In the evolutionary arc (ark) of Bruno Bozzetto's Allegro Non Troppo, life evolves from a hurled glass Coke bottle.
I first saw Allegro Non Troppo by Italian animator Bozzetto at an art house cinema in Saint Louis, during my freshman year of undergraduate. Allegro Non Troppo is a 1970s parody of Fantasia—but I wasn't really aware that it was a parody at the time, simply that it was European animation, and therefore a little strange to my Disney-acclimatized eyes.
Viewing Allegro Non Troppo was the first time I had ever heard Maurice Ravel's Bolero. Its ineluctable, seductive march enthralled me. Bolero produces a tension that is almost impossible to withstand—but being in the midst of that tension, wound up by it, is also utterly blissful, melting, authoritative, delicious. So I was hypnotised by Bolero but also subject to the hypnotism of dinosaurs, of course, which connected the two movies for me. Fantasia was the first movie I ever saw in a cinema: I was three years old, and it was the dinosaurs in Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring that impressed upon me with the greatest emotion. I remember sobbing as they crumble to their knees in the desert under the scathing sun.
I suspect there is a reason that young children who love dinosaurs are so enthralled by them. I suspect we are remembering something. The Mesozoic Era lasted approximately 186 million years—that is a lot of dinosaur lives to be reincarnated; humans have lasted for all of 2 million—perhaps, outside of linear time, we are still living them contemporaneously and the children who plunge after dinosaurs with such devotion are the ones who were/have been/are/will be dinosaurs.
When viewing Fantasia, Stravinsky famously, archly, sardonically huffed: 'Yes, that is exactly what I meant.'
I do not think the dinosaurs are Bozzetto's subject of satire.
So in a mood to re-experience Bolero, I went to find a version to listen to, and found the one that first made such a huge impression on me:
But this time, I was watching the dinosaur march through adult eyes, the week-end after Black Friday 2018 that the Trump administration released a devastating climate report for the upcoming century.
As primate mammals, we are so hard on dinosaurs, characterizing them to our own advantage, as though extinction was their fault—these emperors! who did they think they were? they were too specialized, too grand—when our extinction, or "at least" the extinction of countless other species, will be our fault. We hold dinosaurs up as a sort of hollow triumph and proof that evolutionary progress is always linear, or escalating upward like a Wall Street chart of a bull market, our fantasy of unlimited growth. We fail to consider that they were on a separate evolutionary track altogether. Or perhaps that we are the ones who de-evolved.
We vamp about dinosaurs' small brains proportionate to their body size—a pride point which, of course, is based on our not-all-too-thoroughly-tested notion that intelligence, sentience, awareness, is localized within the organ of the physical brain.
In a society that values information and evidence, we base our presumptions about dinosaurs upon very little evidence indeed: some bones, eggs, maybe a scrap of skin. We do not know how they communicated, perhaps by infrasound, like elephants. We do not know whether their skin changed color, like octopuses or turkeys. We do not know whether they sang to each other, how they vibrated the atmosphere, saturated with the light of a younger sun, with their calls. And these are behaviors and traits I am just basing on current animals now. We know nothing of dinosaur customs. Maybe they were even telepathic.
Bozzetto's saurian life forms are not scientific: they are fantastical, but we still know what they are. They are unmistakable. And they are marching forward because you have no choice, life presses you forward, no matter what threats may befall you along the way, you have to keep going. They move forward honestly, innocently, sheltering their young, eating one another when they need to, giving each other an assist, cooperating when they can in the shared understanding that since we are all going to the same place, we might as well help each other get there. They do not know where they are going but they know that they must go.
You will notice at one point in the narrative the cunning ape shows up. Watch how the ape behaves, not cooperating, but competing. Making choices selfishly without regard for the fate of the other who is pushed out in the ape's moment of "requirement." Acting with whimsical, detached (or sadistic) fascination for its sudden power over others and ability to snuff out their lives.
I am so weary of people in the ET community projecting onto reptilians the absolute worst of ourselves—exploitation, abuse, power over—in order to absolve ourselves of it.
I have Rh-negative blood: I claim no monkey ancestry for myself. Is that the reason I have always preferred reptilians and sympathized with them over apes?
If you know Bolero you know that there is a point when the sustained circular, spiraling tension of the piece erupts, gives way to a trumpeting, cymbal-crashing heave-ho'ing orgasm of music. But it's the lessons you learn along the way that earn this release, this relief. This week-end I lay on my yoga mat doing my freediving breath-hold exercises and playing Bolero, thinking of the climate report and what we cunning apes have done to all the sweet animals within our own era, these creatures of colors and hues and different sizes and abilities, what we have done to our Earth, all—for what?—and trying not to sob.
Please watch "March of the Dinosaurs" from Allegro Non Troppo. You might be impatient to skip forward to the orgasm to see 'what happens' but please don't. Watch all of it and see what you can learn.