward an accounting equilibrium: death should equal births. It is not obvious to me why this rule exists, but Osterhammel argues that it is objectively demonstrable. Thus, in pre-modern societies, birth rates were high and lives were short. In post-modern societies, birth rates are low and life expectancy is long. The transitional period is characterized by high birth rates and increasing life expectancy – a concurrence of fertility and extended life that results in explosive population growth. This explosive population growth creates labor surpluses and, probably, accounts for the rise of capitalism. Nation-states experienced these phases at different times: England persisted in a "modern" condition of high birth rate and ever-increasing life expectancy for 200 years, that is, from 1740 to 1940. In Germany, this transition period lasted seventy years – from 1890 to 1940. In Japan, the transition was only forty years – from 1920 to 1960. Curiously, populations in the United States showed increasing life expectancy beginning in 1790 with fertility decline even before any demonstrable decrease in mortality. But the United States is dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and happiness is difficult to achieve if your existence is devoted to nurturing mobs of children. We don’t have a peasant culture in this country – or, at least, a peasant culture thought to be admirable by anyone. And, in a country that was once largely protestant, sex has a hedonistic tincture not officially sanctioned in other nations – intercourse is not solely a matter of begetting children. On the radio, a sixth-grade teacher explained that her students giggle and squeal when she shows them how to wrap an erect penis with a condom. "I try to be sex-positive," the teacher said. Her voice was irritatingly squeaky-clean. "It’s not all STDs and babies...I want to talk about pleasure also." I attended a party for a law professor from the East Coast. This man is one of the smartest people that I have ever met – he clerked for an infamous federal judge (and unsuccessful Supreme Court candidate) in the District of Columbia and was a law clerk for Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The professor was in the Twin Cities speaking at an event sponsored by a law school associated with a Catholic college. His subject was legal strategies for the revocation of Roe v. Wade.


The 19th century was the age of mass migration. Every European country bled immigrants to the United States or Canada or South America or Australia. (When Borges was a young man in Buenos Aires, less than half of the people in his city, a place that seems ancient and immemorial in his prose, had been born in Argentina.) The exception is France. No one, it seems, emigrated from happy and blessed France. This fact, it would seem, requires explanation. But I think the fact that France didn’t contribute its people to the 19th century’s world-wide diasporas is misleading. More than 750,000 French people were living in Algeria by the start of the 20th century. But Algeria was not defined as a colony, nor was it considered a foreign country – the African territory was, in fact, a part of France and, so, a person traveling to that place departed from the European continent with leaving his homeland.


Because the 19th century was the age of mass migration, it was also the age of pandemics. The last great epidemics of plague, cholera, and typhus swept through the Europe in that era and the "long 19th century" ended with the world-wide Spanish flue pandemic. Plague was endemic in central China and periodically emerged from its rat-infested strongholds to ravage Europe. But some parts of the world were exempt from this scourge. Before the 19th century, the Japanese had no word for "plague" – they had to borrow a term, pesuto, from another language. And populus India was so free from plague or plague-like illnesses that, unlike China, the people on the subcontinent didn’t worship a plague-god.


Before Edward Jenner developed vaccination in 1796, physicians in many countries used the practice of "variolation" to combat smallpox. "Variolation" is a type of innoculation. Exudate from a sick person was rubbed into superficial scratches on the skin of a healthy patient – this process triggers an immune reaction and produces antibodies to the pathogen. Variolation of this kind was widely practiced in China, Turkey, Sudan, and India in the late 17th century. (The Chinese practiced variolation by grinding up scabs from smallpox victims and blowing them into the patient’s nose using a small silver tube, a technique involving insufflication of the "variola" – that is, the smallpox lesions.) Jenner’s innovation, vaccination, made use of cowpox, a less virulent, related sickness that produced an antibody to smallpox. Export of Jenner’s procedure, initially, involved a logistical problem – how to transport the cowpox virus necessary to manufacture the vaccine from place to place. At first, vaccines were conveyed from place to place by colonies of orphans carried as freight on seagoing vessels. One or more of the orphans was sick with cowpox and the notion was that the disease would spread from child to child during the sea-passage. In this way, it was hoped that, at least, one of the children would be actively carrying the cowpox with emergent symptoms when the destination was reached – that child’s sores would, then, be mined for lymph pus necessary to create the vaccine.


In the 18th century, the standard of living enjoyed by Chinese peasants exceeded that of the relatively prosperous French peasantry. But by the end of the 19th century, Chinese peasants were far worse off, more prey to food shortages and, even, outright famine. The material and technological progress that characterized Europe’s 19th century did not extend to China. Indeed, typhus and famine killed between nine to 11 million Chinese between 1876 and 1879.

