Consider this paradox, sethren. We are, as far as we know, the most intelligent species in our universe. The history of our evolution goes back nine billion years, older than our sun. I say this not from any religio-sci-fi-weirdness, but in the light of the speculation of Gordon and Sharov, who have applied Moore’s law to the evolving complexity of life and extrapolated back to its beginning, nine billion years ago. Not exactly proven, but if so we got an early start in the cosmic evolution race.
So, possibly the most intelligent species in the universe. And we are the sole medium of all the great works of the metaverse, art and science, you know what I’m saying here, sethren, rational thought, all the big stuff. We did all that. Everything. And yet we behave like fuck-heads. Look, we have, in this land, huge wealth, of nature, of industry, of North Sea Oil. Our political economy could be the happiest, a healthy well-educated nation, with the distinction of being populated from all the corners of the earth, living at ease with itself, none too rich and none too poor. Whereas what are we? A nation where more and more food vouchers are being handed out to the desperate, where those in semi-slavery have to do three jobs, with little food and sleep, just to feed their children (oh Madam MeMe, the time for corporate MeatyBits is at hand), while we give the place over to global criminals who can spend £30 million on a house, can commission pathetically hideous plastic yachts with three heli-ports and an attack submarine in the hold which they never even use. I say this not to be contentious, heaven forefend, sethren, nor to imply that the holders of the great offices of state are the simpering wankers of kleptocrats too steroidally pumped up to wank themselves, but to point the finger at us, ourselves, at our willing complicity in this dystopia.
That’s the paradox I will explain, sethren. Our intelligence. Our idiocy.
We are governed by myth. It evolved way back in the evolution of Homo sapiens.
When we lived in small bands, the metaverse was small. Our potential for variation in behaviour was constrained by the physical presence, gestures, acts, caresses, shoves and blows, smiles and glares, of the whole band. Then, in our day to day lives, we might smell and touch everybody we knew of.
But the human group cannot increase above a certain size, probably the size where everybody can smell and touch everybody else, until superordinate control mechanisms evolve in the metaverse, or at least the zone of the metaverse that flows into the ideoverses of that group. Without these control mechanisms there will be no co-ordination or cooperation beyond the immediate, the proximate, the contiguous where sight, sound and touch orchestrate action.
Once the control mechanisms have evolved and are a stable feature of the local metaverse, then individuals will be influenced and guided by them, and conditions will exist that allow such things as modes of production, division of labour, social hierarchies, to evolve.
The myth can do that. Let us remember William Shakespeare’s fascination with the person and the office of the king. The person — cut the crap, sether, you know as well as I do who William Shakespeare is, this pretension to sturdy working-class complete-fucking-ignorance-of-absolutely-everything is beginning to seem like an affectation. Oh. Okay, the Earl of Southampton if you will. The person of the king is the Homo sapiens bit. The office is the metaverse bit, enacted through the H sap organism. If this is hard to understand, consider our kingly equivalents. Consider Tony Blair and David Cameron. The office of Prime Minister channels great power. The H saps T Blair and D Cameron are, I think we would agree, as exemplars of the species, fairly negligible. If that.
The evolved control mechanisms which allow the group to develop from the hunter-gatherer band to the mature nation state (okay, I’m telescoping here) are the praxis, the narrative and particularly the myth.
What a myth is, sethren, I will demonstrate, again with Shakespeare, in the interplay between Othello and Iago. But it may take some time. The sun is here, for a day or two at least, and no more does snow and moor grime make more material the car-fart born with a boreal buffeting about our ears and noses around and around the Huddersfield ringroad by winds from Greenland’s charmless fells. For a day or two at least. The first Swifts have arrived, those closest descendants of dinosaurs which can only endure a few short weeks of our British summer. And I am kept busy in the Refuge garden, our Abbot knows no mercy. Othello and Iago may have to wait a day or two.