Return Engagements: Book Three (Part Thirty Two)

I’d love to know what happened over the last few months of 1948 and the first few months of 1949. I’m confident that my friends from the park handled my death reasonably well (they were good people), and I strongly suspect that it broke the last of their connections to the status quo.

In that way, I think they became like the earliest Christians, who simply left Rome behind and moved on to something better: They didn’t fight it and they didn’t waste their time trying to fix it; they moved on and away.

It seems to take some kind of dramatic break to get most people out of the scripts that direct their lives. But once they grasp that not just the operators of their dominance hierarchy, but the hierarchy itself is degenerate, they become a new, independent and separate thing. Then they move out of enforced society and into chosen society.

And that point, and in them, arises a sharp separation between society and state, which alters a host of assumptions and expectations. In other words, it renovates the assumptions of reality that direct them. And that’s more than just a powerful thing; it’s an evolutionary thing.

I came home re-convinced that separation is an irreplaceable step in human progress… in human evolution. To sanctify the collective, with society subjugated to state, is flatly retrograde. The State is primate society writ large: a giant dominance hierarchy from which any thought of escape is treason. It is, to put it bluntly, a hard shell encasing human evolution, defended with confusion and violence. And we’ve been struggling within it for a long time.

We are no longer primates; we are more. What we are becoming, in point of fact, is post-primate beings. The problem is that we’ve been held all our lives in pens designed by primates, to contain primates. We’ve been held back for centuries, but the force of human growth has continued to build. The shells are beginning to strain under the pressure. Massive levels of fear and scientifically inculcated conformity are now required to keep the shells intact, and to keep the primate overlords in power.

At the leading edge of more or less every significant field are people who see that decentralization, parallelization and openness are the only reasonable ways forward. All of these are post-primate models, and all directly oppose primate-derived hierarchies.

The “first fruits” people of Stuyvesant Square Park grasped this, even though they lacked the vocabulary and depth of understanding that are available now. But they did have something important that we still lack: The spacecraft business gave them a solid belief that we are creatures of the universe, not of a semi-primitive planet, where monkey-leaders drag their dominance hierarchies from one mania and destruction to another. They believed that there were better parts of this galaxy: places where decency was the default, and where endless struggles against power weren’t required just to maintain some element of a reasonable life.

Once people see an existence that’s not limited to following the worst men, then convincing themselves that it’s the right thing to do… Once they stop doing things that could never become conventional wisdom without careful acculturation… Once they grasp the foolishness and waste of the endeavor and understand that it was always retrograde…

Once past these things they will never look at primate structures the same, will never look at themselves the same, and will never look at other people the same.

Seeing something that is truly from outside reveals the inside of the pen to be ridiculous. Given that the primate overlords make sure we’re inculcated into their mindset from childhood onward, it takes something as persistent as a real artifact to make this point. But once it is made, the entire charade is washed away by the truth that we are so much more than enforced societies have allowed us to be.

* * * * *

I could say more about this trip, but I’ll just tie up a few loose ends before closing. I don’t want to muddy the lessons I took from it.

    • The ‘dog’ from my entry was tattooed because only living tissue can be transported into temporary worlds. I don’t know why this is so, but it is. The ink used in the dog’s skin contained microbes as pigmentation.
    • The entry haircut (every hair 1-1/2 inches or so) was caused by the same limitation. Hair follicles are alive, but our actual hairs aren’t, and so the very best that could be done (and as I understand it, this was one of the hardest parts of the whole process) was to get hairs of even that length.
    • I still don’t know who sent me on this excursion. Presumably it was Noncia and Arnon’s people, but I wasn’t able to confirm it.
    • Daily life in 1947 and 1948 was far less constrained than life in the 21st century. People weren’t forever looking over their shoulders (literally or metaphorically) to see if they could get into trouble. To pick just one small example, I walked through the Central Park Zoo once, and saw a man toss the last few bites of his sandwich to the animals. In our time anyone considering this would fear repercussions, but this man did it as a kindness. If I had challenged him on it (as doubtless many would today), he’d likely have come back with, “You give table scraps to dogs, don’t you?” And he’d be right. That and a hundred other fears assault us daily; it was not that way in 1948.
    • Martin’s “repurposing” of parts of his brain and brain routines reverted to his normal over the two weeks he was with me. Upon arrival, his emanations (for lack of a better word) were almost like mine, by the time he left they were almost like Jens’ or Renn’s. That helped clarify to me that patterns lie at the root of what we are… that ultimately it is the patterns we hold in our personal hollies of hollies that guide or even determine what we are and will be.

This last point brings me back to the fact that we are organisms, and that our mechanistic assumptions: that mechanical rules are the only path to safety, that righteousness comes by rules, that breaking down every factor to its mechanical essence and replacing bad pieces is the ultimate cure… that all of it is simply misguided. It’s the correct model for machines, but not for organisms like us.

Moreover, it is our organic nature that makes our future so exciting. If we were simply machines, we’d have a single state of completion (or “perfection”) to reach, and afterward we’d remain in that fixed state forever. But, being organisms, we have no fixed state, and can improve continually… presumably to the limits of physical existence.

And after that, who can say?


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Paul Rosenberg