by Richard Thieme

December 17, 2008

Especially during hard times, it is easy for the little things in the foreground to be the biggest things we see. They loom large and even monstrous, scaring the bejeezus out of even stalwart hearts. Symptoms of anxiety – deep breathing, light heads, and irrational consuming fear – seem to be everywhere these days.

And thanks, as always, to media people for proving once again that “if it bleeds, it leads.” Shamelessly the pundits, while circulation numbers nevertheless plummet, continue to do what everyone knows no longer works, shouting down the rest of us.

But the rest of us abide. We may not be heard, right now. But… we abide. The Dude abides. So do we.

While the cycles of bust and boom continue to roll on in their metal tracks like trains that refuse to be derailed, larger things are afoot for the human race. Those bigger deals constitute a context that will alter forever these littler flies and gnats that buzz about our heads, things like job loss and big financial crimes that will, again, mostly go unpunished.

In my own strange world, a Fortean word of anomalies and misfits and the edges of normal things (a mainstream Milwaukee woman in this proudly provincial enclave interviewed me when my collection, “Islands in the Clickstream,” was published a few years ago, and I spoke of hackers and hacking, quantum weirdness, deep changes, making her write in her column, “he isn’t like the rest of us.” – but that’s Milwaukee for you, where epistemology and ontology fuse, and what is seen is taken for the real) … anyway, I was just sayin’ as Sarah Palin taught us to say that bigger things are going bump and bump again in the real night. In my own strange world, the stream of advances in neuroscience, nanotech, genetic engineering, and astronomy/cosmology compel an observation or two.

Soon we will be someone else. Not just me, but everyone else, too, will not be like the rest of us. The rest of us will be morphing too.

Identity is a set of points of reference, after all, by which we anchor a self-image or an image of our tribe. Tribes have been nation states lately, but that’s not true anymore. Or it’s true like all transitional states are true, both yes and no. We continue to operate as nations but the global structures have pulled us into something else. Because we don’t have good names for what that is, calling it say “the new world order,” it’s hard to talk about realities emerging from new combinations of people and events, events that seem to have lives of their own but never just happen to happen, no, they are planned and executed, most of the big ones seem to be. Changes like a global financial system, the concentration of media in a few hands, the management of perception so the sixties and seventies are less likely to happen again or happen in that way, a way that deeply interfered …

and while all that is happening, seldom discussed for what it is on shout shows or in twittering text, terse text as wee tiny messages must be these days, neuroscience and other biological breakthroughs are making it possible to take our essential attributes and magnify them or accelerate certain processes, making us incrementally smarter, stronger, quicker, more resistant to attacks, and the fusion of our brains with electromagnetic implants and processes, these are all changes of a huge degree that will alter the points of reference on the fly of who we think we are, who in fact we are, and one day we’ll wake up and reminisce about generations that were merely born, not made, whose qualities were throws of the dice instead of bought and paid for, and whose lives seem so short compared to the century plussers who will come to inhabit the world in larger and larger numbers.

And then, there’s the even bigger scene changer.

I love it when people refuse to look at the real history of why and how those things we still call UFOs came to inhabit our landscape. “You’re a loony!” said an Army officer recently when told that I thought the subject merited attention. “Look at the data,” was all I could say. “Look at the real history. Look at the documentation!”) (disclaimer: I am part of a group called The UFO History Project which is producing a book using not the words of loonies like ourselves i.e. everyone who finds the subject worthy of scientific study but government and military and other official sources during the late forties and early fifties when they had not yet learned that what concerned governments at the highest levels did not exist).

But all that dialogue does I’m afraid is make people look at us like we’re nuts. Like we’re round-earthers or people who believed in space travel before sputnik (and lasers)(and fiber optics)(and stealth and other cloaking devices)(and particle beam weapons i.e. ray guns)(and space stations)(and the Memex)(and the potential for life on Encelades or Europa or Mars or all over the galaxy or other galaxies as well).

So I won’t talk about those things. I’ll just say this:

where life can happen, it will happen. And where it does, when it does, it begins to evolve. And we hairless primates are just out of the darkness, just up from a swamp, we humans-come-lately who learned but a few decades ago that the Milky Way as we quaintly call it was not a skein of nearby stars or about black holes, dark energy, and other such silliness.

Others have been around for a good long while. So they know a few things that we don’t. We are the top of the food chain in our dreams, in our dreams.

But this is what I want to say: one of the immense events of the 21st century will be the blossoming in the fullness of human consciousness of the deeply felt realization that we share this universe with myriads of species, some of them way more intelligent than us, smarter stronger or quicker long ago, whose doings look indeed like magic to our child eyes.

The realization – not the hunch, the hope, the fear, or the sci-fi dream, but the realization – based on knowing, knowing incontrovertibly, that here and there are relative, so we can indeed get there from here and here from there, that we are a wee small species and just getting up and going like toddlers walking around the block for the first time, that how we have thought of ourselves is not how we have been, how we thought we were made or created was a nice lovely story or myth but not exactly how it was, and the change in our context will make drops in consumer spending, interest rates, and employment seem like small concerns, we will even become fondly nostalgic for the good old days when we worried about ourselves and such trivial things, thinking we knew who we were because that was the point of reference we had been taught by school-masters every bit as ignorant as ourselves.

The challenge is to expand and not blow our minds, to know what we already know.

I once wrote, “The readiness is everything, and during those moments of exquisite timing ‑ tolled by a clock that ticks to a different rhythm ‑ we know that when everything can go right, it will, at the best possible moment. … The universe is gregarious and welcoming. We are built to live in space that is gateless, unbounded, free.”*

Fear not, little flock, someone else once wrote. The universe is welcoming. Or words to that effect. Despite the sometime evidence, despite the anxieties of the times, despite the alarms and sirens, keep your heads and wits about you. Touch base with the real, please. And even when it’s cold out there, climb a big hill and look around. Look around and keep yourself in perspective.

The universe is bigger, life is much shorter, and it’s later than we think.

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