The reasons for China’s decadence in the second half of the 19th century relates to the Taiping Rebellion. This Civil War was probably the fiercest, and most bloody, conflict during the 19th century. (Controversy exists whether the Napoleonic Wars were as bad or worse in terms of loss of life; there were roughly equal men-under-arms involved in the two conflicts.) Osterhammel is a specialist in Asian history and he mentions the Taiping Rebellion repeatedly. Until reading his book, I wasn’t aware of this conflict.

A man named Hong Xiuquan aspired to be an imperial administrator in Manchu Qing government. Administrators qualified for their position by passing a rigorous civil service administration. Xiuquan took the test several times, but couldn’t earn a passing grade. Disconsolate, he fell ill. While he was sick, Baptist missionaries visited him and left a religious tract that Xiuquan studied carefully. In his delirium, he had several visions in which God spoke to him and advised that he was Jesus Christ’s younger brother. Emboldened by this intelligence, Xiuquan raised an army and, in January 1851, began to attack government troops. Xiuquan’s forces conquered a large part of southeast China around Nanjin, the capitol of his Heavenly Kingdom. A series of pitched battles occurred. In one fight, the battle of Nanjin, more than 100,000 men were killed – these were huge casualties considering that neither side used artillery. (Most of the fighting was with edged weapons and side-arms). In August 1860, Xiuquan’s army attacked Shanghai. The army of the Heavenly Kingdom was defeated and repelled. Xiuqan’s troops ran out of provisions. Xiuqan himself ate toadstools and other noxious plants and died of food poisoning. The war continued in a desultory fashion for another five or six years, spreading in adjacent kingdoms of Vietnam and Laos. It is estimated that the conflict killed 30 million people, most of them by starvation and disease. More than 600 cities were destroyed and, at one point, a million men were executed.

Later, the Chinese communists interpreted the Taiping Rebellion as a precursor to their movement. Xiuqan’s visions informed him that neither he, nor his men, should wear the pigtail; women were liberated and regarded as equals, but, nevertheless, a strict separation of the sexes was mandated. Private property was abolished and all things were held in common. Xiuquan sought to abolish Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religion as well. Although his movement was popular with the peasants, Chinese elites viewed him with skepticism; he had an American Baptist advisor and his supporters were primarily small town merchants and farmers. The war weakened the already superannuated, and decaying, Qing dynasty. It is doubtful that the Qing rulers could have put down the war without foreign assistance. "Chinese" Charles Gordon, an English soldier, led the imperial troops that ultimately defeated the rebels. (Gordon was later to fall victim to the Mahdi’s forces in the siege of Khartoum – he was played by Charleton Heston in the film version of his exploits.)


Do great cities arise from industrialization? Although the 19th century witnessed the expansion of urban areas, many cities doubling or tripling in size, it is interesting to observe that the growth of these metropolitan areas was not necessarily correlated to industrialization. Indeed, the five leading European cities at the fin de siecle were not of industrial origin – these are the cities of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. Of course, as these cities grew, they developed some industrial features – with the exception of Paris, a urban area that has never been a manufacturing center. London, the largest of these cities, was both a capitol and harbor metropolis. All five cities became, however, rail hubs as railway systems expanded to link cities. With respect to an industrial impetus to growth, however, Osterhammel notes that the five greatest cities in Europe were very different in form and socio-economic function than Manchester, the model of a city based on industrialization, or the conurbation of manufacturing and mining sites in the Ruhr.

Urbanization was not necessarily uni-directional in the 19th century. In India and Southeast Asia, the population of city centers declined in the second half of that century. Similarly, parts of Italy became less industrial and less urban as the century continued. In the Balkans, as well, the slow-motion collapse of the Ottoman Empire resulted in the decay of urban centers and their depopulation.


Prior to the 19th century, European and Asian cities were walled. (Of course, American cities have never had walls.) Defortification was a characteristic of 19th century urban city planning. Often cities were defortified to allow penetration by rail systems. However, the process was not swift nor uniform. Until 1860, Hamburg was walled and, further, its gates ceremonially locked at night. (Rabat’s gates were locked by its night watchmen after dark until 1912.). Railroads breached city walls and their tracks and infrastructure consumed increasingly large quantities of urban land – five percent of London was train territory with another 10% devoted to associated industries.


When Washington, D.C. was built, L’Enfant’s grandiose plans rapidly exhausted the treasury. (L’Enfant had worked at Versailles and envisioned the American capitol in those terms.) Perhaps, this was fortunate; L’Enfant had designed the White House six times larger than the structure actually built. It is interesting to imagine a White House on the scale of Prague’s Hradcany Castle.


