“What we discovered back when the dawn of the Age of Aquarius finally broke, was that neither answer was correct. It wasn’t agriculture, it wasn’t industrialization, it wasn’t the invention of gods. It was the interactive effects of all of those things.” Grace was animated, waved her hands around as she spoke, pulling in the world around her, painting the picture of what she was trying to explain.
“Ah, entanglement. So this is the era then, back when we started trying to undo those knots.” Pierre smiled. He loved this life, learning about what he’d learned about the wrong way before. That was the big pull with time jumping, for some.
Empiricism at its best.
“Experience, yes. I’d been trained as a scientist, science was running the show, well, that and money, but we’d forgotten what it meant to simply be human. It was a very hard lesson to learn. It’s one we’re still learning, it’s tough to unlearn, that we’re something special, a lot harder than learning that we’re not.” She shrugged.
“So how did you manage, despite your training in science?” He’d had that struggle himself, a time or two.
“Me, personally?” She thought about it for a minute. “Well, entanglement I guess. That’s as good an answer as any, since you gave it. It wasn’t just me, I read, I’m open minded. Maybe the fact of some of the drugs I did as a kid helped, I don’t know, for sure. The Internet helped, in terms of getting a lot of different perspectives. For me, science wasn’t any better than religion, not what science had become, anyway. Just like religion. Both were corrupted by money.”
“Ah, a fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Pierre smiled as he said it. He’d made a fool of himself more than once, particularly in his youth.
“Yes. But at any rate, there was that ‘man in god’s image thing’, yes, that was a big deal in terms of putting us some place above the natural world, at least in our minds.” She paused, again, collecting thoughts. “But really, we didn’t become so drastically separate from ourselves, our tribes, the world that birthed us, until after the industrial revolution, not most of us. And of course there were lots of changes that took place over time, all of them mattered, or at least that’s kind of where our thinking is right now. And when I say ‘our’ I mean, the general consensus among the folks you’ll meet here.”
“Entanglement.” He said it again, and smiled.
“So, you probably know more about it than I do, but I’m not sure I want to know, I kind of like living life and enjoying the world around me and being an animal in nature.” She stopped, as they strolled, and looked at him. “Is that terrible? To have had enough of science?”
“We still don’t really get it, not really.” He grinned.
“Really?” She was agape.
“Well, our understanding of ecosystems has improved quite a lot, and of space time, and nutrition, and human health, and biospheric health, and of other cultures, even non-Terran cultures, but if I may, might I share one little bit of far distant future thinking with you?” He was still grinning.
“Sure, what the heck.” She grinned back.
“We still don’t much understand ourselves. We can’t, not using science, it’s antithetical. Most of us have decided we don't much need to. We just live.” She kissed him.
I longed to hear the story of her life, which surely must captivate the ear strangely. Instead, I settled for the story of the way our species came to feed itself in the mad mad world in which I’d chosen to live out my life.
“There really are two dominant schools of thought. Well, three, if you count the thinking of those who want to continue with the madness that’s killing the earth and its people.” Gracie settled back in her sling back chair. We were sitting in our usual spot outside the cabin enjoying a pot of tea. Not Early Gray; this tea for two was homegrown chamomile and mint. Lovely, really.
“One school of thought is that it was the industrial revolution of the19th century and the wars of the early twentieth that led us to where we are today in terms of food production. Population was growing rapidly and the wonders of science and technology seemed to promise answers to every problem, from food production to defeating disease by wiping out insects.”
As if by serendipity, a butterfly alit on her tea cup as she continued.
“Machines like the plow did such damage to the soil that erosion became a big problem. Microbial communities were destroyed, making fertilization absolutely necessary. Ground water was pumped up in regions where evaporative demand is greater than precipitation rate, which drove moment of salts up toward the surface. Constant removal of biomass with little to no fallow time between crops sucked the life out of the soil. Planting single crops over huge expanses of land reduced biodiversity so drastically that the community interactions within systems that had been functioning beautifully since the time of the last ice age were destroyed. Damned near every living thing not the crop of choice became an enemy to be defeated”.
The butterfly went on its way, taking wing as she lifted the cup to her lips.
“Separation mentality at its worst”, I replied. “We’ve learned the wisdom of ecosystems in my time, or at least the version of it I’ve come from. There are apparently other versions where that’s not the case”.
“Yes, we’re learning that now. It was during the wars that separation mentality really grew, and it seems to continue to get worse.” Gracie’s smile had left us for a while. “A lot of money started being invested in learning about what we used to somewhat ironically think of as better living through chemicals. Everything from fertilizers to pesticides to medications designed to cure diseases that didn’t yet exist started being produced.”
“I must say, the trip to the superstore was quite enlightening. One could do an entire anthropological dissertation on the Malmart culture alone. The boxed food like substances were chilling, reminiscent of some of the horror stories we liked to scare ourselves silly with as children.” The entire scene had been rather horrifying, from the interactions I observed to the materials people were collecting from the shelves. It’s hard to imagine what anyone would want some of those things for, particularly when living on a planet so obviously stretched to its limit in resource provisioning.
