Column: Conquests

by Melanie Jane Parker

I’d Buy That For A Dollar!
DEFEAT At midnight on February 18, 3102 BCE, the universe entered into the Kali Yuga, or the Age of the Demon. As described in the Mahabharata1, the Kali Yuga is the fourth cycle of four cosmic cycles, and is characterized by corruption, violence, addiction, greed, lust, wrath, and spiritual vacuity.

After approximately 432,000 years of degradation and destruction, Sri Kalki, the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu, will appear on horseback and defeat Kali2, thence delivering the world into Satya Yuga, or the Age of Truth.

SUBJUGATE The Uruguay River, the Paraguay River, and the Paraná River converge at the Río de la Plata. In the year 1516, Portuguese conquistador Juan Díaz de Solís3 discovered this body of water, which is in fact an estuary.

The water at the Rio de la Plata is dense with sediment saturated by ribbons of freshwater and saltwater. Although the estuary is composed by three main tributaries, each tributary has its own network of affluents—the Paranaíba, the Grande, the Corumbá, the Tietê, the Paranapanema, the Iguazu, the Negro, the Carcarañá, the Gualeguay, the Salado; the Jauru, the Cuiabá, the Taquari, the Nabileque, the Curiche Grande, the Apa, the Pilcomayo, the Bermejo; the Pelotas, the Canoas, the Peperi Guaçu, the Ibicuí, the Quaraí, and the Rio Negro. Each with its own ecology, its own shade of blue or green or brown, its own topography, its own primordial sound, its own arterial path towards subjugation. 

TROUNCE Feeling afraid, weak, and defenseless? The solution is simple. By following these seven character recommendations, you too can trounce your competition, vanquish your rivals, and crush your inner demons: 1. Be rare 2. Be strong 3. Be clever 4. Be modern 5. Be efficient 6. Be calculating 7. Be creative 8. Be committed

MASTER A traditional sweat lodge is constructed of earth and wood. The purification occurs through fire, air, and water. Of the innumerable means by which to master the body, the sweat lodge is one of the most historically enduring.4

The lungs bloom, the skin exudes salt, the eyes soften, the tongue becomes impossibly heavy, and the heart swells. The sympathetic nervous system spasms; there is pain. The mind convulses; there is resistance. By the end, one has gained considerable mastery over the sensations of the body and the compulsions of the mind.

ANNIHILATE Congratulations to 11-year-old Henry David Thompson of South Kingstown, Rhode Island5, who recently beat Battlefield 4. “I never doubted myself,” he told his mother, Eloise Thompson. “I stayed up all night drinking diet soda and eliminating everyone in sight. I kept my head in the game and I came out on top. I am a one-man scorched earth policy.”

Henry’s best friend, Girard Rakoff, expressed utter admiration for Henry’s extraordinary performance: “He was ruthless. I don’t think I saw him blink once. For hours it was just pow pow powch-chboom!”

Battlefield 4, which claims to mimic “the glorious chaos of all-out war,” gives kids like Henry the opportunity to kick back, unwind, and hone his skills as a marksman, warrior, and hunter. “The sweetness of total annihilation—there’s nothing like it.”

OVERTHROW Power is elusive yet essential. The earthly plane is suspended on a grid of intimate power relations upon which we are all dancing. Even your own body is a bundle of forces vying for the right to homeostasis. One overthrow leads to another, from cell to cell, from hand to hand, from homeland to homeland. As Napoleon Bonaparte6 once declared, “Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.”7

TRIUMPH In 1859, Charles Robert Darwin published his masterwork, On the Origin of Species. His groundbreaking theory of natural selection has informed the last one hundred and fifty years of scientific investigation and understanding.8

In 2009, Dacher Keltner published a book called Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, in which he uses the latest research in neurobiology to argue that qualities like kindness and generosity9 ensure our longevity and reproduction, thereby complicating the long-held belief in survival of the fittest.

Notes 1 Ancient Indian epic that narrates the Kurukshetra War. 2 The Hindu goddess Kali was introduced into the American cultural consciousness via Steven Spielberg’s 1984 fantasy-adventure film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. 3 Juan Díaz de Solís was killed in the course of an expedition to the southern tip of the Americas. It is believed, but not proven, that he was cannibalized by the Charrúa Indians. 4 Settlers of North America as well as the Spanish conquistadors provided detailed accounts of their observations of indigenous sweat lodge ceremonies. 5 December 19, 1675: Great Swamp Massacre. 6 Napoleon died on the island of Saint Helena, where he spent the last six years of his life in exile under British supervision. Great Britain was at one time considered the largest empire in history, reigning over an estimated 458 million people at its height. 7 Napoleon is also quoted as having said: “Female virtue has been held in suspicion from the beginning of the world, and ever will be.” 8 Darwin’s lesser known works include The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. 9 Percy Shelley, 1821: “The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own.”