Category Archives: Time

We Improve but we do not Progress

[an essay by   ~burning woman~  ]

Time, or the lack thereof, has become my enemy. Of course I realize that from the larger picture, time is not relevant, but I also realize that as a physical entity possessed of an Earthian body, I have to reckon with the time constraint, a real pain! I exist in a mental cage, a Matrix-designed prison in which no “greater thought” is meant to exist. Time, or what Earthians like to call past-present-future, controls thought, awareness, expectations. Nothing here is expected to exist outside of time – that would be unthinkable. Think, how important have time-measuring devices been throughout man’s various attempts at defining itself through his so-called “civilizations.”

It is possible, however, for some of us to push our mental awareness through the bars of the time jail and see from infinity. It’s a bit like traveling several magnitude beyond the speed of light (time and light being artificially tied together in the Matrix) and feeling the mind stretch as she pushes out into the past in order to see the future she is going into – not, as is popularly believed, creating. I do not create the future (there is no such thing as “my” future – not yet!) but it is possible for me to see it take shape if I make the effort to “see” and understand some of the past, that which I have already experienced, forgot about and now must learn to recover in order to make use of.

The real past does not exist within the artificial boundaries imposed by an equally artificial time machine. It certainly does not exist in any “historical” recording, those being even less meaningful in terms of understanding what a human being was/will be. Only a recovered once-traveled and experienced past can have meaning.

I used to be fascinated by history, my favourite subject in high school and I kept on reading and studying history long after I escaped the academic world. Then I came to certain realizations about reality, what it is, what it isn’t. Man’s recorded history became about as valid as using Monopoly money to purchase goods and services: there was a credibility gap that could not be breached. Man’s history, the collectively remembered and the recorded, was not so much a lie as pointless. Pointless as an exercise in recording it, even more so in reading it.

How did I arrive at that? Simple: nothing, absolutely nothing, is learned from history and nothing is gained by having some knowledge of it. It is irrelevant. What is relevant is what I can personally “remember” of what I experienced of past events, how those changed me and re-made me and how, as I collected that awareness, it opened the only trustworthy and meaningful window on a future that my remembrances gave me to look out of.

This will be the third time that I have read Stephen Donaldson’s science fiction “Gap” series. The title of this “essay” is taken from book 4, Chaos and Order: the Gap into Madness. “We improve, but we do not progress.” I imagine that for a programmed entity, such a thought is, well, unthinkable. How could we not progress if we are improving?

The question is, what do we mean by improving, or do we even have a clue what it could mean? What does it mean, for an intelligent, sentient, self-aware being, to “improve”? Does it mean that as a society, better put as a civilization, we are palpably, noticeably improving, in keeping with our claim to be living on a human scale? Does it mean we are improving in terms of developing “new and improved” human values, as individuals?

Yes, technologically we are undeniably improving. Many of the things we surround ourselves with today and take for granted would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

But aren’t we existing as characters in a series of Marvel Comic books? Aren’t we in fact using Monopoly money to go shopping in our improved world? How meaningful to us as human being are any of our improvements? What are these improvements doing to us? Are they not stealing our minds and locking us in our “now” mental jail?

What is progress? What would it mean to progress? Wouldn’t progress mean becoming better people overall? More aware of our environment, of others? More eager to ensure that as we “improve” we are adding to the overall betterment of this world and all who live and exist on and within, it? Wouldn’t progress mean that we are breaking free of our killing rat race and our insane repetition of acts we time and again performed then swore we would never do again? Wouldn’t progress mean we strove to become more human by demonstrating our desire to display the quality of humaneness towards all life?

I will tell you, once again, what my window into the future is showing me. Think of the current baby pandemic called Covid 19, make it real and multiply that a million times. I see horror upon horror building up exponentially until the entire world is awash in desperation, violence, bloodshed and a total loss of humanity or humane expression. I see the utter end of this civilization and everything that made it possible – people and systems.