“Mechanization of food production created a system in which most people were completely disconnected from it. Well, you saw what it’s like at Malmart. Most of the people buying that ground beef have no idea what its production means to the animals being eaten, how horrific their lives are. Even as a culture, we only really became aware of such things when people started getting sick, just from eating. They’re sick from the diseases the animal stock are carrying, diseases that didn’t exist when they were allowed to roam freely and graze on what grew in the pasture rather than the grains produced in industrial farming. They’re sick from the chemicals being sprayed on the plant crops, sick from the gene products we’ve induced those crops to make. They’re sick from nutrient deficiencies despite excessive caloric intake. We produce lots of so-called food that is toxic and lots that has the nutritional value of cardboard.”
She sighed. It was heartbreaking in all it expressed.
“Cardboard?” Perhaps I could get her on something less dire.
“It’s made from trees. Please, don’t get me started on trees just yet, that story will come. We used it to make boxes. Remember all that stuff at Malmart?”
“How could I forget? It was mind boggling.”
“You must have noticed that everything was wrapped up in boxes or plastic or foils, the clothes hanging on hangers, the individually wrapped servings of foods. The whole shebang is really quite a mess.” Her frown had deepened.
“You said that there were two schools of thought. What is the alternative hypothesis?” Perhaps I could cheer her a bit, perhaps the other story was not quite so dire.
She smiled before she shifted her position, tucking her legs up beneath her in the chair, but it was a smile lacking mirth. The slight shake of her head that accompanied it showed its irony. She held the teacup in both hands before her as if it might warm her, despite being well below tepid at that point.
“That the whole mess started ten thousand or so years ago when humanity starting thinking itself above nature, something separate and superior. It started when we abandoned the animist gods of nature and started creating them in our own image. It started when we let ourselves believe that the laws of nature did not apply to us.” She paused. “This is the school of which I’m a rather ardent student. It started so long ago and the progression toward disaster has been so slow we’ve failed to observe it happening.”
“The wise man’s folly is anatomized”. Somehow I could always manage to find a quote from the Bard that might fit. Perhaps I could lighten her mood a bit; I certainly didn’t want for her stories to rob her of her spirit, it was so wild and free I feared it might flee the task of telling them. She already shown me how to use the crude tools of the era with which they shared knowledge. I could Google much of this.
“No being is so important that he can usurp the rights of another, and that’s what we’ve been doing for thousands of years now. We’ve been running over all manner of life on this planet believing that it was ours to dominate. Hell, these days even those in the green movement talk of stewardship.” She sighed again. “We aren’t stewards, not masters of some machine. We’re organisms in the biosphere!”
The desire to take her hand in comfort was great, but I restrained myself.
“But clearly, here, in this community, you’re living in harmony with the land!”
That got a real smile out of her, the kind that engaged her whole being and shone from her eyes. It warmed me, fully.
“Yes, permaculture. Living in harmony with the land and with each other. There’s a lot less about it online, but I can help you find it, and of course I can tell you what I know of it firsthand. But it’s getting late; perhaps we can take a walk around the lake, give you a chance to meet some more neighbors. Unless of course you’re ready for some solitude.”
It was funny. Gracie and I recognized one another as solitary souls, but we’d yet to need much space. At least I’d yet to need much. “That sounds lovely. Shall we?”
It seems good luck is often with the man who doesn’t include it in his plans. The equipment in my worm hole pod indicated that the wooded glen I’d chosen to come to Earth in was unoccupied. I found myself materializing directly before a woman sitting cross legged and just emerging from another dimension as well, that of her meditative state.
“Far out.” Her greeting was unfamiliar to me, but her smile was in a language that I understood clearly. I returned the smile aspect of her greeting.
"Parlez-vous français?" My plan was to arrive in a region near the ancient city of Quebec so that I’d not run into difficulties with language. It’s been necessary to learn so many not based on Terran systems over the course of my career that quite a few of those of my own world are as foreign to me as Zardozian would be to these people.
“Pas très bien. Do you speak English?” She was still smiling.
“Yes, I do. My name is Pierre LeCard. What did you mean by “far out”?” I found myself grinning, too; her smile was infectious.
“It’s just an expression of wonder. I take it you’re not from around here.” She winked at me with that one, still smiling. Somehow I knew I’d found an ally, she seemed to have an empathic trust of me.
“It’s rather a long story.”
I’d shown up on 21st Century Earth with the clothes on my back and reliance on nothing but my long acquired ability to get by in incredibly diverse environments. My good fortune in finding Gracie was incredible; that or at least incredibly synchronistic. The interactive effects of synchronicity and karma have yet to be worked out in my old story cosmos.
