DAVE'S LIFE ON HOLD

Probable Parables

Stories we tell ourselves form the base matter of our worlds. We do not so much deal with the stuff of things, but rather the idea of them.  On an autonomic level, our meat keeps flapping, making words and sounds through an elaborate feedback loop of biochemistry.  But on the level of what we call the "real world" nothing exists but some sordid fictions and turbulent imaginings.  Our entire society: culture, property, government, economy, taxes, monetary policy, debt, obligation, laws, religion, and ethics; mere fiction used to ward against the chaos of the real. 

Consider a world without these fictions, where in there is only the fire in your belly and an ache in your muscles. Hunger, fear, anger, lust, and passion rule this narrative, primitive forces hold sway under the hot sun and the cold moon.  Small groups round a fire, huddle for warmth, swapping stories to hold back the night.  The stories are inescapable as long as language and imagination are in play. 

In the fields of wheat, oats, and barley, farmers sing stories about gods and kings who hold sway over their world. Wind, weather, and storms can decimate a crop, just as lack of rain can destroy a harvest.  The king god is a wrathful storm god, who hurls lightning at the unfortunates out in the field when he passes over in ire. The farmers are grateful when the Storm King only brings a gentle rain.  These are the fictions of the men and women who huddle in their huts drinking their beer and eating their bread. 

Wealthy merchants tell stories about cities of opportunity in far off lands, soldiers of fortune tell of heroic battles with restless savages, priests in their temples tell stories about a bipolar God who can't make up his mind to be loving or vengeful.  But most people tell stories about simple lives, lived in darkness and drudgery, filled with small dreams no larger than the chest they fit in. It is a locked chest too, for the precious little these little lives accumulate are priceless treasures to those who keep them.  Nothing can be done to change one's station, and the story each generation tells the next is that is how it is meant to be, for it is too disheartening to think that a lucky few could have so much by virtue of the stories society tells, and yet so many could have so little.   

Slowly due to desperation a new story is formed, an American Dream, in which each person may have a chance to remake their own life, in a new land of opportunity.  This too is a Canadian Dream, and Australian Dream, an Argentinian Dream, but like all Dreams it is just another fiction.  But this dream dies slow, and hope remains that one day you'll win the lottery, have your 15 minutes of fame, your ship will come in, and the beatings will stop.  So the little lives carry on telling them selves stories about putting up with abuse because loosing your healthcare is worse, or bankruptcy is death, or what ever imaginary boogeyman the lies in an unknown future holds the key to the collective imagination. 

Robot's will rise up and take your job, new opportunities off world will open up for the intrepid and dispossessed. A lucky few will make trillions carving out empires in the inner solar system, others will die in poverty, living short unhappy lives like they always have.  The truly powerful will transcend the limitations of corporeal form, and become corporate entities in their own right, removed from the responsibility of right and wrong, they will become as if gods in the ancient stories.   Great fires will burn across the stars as post-human beings spread out in search of resources to wage their endless war for survival.   Those who can not afford to evolve will die, and those who evolve will die much more slowly, piece by piece until they become someone new. 

As artifice replaces biology, and technology replaces humanity, the stories will continue to be told, of those funny ape beings who one day left the trees to bang some rocks together.  Stories about how they told stories which defined their world and their place in it. Stories that would change them more than they changed the stories. And there was no escape from the tide of history, no escape from the fates they foretold for themselves. They had chosen their course, to evolve or to die.