Cultures around the world celebrate the bringer of fire, the bringer of knowledge. In the Christian tradition, the bringer is called Lucifer, who fell from heaven, whose name in Latin means Light-Carrier. In First-People traditions of the Pacific Northwest, the trickster-god Raven steals the sun from the world-house and gives it to humans, bestowing understanding upon them. In Greek mythology, Prometheus steals fire from a lofty perch and hands it over to mankind; as punishment for his actions he is chained to a rock and must endure having his liver pecked out by an eagle every day (until his rescue by Heracles). These examples from historically and geographically divergent areas speak of the same idea – that some external force physically descended form somewhere above the terrestrial plain and downloaded into the fabric of the human race the ability to ponder and think and reason. And these are but a few of this type of story; many others tell of the sudden arrival of knowledge from somewhere else, of the ability to reckon and mull and fly fancily unexpectedly arising in the minds of theretofore troglodytic bipedal mammals. Did we uplift ourselves, our intelligence arising of its own accord out of the vast and inky aether? (David Brin explores this concept in Startide Rising and his other Uplift books.) Were we genetically manipulated by a rogue extraterrestrial visitor who decided to fuck up his boss' plans and infect us homos sapiens with a full dose of thought's holy fire? These questions have kept our race up at night since the beginning of recorded history, and I don't intend to find answers for them here. I shall hazard to say, however, that I think I see a pattern emerging in the belief-systems of peoples living largely independently of one other, a pattern that suggests that we are not the only sentient beings hurtling through space-time. Keep one eyes on the stars and the other on your six. Mahalo.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
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I bicycle, write, surf, and strive.