Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blog resurrection, Part II

This is the second installment of stuff from the old blog, you'll notice that I am posting this from latest to earliest to give you a sense of time travel back into the demented recesses of my mind at just the time when my frontal lobes were completing development. Enjoy!


Every light on Earth is starlight.

The sun shines during the day. A billion of Sol's brethern are there are night.

Luna is a reflecting surface for the sun. The planets we can see...Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are all just like the moon.

What about man made light you might ask? That torch that lit man's first fire was a burning plant. Life sustained by starlight, without constant energy from the sun all life would break down and fail. Candles, matches, burning gases...all depend on the sun's effects. Lightning depends on the weather, the wind and sea would not exist without the heat of the sun. Even to the darkest depths of the ocean, bioluminescent life depends on life. Go a little deeper, the core of earth would glow if exposed to the prying human eye. Now the planet Earth would not exist had it not accreted from a huge cloud of dust and rock. Gravity made this possible, where did that gravity come from? From Sol, our sun.

So I say again. All light is star light.
posted by Seth # 11:23 PM
The sunrise was interesting today. Little streams of photons cascading through the early morning as dew turned to mist and all that I can see to the south was veiled in a cloud of vapored water. Night and day are not so different as people think. Insomnia has made clear something that I have known for a while. We live on a strange planet with many strange and wonderful things.

Wade and I discussed the notion of simple beauty. We agreed that people would not be so 'advanced and interesting' if we didn't live on an interesting planet. Earth is a pretty spectacular place if you know where to look. We are lucky enough to live in a part of town free enough of light pollution to afford us a decent view of the sparkling stars. Just seeing Orion on a nightly basis is a charming part of my every little walk around our block.

Stars are quite humbling to the keen observer. They should serve us as a constant reminder that we are not only very very small, but that we are part of something very very big. True enough the rest of the universe is so vast it makes our planet, our sun and indeed our galaxy seem insignificant. But life alone makes Earth the most interesting place for many many light years.

I have tried to capture some of this in my writing. Creating an entirely new world was not a very difficult task. All I had to do was draw some lines on a piece of paper and let my hand wander into rough shapes that took form as islands, oceans, fjords and rivers. Mountains come in ranges, the water is just blue squiggles. Geography is easy, life was only slightly harder.

The thread of human existence is a gossamer strand of protein roughly 3 billion base pairs long. DNA holds every piece of life and every unique individual together. Though vastly differing in size, shape, diet, mode of transportation and behavior all life follows certain trends owing to our planet's unique and violent history. Two eyes, bilateral symmetry around a vertebrae, bone structure that is the same in nearly every creature, dental formulae that are common in many ways to every mammal and 5 common senses bind every land dwelling creature.

On Metis, these trends are carried only by the people that live there. Creatures that swim on the ocean and amble about on land would not be recognizable to any biologist that had lived on earth his or her whole life. Plant and animal still keep the same balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide (or we could not survive there) but much else is wholly different. Brains do not rest atop heads for example. Heads are a rather earthly thing. Creatures of Metis possess two spinal structures and house their brains in the center of their bodies. Three hearts, six limbs, no hair or feathers, a different range of visual perception, keener hearing (owing to the slightly less gravity) and entirely different olfactory organs are just a few. But even coming up with a crude evolutionary history is not difficult compared to crafting something so subtle as culture.

Transplanted by fate in this new and strange land the mena are tied to their forbears by language and the previous knowledge of technology that cannot be maintained and fades into legend. Relics exist, make no mistake, but all the same problems of war, death, disease, poverty, predjudice and lust have are the true legacy of human life. It's like starting over in a way. Remember how much of our present depends on the infrastructure we have built on for thousands of years. Every problem that we have 'solved' can go away and people turn right back into barbarians if you just give them a chance.

There is a lesson in that.

But people do learn and they do rebuild on what their previous ancestors had done. With no earth history apart from a few stories, new religions, new ideas and new ways of life form and thrive. Culture is so complicated because it pervades our every waking thought. I think in english, the language i speak aloud is also the filter through which i see the world. Trying to imagine the thoughts and consequences of not just one but an entire world of people is sure to give anyone a headache.

There is a lesson in that also.

In fact the lesson is pretty simple and holds true for both. Culture is the ULTIMATE subtle and powerful survival tool. It allows us to set up a positive feedback cycle in which every generation, providing good records are kept and bad ideas weeded out, can become more advanced than the last. While this holds true for technical aspects of life, the fundamentals rarely change. But how could they, every person has to learn how to live on their own. No one skips out on puberty or morality, they just can't. It's part of growing up and everyone that is a blank slate can be writ upon in certain ways that do not change.

People have needs, needs are their dependencies from the world around them. Imperatives drive these needs with a mighty engine of emotion. Some people cannot function and their engine breaks down. Others harness the power of other's emotion and that leads to what we call 'government.' It is important to remember this should you ever read my epic.

Speaking of the epic, i'm up to 84 pages now. Aevan is on the brink of his journey into the wild world. Now my task becomes most difficult because I have to create not just one but a dozen cultures that all unique to Metis (as species are) but which are tied into the fundamentals of human culture (like life in general). As he goes out and discovers his place in the world Aevan must also uncover some of these fundamentals. They are important because they do not belong to the planet Metis, they belong to somewhere else. Whether the word Earth will ever reach his ears I do not know. But the sense of hopeless distance from a place where at least human and animal life are in synch is crucial to both the story, and to the lesson I hope to convey.

Now, to bed I must go.
posted by Seth # 5:00 AM

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