Archive for overpopulation

Gilgamesh

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2012 by javedbabar

The line was crackly but clear enough to hear her CEO, who said, “Gilgamesh is the world’s earliest recorded story. We put ‘The First Story of Mankind’ on promotional materials. The show is a sell out for two weeks straight. We can’t cancel it now.”

Sophie had two jobs at Village Hall. One was Chief Producer and the other was Crisis Manager. She was delighted that QARY, the old quarry now used for multimedia shows, was a commercial success. The Authority had supported her project wholeheartedly and invested $10 million there.

The issue was that she was well informed meteorologically. The danger of flooding was high. There was an Evacuation Alert in place, but no Evacuation Order, meaning that everybody should be prepared, but nobody should go anywhere yet. There was no excuse for sloth, but also no need for panic. What was needed was awareness.

Sophie said, “You can’t have people underground at a time like this. It is highly irresponsible, and if…”

“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,” said her CEO. “You’re breaking up.”

“I said that you can’t have…”

Click. Her CEO had hung up.

Sophie had faith in the warning indicators, whose specs she had reviewed before installation. They had failsafe mechanisms built in giving at least three hours warning, so whatever happened there would be no surprise. Maybe she was worrying without reason.

QARY’s hundred digital projectors, its fibre-optic cabling, and dynamic event lighting were worth a lot of money but were replaceable. The people here were not.

Damn it! Even this story concerned the preciousness of human life. It was not something to risk casually.

Her multimedia productions were in constant development. The first show had been an amateur affair featuring the works of local artists, and the next one, slides of Old Masters. In the second season, The Authority’s support had made epics such as Osiris, Beowulf and Gilgamesh possible; each show with a different style.

Alongside the usual paintings, photos and texts, Gilgamesh required live action filming. There was no shortage of bearded men in the Lucerne Valley to play Sumerian extras. No shortage of cattle and horses either.

Gilgamesh was a nasty king. He was proud and boastful, and oppressed his male subjects and pressed himself upon female ones. To distract him from op/pressing people, the gods created wildman Enkidu, who was his equal in strength, and his twin in appearance, though covered by hair.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu symbolized, respectively, culture and nature, and soon became best friends. Together they went to the Cedar Forest to kill the giant Humbaba, and then they slaughtered the Bull of Heaven. The gods decreed that Enkidu must die as punishment for these crimes. Gilagamesh’s distress at his twin’s death set him upon an epic quest for the secret of immortality. A ferryman took him across the river of death, where he met Utanapishtim, survivor of the ancient Great Flood.

Sophie saw dark pools building. Water trickled down rock pillars and from in between cracks. Was the quarry flooding? Had the warning system failed?

She ran to the control room in an upper chamber.

She saw that the system had been manually overridden.

Sophie had a thoughtflash. Her job as Crisis Manager had long term aims, including tackling overpopulation. There were five hundred people in the quarry. Was this what was going on, a deliberate population reduction?

Gilgamesh learnt that there was no such thing as Immortality. Everyone’s time on earth is finite, so you must live your life well.

If this was the end, thought Sophie, what better way to go than to join her small story to mankind’s first one?

Multi-Sensory

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama was curious about the word sensitive. Was it a combination of sense, meaning the ability to perceive, and –itive, denoting a characteristic? Someone inclined to be ruled by their senses and doing what felt right, rather than someone who ignored these subtle messages and always stuck to rules?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t all good, at least for Zadam. This strange man with reversed facial features, a nose where it should be, but upside down, and mouth and eyes reversed, was just too sensitive.

He picked up people’s finer feelings, often hidden – their beauty, love and kindness – but also their grosser feelings, buried deeper – their anger, stress and hate.

Their outing together to the museum had been a disaster. An old man’s pipe had caused Zadam to dwell on death, and after that he didn’t want to go out again.

Shama said, “Come on, Zadam, let’s meet up today. We can go for a coffee, or to the park. What do you say?”

He said, “I don’t say anything. I want to stay at home by my own. I have to, to keep my ten senses safe, and the other ones.”

What did he mean by his ten senses? Did he mean the five identified by Aristotle, plus five others suggested by science but not added to the official list? Or did he mean the five main senses, and their inversions?

Zadam sometimes called himself “Upside-Downy” because he could see, taste, hear, smell and touch things in a way that others couldn’t. He could perceive the stimulus, or outcome, of senses in a way negating their immediate message. Rather than a sensual experience, he knew origins and results.