An important aspect of the transformation of the city in 19th century was the reversal of suburb and city center. In a Baroque city, for instance, Rome or Mexico City, urban centers were the reserved for the elite: the centers of Rome and Mexico City were occupied by palaces and religious institutions – monasteries, cloisters, and cathedrals. The first ring surrounding these palatial residences for royalty and clergy was allocated to the wealthy landowners and minor nobility. The next outer ring was inhabited by successful members of the bourgeoisie and their businesses, mostly craft and service industries required by the populations at the center of the city. Beyond the circle of the bourgeoisie were manufacturing districts, worker housing, and, then at the outskirts of the city, hardscrabble suburbs – in the 17th and 18th century places where peasants lived whose gardens supplied food for the city. In the valley of Mexico, the outlying suburban villages were entirely Indian and the people there did not speak Spanish. Osterhammel asserts that this pattern controlled most cities – Moscow, for instance, was built to the same general design.

The relationship between suburb and city center changed in the19th century when the Americans, whose cities sprawled across mostly uninhabited territory, invented the elite and middle-class suburbs, a development rapidly imported into England where so-called "Garden Cities" ringed the murky city centers. At the end of the 19th century, the centers of many cities were essentially empty – there were shops and businesses but no one lived there. The wealthy had moved to the suburbs and the poor were lodged in the habitations where the wealthy bourgeoisie had once lived – mansions now converted to tenements. In the remote suburbs, gated communities began to arise, territory where the rich and very rich congregated.

When I was growing up, no one lived in downtown Minneapolis except those whose utter poverty trapped them to reside there. On a Sunday afternoon, Hennepin Avenue was desolate, an echoing, hollow wasteland. Of course, there were some high-rises off the avenue – but these were inhabited by people who were physically or mentally handicapped. Sometimes, I saw heavy-set brutal-looking old women trudging along the sidewalk – these women looked like former prostitutes, drunk and disheveled, profane. Disabled war veterans sat in the sun outside bars. Very elderly people in walkers struggled to reach cabs that would take them to grocery stores on the other side of the river so that they could buy another week’s food. Drunks slept in gutters or under trucks in the warehouse district. The city looked like a set designed by de Chirico: straight empty streets, deserted arcades, bright sunlight shining on plazas without people. The poor lived in Victorian mansions subdivided into tiny airless apartments between downtown and Lake Street – these big turreted homes, built in Richardsonian Romanesque style, were now occupied by the working poor and students. Middle class people lived in south Minneapolis or Edina and Richfield. The wealthy had condominiums adjacent to golf courses in Eden Prairie or lived in mansions along the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

By the start of the 21st century, the pattern was reversing once more – as Minneapolis began to develop its river-front properties, tearing down the 19th century infrastructure of mills, industrial sites, and ancient warehouses, the Mississippi River became visible once more. As the river arose from its gorge of decaying railroad terminals and ruinous flour mills, wealthy people began to appreciate the view and they moved back into the city center around the Mississippi and the falls of St. Anthony.

When I was a child, I don’t recall ever seeing the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The river was invisible from its south bank – that is from the downtown area. I didn’t see the Falls of St. Anthony until I was 21 and living at the University of Minnesota – and, only then, I saw the cascades from the north side of the river, a cloud of mist in the moonlight on a May night when we were drinking at bonfire in a squalid little park full of beggars and squatters among the cavernous abandoned spillways of the mills, also abandoned and towering overhead. By 2015, the city elite were living in penthouse apartments overlooking the river and one of the city’s premiere cultural institutions, the Guthrie Theater, had been built with a cantilevered belvedere overlooking the once despised Father of Waters.


Osterhammel reminds us that 19th century cities were dark. The first gas-jet lighting was installed, not on city streets nor in homes, but in cotton mills to increase the length of the work day for the unfortunate workers confined in those places – this was in 1807 in England. When the workers left their factories, they were confronted with labyrinths of pitch-dark streets. Before 1850, the poor didn’t leave their homes after nightfall – the city streets were too dangerous. The only people traversing the streets were those who could afford a coach and a man to walk in front of the coach carrying a lantern. Lighting in cities didn’t take hold until electricity and the decade of the 1870's.


European historians are, perhaps, more amenable to the idea of "American exceptionalism" than many academically trained history scholars in this country. Osterhammel seems to regard the American experience as exceptional based upon his understanding of the frontier. In Osterhammel’s assessment the West and the frontier as a crucible for the American character is, in fact, exceptional because unique. The sheer scale of westward migration, the establishment of permanent settlements in country appropriated from native peoples, and, in fact, the frontier of "pistol violence" and Indian wars, are all aspects of American history not closely analogous to frontier expansion in any other part of the world. With Frederick Jackson Turner, Osterhammel clearly believes that western migration and the ideology of manifest destiny gave rise to something new under the sun in the United States. This is apparent from some of his off-hand remarks – for instance, Osterhammel characterizes the Bush family as a western oil dynasty. Americans, I think, would regard the Bush famly as a New England-based dynastic succession only opportunistically related to Texas – a State that, itself, possesses a unique attribute of being both Eastern and Western at the same time.