But then, at the end of all improvement, I see progress. A new beginning, none of it predicated on the old. I can see this future because I can see the past beyond historical/hysterical fake news and beyond collective memories.

The Elita Theorem

[a short story by  Sha’Tara]
(Inspired, in part, by Isaac Asimov’s “Prelude to Foundation)

 Ansar and Elita were what you would call lovers.  Ansar was a member of the galactic arch-council located at that time on the pivotal world they called Juno.  Elita was mathematician and social historian at the famed university of Urtank, in the central high mountains of Sector T-41 of planet Quatl-Iln.  The following is a time-captured record of a brief exchange that took place in those long ago days after Elita worked out a program from a theory that stated that “time” was primarily a recording device in which could be read both past and future events.  The sharper the “reader” the more accurate would the reading of the sought events be.  It is all old hat now, as they say, but in the years prior to mankind’s initial scattering from his original galaxy (circa year 22,000 old reckoning) this was considered very naïve and pseudo-scientific.  But let’s hear what they were saying…

“We have a past, you know, Ansar.  A real past, which to this day society insists on dubbing a myth.  I’ll be brief.  We originated on one world only and you’ve heard that “myth” before, I’m sure.  You don’t buy it, but I do.  And then I don’t.”

“Make some sense, Elita.  Don’t speak to me in your usual riddles.  Either you do, or you don’t.  You can’t have it both ways.”

“No riddle.  Just simple fact which I can have “both ways” as you so eloquently put.  Our world of origin in the preserved language was called earth.  There mankind evolved, so it was thought, and taught, and from there he spread his wings and flew away to discover the galaxy.  And now, we are once more precariously balanced upon the horns of an old dilemma.  For centuries our real growth has been in decline.  At the same time, mankind is again looking beyond his doorstep, this time looking to jump to other galaxies and perhaps begin again.  And I can generally predict what is going to happen.  We are going to make the jump.  We will “begin” again and what we leave behind will continue to decline, to shrivel upon itself and die.  As did earth.”

“How do you know this?”

“Mathematical projection says so.  Observation says so.  Simple statistical projection says so.  Increasingly indolent ways of a pampered population says so.  Breakthroughs in non-ship-non-moving travel says so.  Shortages in resources marginalizing and starving millions of poorer planets says so.   The leadership vacuum says so.   Before rebellions and total war engulf the galaxy, you will have a scattering.  These scatterings are the seedings, and every time a group of humans seeds itself upon a new world as yet untouched by previous human presence and exploitation, that group is irreversibly changed.  Those who survive become, to the eyes of those left behind (if they are able to see) either monsters, mutants, or super-human depending on the point of view.  And, what was left behind fears these who have escaped.  Their authorities pursue them, hoping to control them and to feed from them.  Failing that, trying to destroy them.” 

“But what does any of that say to your belief that some mythical world called earth was man’s original world?”

“Don’t you see?  Earth man was a seedling.  It was planted on that ancient now long-gone world and it flourished there.  But it did not actually originate there.  It did not, as was then claimed, physically evolve from the muck and mire of the planet, anymore than we evolved from the rocky strata of this stony world.  The early people of earth were ruled and enslaved by their forebears but in their fevered discovery of new-found abilities, they shook off the yoke of their masters, of the sowers, and unmindful of the consequences, literally exiled themselves upon their world with no means of leaving, or of contacting any other possible sown worlds.  So engrossed did they become with self-discovery and exploitation of their world that they soon forgot how they got there.  New leadership, fearful of having to share power with galactic powers, ordered the re-writing of history and established religions that relegated the real-life human sowers to ineffable divinities to be idolized in worship.  

It would be thousands of years before the ever-present urge to resume the sowing cycle would obsess these Earthians and they would abandon their internecine warfare to concentrate on going to the stars.  Predictably they did so, for we are here.  And predictably, they carried with them the belief that they originated on earth, thus making that world the ruling world of the galaxy.  Sadly, that is why it was slagged by the “new” children who did not tolerate that a backward little planet so far from galactic centre would rule over the whole.   Much was lost in the destruction of earth but the greatest loss was in records of what happened so long ago, before Earthians were solidly established on their new world.  Records of previous generations, previous intelligences, previous star-farers who gave birth to Earthians and thence, to us.  We must re-discover those records.”  

