A Detritus of Ants

Author: James Larking

A humorous but serious personal comment on our lives in Western society. Through my own personal experiences and observation I take an in-depth look at us as humans and the way we are. This is a work in progress that may take some time to finish, yet at the same time is complete in itself!


For many years I have thought I was a human being. Just how mistaken a person can be is often quite startling. We’ve heard it all before, that stuff about the human anthill, the city animal and all the rest of those pert little phrases that come popping up, phrases that we never really believe. Well, I think I’ve been an ant for over forty years. Of course ants don’t live that long and they have six legs and they’re all black. So I don’t look much like an ant…
I live in an anthill though, that is not in dispute! You will notice how I am already arguing with myself which is not an ant trait. Ants are usually pretty single minded and you do not often see them arguing with themselves. But I was an ant. And I’ll prove it!
Ants are hard workers and so am I, so there. Ants have a home and so do I. Enough proof? I think so.
It’s not easy being an ant as you all know. It seems to be a matter of working your bollocks off till someone squashes you or you just die from overwork. Pretty bleak.
Ants don’t have restaurants and cinemas, DVD’s or televisions, and they have an unshakable faith in themselves. I seem less and less like an ant the more I write. Perhaps I only wish I was an ant. But what about the proof? I mean, I’m not an ant now but I was. I’m convinced of it.
Ants live in dark tunnels you see, and so did I for a long time. This is mainly my fathers fault although now it is mine if I let it be. My father was a bull ant, you know the kind that bites. However, I hesitate to compare that person with any creature for creatures are not low by nature.
Anyway, this is not about my father, it’s just that he’s going to creep in now and again, mainly because he deserves a good telling off. Bastard. Sorry, I won’t say that again.
I’ll probably get a bit bleak at times, even though ants don’t get that way. I do believe in all the good things though, like the love we can share and the joy and passion of humanity… and ants.
I no longer live in a dark tunnel so I’m no longer an ant you see. Well the thing is that I never really was an ant as such, I hope you are not too disappointed about that. It just looked like a good way to show that I was not truly human till now.
Father dear,
I wish you near,
So’s I might break your kneecaps!
I do love poetry, other people’s that is!
I must say that all the threats and implications in this piece of work are purely allegorical and are not meant to be real in any way!! So that when I invite my father to step into the nearest vat of acid and have a long soak, it’s only my way of saying, “I care.”
I have a lovely wife and she has a lovely husband, we’ve beaten each other into the most attractive shapes… but you can still see the dents. My wife, Sandy, will be in here, she was never an ant.
Embarrassment is something I’m used to so I will tend to be very open and say things that others might not. Like, sometimes I have accidents of the pooh kind and I’m not talking about bears! I have a sick bowel and that is the bastards fault too I reckon.
Most people would not admit that sort of thing in print. If anyone ever reads this they’ll be pointing at me in the street going, “OOH, there’s the guy who poohs his pants.” But I just don’t care. I mean it has happened to me and to countless others so what the hell.
Gross though, so I won’t mention it again… unless it’s relevant.
My wife is the most beautiful person in my life and I’m very thankful to have her with me. She’s pretty pissed off with my father too. Bastard! (Whoops!).
This stuff I’m writing is going to be about society and us and about how unhappy we are and how happy we can be. It’s through my eyes which is why there is so much explanation of me and also why nobody should ever read this! There is just so much to say that does not need saying these days and this is probably just more of the same. I’m not sure I could afford the law suites either.
What’s wrong with society? Is there anything wrong with it? Seems alright at first glance. Everyone seems to be fed and have a roof over their head, well almost everyone. And we have lots of lovely stuff to play with. I even have a car and can go on trips overseas. Other people in other societies don’t have it this good. People get blown up and shot in other societies but not in mine… well not as often as the others anyway.
There’s the fact that if it wasn’t for my society then a lot less people would be getting blown up everywhere. But then I have to remember that my society is blowing up other societies so that my society will be blown up less or not at all, so I suppose it’s all for my good in the end…
I’m sure my father is to blame for that too…
Or those people in charge are asking him what to do!
So what happened to the ant? I will come back to ants but not now.
Our society is not very well even if it looks in the flush of health. And it’s not that it’s sick really, well okay, it’s sick. What’s its illness? If I had to answer that in one sentence I’d probably run away screaming, but that’s just me. Our society has an illness that is probably best called “without something” because everybody is continually looking for “something” but they don’t know what it is. So it is a “something” disease. There’s no cure unless we know what that something is because when we know what that something is then we will probably have it or be able to get it. Which makes me think that perhaps it is this wanting “something” that is the problem? Nobody ever seems to find that something so maybe it does not exist. Anyway, as we can’t find it, shouldn’t we stop looking? Or is there really something to find that drives us to keep searching?
Those sorts of questions are truly endless. There is something to find but there’s no need to look that hard, just inwards and then outwards…..


