Shepard, Paul.  The Tender Carnivore & The Sacred Game.  New York: Scribner, 1973.


(xxvii)  “Few are the modern men who do not subscribe to a Rise of Man, as proved by recorded history.”

(xxviii)  “If we look upon the subjugation and annihilation of life as a failure of human behavior, a kind of pathology in the horizons of a perfectly good species, then our contemporary problems are unique only as combinations of symptoms.  We know little about what is normal, and when it comes to behavior there are sharp disagreements.  The problem is worsened by the inability of conventional history to see beyond the written word and modern humanity’s disdain of all that preceded the works of civilization.”

(9)  “The urban crisis is a direct consequence of the food-producing revolution.”

(16)  “By 9000 BC there were at least two groups of early Near East farmers, the Natufian and the Karim Shahirian.”

(20)   “In official history 3000 BC marks the beginning of civilization , corresponding to the rise of equatorial valley irrigation monocultures, the city-rural complex of specialized, single crop farms, and ruling bureaucracies of the great river valleys.”

    - bronze age 3300-1200 BC

(22)  “The destructive combination of hydraulic agriculture and theocratic state has been the major force in the creation of our over-dense society and apocalyptic culture.”

(24)  “No other organisms are more intricately associated with civilization than the cereals – wheat, barley, rye, corn, rice: modified annual grasses on whom the masses of mankind depend.  Ecologically, the cereals are takers, not makers of soil.  By contrast, perennial wild grasses work as pumps; their deep roots bring fresh nutrient minerals to the surface and structure the soil.”

(25)  “By supporting large, minimally nourished human populations and by their destructive effects in the environment when grown in cultivated uniformity, the cereals are truly the symbol and agent of agriculture’s war against the planet.”

(26)  “We have loosed a population epidemic since men ceased to hunt and gather that is the most terrifying phenomenon of the million years of human experience.”

(28)  “Agriculture did not develop as a result of food shortage.”

(29)  “[It should not be] assumed that it is better to have more people per square mile, and there is no evidence that the evolution of any species is favored by its increasing density.” 

- argument that farming is a positive evolutionary change because of food per acre per person ratio

(52)  “Pet monkeys, confronted with poker-faced men who no longer attend as well to faces as they do to print, quickly discover that they must exaggerate in order to be understood, like a man shouting into deaf ears.”

(59)  “In laboratory situations monkeys can be driven rapidly along the path to stress diseases, executive-type breakdowns, and ulcers.  Oddly enough, monkeys can stand high levels of pressure, shock, and physical torment as long as these cannot be anticipated.  The executive monkey, given a switch by which he can prevent a painful electric shock after a warning light is flashed, worries himself into ulcers.  Such are some pitfalls of a more planned, organized world.”

(73)  “Looking closely at gibbons, one senses not a keen intelligence or receptive mind, but rather that peculiar fixation that narrows the life and scope of all specialists.  It is a kind of one-channel living, beyond preoccupation or even fanaticism.  Some instrumental musicians and high-wire acrobats convey the same mindless perfection, birdlike, remote from normal experience.” 

- wu wei, effortless action

(80)  “Dianne Fossey, by the end of 1971, had watched wild gorillas for more than two thousand hours, and saw not more then five minutes of aggressive behavior.”

(81)  “Of the five kinds of living hominoids (homindae), gibbons, orangs, chimps, gorillas, and man, only the last three live on the ground, and only man is a non-forest species.”

(84)  “Men are born human.  What they must learn is to be an animal.  If they learn otherwise it may kill them and life on the planet.  It is very difficult to learn to be an animal.  First; man must unlearn his misconception of the animal as a brute.  To be an ape is to unlearn the ideologizing of nature.”

(90)  “The agricultural revolution, it is said, made civilized institutions such as art and religion possible, framed ethic and moral principles, and forged relations among men based on compassion and respect for the rights of the individual.  

