24 February 2008

Words from the Eternal

As I walked home on a trail I’ve walked a hundred times, something I’ve always noticed piqued my interest, as today, as the wind blew smoothly across the tops of houses and pored like water through the streets and alleyways, the Earth seemed to be pleading for someone to listen. But there was no one listening.

I came across a place where a few of the ancient trees that once populated this region had not been cut down; instead a house had been built around them. They stood gargantuan, as though they penetrated the sky into Heaven. And they swayed like trees have swayed a hundred million billion times before, but this time it was different.

The wind wisped through them, these mute, dancing demigods. But then, I realized, this wisp of wind was a whisper, the voice of some great thing, some lonely great thing. The whisper rose slowly until it became a roar, muting all other sounds of surrounding industry. And mankind disappeared then.

At first I thought it was the trees talking, utilizing their friend and enemy the wind to blow the words through them. But no. Though the magnanimity of it was already overwhelming me, this was something greater speaking to me, for trees lack this kind of profundity. What spoke to me was much, much greater than a quartet of trees. What spoke was immortal.

And what did it say? Without words or song or rhyme, as these are shadows of reflections of truth and ideas, it reached past my temporality and my mind and took hold of something much deeper and said:

“Listen, fool. I am the sacred eternal, the neutral, the Garden of Eden. You left me for knowledge, and now your life is a sad story. But you can never leave me, for I am everything, everywhere, and you are a part of me, a hair on my neck, a forgotten memory. All men could once hear me this way, as you do, now only a handful. Your sorrow, your tragedy is as much an illusion as the freedom you’ve built for yourself, and the walls, bars and chains of that freedom. Let it go and I will embrace you once more, in love, and I will crush you.”
Thus it spoke to my soul and tears welled up like the first time I heard, really heard Beethoven’s 9th… but even more than that, as even Beethoven wrote illusions and lies, glimmering lies, from man to man. Yet my legs, conditioned as they are to work without thought, kept walking home, and all the eternal had to say took place in just a second, or perhaps an eon, and it’s still talking, whispering to me now. Forever.


21 February 2008

Takers and Leavers

On Daniel Quinn’s website (http://www.ishmael.org/) there is an extensive Q&A. Some of the questions are interesting, and Quinn’s answers are thoughtful. Also, for one prone towards primitivism, luckily most of the questions are typical, thus the answers provide a useful resource to refer to when dealing with similar questions in daily life (which will be often if your train of thought is such).

I’d like to present this particular question with my comments in brackets.
The Question (ID Number 733)...

Near the conclusion of "Ishmael," you proclaimed that humans in the Taker culture have stopped evolving, because they do not live in the hands of the gods. This is the only idea of yours that I cannot wrap my mind around. I don't understand how or why evolution would cease for a segment of one species but not for another segment of the same species... [This confusion stems from the paradox of egalitarianism. The questioner assumes that all people are the same, thus how could one progress while the others remain stagnant or even regress? Yet mutation is a fundamental aspect of evolution. Mutants are intrinsically different within their species, and if their mutation is heritable and advantageous, it will increase in frequency. Thus races evolve and, supposing the mutation is isolated and nurtured, speciation occurs. That’s the origin of species. Like most people these days who propose to understand something about these topics, the questioner hasn’t done their homework, and Quinn must make up the slack in order to explain.] especially considering the segment for which evolution supposedly has ceased contains the vast majority of the total species' population. [It is the exceptional minority that evolves, the majority that perishes. Most species that have existed are extinct. Most kinds of live are not fit enough for long-term survival.] In addition, how have the Leaver peoples evolved, and what proof do we have of that evolution?

...and the response:

You have three different questions here. Regarding the first question, I would say that the members of our culture have simply removed ourselves from the conditions under which evolution takes place; this is the whole point of taking our lives into our own hands. [This is a valid and oft underrated point. Many progressives like to say that since the material for technology necessarily comes from natural sources, technology itself is inherently natural, thus the citizens of the techno-industrial system are subject to natural selection. This, however, misses the intention of the techno-industry: the division from natural forces in order to decide our own destiny. This separation from nature is actually making us weaker, as the rest of the world evolves to fit into the changing world, whilst we change to fit our own world, and as is proved time and time again, nature is vastly more powerful that civilization. In other words, we’re on the loosing side. We may appear to be making great gains, but we’re the hare, and nature is the tortoise.] To say that I "proclaimed" it suggests that the statement is to be taken on faith. I would say rather that I merely asserted it, and presented grounds for the assertion, which will be examined in greater detail below.

Regarding the second question, it's entirely possible for one "section" of a species to evolve separately from other sections–if the conditions under which the one section live become different from the conditions under which the others live. [This should have been evident.] An excellent example of this can be found in the very distinctive physical differences that developed among Leaver peoples living under the conditions of the far north–-the Eskimos. Over time (hundreds or thousands of years), their bodies adapted to two significantly different conditions from the rest of humanity: severe cold and the absence of nearly all forms of edible fruits and vegetables, leaving them with a diet that consisted almost entirely of meat. By contrast, immigrants to Alaska from the lower United States do not have to adapt to these conditions, because they bring with them central heating and supermarkets supplied with food from the south. This illustrates very clearly why these Taker immigrants are not evolving: they don't need to; they're shielding themselves from the conditions under which evolution takes place. [Italics mine. Another excellent point.]

I believe the answer to the second question also answers the third. The Eskimos exemplify how Leaver peoples evolved, and their physical differences from peoples of the south constitute proof of that evolution. [Again, the egalitarian cannot see this because it conflict with their socio-political beliefs. Abnegation: the favorite pastime of modern man.]

The questioner had a follow-up query: Would a reasonable alternative hypothesis to your assertion that people in the Taker culture have stopped evolving be that they do continue to evolve but not how they would have if they had adopted a Leaver culture? I cannot think of an example to offer, but the idea is that Takers continue to evolve in a way that perhaps is not beneficial to them or in a way that reflects their Taker culture.

My reply: Evolution is not an ongoing, inevitable process, like, say, aging. It's a response to new conditions that favor some individuals (who survive to reproduce) over others (who do not survive to reproduce). I can see no conditions at work today that would have this effect on humans. When (and if) the combined effects of our impact on the environment finally combine to cause a general ecological collapse, there will be no time for Homo Sapiens to adapt (just as there was no time for Tyrannosaurus or Triceratops to adapt). [It’s important for humans to be aware of their forthcoming extinction. We must overcome humanity, and then overcome that overcoming, and so on into eternity, if anything thitherto referred to as “we” shall survive.]