prisonI had just been writing a weblog entry entitled THE WORLD AS A PRISON, explaining how we had all become so inured to being browbeaten, indoctrinated, humiliated, deceived, cowed, and intimidated by our fellow man that we had given up hope of ever making a better world, and had started deluding ourselves that we were actually free, that things were actually getting better, that somehow, ludicrously, less regulation of the power elite and more growth would solve the world’s problems.

macawsAnd then I woke up. I was soaked in sweat from heat to foot, screaming and writhing, when I felt the caring hands, the caresses and calming embraces of my loved ones sleeping nearby. “Just a nightmare…”, said Mireille, the new visitor to our community. 

“Just a nightmare”, said Mimic, the macaw, swooping down from the giant cedar tree, and perching beside his friend Oswald.

“It was so real…”, I said. “It almost made sense in some ghastly, terrifying way. A whole world of overcrowded, frightened, beaten-down people spreading like a cancer, killing and inflicting massive global suffering. But the real information — the pictures of dead children, the stories of the tortured, the anguish of animals bred strictly for food, the details of cynical genocidal war plans — all of this was carefully suppressed and hidden for fear that the bare truth would cause massive revolt, suicide, revolution, madness. Just endless unimaginable horror behind a thin facade of calm and normalcy…”

“Shhh..”, said Mireille. “You’re frightening the children. You’ll give them nightmares.”

I looked around and my heartbeat and respiration slowly returned to normal. Our community, the Astarte community of artists, about 100 people in a stunning expanse of untouched tropical splendour, the community I had adopted and that had adopted me, in my youth after three years as a Traveler, was intact, peaceful, safe. I was home.

I put on my Second Skin, the programmable attire that had replaced clothing a century ago, and had obviated the need for residential buildings. I instructed it to play some soothing music from my personal collection, and, as a distraction, to display an educational program, on the language of whales, in my Mind’s Eye. As the last one up this morning, I quickly disassembled the SmartWalls of the community Sleeping Area and stowed them under Oswald’s cedar tree. Jorge had set up a temporary Learning Area for today’s three events: A story-telling session for the children this morning, featuring legends of the wolves; An afternoon seminar on computer animation; and the evening rehearsal for Mireille’s new play Mirages, which our community would soon be presenting to some of the neighbouring communities. I decided to go for a walk in the forest, with Mireille, and Catherine, one of the community’s children, tagging along. Just ahead of us, a parachute with a package attached dropped to earth from a helicopter overhead, guided as it landed by Vittorio and Vanessa, our community’s culinary experts. It was their self-chosen job to convert the week’s nutritious BasicFoods that had just been airdropped by the Eos community of fabricators, using flavour chemistry and the herbs and spices the children grew to learn about ecology, into the amazing gastronomic delights consumed twice daily by the members of the community.

As we walked in the forest, Catherine skipped ahead, pointing out the names (species and personal) of the abundant birds, animals and flora we passed, with Mimic repeating them, and correcting her when she got them wrong. The smells of earth and rain and wildflowers filled my senses, and my heart.

roverBut suddenly the warm sun flickering through the forest canopy went grey, and as I turned over a terrible reality suddenly dawned on me…

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8 Responses to CONTRIVANCE

  1. Philip says:

    The salvation of mankind is technology? We can live a utopian existance if science is tamed and put to good use? I would like to believe that myself being a lifelong fan of science fiction and the utopian novel but how do we get there?The question being where does technology come from? It has developed out of the culture that provides sufficient amounts of food and shelter to allow a critical mass of its members to engage in science and industry rather than food gathering. This society is based on modern agriculture and animal husbandry. Economies of scale allow the development of a second skin and a minds eye or helicopters or computers or any number of things imagined. Can we do a beter job of things, of course. Can we abolish factory farms and mass produced food? Only if you are willing for large numbers of the population to die of starvation or subject a large number of individuals to some form of agricultural existence supplying the overlords of science and technology. What mechanism would you use to control population growth and manage society in such a way as to reach this vision of humane existance? What room would there be for personal freedoms getting to utopia? You would have to give up your right to procreate, or would you be one of the chosen, for some would have to be chosen and who would choose? What would be the criteria for those eligible to enter the brave new world? The name for the 1% of the current population allowed to survive/evolve into this Eden? How about the Eloi?It is wonderful to have a vision of what could be. How do we get there asks the engineer?

  2. kara says:

    Like the Wooley Mammoth

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Philip: It’s only a dream. As to whether and how it might be realized, the answer is too long for a blog — you’ll have to wait for my novel to come out, ETA June ’04 ;-)

  4. Rob Paterson says:

    Dave where is the blazer?On a more serious note – Is not how we get our food the essence of any human culture? Think a bit about this statement. Hunter gatherer – horticulture and herder – agriculture – ??????I wonder if changing our food system is not the core of any change possible?

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Rob: Absolutely correct. But as Philip points out, the greatest impediment to change is our sheer numbers.

  6. David Jones says:

    Is that a Port Merion photo? If it is – it is 2 too appropriate. We Number 9’s all know – deep down – that the Big White Ball will continually go get us and bring us back until we admit why we want to give it all up (the rat race that is).

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Rob, David: Bravo for recognizing Rover, and what it symbolizes. ‘Be seeing you…’

  8. Science fiction sure is a good way of blogging =) I’ll have to start blogging from the future a bit more, that’s what I was planning to do before I started. Oh well, plans …As for the way to reach that perticular eden … I’m not sure it would be worth the cost. I’m inclined to follow ol’ Gandhi, with the causes arising from the effects. So do what seems good now and see what emerges.(And little snippets of eden are a good motivation to get people moving !)

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