(90)  The objection I raise to these statements is simple: they are not true.  For every man whose life was improved by that momentous Neolithic revolution, hundreds lost their health, freedom, and social dignity.  Because a fortunate few controlled the recording of history, civilized culture became a propaganda machine for itself, which easily manipulated the resentments of peasants and, by redirecting their distorted lives, helped rationalize the genocide of hunter-gatherers on agriculture’s enlarging frontier.  It is a tragedy euphemistically called historical destiny, economic progress, or the inexorable surge of the political state.  Yet, from the beginning, agriculture failed our species, and now, after fifty centuries with scarcely a word raised against its mythology of virtue and security, it is failing the modern world, failing to nourish it both physically and spiritually.”

(92)  “By African Bushman standards, the “work” of a typical hunter requires no more than about three hours per day or three days per week.  Hunter-gatherers show a lack of concern about finding food, since they seldom fail.  They are characteristically neither anxious nor future oriented.  When these people were first encountered by Europeans this nonchalance was sometimes interpreted as defective lack of foresight and intelligence.  Modern men cold not at first comprehend that people could exist who did not worry about tomorrow unless there was something wrong with them.” 

    - Stone Age Economics, Stranger in the Forest, Don’t Sleep There are Snakes

(93)  Physiologically, man is omnivorous like a bear or a boar, but behavior and culture are more wolflike.  “No other omnivore engages in the group hunting of large, dangerous prey.”

(98)  “If the evolution of the human mind took place in a world of human scarcity and small group life, it follows that the human mind malfunctions in areas of high density.  The point is controversial because of man’s adaptability and his inability to recognize social pathology; he has little with which to compare the conditions of his life except other distorted communities.”

(98)  Studies of primates in the wild – peaceful, cooperative, avoiding conflict vs. same species in captivity – social deterioration.

(100-101)  Primitive pre-peasants vs. true hunter gatherers.  “manager diseases like renal atrophy, high blood pressure, and gastric ulcer,” of bureaucratic societies.

(103)  “It is both erroneous and wrong philosophically to assume that all creatures want to be human or that human consciousness is the cosmic pass toward and through which all life must make its way.”

(104-105)  Living unit as 25, tribes from a few hundred to fifteen hundred.  “Twelve adult group” of primates and other mammals.

(107)  “The characteristics of the family Hominidae have been traced from the late Miocence or early Pliocene periods, about fifteen million years ago.”

(110)  “Man is the only animal that can walk twenty miles, run two miles, swim a river, and then climb a tree…Man’s ancestors were neither helpless nor incomplete.”

(112)  “The significance of being shaped by this almost inconceivable length of biological time is that it implies a degree of inherent biological control over our lives which we are accustomed by our culture to reject.  The idea of “biological determinism” has been so persistently denied that we have nearly crippled our appreciation of the organic factor in our lives.  By identifying culture as the opposite of instinct we are in danger of putting the idea of culture at the center of a fantasy world.” 

(113)  “Men ran after and ate horses more or less consistently for some four hundred thousand years…we have a runner’s body.”   L Van der Post, Heart of a Hunter.

(114)  “George Crile, American physician, has observed that man’s circulatory and endocrinal systems are more like those of canids [rather than felines], indicating that he had evolved as a hunter by endurance and strategy rather than fleetness and surprise.”

    - Born to Run, McDouggall

(114)  “After half a century of treating heart and circulatory problems with diet and medication, the medical profession, with the endorsement of major life insurance companies, has at last begun to acknowledge that men must run to live.”

(115)  “For our species, evolution suggests three important activity sequences to offset premature aging and the pathological effects of our over-anxious and underactive culture…The first is swimming, the second hanging and swinging, the third running.”

(116)  “There is increasing evidence that, short of malnutrition, underfeeding, which would be recognized by occasional hunger or even brief periods of intense hunger, is far more healthy for man than overfeeding.” 

(117)  “Men ‘wolf’ their food, gorging not once a week but, after their vegetarian instinct, several times a day, become gluttonous snackers.”

