Views & Reviews BETWEEN THE LINES

Contemplating annihilation

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39101.510023.B7 (Published 25 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:211
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Humans are the only creatures capable of contemplating their own annihilation as a species; moreover, they do so with something akin to pleasure, to judge by the frisson that literary and cinematic annihilations usually evoke. For example, I once saw a film in the Teatro Municipal of Uyuni, on the Bolivian altiplano, in which giant spiders invaded the Earth from outer space and threatened to destroy the whole of humanity. Only the US Air Force stood between the spiders and human extinction, and the audience cheered the spiders on to victory—though whether this was misanthropy or mere anti-Americanism I cannot be absolutely sure. At any rate the survival of humanity at the end …

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