The tree of life doesn’t just grow on Earth, you know. It germinated itself long time ago, in that never-land of the past, simultaneously, in each and every coordinate of its original cosmic soil. So every Goldilocks Earth-like planet out there had a more or less the same start: an invisible cosmic finger stirred the primordial goop of amino acids into existence.
Wherever we find ourselves, we are more or less of the same form, made of the same dumb shit, with our celebrated neurons being nothing more than electro-conductive snot-like splatters of protoplasm.
Like water-drops of one and the same torrential rain turning simultaneously into a myriad of idiosyncratic snowflakes, planets capable of supporting life started supporting life more or less at once. Ours wasn’t the only Earth. Earths were aplenty.
Reality is always on time, you know, no part of it being ahead or behind. The Living Matter of the Undifferentiated differentiated itself into a set number of forms … because the memory-foam of this Universe, as free as it is, is nevertheless constrained by its own nightmares.
And just like us, the Universe sleeps on, sometimes lucidly, sometimes fitfully, never bothering to wake up to jot down any entries into its own dream journal. This cosmic slumber liberates the dreamer, on a system-wide level, erasing What Was with What Is, and preserving the virgin land of What Might Be with ever new possibilities.
I digress. The above is how I think. How do you think? Never mind. Let’s move on.
As I said above, I am a tangential narrator. Oh, wait: is that what I said, or did I say that I am a reluctant narrator? So, you got me, I am both. Me and the old man Whitman never shied away from inconsistencies. Who is this old man Whitman, you ask? A nobody, really. A mentor, you could say. An astrobiology teacher from my CLH days. It was Whitman who so simply helped me work through my surprise about the parallel, if not synced, evolutionary rates of different Earths.
“Why,” I remember asking him again and again, “did all these different worlds reach the age of space travel more or less at the same time?”
He tried to explain the neo-Lamarckean Concurrent Evolution Theory: “If we just left it up to Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest lottery of DNA, the many Earths would’ve developed chaotically, producing an infinite number of idiosyncratic life-forms, with radically divergent bifurcation trajectories. But, turns out, as we now know, it wasn’t just the Darwinian trial and error of random mutations. Mutations were guided by - ,“ and here he’d raise his stubby red index finger of his right hand for extra emphasis and would continue on after a dramatic pause, “by generational RNA cohorts. That’s right, my young friend, life on Earth – life everywhere – wasn’t created by some cosmic puppeteer; it evolved; and it didn’t just evolve through a series of random mutations that happened to confer a survival advantage and were, as they used to say, ‘selected for.’ No way, Jose! Life actively pursued its own evolution, yes, teleologically, we no longer need to fear this dirty ol’ term – life was self-determined, it aspired and it achieved … It set goals, just like you, young man, and it worked towards them, in what we now call ‘self-guided’ evolution. We used to think that self-guided evolution began with man, with transhumanism, but that is naïve. We are – sorry for being crass – made of dumb shit. On a cellular level, that is. We are glorified metazoan city-states of archaic bacteria – we are macro-scale composite systems made not of organs, but of organizations of other micro-scale composite system … We are organic societies on legs, whose trillions of denizens are just dumb-ass, snot-like blobs of sentient protoplasm …”
Yes, these were Whitman’s words. I often hear them in my mind. Now I know exactly what he meant. But back then I’d scratch my head and look stupefied, but he wouldn’t give up: “You see, Finn, guided evolution – not to be mistaken with creationism – is self-directed, and that naturally coordinates evolutionary timelines between Goldilocks planets without having these life-supporting nurseries to somehow sync up via some metaphysical action-at-a-distance coordination. Given approximately similar planetary parameters, i.e. life-supporting parameters, life – which always intuitively knows what’s best for it – evolves along predictably self-serving tracks.”
He could go on like this for hours and he would, like the ancient poet Whitman whose name he had taken for himself. This mostly un-witnessed genius on CLH faculty was a cosmic bard with his vocal cords being his only instrument. But what really clicked for me was his own theory, or, rather, his own take on what he referred to as “ancient Vedic insights. “ It was an entirely different explanation for why Space Age happened all at once, all across the Universe.
“There is another way to look at all this, Finn, if you care to know. According to Akashic teachings … Akasha means “undifferentiated, primordial, formless, original.” According to Akashic teachings, the space between us, as well as all cosmic space everywhere, is the original substance from which everything is made. So, matter is but a state of space. But this space isn’t empty. It is an informational matrix. It is, if you wish, the signal, and we – life-forms – receive from it like antennae. The double-helix of DNA is but the bunny-ears on an old-school TV set. The signal is universal. It is being transmitted non-stop and it is everchanging. I guess, ‘transmitted’ is not quite right. The signal is here – everywhere – all the time – it is omnipresent and it tells a beginning-less and endless story … as the Universe dreams itself into existence from one reincarnation to another … and we, life-forms, cannot but pick up the signal and be organized by it, naturally, in sync … We are all marching to the same drum but we hear only what we can pick up … And that is why there is a co-occurrence of life. Jung called it synchronicity. And it is, but not of the magic kind. Objective, quite rational synchronicity as the result of what 20th century Western Vedantists called a morphogenic field, which is the same as the Akashic field …”
I heard this spiel of his a number of times, I listened to it like a long-gone Sumerian peasant would listen to the story of Gilgamesh. Whitman’s cosmo-genesis story had the tone of ecstasy and transcendence, and it rang true, even in the silence of the dorm night.