(117)  “Potatoes, cashews, and corn are good for the runner but dangerous for a non-hunting (non-running) individual who likes to eat between meals.”

(123)  “Carnivores…must catch, kill, and dismember their prey.  Man is in part a carnivore:  the male of the species is genetically programmed to pursue, attack, and kill for food.  To the extent that men do not do so they are not fully human.”

(123)  “War is the state’s expression of social pathology…It occurs where men cannot regularly hunt and where population densities are too high…Every facet of soldiery conduct honored and reinforced by the military for the past fifty centuries is a perverted form of the desired qualities evoked in the ancient initiation rites of adolescents: fidelity, idealism, skill, and courage.”

(124)  “Like a captured spy in the story who clenches broken glass in his fists in order to avoid yielding secrets to his torturers, society controls its fears and injury by induced, controlled trauma.  Its mass psychopathology is channeled, limited, and spent with the least possible damage.”

(126)  “The attention of the large carnivores is fixed on roving prey rather than on rooted plants or place, ‘thatness’ instead of ‘thereness.’  Apes in captivity become visibly agitated when the food dish is moved, but coyotes and lions do not.”

(127)  “The prudent predator is not an exterminator.”

(128)  “In considering man as a carnivore, the essential fact is that he became a large game hunter as he became human.”

(132)  “Urban life has a special kind of sensory opulence in the diverse scenes of human embroilment – in the human stream on the streets or in public buildings, in the range of amusements to divert and entertain.  This something-happening-every-minute is not equivalent to genuine environmental richness and depth of human relationship.  To urban man the range of the hunter’s daily experience may seem small and boring, but his boredom is not a true reflection of the measure of sensory richness and diversity of possible experience in the hunter camp and habitat.  It is only a measure of his own insensibility to the textures of nature and tribal life.”

(139)  “59 million people were killed violently by other people in the 125 years preceding 1945.”

(141)  “Hunting had put a premium on physical good health, on sensitivity to environment and to the nuances and clues in a delicate and beautiful world..”

(142)  “There is so much to know that the hunter can go on learning all his life.  The extent of what can be learned is far greater than that of human social knowledge, and this is why nature is the best model for the evolution of social consciousness and organization.”

    - Continuum Concept, natural history/taxonomy evolutionary brain development

(144)  “Formalities keep before the hunter the immanence and mystery of a world not created for him alone and over which he has only partial control.  This is perhaps the main difference between his personal vision of existence and that of those who have superseded him…Modern men are no more smarter, kinder, or more creative than their forebears of a quarter of a million years ago.  Man has been fully human far longer than can clearly be comprehended or history allows.”

(145)  “The past and future are not sources of anxiety [for pre modern man] because of the stability of the natural environment and because the rate of cultural change is small.” 

(146)  “His life style is the normal expression of his psychology and physiology.  His humanity is therefore more fully achieved, and his community more durable and beautiful.”

(146)  “..the hunter, while he advances or waits crouching, feels tied through the earth to the animal he pursues, whether the animal is in view, hidden, or absent.”  (Meditations on Hunting, Jose Ortega y Gasset)

(148)  “The hunter does not look tranquilly in one determined direction, sure beforehand that the game will pass in front of him.  The hunter knows that he does not know what is going to happen, and this is one of the greatest attractions of his occupation.  Thus he needs to prepare an attention of a different and superior style – an attention which does not consist in riveting itself on the presumed but consists precisely in not presuming anything and avoiding inattentiveness.  It is a ‘universal’ attention, which does not inscribe itself on any point and tries to be on all points.  There is a magnificent term for this, one that still conserves all its zest of vivacity and imminence: alertness.  The hunter is the alert man.” (Ortega y Gasset)

(150)  “There are certain activities that have been preferred by leisured people in all places and times: hunting, dancing, racing, and conversing.  It is no accident that these are precisely the ‘true vocations’ of primitive hunters, who like the aristocrats, make no distinction between leisure and life.

