From DH Lawrence’s Women in Love (1920)
[Birkin and Ursula having it out over people]
“But I abhor humanity, I wish it was swept away. It could go, and there would be no ABSOLUTE loss, if every human being perished tomorrow. The reality would be untouched. Nay, it would be better. The real tree of life would then be rid of the most ghastly, heavy crop of Dead Sea Fruit, the intolerable burden of myriad simulacra of people, an infinite weight of mortal lies.’
‘So you’d like everybody in the world destroyed?’ said Ursula.
‘I should indeed.’
‘And the world empty of people?’
‘Yes truly. You yourself, don’t you find it a beautiful clean thought, a world empty of people, just uninterrupted grass, and a hare sitting up?’
The pleasant sincerity of his voice made Ursula pause to consider her own proposition. And really it WAS attractive: a clean, lovely, humanless world. It was the REALLY desirable. Her heart hesitated, and exulted. But still, she was dissatisfied with HIM.
‘But,’ she objected, ‘you’d be dead yourself, so what good would it do you?’
‘I would die like a shot, to know that the earth would really be cleaned of all the people. It is the most beautiful and freeing thought. Then there would NEVER be another foul humanity created, for a universal defilement.’
‘No,’ said Ursula, ‘there would be nothing.’
‘What! Nothing? Just because humanity was wiped out? You flatter yourself. There’d be everything.’
‘But how, if there were no people?’
‘Do you think that creation depends on MAN! It merely doesn’t. There are the trees and the grass and birds. I much prefer to think of the lark rising up in the morning upon a human-less world. Man is a mistake, he must go. There is the grass, and hares and adders, and the unseen hosts, actual angels that go about freely when a dirty humanity doesn’t interrupt them—and good pure-tissued demons: very nice.’
It pleased Ursula, what he said, pleased her very much, as a phantasy. Of course it was only a pleasant fancy. She herself knew too well the actuality of humanity, its hideous actuality. She knew it could not disappear so cleanly and conveniently. It had a long way to go yet, a long and hideous way. Her subtle, feminine, demoniacal soul knew it well.
‘If only man was swept off the face of the earth, creation would go on so marvellously, with a new start, non-human. Man is one of the mistakes of creation—like the ichthyosauri. If only he were gone again, think what lovely things would come out of the liberated days;—things straight out of the fire.’
‘But man will never be gone,’ she said, with insidious, diabolical knowledge of the horrors of persistence. ‘The world will go with him.’
‘Ah no,’ he answered, ‘not so. I believe in the proud angels and the demons that are our fore-runners. They will destroy us, because we are not proud enough. The ichthyosauri were not proud: they crawled and floundered as we do. And besides, look at elder-flowers and bluebells—they are a sign that pure creation takes place—even the butterfly. But humanity never gets beyond the caterpillar stage—it rots in the chrysalis, it never will have wings. It is anti-creation, like monkeys and baboons.’