This topic came about after I recently read an older Onion article, entitled “Last Male Heir to Bloodline Watches Movie Alone On Laptop”. This hilariously absurd article by the champions of facety, details an evening in for an average single male who doesn’t seem to have a particularly strong drive to meet a female and procreate. Please read the article. If you can’t be bothered, it basically chronicles the vast violence and uncertainty which our ancestors faced, and without triumph over those struggles we wouldn’t even be here. Fighting off predators; sailing across the ocean; making a trek across a wild continent.
What I find most poignant in this farcicle, is the history of the man’s ancestors, and the extreme lengths they went to in order to survive and protect their families. Further, it highlights the thousands of years in which humans struggled, suffered horrid conditions, famine, war, and strife, only to have the ultimate benefactor of those struggles, via their modern ancestor, eat a luke warm enchilada in the dark while waiting for Netflix to load.
I’ve always subscribed to the notion that satire reveals truth in the highest form in that it represents what an objection to that truth is not. For anyone that has at the very least a base grip on the struggle which humanity experienced throughout civilization’s various epochs, you would have necessarily assumed the perspective of our ancestors at one point as a relation to our own, if for no other reason than to contextualize how far we have come. The Onion satirizes this by foisting an imperative upon the subject of the article: how could you fail to pass along our genes?
Embedded in this question in an eon of savage struggle, of starvation, and of narrowly avoided death. We are inextricably confronted with the question: what was the point of all their struggle, sacrifice, and perseverance, if at some point an only child and lifelong bachelor would ride out their legacy in flaccid comfort, denying a future generation?
Why shouldn’t every parent wonder this? A parent will invest their lives in order to raise children and make them successful people in society. Would that motivation be the same in the parent knew that four or five generations later their bloodline would die out? I don’t think so. I think that there is a short memory in terms of parenting and the fortification of immediate family. I think that this short memory played an important part of why we survived; take care of those closest to you and don’t worry about the rest. Let’s say that people lived to be 500 years old. How many generations down the line would the originator have a vested interest in? The parents of that final child would have orders of magnitude more intense obligation to that child than the 500 year old paterfamilias. Would the 500 year old care if the child had children of their own? Hard to say, but it is much more likely that the parents of the last child would be much more invested in grandchildren than the 500 year old. Objectively we don’t know why there is this emotion but that’s the point. The 500 year old has probably 1000’s of descendants to keep track of, and a particular child amidst the hegemony probably wouldn’t garner the same focus as a parent of that child.
Short memory would seem then to benefit us, at least to the degree that we don’t worry about what happens beyond the generations we meet while we are alive. Of course we hope that our descendants proliferate, but since we are dead at a certain point, how much can we be really invested.
ALL of that notwithstanding, there is something incredibly wistful about the notion that a bloodline could truly die out. How many bloodlines truly have died out in human history? It would be extremely hard to say, since all of us humans came from a very small population that originated in one, or at the most, a few places. We are all related in some way. It is possible though that a male and female previously unacquainted among tribes started a novel bloodline. Imagine for a moment that hundreds of thousands of years later, through some impossible statistics and odds, that legacy came down to some dipshit who puts tinfoil in the microwave, and who probably themselves wouldn’t ever have children.