Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cosmic Nihilism: Loren Eiseley, A Different Voice

Chripsy wants to continue to push the philosophical limits of Lovecraft's thoughts. The late archaeologist and ecological philosopher, Loren Eiseley, had a profoundly conservative passion and unique perspective on mankind as a blight, a "world-eater".

Lately, Chripsy has been considering the effect of parasites and viruses on humans. If a virus can allow a rat to be eaten by a cat to pass on the virus' genetic material - perhaps our madness - and even the madness of the old ones - is caused by an as yet undetected virus. All the yog-sothery by men and alien gods alike, is all caused by an unthinking bundle of RNA trying to make star hoppers and dimension walkers infect that madness to as many as possible throughout time and the universe?

Well while you ponder that brain-searing thought, read a true philosophical genius. I've abridged these comments to make them easier to read and digest.

"It came to me in the night, in the midst of a bad dream, that man, like the blight descending on a fruit, is by nature a parasite - a world eater. Under a microscope mold amoebas streaming to their meeting places ... single amoeboid frontiersmen swarm into concentrated aggregations .. thrust up overtoppling spore palaces, like skyscrapers. ... man's motor throughways resemble slime trails ... man's cities are only the ephemeral moment of his spawning - that he must desend upon the orchard of far worlds or die.

"The cycles of parasites are often diabolically ingenious .. to the unwilling host ... tehir ends appear mad. Has earth hosted a new disease - that of the world eaters?

"Everyone imagines that he knows what is possible and impossible, but the whole of time and history attest our ignorance. ... The future, formidable as a thundecloud, is still inchoate and unfixed upon the horizon.

"Not many years ago I fell to chatting with a naturalist who had .. experience among the Cree ... What had struck him ... was their remarkable and indifferent adjustment to their woodland environment. ...while totally skilled ... in their surroundings, they had little interest in experiment on a scientific sense ... they were ... careless with equipment ... given them ... things might be discarded or left hanging on a branch. Their reliance on their own powers was great ... based on traditional accomodation.

"Not all tiny beings of the slime mold escape to new pastures ... some are sacrificed to make the spore cities ... it is so in the cities of men.

"A span of three centuries has been enough to produce a planetary virus, while on that same planet others with brains the biological equivalent of our own peer in astonishment from the edges of their last wilderness. ... Such an episode parallels the rise of a biological mutation as potentially virulent ... there is no comparable episode in history. ... To climb the fiery ladder that the spore bearers have used {space rockets} one must consume the resources of a world ... the accessible crust of the earth is finite, while the demand for minerals increases ... so quick and insidious has been the rise of the world virus that its impact is just beginning to be felt.

"Like all earth's other creatures, man had previously existed in a precarious balance with nature ... it was impossible for his numbers to grow in any one place. Only with plant domestication is storage granary possible and three primary changes: a spectacular increase in numbers, diversification of labor, and the ability to feed the spore cities.

"Modern man and his bush contemporaries have arrived at the same conclusion by very different routes. Both know they are shape shifters and changelings. Modern man, the world eater, respects no space and no thing green or furred or sacred, the march of machines is in his blood. The bushmen speak softly the age old ritual words.

"Beginning on some winter night the snow will fall steadily for a thousand years and hush the spore cities whose seed has flown. Halley's comet will pass like a ghostly matchflame over the unwatched grave of the cities.

Abridged from The World Eaters of The Invisible Pyramid by Loren Eiseley.

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