(152)  “By removing the killing from sight, as the modern slaughterhouse does, what in the hunt is the essence of connectedness and transcendence is made hideous.  Vegetarianism is a dream of innocence, a fantasy of compassion.  The mystery of life does not reveal its secrets to bean-eaters as opposed to bison-eaters.”

(186)  “In the past such sounds as apes and very young children make were thought to be pre-linguistic: the human supposedly refined the ape system to a more highly organized state, fashioning words from the basic sounds.  This may not be so.  The two kinds of language are distinct, and people retain the emotive language of primates as a separate language all their lives.”

(188)  “..psychologically speaking, it seems likely that the primitive hunter and the urban technician live in cognitive worlds of approximately equal complexity and crowdedness.” (Anthony F.C. Wallace)

(198)  “Adults, especially parents who are ideologically sensitive, generally misunderstand the importance of simulated violence and death in the lives of children who live in cultures where death is not a normal and accepted part of life and is hidden from them.”

(199)  “Even the most intelligent children watch television’s redundant situation comedies and adventure serials whose patterns are distressingly predictable to adults.  The hunger for constant themes is an age-group need and is part of the construction of a coherent and predictable world,” and “the ‘as-if’ play is the heart of ritual and, eventually, formal religious activity.”

    - pretend worlds made up by groups of children ‘graduate’ into cultural myths, religious and secular.  The psychological mechanism and purpose is the same.

(202)  “The elaborate constructions of civilization are not necessary in either the biological evolution or the personal development of mental ability; a taxonomy-centered language and the presence of an adequate base of wild forms are.”

(203)  “Applying classificatory thought from the natural to the cultural is totemism.  Totemism is not a matter of a simple worship of nature, as Levi-Strauss has pointed out.”

    - totemism vs taxonomy

(203)  “Animals and plants mediate between culture and nature in the mental life of man.”

    - agriculture artificially separated nature from culture (Beyond Culture)

(205)  “The golden age of American university fraternities and sororities” after WWII, exploited “the innate readiness of young men and women to join secret, ritualistic societies.”

(208)  “The poetry of the spoken myth is to taxonomy and verbal knowledge what the mask is to the face…To those traditional peoples who have been in the mainstream of human experience for a million generations, space and time are inseparable from places and events. Ceremonies that change personal experience of the past are real; it is only in such secular or a-religious cultures as our own, with its arrow of progress, recorded history, and illusions of regulating time and space by measuring them, that the past is beyond reach.  But for traditional man, ceremonies that simultaneously touch the time stream of the maturing individual in more than one place are the method of mythological discourse.”

(211)  “Wisdom does not come simply from living long enough.  The individual who flunks adolescence cannot, as an adult, ripen with experience.”

- “age is no better teach than youth” Thoreau

(212)  “Wilderness solitude is not a test against the elements, discomfort, and deprivation, for, after all, the young hunter is already an expert at survival.  His purpose is more lofty.  It is a trial by confrontation.  It is to receive the full weight of the cosmos on his head without the shield of society.”

(215)  “The anger of a young man is necessary for a running assault with spears.  If elephants could talk, they might say, ‘we are what that is for.’”

(216)  “In modern warfare man behaves like a captive animal.  Caged creatures show much aberrant behavior, including psychopathic fits of bloody carnage, and many of the same psychotic symptoms as humans in our developed nations.”

(217)  “There is today a widespread attempt to define the benefits of wild nature, an attempt which, lacking social and religious dimensions, comes out as a kind of fundamental things on the one hand, or as abstractions on the other.  Mountains and elephants slip into platonic symbolism from which it is only a step to the perception of the elephant as merely a token of something more real.  All hazards and risks are abstracted and interchangeable.  Once this relativity is accepted, everything from fighting a war to selling an automobile, closing a merger, or getting elected may be substituted as the worthy trial of a young man.  The cynegetic man knows that elephant hunting really means hunting elephants.  Hunting and gathering are indeed the prototypes and evolutionary shapers of human behavior, but to see them therefore as symbols is to fall into a semantic trap.”

