A Plan for Man

More from Com­ing Into The Coun­try by John McPhee…

This is from Book II, What They Were Hunt­ing For in which the search for a loca­tion for a new Alaskan cap­i­tal is described. On page 133 a Robert Atwood is quoted:

Ide­al­ists here in town see a need for a park in every hous­ing devel­op­ment. They want to bury util­i­ty lines, reserve green belts, build bicy­cle paths. With these things, the bowl could only con­tain three hun­dred and fifty thou­sand peo­ple. They favor ani­mals, trees, water, flow­ers. Who ever makes a plan for man? Who ever will make a plan for man? That is what I won­der. I am known amound con­ser­va­sion­ists as a bad guy.

Fool­ish me. I thought favor­ing ani­mals, trees, water (water!!!) and flow­ers was a plan for man!

Invitation to a Question

I’ve been read­ing Com­ing Into the Coun­try by John McPhee. Yes, I’m thir­ty three years behind the times.

On page 37 and going around the cor­ner to 38, McPhee and com­pan­ions are in the Alaskan wilderness:

Break­fast in the fry­ing pan – freeze-dried eggs…Nobody’s skin is going to turn brown on these eggs – or on cin­na­mon-apple-fla­vored Instant Quak­er Oat­meal, or Tang, or Swiss Miss, or on cold pink-icinged Pop-Tarts with rasp­ber­ry fill­ing. For those who do not believe what they have just read, allow me to con­firm it: in Pour­chot’s break­fast bag are pink-icinged Pop-Tarts with rasp­ber­ry fill­ing. Lack­ing a toast­er, and not car­ing much any­way, we eat them cold. They invite a question.

Oh good! McPhee sees it too. A ques­tion is indeed invit­ed! He continues:

To a palate with­out bias – the palate of an open-mind­ed Berber, the palate of a trav­el­ling Mar­t­ian – which would be the more accept­able, a pink-icinged Pop-Tart with rasp­ber­ry fill­ing (cold) or the fat gob from behind a cari­bou’s eye?

Wait. That’s the invit­ed ques­tion? Yeah, sure, it is an inter­est­ing ques­tion, but it sure as heck is not the ques­tion that I was think­ing about as he con­firmed the pres­ence and eat­ing of the pink-icinged Pop-Tarts with rasp­ber­ry filling.

You are prepar­ing to go into the Alaskan wilder­ness for an extend­ed peri­od of time and you pack Pop-Tarts?!

And I’ve got to believe that the unbi­ased palate would pre­fer food (the fat gob) over man­u­fac­tured crap (Pop-Tarts), though I sus­pect I would seek a third option.

But that’s just me.