So, according to Whitman, space age – “naturally and inevitably” - arrived all once, “like pubic hairs in your crotch when you are young or sun-spots on the skin when you are old.” A century or so of UFO sightings from 1950s to 2050s suddenly crystallized into what was first celebrated as the First Encounter. It was a big deal but was soon forgotten because it was only the first one of many more to come. According to Whitman, the 21st century folks waited for aliens like others before them waited for god. Most, according to Whitman, believed it was going to be a second coming because according to mounting archeological data, this-here Earth had been already visited. Whitman himself believed the “ancient alien” hypothesis and dismissed my concerns that this position didn’t fit his simultaneity thesis about all of us marching to the same tic-tok drumbeat of the Akashic Clock. He’d simply say, “we are talking a few thousand years, historically speaking it’s still pretty much the same time, give and take …”
By the end of the 21st century ships and rockets and flying saucers were landing and departing like fruit flies on a pile of dog shit. On this so-called home-Earth, we were among the very last to be visited by off-world civilizations that were technologically ahead of us. But their advantage was slight. Their superiority was nominal. And all of us – everywhere – had big egos and we all had mastered the art of self-serving rationalization. We didn’t feel punked. We focused on what is next.
Quite soon, within a few decades, none of this mattered. As a result of technological cross-pollination (and civilization-wide espionage), we ourselves embarked on our Inner Perimeter Odyssey in search of cosmic savages to civilize. This helped a lot with restoring our sense of self-importance. After shaking a bunch of slimy, leathery, and scaly yet-very-recognizable-and-humanoid hands, we started homesteading the Outer Perimeter with Ikea-furbished hole-in-the-wall embassies. And it wasn’t just us. We were all doing it, crashing our hopes for some kind of techno-enlightenment one alien encounter after another. The Universe, it turned out, was not altogether different from an RV park down by the river. It was full of fear, bias and familiar dualities. The hipster philosophy of the early Space Age was captured in just two words: “Ego alienates,” meaning “No ego, no aliens.” But, of course, egos were wherever, and so, by extension, aliens. This “self-other” knotweed of duality was hard to eradicate. But we finally largely shrugged it off, thanks to the advent of Neuro-Buddhism.
But all this exotic friction between alien species was value-added. Travel agents promptly recalibrated our expectations around vacation times and before we knew it, we were vagabonding around in space at photon speeds. The hype lasted a century or two. Natural-born home-bred psychopaths and sociopaths kept hopping from one off-world to another with cliché plans of conquest, inevitably reducing their own ranks, and leaving their respective home worlds to nerds and geeks, such as myself, which was just fine for everyone involved.
Whitman used to have a hearty chuckle when talking about the anti-climatic restlessness of the Space Age. But few dared to laugh along with him. After all, many people had, indeed, died in the process. Some worlds vanished in their entirety. Some civilizations were reformed beyond recognition. But Whitman saw it as a natural process. “All this simply had to be,” he would reason, “We were all doing our shitty best.” And sometimes, when fortified by some kind of synthetic catnip from his own students, he’d take it up a notch and yell like a gargoyle from the rooftop of CLH: “Ordinary perfection! Ordinary perfection!”
I was among the few who understood what he meant. At least, I thought I did. But I marveled at his lack of grief. He was a model product of Neuro-Buddhist SocPar. The ancient doctrine of no-self was alive and kicking in him: “No self, no grief.”
Reading about the Space Age now, about the Diplomatic Wars and the ecocides, shows what morons we were, and, probably, still are. Our intoxication with space had that moth-like blindness of always flying directly into the Sun. Hadn’t we learned from Icarus? Yes, we had. We even wrote down those lessons, didn’t we? But we forgot what we had learned when we stopped reading Greeks, and, when later, we burned all of our books in some misguided worldwide effigy-fest of coming of age. Our space-homecoming was rife with excesses. But we worked it all out, more or less. And, of course, I myself wasn’t there to tell you how. I just know we did – both here on Earth and elsewhere. Was that too a signal from the Akashic Matrix? If so, what cosmic motherfucker keeps pushing “play” on this old Vedic cassette?!
So, these are the kinds of things that Sveta and I had both studied, the academic prerequisites we had brought to the work-desk of the moment. What intrigued us now, academically speaking, was the Chronicles, a topic of passing interest to most of our peers. “The Chronicles of GuiltGrief Troops” were, arguably, the last chapter of pre-Space-Age way of being. Chronicles were a story of pre-Space-Age psychological atavism: to understand Chronicles was akin to trying to understand why you have hair growing in your armpits, or why you have five fingers on each hand. Chronicles were psycho-anthropology, a snoozer of a college course.
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