In 1921, archaeologist Cyrus Atherton discovered a scroll on the island of Malta reputed to be a relic from the last days of the fabled city of Atlantis. It contained a prophecy... at the stroke of midnight of the new millenium, 2001, a new “first” human would emerge. Not yet female or male but still a fully sensual and sexual being, the “innocent” would search for its creator and thereby reveal to the world the next stage of evolution... maharanda.
These words opened a play I wrote entitled, Maharanda. It is based on a theme that has permeated every culture in every period of history: the ultimate appearance of the “messiah”, the answer.
The history of our species as perceived through this theme is a series of movements, like a series of master scenes. The first ended with the evolution of language extended to the evolution of writing. The second closed with the discovery of the sub-atomic world and extended into so-called artificial intelligence, the electronic computer. The third, scene three, has just recently faded to black in a Swedish laboratory where quietly, nearly unheralded, human thoughts and part of a memory were downloaded to an external silcon chip.
And now, the 4th Scene begins... the light slowly fades in on a brave new world. The organic evolution of the human species has ended. An inorganic, immutable version of the human species is emerging. Evolution continues. No death... immortality, timeless life. A brave new world. As that scene extends over the coming years, there will be many less humans on the planet, no warfare, an end to pain, disease, poverty, and no suffering.
Or will it? Evolution appears and creates within endless time. Endless. Time flows.. forward and backward. If it stops flowing forward, evolution stops. And time is about to stop.
A few years ago I wrote about Stanley Kramer's powerful and mind-disrupting 1959 film, On The Beach. It displayed the very present threat of a nuclear catastrophe amidst the trivialities that people use to ignore, dismiss, depose the threat to their existence, to all life on their planet.
Amidst the fear and ignorance of the death-wished irreversible use of nuclear weapons, Kramer succinctly juxtaposed people trying to understand, grasping for hope, fading away from hope, not understanding.
Now, 57 years later, amidst the proliferation of the death-wish from the U.S. and Europe, to South Asia, China, North Korea, the Middle East and the spectre of miniature, portable devices in the fists of jihadist crazies and their home-grown copycats, understanding and hope are fading into a mirage. It is a dark dream that is permeating, leaking through into conscious reality.
How long will it take for you and me and our brothers and sisters to accept what is no longer a dream? And when we do, what will we do? Create a vaccine to deny the effects of all-consuming radiation? Not in this century! Call Pandora to pack it back into her box and shut the lid? She's no longer on the planet! Launch a traffic-stopping, all-world conference at the UN and demand that all things nuclear be forever destroyed?
Dream on my sibling dreamers dream on.
What was once a terrible possibility is now inevitable. It's going to happen. As we foreplay with our smartphones, and make-believe that gathering more stuff and goods will insulate us, that the goodness of the heart is impervious to the badness of the gamma ray, the clock ticks, the stockpiles grow, the controls loosen, it's going to happen: life and all of its species are going to disappear from the planet Earth.
Standing on our evolutionary beach, we are a tender, primitive species that may be worth saving.
There is still time brothers and sisters!
It is still a very present threat... now part of an exponential threat that has been expanding for 600 years, and... brothers and sisters, there is no time left.
As the exploding human population has outraced the planet's resources, the microbiome that provides most of our oxygen is collapsing, the oceans are congealing, the ice poles are melting, species, plant and animal, are going extinct, our air is choking with carbon dioxide, our atmosphere is poised to dissipate. Earth, like Mars, is poised to become a barren, dry rock.
Hundreds of thousands of scientists, cosmologists, keen perceivers, all originally pointed to 2100 as the time limit, then 2050, then 2030, and now, with some voices, we hear... 2010. As recently as a few weeks ago, BBC News broadcast a graphic, detailed report of this accelerating danger. It shouted "now or never." But as soon as the report ended, we heard: "And now for other news." The triviality of that is searing.
There is no other news.
Yes, yes, I know. You wave your hand and narrow your eyes and say: "There he is, troping apocalypse again." I don't trope and your penchant for triviality is showing.
No more wit, no more élan, no more panaché. We either stop what we are doing now and attempt to reclaim our world or we wither away as the atmosphere withers away.
There is no time left.