Furthermore, what were the others ones?

Zadam took a while to feel comfortable with the outside world again. Shama supposed it was shock or a form of agoraphobia.

Time spent in the park seemed to work wonders. Zadam sat beneath a tree, like a modern-day Buddha, except with a mouth where his third eye should be. People kept their distance, but animals didn’t. At first butterflies and squirrels, and then cats and dogs, came and nestled around him. He played with them all day.

Eventually people stopped by too, but Zadam preferred animals. One day he mentioned his “infinite senses”. Shama asked “Which ones?”

“The animal ones. They know things first. Birds sense fires, fish sense earthquakes, deer sense volcanic eruptions. They can tell from air pressure, current direction, polarized light, and mechanical strain on things.” Zadam rocked back and forth.

He is getting fired up about this, thought Shama. Maybe he is picking up on the dark clouds rolling in, and humidity building. A storm is predicted for tonight.

Zadam began humming loudly. His sound seemed to bounce off trees in the park, nearby buildings, and around the valley.

Zadam began to spin around. It was like breakdancing, but smoother. It was hard to say how he did it.

Sparks flew from this body; Shama shielded his eyes.

Squirrels ran and butterflies flew, but dogs and cats stayed, and more came running. He was surrounded by a hundred at least.

Zadam began chanting. Words about the whole world becoming unbalanced by overpopulation, wealth inequality, fossil fuel depletion, water shortage, pollution, food inflation, climate change, media brainwash, unquenchable thirst for things, terrorism and nuclear war. He said he could sense these things. He was the upside-down hub of a world spinning and about to break.

Good People

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was spending all his free time at Lucerne’s new store, Additive Manufacturing Processes, known as AMP co. It wasn’t open for business yet, as the owner, Alfred, was testing his new equipment – an innovative 3D printer that could fabricate almost anything, given the right data and materials.

It was an amusing contrast to the previous business there, the General Store, filled with everything you could think of. The owner had sold it after 72 years of living and working there, which had cost him the chance of having a wife and family.

“I’ve often been tempted to create something living,” said Alfred. “But till now I have stopped myself. There could be a tricky situation…”

“We created a worm yesterday. That was successful.” Sami recalled stepping on the poor thing accidentally. “Well, sort of…”

Alfred stared hard at the 3D printer. He seemed to look at particular cogs and levers sequentially. After a while he said, “That’s the problem, my friend. We’ve crossed the Rubicon. We’ve gone beyond the Pale.” Sami must have looked at him strangely.

“Excuse me; I am a keen student of history. The Rubicon was the river crossed by Caesar with the Roman army, after which he became dictator of Rome. The Pale was the part of Ireland controlled by the British, beyond which was wild, lawless terrain. Making the worm was easy. It was a shame you killed it, but I don’t think we were really affected by its death. If we created a human being though, that would be a different matter.”

Sami had been following Alfred’s gaze as he was speaking, but now his head turned towards Alfred, almost snapping into place. He had imagined making a mouse or cat, even a dog, but Alfred was talking about creating a human. “Are you seriously considering that?”

“Well, yes. I have been for some time. The machine is life-blind. It does not differentiate between animate and inanimate matter. As long as we prepare it correctly, it will produce what we desire.”

“Why don’t we make gold then?” said Sami. “Or cash?”

“The problem is that gold can only be made from gold. We won’t be creating anything, just putting it through the machine. And cash – we could easily make coins, but notes have serial numbers, so we would either be forging them or creating new ones, which is also illegal.”

“But isn’t creating life illegal? You can’t just do it because you feel like it.”

“Of course you can. What do you think is the cause of the world’s population crisis? The people who can’t afford to feed, clothe and educate their kids are having the most. Only China has shown real leadership in this area. Anyway that is a different matter. This is science. Let’s make a person. Are you in on the experiment or not?”

Sami first said no, and then yes; his curiosity was too great.

The machine was too small to make an adult – at least in one piece – so they decided to make a baby. They fed in anatomical, psychological and religious data – hopefully covering the early needs of its mind, body and spirit. They wanted to make good people, not bad ones.

They set the chronometer to 1 month:1day.

After nine days they heard crying in the 3D printer. The owner of the General Store would have been pleased.