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Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books)

Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss If the purpose of myths is to make orderly sense of the world, isn’t it funny that the very first question the Judeo-Christian mythology in Genesis sets out to explain- after the origins of the Creation itself- is how mankind fell from grace? In effect, “How did things get to be so bad?” “Why is life so hard?” From a modern perspective, the early farming civilizations that gave us Genesis enjoyed a slow-paced life with meaningful community bonds, a deeply-felt connection with the environment, and a rich array of festivals and folklore which reassured each member of an orderly and predictable universe, and their place in it. Why did the Ancients feel the need to explain to each other how they had lost a way of life so much easier and more fulfilling than the one they already had? Maybe it’s because life in pre-agricultural times was easier. Let’s face it: working the land is more difficult than gathering up nature’s bounty as you find it. The advent of agriculture produced storable surpluses for the first time in history, and in some ways that made survival more stable, less tenuous, less vulnerable. On the other hand, the rise of agriculture prohibited the wandering life of hunting and gathering, and with sedentary populations came new problems. Increasing population density, especially without adequate sanitation, invited more frequent and devastating spread of disease, as well as increased resource competition. Worse still, it necessitated a way of organizing the growing mass of humanity, and resolving conflicts. In short, it grew more extensive, sophisticated apparati for government. True, oppression of one people by another was not unknown in the pre-agricultural era, but once populations became geographically fixed, and land apportioned into parcels with yields predictable, auditable, and siezable by the State, that’s when tyranny could first operate on a large scale, and project itself over distances. All the "great" oppressive regimes of the ancient world were grain-based military-agricultural combines: Persia, China, Rome, Egypt, Sparta. In fact, State power was so invested in those particular crops most legible to State management and attainability (Rome- wheat; China- rice, etc) that their economies became dominated by their respective most-easily administrated grain, even though "monocropping" (a hyperbolically used term) tended to deplete the soil, promote crop-specific diseases and pests, and made the overall economy more vulnerable to unfavorable environmental conditions like droughts or floods.In tandem with the growth of large-scale government was large-scale commerce, and the evolution of money and taxation. While the hunting/gathering man may have paid tributes and made sacrifices of a portion of his food stocks, the surpluses of agriculture, and the above factors (State legibility) set up Agricultural Man to sacrifice a much larger fraction of the fruits of his labor in the form of taxes.mosaic of Roman farmers, SicilySo yeah, it’s not so difficult to see why early agricultural peoples may have looked back on the majority experience of human (pre)history with envy, and wondered how they got tossed out of the Garden of Eden. Green Eggs and Ham is an alternative story of Man’s expulsion from paradise. It’s one where Man isn’t thrown out by a vengeful Father-figure God, but rather enticed out by a Faustian Stranger God.Act I is very short, and introduces us to the opposing forces, Sam I Am and the unnamed Everyman, who advocate for the agricultural/ pastoral vs. hunting/gathering ways of life, respectively. Sam I Am is a pretty easy allegory to crack, referring as it does to Exodus 3:14. God’s name is “I AM”, so Sam is God, in a manner of thinking. Is he omnipotent? Well, he does get his way in the end. Is he the Divine Creator? Seuss leaves that unaddressed, but I think it is safe to say he is the champion of the agricultural way of life, just as the God of the Old Testament is: giving laws, ruling over sedentary populations, intervening with the movement of armies, influencing kings, etc. These things aren’t part of a forager’s world; these are the accessories of grain-powered empires in an agricultural world. Sam’s mission in life is to force green eggs and ham onto an unsuspecting Everyman. Why green eggs and ham? Ham and eggs is the traditional “farmer’s breakfast”; the ultimate icon of the agricultural life. And green? Do you really need me to spell it out for you?Manipulated fiat currencies are the hidden trap of any large-scale political-economic system. Rome’s history with currency debasement is particularly well-documented, but by no means unique. By page 10, Sam drops the bomb, “Do you like green eggs and ham?” And we’re off to Act II.Act II is the conflict. Sam persists, waving the green eggs and ham under Everyman’s nose. At each turn, Everyman protests. “I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham.” But Sam is persistent and undaunted. The allure of the agricultural world must have seemed irresistible to many: population centers with an abundance of potential mates, luxury