“You make a persuasive argument but I remain unconvinced.  You have no real proof that what you have conjured could ever have some basis in  fact.” 

“Proof.  People put so much faith in that word.  But perhaps there is proof.  If I could actually and correctly predict a specific future event using certain formulas I’ve developed, would you consider that proof that we can draw out reality from the chaos of the unknown?”

“If, indeed!  Yes, if you could predict exactly a certain future event, I’d see that as proof.  But what about the past?”

“But don’t you see it?  There is no difference.  If we can accurately predict the future, we can just as accurately “predict” what happened in the unknown past.  Let’s say that your family drove to a certain town while you were in your mother’s womb.  Once in that new town, you were born there.  The family possessed a past that was not yours.  However, when old enough to drive, you could choose to drive forward from that town, or to, in a sense, retrace your family’s steps by driving back down the road into the past.  Some things would be different, but you could verify that the world they spoke of did in fact exist. 

I believe that my computer program and my calculations can do this for mankind and perhaps much more.  Certainly we will be able to “verify” not only where we are going, but where we come from. There are those who are so intent on destroying all vestiges of the old myths.  They want to destroy the old religions that have clung to mankind from the earth days to now.  The way to demystify the past is not by pretending or claiming it did not happen, but by proving it did happen, and demonstrating how it did so.  The ancient “gods” then become simple humans with what would be to us very primitive technology and were neither eternal nor all-powerful non-material beings as fabricated religions have falsely claimed for so long until now.” 

“Interesting.  With our funding, you claim you can develop this new science that will show not only how our future will develop but prove that the mythical past did in fact happen?  Will there be more to your argument when you present it to the Council for, what must certainly become, substantial additional funding?”

“Do I need more?  Are you not curious?  Would you not risk a few billion credits to find out where you came from and where you are going in, say, a thousand years from now?  If we, as humans, must continue to bootstrap our ways across parsecs and eons of space-time, can’t we at least secure stronger and longer straps for ourselves?  Must our existence continue to be an endless, chaotic gamble against the forces of time and the universe?  Must we forever be running from our enemies, be they competing intelligences or depleted environments, and towards unknown conditions that may test us beyond our abilities to resist and overcome?  I think that what we term “expanded awareness” has to include an ability to remember the distant past and to appropriate to certainty a much longer portion of the future.  We cannot continue to launch ourselves as dandelion seeds in the winds for the day will come when we will literally fall in among an inimical race that will destroy us, probably out of fear of our predatory ways coupled with our unnaturally prolific birthrate.  We are predators, Ansar, and represent a very real threat to any other intelligent species already established around us.  It would be extremely naïve to think we have not been noticed.  If we know the future, we can avoid such an encounter and prevent catastrophe to ourselves.” 

“My curiosity is certainly not as expanded as yours, love.  But I’ll support you on Council even though I don’t share your enthusiasm for socio-history.  I would be satisfied if you could predict the next day of windless sunshine so we could go mountain climbing.  What do you say to that?”

“Just the two of us?”

“Just the two of us.”

“Would you accept an educated guess?”

“I will, but I have one condition.”

“Ah?”

“Will you accept my ring?  It will be a year tomorrow since the last time you said ‘no’ to me.”

“I accept your ring, Ansar.  Without conditions. As to the weather, my guess is the wind will have to be reckoned with but safe enough for experts like us.” 

 It was ten years later that Elita’s group in Urtank saw the first fruits of her efforts.  It was another twenty-three years before the theory was fully tested when a no-ship “fleet” consisting of seventeen billion people jumping off from Juno would have encountered an enemy force that would have destroyed them had they not “seen” this prior to departure and changed course accordingly.  Two hundred years after that, as this inimical intelligence began to seriously encroach upon new human settlements, it was caught in a 5-pronged attack by humans and was annihilated.  These perfectly timed attacks were devised using the Elita Theorem of time recordings.  

