I think I started thinking about this because of a line something like the title above, from In The Loop, which isn’t particularly relevant at all to what I’m about to say, but who knows how the mind works (well, me, or I should, because I’ve got an exam on the anatomy of the head and neck (which does include the brain) just over a week from now).
Anyway, here is a question that I am posing.
Say that for whatever reason, there’s some kind of apocalypse scenario. I don’t know what it is that’s happened, say we’re all wiped out by some hideous disease, society has collapsed, it’s all a bit shit really. Whatever has happened, though, has left the bones of the land pretty much intact. Sure, buildings are falling apart, society’s gone, but meanwhile, horses and sheep and cows roam the land freely, fields throng with birds and foxes and badgers, with crops run wild, gone to seed, verdant and lush and plentiful but without anyone to care for them or corral them into neat rows or fertilise them.
Communications are down and there’s no power and no-one to run anything. Nuclear power stations were all shut down as they became increasingly short-staffed and anyway, there were fewer and fewer people to use what power there was.
And there are you, seemingly all alone in the world, or at least all alone in as much of the world as you know about, which at this point isn’t much, it’s as far as you can see, as far as you can walk, or perhaps you’ve got a bike, so it’s a bit farther than that, but anyway, not far. And as far as you know, whatever danger it is that struck down the planet has basically gone – you were clearly immune to any disease that might have killed people off, radiation doesn’t seem to be an issue, and there’s still rain, sunshine, snow, and the rest, at all the appropriate times. Simply that there are, for whatever reason, no people. Perhaps no other great apes, even, depending on just how specific this disease, or whatever it is, is.
Firstly there’s the slightly boring question: if you’re alone in a world which can, with a bit of effort, feed you and keep you warm, do you keep going? If life is one long round of picking berries and harvesting potatoes and lighting fires and cooking things and looting houses for tins and saucepans, and finding and maintaining hte house in which you live, and possibly hunting food too, and clothing yourself, and occasionally you listen to old cassettes on a battery-operated cassette machine, maybe, if you find such a thing, and you read books and sing to yourself and play music (if you’ve got an instrument to play, that is), and there’s no-one to talk to and no reason to do any of this – would you just give up, would you some day just turn around and shoot yourself in the face? I don’t know if I would or not, I really don’t know. What do you think?
Then there’s the other question which I think is kind of more interesting. One day, someone else shows up. You’re pretty surprised, because you’ve been alone for a while, and for all you knew previously, you were the only person left alive. The statistical likelihood of this hasn’t particularly crossed your mind. Now there are two of you, in possibly the entire world, one male, one female.
Say you’re not attracted to this person at all. But you’re both young and fertile and you get on peaceably enough, they’re not actually a bad person, they’re just pretty average really. So, considering everything – your possible isolation on the planet, the fact that actually, you could make a pretty decent living out of it – do you sleep with that person in order to attempt to repopulate the planet, or do you decide that it’s actually better if you don’t, or pointless, or what – and what are your reasons, personally, either way?
And do you think there might actually be some kind of Stockholm Syndrome type response – do you think you’d end up falling in love with this person for no better reason than that they are the only other person in your world?