Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Four Scouts to the New World/ Parts 3 and 4

By Brian George

The premise, as presented by John Giordano: It is discovered that life can be supported on a pristine planet JUST LIKE THE EARTH located in a distant galaxy. The only difference is that there aren't any humans on the planet. The most evolved animals are apes and monkeys. All the natural resources are the same as Earth. Technology exists to get four people to the planet on a scouting mission. They will stay for one year, planning for the arrival of settlers from Earth.

3 Ecoscientist

No matter what their talents, there are no four people who could represent the range or extent of human knowledge. This goes without saying. Perfect specimens would still at best be out of focus holograms.

As the first of the four scouts to Gaia 2, one of my planning group has suggested that we send an ecoscientist. It makes little sense to me, I say, to take apart what is self-sufficient, or to fix what was never broken. Next, we should send an auto mechanic to retouch a Jackson Pollock painting. The end of the world approaches. My attempt at irony does not go over well.

Though an ecoscientist is better than an ecoterrorist, I have my doubts about the wisdom of such a choice. As it is necessary to start somewhere, I will bend, for no particular reason, to the first impulse of the group.

Such a person may not please both the scientific and the ecological communities. From all sides, many would raise doubts, or probe her political philosophy for flaws, or joke about her appearance. The name rolls importantly from the tongue, but what, exactly, can the ecoscientist do?

Could she build a meeting hall from branches, or, when all of the tools and instruments have been lost, still find some way to cultivate a garden? What about the children, you say? How important is the study of whole systems when the settlers' boys and girls must one day go to bed without supper? It is possible, however, that our arguments do not fall on deaf ears, and that our questions will prompt an answer from the Hypercube.

The ecoscientist has become as pregnant as a cloud. Her biographical files might, as we speak, be reconfigured by a circle of non-spatial watchers. Even now, I can see it in minute detail. A trident has appeared as a red welt on her forehead. It is out of my hands. What she does not know, she is smart enough to learn.

Does she see the planet as a living being, whose body is coextensive with its mind, and whose forces are the active agents of creation? Did she give blood to the goddessor rather, does she realize yet that she has done so? We should not assume that a woman would be any less materialistic in her views. She has been scarred by Occam's razor.

She is tougher than any guy. She has had to be. Does she see the planet as a concept to be turned this way and that, and its species as mere data in a computer simulation?

She will chart the interaction of natural and supernatural agents, of organic and inert geometry, of the future and the past. She will speak in the third person. Though almost mad, she will cultivate an objective tone of voice. If a disaster should overtake the group, leaving footprints but no physical remains, her thoughts will provide a starting place for those who would reconstruct the story.

Fate has scheduled the new planet to cast a spell on its inhabitants. A radioactive flood will transform her every atom. As time goes on she will be called the Mother of Experimental Seeds, Transplanter of Endangered Species, Protector of the Explosive Power of the Small. The sun will turn colors. She will shake hands with her opposite.


The shaman will establish the ritual center and circumference, to mark the sphere of action from the wilderness beyond. As the planet turns like a dancer, he will reimagine the lost lineage of his art. He will swallow a machete. His tears will drench a mushroom. Crying to a conscious stone, whose image is the asteroid, he will be seized by the power of telepathic speech.

Knowledge will explode, flowing two ways through the axis. Is he here or there? He will rediscover the technique of bilocation. He will think that he has never left the Earth. He will hug his favorite tree. A goat will chew on a Campbell's soup can. His long dead wife will appear as an adolescent girl. She will not wear any clothes.

He will touch, with his own hands, the individuated spirit of the place. Learning how to heal, he will develop an intimate rapport with every leaf and root. He will call from cold storage the spirits of the ancestors, that they might assist the group in restructuring the stage set of creation.

They will lead him deep into the shadows of the forest, demand that he explore the transparent labyrinth underground, or lift him, his ego still in his body, far above the clouds, as though he were the victim of a conscious dream. He will transduce superhuman energies. Without charge, he will broadcast a safe current to the group. He will wonder, as water drips from a stalactite, at the hand that drew his image on the cave. So long ago.

The shaman will refuse to die. He will put on and take off phenomena. He will wed the planet. His rigid phallus will be happy. He will counteract the desire of the ecoscientist to present the story as a linear progression.

(Illustration: Brian George, Snake, Bird, Pot, and Lotus, 1990)
New posts every few days on my blog Masks of Origin

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