An aspect of American exceptionalism that Osterhammel notices is the peculiar fate of its native peoples. The Indians never formed a proletariat, Osterhammel says, because the settlers and miners who seized their lands didn’t need their labor. The residue of earlier political doctrine regarding Indians as the citizens of "dependant sovereign nations" resulted in Native Americans being isolated on reservations – a system unique to North America. In South America’s frontiers (Argentina, Chile, and Brazil), tribal people were simply exterminated. In South Africa and Rhodesia, tribal people’s labor was needed and they became workers in industry and mining. Only in North America were tribal people isolated into pockets in what had once been there own land and, then, more or less, forgotten.


The empire of the Comanches, probably the greatest light cavalry that ever existed, was powerful, acted as an independent agent for half of the 19th century, but was ultimately unsustainable. The Comanches are an example of a tribal alliance doomed to failure by its own success. Counting wealth by horses, Comanches acquired too many animals, overgrazed the fragile and arid grasslands where they ruled, and, further, over-exploited the bison. Bison could be sustainably harvested at a rate of seven animals per year per hunter. Beyond that level of use, the bison population would inevitably decline. And the Comanche’s who acquired horses in exchange for a trade in dried buffalo hides slaughtered the bison at a rate much too high to sustain. Even before White hunters exterminated the herds on the northern plains, the bison population in Texas and the southwest had significantly declined, thereby jeopardizing the Comanche economy.


Frederick Jackson Turner’s arguments about the American frontier as the master-key to our history are resonant in South Africa. Indeed, many efforts have been made to apply Turner’s ideas to the history of the White colonization of South Africa. Osterhammel thinks that these efforts are, in effect, driving a square peg into a round hole.

In 1828, English law applicable to the colony at Cape Town established equality in the law between Black and White residents. This was necessarily followed by an emancipation proclamation issued in 1834. The Afrikaans-speaking population of the colony was unwilling to accept these decrees on the basis of their Calvinist religious principles. As a consequence, the Afrikaaners migrated en masse, leaving the Cape for the interior. These refugees are the so-called Trek-Boers, the people whose racist ideology ultimately became the core principle of the White South African State. Trek-Boer apartheid, arising from this great migration, and hardened by the Boer war, ultimately prevailed in South Africa with the victory of their National Party in the 1948 elections. Osterhammel doesn’t regard this history as analogous to the westward expansion of the United States. First, the Trek-Boers were in no position to subjugate or conquer the African tribal people that they encountered – they were, in effect, simply a White tribe inserted among Black tribes and never achieved anything like a majority of the population in the territories that they inhabited. Second, the Homelands established in South Africa, although superficially resembling Indian Reservations, were different in many respects – in the 20th century, South Africa needed the labor of its Black residents and the Homelands were mechanisms for exporting the labor of men to mines and factories while the women remained at home supporting themselves and their families by subsistence farming. As previously noted, the conquering settlers in the American West never needed the labor of the Indians and, after defeating them, by and large, left the tribes alone.


It is interesting to observe that the last wars between tribal people and European settlers occurred between 1870 and 1890. It was in that period that the Zulus fought the British, almost won, and, then, were subjugated. At the same time, the Sioux and Cheyenne were finally defeated in the American West. Finally, in Argentina, the Mapuche Indians, who had long successfully opposed European conquest, were destroyed in so-called Araucano Wars.


The frontier in Eurasia had an entirely different character arising from the primordial conflict between sedentary city dwellers (and farmers) and nomadic peoples. Both groups viewed the other as radically different; the Chinese built their Great Wall to protect themselves against the barbarian horseman of the steppes and, periodically, those horseman had descended, like locusts, on Europe in successive waves of Mongol invasion. In Eurasia, the frontier was the zone where interaction occurred between nomads and farming (or urban) people. This opposition is the primordial opposition between Cain and Abel – those who live in cities or by agriculture and those who follow their flocks through the pastures of the world.


Osterhammel says that at the turn of the 20th century, most people in the world lived in something that could be construed as an empire. The 19th century built empires that it has taken the 20th century (and beyond) to tear down.


Until the 20th century, in rural parts of India, tigers till frequently killed livestock and savaged young girls dispatched to bring water and firewood to their villages. When people traveled to market through tiger-infested territory, they tied a old and ailing horse to their last cart, an offering to the tigers that they knew to be stalking them. But in most of the world in the 19th century, man declared war on big game, on the predatory beasts at the top of their food chains, as well as on the great herds of bison and other migratory herd animals. The slaughter was general and mankind inherited an earth denuded of all predators but one – the most efficient and ruthless of them all. If the world doesn’t possess something that is not human and that can kill and eat me, then, mankind itself must become cannibal – this is the significance of television’s obsession with serial killers. Hannibal exists in the default of lions, tigers, and bears.

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