For billions of years, the planet cooled, gestating. It was rocked by the alternation of light and dark, it bathed in amniotic seas which rose as steam and fell as rain. Lightning shot dim flickers of potential through its system, stirring it towards awareness. It waited. And at some microscopic transition point, a pattern began to regenerate itself. Life had emerged.


The emergence of life amidst primordial violence was the true birth of the planet. [There may have been several miscarriages -- evidence suggests that life started and died several times before "catching hold".] The subsequent spread and variety of lifeforms was its childhood. Its pulse was the ceaseless birth and death of organic arrangements. For millions of years the earth lay alive but blind. Its consciousness was microbial, minute. Eventually, though, some of its more clever bodily cells discovered sexual reproduction, and the ensuing explosion of diversity woke the planet to a new kind of awareness. This was the beginning of planetary adolescence. And fertility.


This period of rapid expansion of the biosphere must have been, like all adolescence, a turbulent one. Competing systems of biological organization ebbed and flowed, vying for sustainability. As an adolescent flails for an identity amidst the raging of hormonal storms, so did the biosphere leap from one evolutionary identity to the next, searching for a dominant organismic model with which it could meet adulthood. The dinosaurs didn't make it -- too awkward and unmanageable, always misbehaving at parties and eating all the food. So the most boorish were left to starve, the more sophisticated were refined and maintained as auxilliary to the planet's subsequent mammalian make-over.

The tides of change continued, species ebbing and flowing in preparation for some strongly-anticipated, yet mysterious event. One of the more promising personalities explored by the lifeforce was the primate, which had recently jumped down from its tree to poke around on the African savannah. Though not as elegant as certain other arrangements, the primate had certain practical advantages which the planetary consciousness recognized, but had no motivation to pursue.

Then something happened which caused her to throw all her energy into sculpting this creature. She refined the clumsy monkey, dragging it to its feet, softening its feral visage with more expressive musculature, imbuing its growing brain with curiosity and ingenuity. This she did very quickly and deliberately, for she wanted to make herself presentable. What had happened was this: the earth had found a lover. And he had expressed interest in the monkey.


Whether the linguistic symbiote which the earth took as a mate was of extraterrestrial origin -- another planetary ecology, perhaps; an adult one -- or whether it was itself part of the earth's reproductive apparatus, it will not be speculated here. What we do know is that the union was brief, in planetary terms -- about 100,000 years. He brought her "flowers": strange and beautiful fruit, spongy and aphrodisiacal. It was as the monkey that she went to meet him; it was to the monkey that he gave the fruit.


Of their lovemaking we know little, though as the night wore on, the sounds of her pleasure grew louder and more rhythmnic. The monkey, its senses thrown open by the magical fruit, overwhelmed at the ecstasy of information rushing into it from the earth's unearthly lover, let out bursts of sound, at first meaningless, but increasingly structured. Thus was the planet pleasured by the touch of her lover, and in this way was his code injected into her womb. It was a code of ideas, and it paired neatly with the code of the earth, the molecular code of organism as embodied in the monkeys. The mokeys had learned language, and with it, culture. The mother had conceived.


The product of this union is the human race. We are the monkey/ovum fertilized by the transmaterial, linguistic sperm. We share the features of both our mother and our father. As we developed in the body of the mother, we grew more distinct from her, even as we have taken more and more of her body as sustenance. Where once there were just a few embryonic cells, we have quickly grown to fill the womb which holds us. This gestation period is what we call "history". And history is about to end.

Gaia in labor

The potential for a complete transformation of life as we understand it is at hand. With it comes the potential for miscarriage, for death of both mother and child. The crises of the past century trace the fine edge between miracle and disaster which every birth represents: even a healthy birth involves pain, hyperventilation, blood. At every birth -- and every death -- the material membrane is torn, and something leaks through. There is always danger.

What distinguishes the impending transformation from previous evolutions is our conscious participation in it. It will have to be an engineering feat, as much as it will be the result of ancient and powerful biological processes. From the Mother we have our body, our senses, our capacity for feeling and reaction. From the Father we have received Reason and Will, the capacity to imagine and to act. All of these things will be necessary to begin our true life as a species.

Likewise, all of history must impel us forward. We have wandered long in the deserts of matter, tasted its joys and its sorrows. But we have also learned. And it is this learning, received in the heart of the wilderness, which will deliver us from the wilderness, if we use it well.


To make the passage, we will need not only the technological knowledge gifted to us by the Father, but the wisdom and passion which we share with our Mother, the earth. The transformation, the philosopher's stone, lies at the apex of all we know. It is the complete condensation of human awareness -- our science, our art, our religion, our political struggle. All that motivates us, ultimately motivates us towards one point: transformation of the species, emergence into a higher organizational principle, the freeing of energy from the cradle of matter.

The alternative is miscarriage. Annihilation: asphyxiation by our own umbilicus, death by the very tools we could have used to free ourselves. Or, worse, heat death, brain damage, the birth of a damaged, sickly child, the human race regressing to the monkey, energy dissipating itself forever in the womb of matter, with no more chance of escape. This forsaking of the historical mission ushers us into Hell, which is knowing that we turned our backs on our only shot at Paradise.


It doesn't have to end like this. Already there are humans actively seeking to recapture the historical mission forgotten in the deserts of physis. There have been people like this all along, actually, but we in the West punished them for their ideas, when we acknowledged them at all. Now we have begun to realize that knowlegde has been lost to us, and to turn back to the wisdom of those who came before us. We are not, in turning back, regressing. Rather, we are re-learning. We are attempting to balance our mastery of matter with the knowledge of other realms, which cultures before us explored extensively.

Find those who believe such a transformation is possible. Work with them. You are not powerless. Any change in the species as a whole both affects you and consists of you. You are the species in microcosm. You have a responsibility to history, to the struggle and suffering of the millions that preceded you. History is ending. Time is running out. The moment has come to rise and prepare...


Copyright © abrupt, New York City 6-Aug-1995