I’ve never seen ants looking for the meaning of life. They do seem to have that unshakable conviction of their purpose that I have referred to. I’ve never seen an ant sitting around wasting time, trying hard to fill in the hours. But then they don’t seem to have that ability for contemplation that we have. They have no need of it really. In many ways we are like ants, but the one big difference these days is that the ant is still faithful to its meaning.
What am I talking about?
We can be likened to the ant. Just stand at a busy city intersection for a few hours and then watch an ants nest. There’s a lot in common there and it’s not hard to see. And it would be easy to condemn us on the basis of this observation. In our city dwelling we appear like an ants nest, without individual mind, and with collective will to preserve and survive. However, appearances can be deceptive! What an old and tired clich�! But old and tired am I sometimes, so I’ll allow an old friend in the door. The ants nest has a single-mindedness of purpose for that is what it was made to do and it remains faithful to the ideal—no matter what the circumstances. If disaster strikes, anarchy does not ensue automatically. Ants do not begin to loot or rape but to rebuild or accept the inevitable and die. It would be pointless to highlight the consequences of disaster and anarchy in a human city needless to say, it would be a different result from that of an ants nest.
The big difference between us and the ant is that we can, and do, betray our meaning. The ant must always continue to be an ant but the human can cease to be human.
So what is it to be human? And why is this different from being some other creature?


Tra la la la la! I do love Irish music!
Ever heard a dog crack a joke like that? Not that dogs don’t have a sense of humour, I mean, I’ve seen dogs laughing! But their humour is earthbound and doggy, never abstract, for they can never be anything but a dog with a dogs sense of humour. Perhaps dogs can contemplate our humour but I don’t think so. Not that I can prove this scientifically or anything, you’ll just have to believe me or not, up to you! I do believe though, that this is the difference between us, I can contemplate the dog and its meaning but the dog cannot do that to me. So what?
I’ve met people who prefer dogs to humans and can you blame them? Here’s a dog for you, he’s faithful, loyal, loving and devoted solely to you (except when he’s scrounging elsewhere!). Apart from the scrounging bit, sounds like the ideal partner! We all know though, that partners, more often than not, are less loyal than dogs. Yet most of us choose a human partner rather than a canine one. Obviously we need more than the above doggy qualities in a relationship! What more is it that we need? Well most of us do not have sex with our dogs, so there’s one thing we need more than the doggy can give us (unless you are a very sick person). I finally managed to bring in sex! Now I’m on to a best seller!
Take Irish music. Thank you I will. Very generous.
Dogs like music I’m sure, but I think they just hear the whole world as a kind of music.

We only can see death
The free animal has its decline
In back of it, forever,
And God in front,
And when it moves,
It moves already in eternity,
Like a fountain. Rainer Maria Rilke.

Animals and insects, even the rocks and the trees, exist in a celestial bliss of the perfection of their nature. They are always true to what they are. Take death. No thanks, I haven’t finished the Irish music yet.


When your childhood is nothing but a painful memory, perceptions of life can be tainted. The pain acts as a barrier to any normal emotion and the simplest of things can be nightmarish. For many years I saw only enemies in other humans. It hurt to be around anybody and everybody was a danger. I’m writing this because I still have a bit of that in me and it influences me at times. Bastard! (that piece of profanity was in French so I’ll translate it for you… “Bastard!”). You know to whom I refer! I did tell you that he will creep in here and there. My only antidote at present to his malefic presence is to think of my lovely wife…Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! She is lovely! But I do wonder how many of us modern people are this damaged. Are you? I do hope you are not or you’ll end up like me, writing this inane rubbish to help you cope!
I had a dog once that had been very badly treated. It took many years to show the animal that she was now safe and loved. I’ve been that way and it’s my wife who is doing for me what we did for that dog. So you can see why I love her so much.
I just got tired of that icy feeling round my heart.
Trust is a precious gift. I only learned to trust when I realised that people are not to be trusted. Sound strange? See, most people do not set out to deliberately harm others. Some do but we will return to those “bastards” (refer above for translation from the French) later. We are hurt by others when we think they have let us down, but I had to realise that those that love me only wish my best. They may let me down for they are only human, but they do not do this to hurt. Often people hurt others for they are hurting in themselves. This is what I did for a long time. If you point this out to some people they will see its truth. But a veil of ignorance lies over many. Being a “bastard” is just this—ignorance.


Ants leave detritus from their work. It looks messy but the shit has to go somewhere. Same with us. We have sewerage systems and slag heaps. Just like we have bums to get rid of the waste, society has to have a big bum to slough of its waste. What does all this mean? Cleaning something means to rid it of dirt and the dirt has to go somewhere. The dirt is not bad, things grow in dirt so it does have a purpose apart form making things grotty. The soil that soils my mirror produces growth in me. Cleaning the dirt around my heart produces flowers, the beauty of which outshines any rose and are more nourishing than any fruit. Oh, so poetic!
So dirt is good, revel in dirt my friends for in it is life! See, the bad things you do are just a bit of dirt that needs a polish. And the dirt that is removed? Well, it goes back to the garden to help the growth of more beauty.
There are a lot of clumps of dirt that are walking around masquerading as human beings. They just need a good clean. Trouble is that they tend to dirty up everything around them making it hard for them to see the wash-basin. These ones are that French word.
I love humanity, even if you find that hard to grasp. I criticize because I care. I’ll call you a bastard (excuse my French!!!) because I care. It’s only when I call you a bastard, father dear, that my caring is a bit obscured. I really do understand where that old shit is coming from. I can see he was hurt or just plainly never taught to love or even know the meaning of the word. But I do know that we are all given the choice to behave well or not. This choice is presented to us not once, but many times. The more we choose wrong the more dirt clings to us and the less we can see out. And the more selfish our choices become. The beauty of this situation is this: we can choose wrong a million times and still be given the chance, we need only choose rightly once after a million wrong choices for all the dirt of countless mistakes to be cleansed in an instant. Not a bad deal that. If all this sounds a bit on the religious side, well, we’ll see….. (don’t worry, I really dislike that ‘born again’ lot!). But I do love them!

To be continued (when I’ve recovered from the enormous strain of writing).