To add a little explanation to this theory, let me just say that it resembles the reading of those old movie strips.  Once a “time line” is focused upon, the computer can “play” the “image frames” either forward or backward.  An identical “time line” can be read from any number of different places, even distant galaxies, without distortion.  Hence the possibility of simultaneous action at vast distances. 

And so we are in the process of conquering the universe.  What will we do, should we discover that our universal space-time model does not apply beyond our universal borders?  Who will break through the next mystery should the Elita theorem fail at that point? Are we still curious enough to dare go and find out? Do we even have a choice?

 

Come Find Me, Come!

[a poem by   ~burning woman~ ]

The wind howled in the night,
The long shadowed night.
It was the Chinook wind,
I had smelled it earlier
As clouds greyed and darkened,
Disappearing sun and moon.

An owl barked, hooted, laughed
Down in the gully’s copses
And I thought, I hear the owl
And it’s calling my name –
Only it wasn’t me he was calling,
It was a mate and I had no wings.

These two things I mention,
They happened a long time ago.
I wasn’t thinking of death then,
Not by a long shot. I was young,
Barely old enough to feel
That troubling sense in my heart
Which I learned was the call to love.

It is said around here (or was said)
That when the owl calls your name
Your number’s up-death is riding.
Well, I heard the owl again
Last night in the woods
Bordering the little Hope river.

My guess is, as it was long ago
That this short eared owl,
For that was the nature of his call
Was once again calling a mate,
Then I heard her laugh
Deeper in the foggy woods:
“Come and find me, Come!”

Like that they were gone.
The wind died down then
And the ever rain came again
And that is as it should be
Or so the Shaman told me:

When none of it matters to you,
Life or death or some in-between,
Then will choice wisdom find you
For all of it will then be yours,
Even the parts you do not want,
That is the life of the Avatar,
It is the gift of your owl soul.

You must understand now
It is you, it always was you,
The mate he was calling, seeking
And you always had the wings
Though you dared not believe.

He will call you again soon
Together you will depart
And neither will be heard again
For a long, long time.

Spread your wings, invite the wind
To fill those feathers, get ready,
Your long night of the soul
Is coming to its end. Soon
You will look down upon the trees
And you will see the forest.

Come find me! Come find me…
Come!

 

Thus I Live, Alone and Forever

“till human voices wake us and we drown”
(T.S. Eliot-The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

Thus I live-alone and forever
                     Sha’Tara

Am I alone?
as alone as I feel
swimming an alien sea
full of motion and noise –
restless, meaningless
(to such as I)

(and the alien thought
                said:)

Well, yes.
One,
by definition
can be but alone.

In the sea
I hear people:
they come and they go – and
it doesn’t seem to matter where,
nor even why:
it’s all the same,
one day follows another.

Some die:
more each day
become silent –
their emptiness passes,
brief, phantasmal and
nothing more:

I cannot follow them,
cannot touch them.
They are gone.
They never come back,
only their pain remains. 

Eons have I been;
ages in this place,
prisoner of fate,
a curiosity
to my own mind.  

I do not know who I am,
only that I am
Some-here.
Wherever this is.

“Age brings wisdom”
the living say.
I have age
(more than many:
age is not counted in years
but from awareness)

I do not claim to be wise:
to what could I compare
myself?
Who can truthfully make
such a claim?

There is knowledge,
the knowing of things,
of data or of memories;
impressions, experiences,
feelings.

I discover myself here,
again and again and again
and though I am not hiding
I remain
Alone  

Always
(and it would seem)
Forever.

 

Thus I keep
what could pass as sanity:

From somewhen I remember
a sun shining.
Above clouds, it shines
and night is but illusion:
the shadow of a planet
and only the sun’s light
can make such a shadow.

(Thus I remind myself,
thus think and thus persist.)