Pharma's Market

- a Live Stock
& Produce Show

Essay for Pharma’s Market

-A live Stock and produce show

Published 2009
By Paul Patterson PHD Psychology

It’s been 10,000 years or so since our Neolithic ancestors discovered the benefits of taming the earth’s fecundity enabling communities to settle and thrive in chosen locations. Ever since, time and effort has been employed in trying our luck with anything and everything else that we might coerce to our collective and individual will. Earlier generations of herbalist, healers, alchemists, astronomers increased the pace of exploration – dissecting, experimenting and giving names to every aspect of animate and inanimate nature they happened across. Their industry paved the yellow brick road to our modern day wizardry where we find ourselves as individuals helplessly over-burdened with rolling news media, ‘essential’ press releases and the bite-size abundance of the world-wide web (Teilhard’s ‘Noosphere’) with its ever growing wike(d)pedia of all possible human thoughts, wishes and endeavours.

Mussi’s personal examination of the journey taken to our modern dilemmas is both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious – she builds a landscape evoking the timeless and nostalgic setting of a country fair with it’s range of prize produce, home made cakes, ‘best in show’ and harvest bounty. The friendly pastoral faces of first ancestors ‘Jack’ and the ‘Girl’ introduce the theme, though perhaps the resonance of paradise lost that they induce should give the hint that something is amiss in this comforting bucolic setting. Lurking are the faceless new-age fates (Ad-Hox and friends) whose tinkering with the very building blocks and genetic coding of life is leading to some very strange creations.

In the lottery of life we find the bandits missing arm, pointedly dangerous, primed to intervene in the fate of all living things. Will the ‘chaste fox’ outrun his pursuers or live to harangue Great Aunt Jane’s Hens? Will the romping rabbits escape the wheels of destiny or a speeding car to enable continued procreation? The journey through the market feels like a pilgrimage through Aesopica as every mosaic hints at a historical or moral tale. Somewhere here is the paradox of modern intensive farming with its emphasis on large-scale uniform crops and highly controlled livestock displaying its shiny technology in the form of beefy tractors, harvesters and hormonal innovations alongside the individual prize marrow from the allotment and quirky cup cakes made by the vicar’s wife. And everywhere the question – whether mankind’s science and engineering have usurped the gods for our benefit or to our detriment?

This is dark science – repopulating the historical lands of the gods with hi-tech laboratories where instead of life’s beginnings and endings decided by the fates – a Robo-Bunny looks capable of making empathy-free ‘improvements’ to the previous selection process – bringing us closer to Dawkin’s selfish meme-machine then to Darwin’s lucky survivor.

In the final analysis, does consciousness cause us to split off irrevocably from the ‘natural’ world – or is the Pandora’s box that it unlocked, including every human action – both meaningful or meaningless – still held within the embrace of mother nature? Mussi’s impressive gallery of evolution is both an exquisite collection of intricate and vibrant characters as well as a thought-provoking commentary on our post-modern predicament.