(218)  “Considering the strong revulsion against animality in our cultural tradition and the insistent literary-intellectual assertion that ‘man is more than an animal,’ it would seem that our society is in this respect immature.”

(219)  “It is not prey, but carnivores who fear death…the carnivore sees death everyday…he may imagine that he personally has discovered death and that in some way his anxiety is a personal problem.”

(221)  “The life of Paleolithic human hunters must not be imagined as the race against death that the agro-industrial culture assumes.”

(223)  “The dream and song are ecological factors.  As in the development of myth, their basic images have been shaped by the same evolutionary forces that shape the physical traits of species.”

(226)  “Anxiety about the self interferes with the study of nature; the metaphors making religion possible will slip into arbitrary art forms.  Uncompromising asceticism will clash with profligate sensuality and psychadelic masterbation.  Hypervigilence will be generated by the schizophrenic fear of depersonalization and produce a hundred forms of deviant behavior-cynical apathy, anarchistic nihilism, violence, and defiance, idiosyncratic behavior such as acting out, learning disorders, lack of purpose, moodiness, procrastination, and negativism.”

(227)  “In man the peak of cerebral perfection was probably reached more than fifty thousand years ago.”

(229)  “Hunting-gathering men are not lost in a fuzzy emotional merger with their surroundings; they are sensitive to delicate nuances that separate and relate.  The idea of the mystic trance as the perfect state of consciousness was conceived in agricultural religions, where the idea of nothingness enabled the devotees to escape from an intolerable world.”

(239)  “The husbandry system, whose forms underlie the foundations of modern thought, excludes wild nature as chaotic, other, and evil.  At the root of the modern tragedies of mass homicide and biocide, the substitution of ideology for religion, the disorientation of individual experience, are the ideals of husbandry and the loss of totemic models.”

(241)  “The farmer as a model of virtue and as a being close to nature is as false an image as that of the cultivated and grazed landscape is nature…Farms are a good place for children.  But this is in spite of agriculture; it is not the corn but the wildflowers the children remember.”

(242)  “Peasant existence is the dullest life man ever lived.”

(254)  “Every person in a developed nation should be required to tour a slaughterhouse, and he should do so after learning any one of the hundreds of ceremonies of apology, prayer, and symbolic commitment to the prey that attend the hunt by cynegetic men.”

(255)  “Modern Ag as ‘the largest disguised income-transfer program in history.’”

(265)  “When children or adult neurotics make substitute people out of their animals they put demands on them that far exceed the animal’ capabilities.  The human authoritarian control exercised over pets create an illusion of social adjustment…they are psuedo-totemic father, mates, slaves, children, brothers, scapegoats, doormats, and sexual objects.”

(266)  “Zoos, pets, and domestic animals give us personal satisfaction only because of the ecological poverty in our lives.”

(266)  “Animal movies, pets, zoos, and toys serve as crude substitutions for an inborn need.  Because we have them we are less concerned for the survival of wild animals.  Wild forms are allowed to slip into extinction a little more easily.”

(267)  “I believe that every child under ten has three ecological needs:  architecturally complex play space shared with companions; a cumulative and increasingly diverse experience of non-human forms, animate and inanimate, whose taxonomic names and generic relationships he must learn; and occasional and progressively more strenuous excursions into the wild world where he may, in a limited way, confront the non-human.”

(268)  “The collection and study of plants and animals is more important than any other learning activity.”

(268)  “Those who cannot stand the sight of intestines, blood, or death have been cruelly removed from reality.  The claim that they are sensitive or that they are passionately devoted to the living whole animal is a self-deception masking fear.”

(275)  “A full human experience requires truly belonging to a tribal unit.”

(278)  “A cynegetic world is not a vision of a lost paradise; it is inevitable, a necessity if we are to survive at all.”