Teaching Dark Lord

Joe Joe.Nankivell at ucd.ie
Thu May 16 09:36:01 EDT 2002

> > Subsequent religions then turned that worship of old gods
> > into something evil. Eg St Patrick getting rid of the snakes out of
> > Ireland = druids.
Various other stuff about cultural aversion/affinity to/with snakes 

There's another idea that human beings have a _biologically_ 
negative response to snakes which is part of the genetic heritage of 
our species. So our institutions and cultures revile the serpent in 
response to a hard-wired memory which goes back 2 million years 
to the time when every human being on the planet shared their 
space with deadly snakes. Why else, the theory goes, should Irish 
people have the same instinctive fear and revulsion as people who 
actually share their territory with rattlers and cobras?

Bruce Chatwin says we have been 'a species on holiday' since the 
demise of homo erectus-specific predators such as sabre-toothed 
tigers. Nothing is out to get us except ourselves, so we have the 
luxury of a nice long night's sleep (some of us), only slightly 
disturbed by nightmares or nameless fears; and also the luxury of 
not having constantly to watch our backs. So we can use our nice 
big brains for stuff like thinking up stories, building civilizations, 
explaining the human experience, all that - including the bits about 
snake anxiety.

Let's see, how can I wrench this back on-topic? What about Kitt, 
with his unsettling adolescent blood-lust that seems to be 
something like a genetic memory? 

As far as Querida is concerned, DWJ has far too high an opinion of 
her readers just to go for the undiluted character=snake=evil 
paradigm. Besides, Querida means 'beloved' or 'dear' anyway. So I 
reckon her snake-like qualities could have more to do with her 
machiavellian plottings. Inscrutable, cold-blooded, that kind of 
reptilian thing...


I like snakes, btw, and can't really understand why anyone would 
kill them on sight. I think St Patrick went a bit over the top.
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