What do killer robots, fascist regimes and Mayan prophecy have in common? They all say one thing: Death's a bitch. Death of soul, of individualism, of time itself. And despite T. S. Eliot's prediction, this game will not end with a whimper.
The waiting transformation will not be televised or written about. It will not be bled in the streets or preached from pulpits. It will not be intellectualized or serialized. Come Dec. 21, we will laugh off the distant freedoms of sentient beings as a haze, a mere apparition, from which we've hallucinated centuries of struggle and science, rearranged the epic of evolution and preserved our collective immortality in virtual fossils, to be discovered millennia after we fade from this cruel, calculated ancestor simulation.
But the world will not end tonight or tomorrow, or the next day. The fall of man will not come full circle from Eden's flame of fire, at least not by any familiar method. The shift we seek has already begun, within each of us, reinforced by this present anxiety, filtered through art, conflict and desire. Just as we wriggle and thrust toward the sun, we colonize inner space to reclaim what we know of physics and love, because we're convinced that the current program is about to crash. Consider how we've lost faith in our institutions.
Marriage. On the one hand, we regard it the most sacred covenant since H2O. On the other we learn, through example, that marriage isn't really worth fighting for, that we're ready to explore new types of relationships, new ways of being. Short of opting out of any longterm tax benefits, we can be who we are with two or three or 300 people at once, or we can choose to be alone, or together, or alone together. And we're learning how.
Religion is a sham. There, I said it. We'd rather not admit it, because doing so would bring with it enormous guilt and a level of responsibility we're not yet suited for. Peace seems the adversary, if not solely for the fact that peace is everything religion has attempted -- and failed -- to be. Just as superstitious factions seem intent on shaming civilization, unaware of their role in perpetuating a longstanding totalitarian tradition, there are still those who believe in the power of the mind. From the wheel to the pyramids, to movable type and electricity, to cyberspace, string theory and space travel, together we strive to build a more abundant future.
Enter education. When will we learn? We ask ourselves who needs teachers when we can learn more efficiently alone and together with peace, justice, truth and desire than we ever could isolated from one another. EQ then trumps IQ, at least in evolutionary terms, just as we sink further into visual addiction and apathy.
Die, mortality. The screen desperately clings to its own created experience, unwilling to realize how all good things must come to an end -- how things are dead and buried and later rise, like the phoenix. Lovotics, longevity, miracle pills and rising life expectancy tell us we have a good shot at becoming immortal. But then we remember the massive failure of war and politics, forced to consider how we've been duped, unable to come up with something better, relegated to infancy, destined to drive ourselves into extinction, despite the genius of our genes -- the original replicators -- in getting us this far. So we push and stretch until we reach critical mass and watch as the lazy intellect struggles to keep up.
Don't think apocalypse. Think metamorphosis, regrowth, renewal.
If we can indeed be in two places at once, as we have been, it's a matter of time before those original replicators drive a harder bargain for evolution on our behalf. It's a turn we're not willing to take, yet we're readier than ever, negotiating the space between bodies and babies and bombs -- this, the final breath of individualism, humanity's last best stride toward infinity.
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