items, and storable food surpluses to include fermented drinks! As a bonus, the development of sturdier, more permanent architecture let Agricultural Man house all his new stuff in a place much more comfortable from the elements! How fabulous it must have all seemed! Who would want to wander around in the forest, getting rained on, when a life of such opulent accumulation awaited down in the valley?On the other hand, an agricultural economy is very preoccupied with manpower. “Land without men to work it is a wilderness” , as the saying goes. For most of the Agricultural Era, controlling populations was more important to political and economic power than controlling land itself. That makes every member of society a commodity to be consumed. The grain empires instituted frequently oppressive laws to keep the population immobile, and drew much of its manpower from the slave trade, debt-bondage, conscription, and corvée labor. Green eggs and ham suddenly ain’t so attractive any more. Further, the higher population density invited plagues and epidemics on an unprecedented scale. On the whole, Everyman’s reluctance to partake of the green eggs and ham seems entirely reasonable. Act II is a bit overplayed, but some of the word choices are interesting. “I do not like them in a house.” - a rejection of the sedentary life. “I would not eat them in a box.” ...containers being a symbol of storage- again getting to the issue of storable surpluses, as well as the ethos of accumulation, which is far more materialistic than one’s hunter/gatherer forebears who had to carry everything they owned. At the end of Act II, we get to “Would you, could you eat them in a car?” and later on a train. These vehicles are both a reference to technologies only possible with a sedentary population, with surplus resources to support learning and engineering. These vehicles also refer to the significance of distance for ancient grain-based economies. Overland transport of goods in carts drawn by animals has a very easily-calculated profit point: as soon as the cost of feeding the animal and driver exceeds the value of the goods being transported, the crop is no longer profitable. Thus, grain-based empires were very constrained by geographic factors, which acted as a sort of friction on commerce. The greatest agricultural empires owed their success to the development of distance-destroying technologies, such as all-weather roads, maritime technology and warfare to protect maritime trade routes, inland canals and waterways, and (much later) railways. Each of these has their allure, as well as their drawbacks, but our Everyman still refuses the green eggs and ham. Act II culminates in a sort of upheaval. Sam subjects Everyman to increasingly chaotic situations, putting him in a car, or on top of a train rushing through a dark tunnel, all the while incessantly pressuring him to partake of the green eggs and ham. Note, Sam is always the provocateuer, the proactive; while the hunter/gatherer Everyman is passive. Finally, they plunge off a cliff into the ocean- a sort of allegorical collapse of order. It’s is again the classic Order Out of Chaos strategy of rule, as explored in detail by Naomi Klein in [b:Shock Doctrine|1237300|The Shock Doctrine The Rise of Disaster Capitalism|Naomi Klein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1317791913s/1237300.jpg|2826418]. Everyman, floating in the water with Sam I Am finally breaks down, leading us in to Act III.This is where it gets ugly. Where the book crosses over from story to agro-industrial Statist propaganda. Green Eggs and Ham ends the same way [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313] does: with a tearful Winston Smith smiling in joyful defeat, supine at the feet of an icon of the all-powerful State. Every last vestige of resistance has been stamped out of him by an overwhelmingly-resourced system. Sam I Am’s incessant harassment has achieved its objective: Everyman’s complete and uncompromising submission. The final scene closes with our Everyman now willingly taking the platter of green eggs and ham from Sam. He is castrated and domesticated. The system has its newest slave.Ugh. Vomit. How old are kids when they read this? Four? Five? It’s so young to be telling them “Resistance if Futile”, isn’t it? Some day (I probably won’t live to see it), the injustices of a highly-centralized agro-industrial system will face some harsh reappraisal. Our charmed but also enslaved life has for centuries been in a dialectic of ever-increasing centralization, complete with the corruption and loss of liberty that always implies. Green eggs and ham are the pathway to slavery, taxes, fiat money, war, terrorism and Facebook. I have no doubt Mankind will reach a tipping point when we will start to see these things for what they are. When that day comes, Green Eggs and Ham will be rewritten. Our black-hatted Everyman will wrest the plate of green eggs and ham away from Sam and smash it on the floor. Then he’ll drive the twerpy would-be oppressor from his spaces forever, and it will be no less significant than the dawn of the Agricultural Era. Green eggs and ham will pass forever from history’s menu, to be supplanted with nuts and berries on a plate of GOLD!