Quotations by Author

Matthew Alper

In the "higher" animals, most particularly among the mammals, threatening circumstances elicit a particular type of pain we refer to as anxiety. Anxiety constitutes a type of pain meant to prompt these "higher" order animals to avoid potentially hazardous circumstances. For example, a rabbit is cornered by a mountain lion. In such a situation, the rabbit is pumped with adrenaline, charged with the painful symptoms of anxiety, all meant to incite the rabbit to most effectively escape from the source of its discomfort, in this case the mountain lion. In its healthiest form, anxiety is meant to prompt an animal to avoid or escape a potentially hazardous experience. In humans, however, once we became aware of the fact that death was not only inescapable but that it could come at any moment, we were left in a state of constant mortal peril, a state of unceasing anxiety -- much like rabbits perpetually cornered by a mountain lion from which there is no escape. With the emergence of self-awareness, humans became the dysfunctional animal, rendered helpless by an inherent and unceasing anxiety disorder. Unless nature could somehow relieve us of this debilitating awareness of death, it's possible our species might have soon become extinct. It was suddenly critical that our animal be modified in some way that would allow us to maintain self-conscious awareness, while enabling us to deal with our unique awareness of our own mortalities, of death.