80.000 x 50.000 cm.
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The Roc Comes Before The End
Arjun L Sen
Digital Art - Finger Painting On Digital Screen
The Roc comes before the End
In Arabian and Persian legend, the Rukh - known in francophone Europe as the 'Roc' - was a giant bird capable of picking up elephants and hurling them onto the ground and probably originated from the ancient Indian divine bird Garuda which is depicted as flying with an elephant in its talons, an elephant that battles a crocodile. It is identified also with the ancient Persian 'simurgh.' The phoenix of ancient Greece is believed to be the European incarnation of the Indian Garuda via the Persian rukh / simurgh. In the Indian legend of the Mahabharata which is about three thousand years old, when Garuda emerged from his giant egg, he was in a rage and about the destroy the Earth and only the intercession of the gods persuaded him to desist and give humanity another chance. The great Hindu divinity Vishnu, the Preserver of Worlds, rides Garuda (tames him, harnesses him to preservation of order instead of chaos and destruction). At the end of every age, Garuda threatens to rise again and destroy the world and each time divine intercession is needed to persuade Garuda to allow the world to stay, or else the world is allowed to be destroyed.
The ancient philosophy and cosmology was lost as the story of Garuda travelled west across the seas and trading roots of the ancient world. It entered as the Roc into the tales of Aladdin and of Sinbad the Sailor. The Roc that smashes ships or depicted as large as a mountain suspended in air recalls a distant, faint memory of the Garuda of India...
In this painting I imagine the world at a final point in this cycle of existence. At some not so distant point - within the next hundred years - the population of the world will have grown from its current 7.1 billion to anywhere between 8 billion and 11 billiion. Most of the growth will be in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Europe will stabilise. Some parts of the world will decline. But less than a hundred years ago the world population was 2 billion which means up to a five fold increase in a mere 150 - 200 years!
We are not a small species, if we compare across the species differentiation from bacteria to blue whale, we are well up in the top scale of big animals, meaning that while blue whales might be a lot bigger than us, there are very few species indeed overall that are physically as big as we are.
Because of our technology and organization, we have outpaced all other species unimaginably in resource consumption. Sheer numbers contribute to this quantity along with technology.
The world's natural environment is being rapidly stripped of the last traces of wilderness, of primeval forest and mountainscapes, and the produce of the sea. Species loss is now at a rate of one every few minutes! Most of the wildlife will all be gone in a few decades for certain, except for a few sad animals pacing in zoos, kept there for as genetic specimens of lost animals. The tropical plants, powerhouses of medical cures for our most serious diseases, will be gone before scientists will have been able to tap them.
Greenhouse gases and environmental degradation will turn the surface of the Earth into a sullen, seared semi-desert. There will be mass shortages of water and food supplies. The biological cycles of interpendent life forms will be devastatedd and mangled beyond repair. Billions will live on the edge of starvation. Wars will rage over the basics of life. In the end, societies may crumble into self-destruction, cannibalism. The soil will be enriched with the remains of the teeming dead from which noisome worms will rise, and poisonous weeds. Feral dogs will eat the entrails of humans and humans will eat the entrails of feral dogs. Rats will eat all sentient beings that crawl or hobble across the planet's surface, and cockroaches will feast on the festering remains of the living dead.
The rich will barricade themselves into giant luxury shelters while the poor pound at their concrete walls and are mowed down by hails of firing from armed guards. There will be a hundred thousand Berlin walls around the world to keep the scrabbling poor out from the compounds of the rich. Zombieworld will come out of the cinema halls into the streets and the countrysides of the living world and turn it into the Day of the Living Dead.
When all control is lost, when Man has finally reached his destiny in this cycle which is to wipe out his balanced relationship with the natural world into which he was born, when he has overpowered this world completely by destroying it down to its foundations, when the wise speak hysterically about conquering life-supporting planets hundreds of travel years away which we cannot do, when we look around and see that the primeval dust and waters of this planet into which we emerged from the evolutionary tree three million years ago is all that we have or ever will have, and we have obliterated it beyond repair, then the giant Roc will come rumbling out of the bowels of the Sacred Mountain and the flap of his wings shall be as thunder and his cry shall be heard from the mountain top to the depths of the sea and who then shall intervene to save this world from destruction? Will it, indeed be worth saving? Who shall intercede with the Roc in the Time of the End?
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April 23rd, 2013
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