It’s kind of ironic, really, how quickly I’ve come to think of my life in the future as my old story. I shared the relevant portions of it with Gracie over lunch outside the lovely little cabin she’s welcomed me into.
Perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to share all of our stories over time.
“Yes, we’ve come to acknowledge the importance of paying attention to synchronicity. The archeological record indicated that this was an era when belief systems were beginning to realign with Earth as Ecosystem Gaia, and to look at Gaia in the cosmos. Surely the fact that I mistakenly materialized in front one of the 7.4 billion humans on the planet and it was one of the few who was already on board with the Transition Movement must be synchronistic. Our life stories must converge significantly in the Great Entanglement.”
We were sharing a bottle of a heady Zinfandel, quite good, really. I’d store a bottle of it in one of the terra capsules I’ll be burying while I’m alive. It will thrill someone in the future, I’m sure. Gracie has already assured me that despite the impending economic collapse, many people have formed community networks that keep them fed and housed.
Climate change is already shifting the range at which good grapes can be grown. It seems I have a skill I can contribute to the community.
The wonder of having found myself in a place where I can spend the rest of my life doing the alternative I’d rejected to pursue my career in space exploration is unspeakably sublime and beautiful. Gracie assures me that I can work in the gardens and craft fine wines here and still have plenty of time to explore the culture and write my findings. She’s even got equipment I can use to do so.
The picnic we’d prepared all came from within the community, cheese and fresh sourdough bread, a few apples and a nice salad. And the wine.
“It’s probably best to keep your time-jumper status under wraps, at least for now. Some will know; there are many empaths among us. Others would be kind of freaked-out by it, and loose lips often sink ships. Of course the ship sure seems to be sinking all around us already. You can’t imagine how heartened I am by your mere existence.” She blushed at that one. “Well, not yours specifically, but humanity’s”.
I blushed back.
Mon Dieu. How long has it been since I’ve fallen in love so quickly? The ways of love in this culture are something I’m going to have to learn, clearly I have to forget about the myths of the Trumpsters. I’m glad, really, they were quite distasteful to a hopeless romantic like myself.
More tomorrow; I’m off to learn about the transition in food production from Gracie. She’s going to tell me the old story of what she calls industrial agriculture and the new ideas about permaculture that are being explored. Afterwards we’ll go to the free store to leave a few items and pick up a change of clothes for me. I think I’m going to like this new life.
I can’t believe it. Finally, my dream come true, a chance to visit the 21st Earth of legend, and it turns out to be an amateur archeologist time jumper’s worst nightmare. It was all a myth. Those idiots who’d flung themselves out into space weren’t carrying actual history with them at all on all those crude hard drives. Even though they were stored using the technology of the era of planned obsolesce and so incredibly fragmented, we had gotten got a lot out of it. It’s obvious now that it was just their version of it.
The Grand Trump and his band of Trumpettes had been delusional.
It now seems far more likely that they’d fled the converging crises that were about to go down down on that mad mad world below. Well, fled isn’t exactly the best term to use; their crude attempts at cryogenics had left a bit of a soupy mess in their capsules.
Fools, they didn’t realize that the Renaissance that followed the inevitable crash and burn of the 21st century could eventually lead to a future where the money he so worships means nothing, where there’s plenty for all, and we work to better the whole of the cosmos.
But only if I make it so. Now that I’ve seen the truth of things down there, they probably bloody well encouraged him to blast off. I’m tempted to go down there and stun him a few times myself right now.
Le sigh. But no, I’m not a man of violence. Surely humanity has gained enough wisdom by this point in time not to give this idiot any real power.
The story of the Donald that the Trumpettes had concocted told of their noble leader’s efforts to flee the Earth and start a new civilization of little Trumpsters on one of the newly discovered exoplanets. We’d always wondered what underlying assumptions he’d based his plan on. It looks like the only actual assumption he had was that he deserved to win, and that he knew how, despite a lifetime of epic failures.
Their end was fitting, at least, he stayed his course.
It appears that the alien invaders they wrote of were bloody Terrans, just like the rest of us. It appears that the stuff we’d pieced together about carrying concealed weapons and bombings were all things he wanted to do, not what he was defending the Earth against. Obviously the Trumpette’s stories of the ups and downs of climate weren’t about extremes at all, they were based on the man’s inability to interpret simple data figures and his colossal bloody ego.
Well, time pressure is on. With what we’ve learned about the infinite dimensional possibilities of alternate karma, the prime directive has been waived for one’s home planet. I’m going to take the plunge, leave my solitary life of the 24th Century and live the real adventure of this one, hope for the best. Having seen some of the options for my time out there, I’ve got to get down there and make sure the Trumpster’s story of his glorious victory doesn’t come true, fantasy or not. Of course while I’m down there, I might as well record some real observations of that mad mad world. Archaeology was my first love; perhaps I’ll leave something behind for those of the future who share it.