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The Dominant Primordial Beast
Because Jack London’s Call of The Wild Deserves a Second Look
I wrote once already about Jack London’s The Call of The Wild, but it deserves a second look. The Call of The Wild is about a sled dog named Buck. I’ve known of the book for sometime. It’s always gotten good reviews. It was manly and primitive. But it took me awhile to give it a chance — because it’s about a dog. How could a book about a dog be a powerfuk example of manliness and nature?
This is a book about a dog returning to nature. Buck was the dog of some aristocrat of the Santa Clara valley who’s torn from his kingly existence and forced to enter the primitive world where he learned the “law of club and fang.” Buck is trained to be a sled dog. A sled dog who was about to be made to travel through the Canadian winter. It’s this experience and the dangers of The Wild that awakened in Buck the dormant dominant primordial beast. He was a house dog who pulled from his home was forced to become wild again.
Buck finds himself in a power struggle with the other sled dogs, vying for that top spot in front of the sled. His story is very Nietzschean. It’s as if he’s read Thus Spoke Zarathustra and concluded that dog is something that must be surpassed. Buck drawn to the primordial desire for greatness, to become master of his conditions. To conquer space. The experience of Buck is the experience of the modern man in his attempt to return to nature.
When you start to see the world for what it is, when you start seeing nature at play, your worldview is forced to change. The mainstream morality all men in the west are raised on must die because that morality is the means of your enslavement. Nature doesn’t care about your morality. Nature only cares about who wins, who is best.
The Call of The Wild lays out the path for all men who want to escape the degeneration of the modern world.
Buck, first living his comfortable life, is completely caught by surprise when he’s taken from the place he considered himself king. He’s beaten, forced to work, his food is stolen by his comrades, and conditioned to pull the sled. He loses some forty pounds on the journey, but grows into a fearsome dog of power. Throughout this journey, Buck is still a slave with a master as it is with all men. But is job teaches him about the primitive, about nature. He is reconnected with his ancestors out there in The Wild.
Buck’s path was perilous. There was no mercy under the law of club and fang. The sled was vulnerable in The Wild to all kinds of danger. To be thrown to the ground in a scuffle with another dog meant death, it meant the pack would turn on him. In addition, they worked in sub zero cold and snow and ice. Over time his masters would change, some good, some fair, and some cruel. Like us, he was at the mercy of the master. The right master made him stronger and the wrong master ran him into the ground.
You’re a fool to believe yourself free in this alleged “Land of the Free.” The laws and the customs are chains. Bonds to hold you down while men who understand the primitive law take advantage. This is no excuse to give in. To cry foul. This simply how the world is. It’s your duty to overcome.
This is what Nietzsche called for when he said, “man is something to be surpassed.” You’re born into a great game, a game hidden intentionally from you by your masters. To get a taste of the primordial is to destroy whatever worldview you might have had. To master your conditions, to conquer space. This is what you were made for, whether your parents realized it or not. Modern ailments such as depression are born out of this desire. You’re meant to become the “dominant primordial beast” as London coined it.
You’ll never be content otherwise. This is your Great Work. If it’s not pursued, you will never have peace. Buck came out of a comfortable house, the house of an aristocrat. He thought he was a king. It wasn’t until he got a taste of The Wild that he realized how wrong he was. The Call of The Wild pulled him back to nature. To be what he was meant to be.