Retrospective Issue XX - World X A3 poster

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Retrospective Issue XX - World X A3 poster

Transcript of Retrospective Issue XX - World X A3 poster

  • World X - A Speculative History

    In the beginning was World Zero, and this world was, indeed, a beautiful but terrifying wilderness. A world of forests and mountains, oceans and lakes, wide open spaces and all manner of creatures.

    And those forests of trees that fell with no-one to hear them and those oceans of fish that died with no-one to fish them began to accumulate an ironic joke, whose cosmic timing would not deliver its punch line for at least eighty million years.

    Then a stray asteroid came along and things changed. Most things died.

    Some time later, in the blink of an single suns eye, those fish that had not died grew arms and legs and crawled onto the land. They looked back at the retreating seas and climbed into those trees that had not fallen, and waited for evolution to remove the webs from their feet.

    And then language came along.

    That itinerant asteroid that attenuated the rule of lizards, so popularly imagined, also brought a virus from outer space that put words into the mouths of the apes. They climbed down from the trees, grew tall and started talking. They planted a garden and watched the moon. They counted the days and measured the length of the seasons.

    And then God came along, and made rules.

    God looked at the apes and the apes looked at God. God chose one of the apes and called him Adam. Adam looked at his hands and his opposable thumb, and in order to extend his reach, picked up the jawbone of a dinosaur. One end he used as a lever, and the other he sharpened.

    Some time later, after an unfortunate misunderstanding, God sent Adam from the garden and Adam persuaded the apes to go with him, out of one paradise and into another, with a

    mixture of blessings including will and sin and guilt. Adam and the apes went out and explored the world whilst the girls made sandwiches.

    And then writing came along.

    And this world could be called World 1.0, the First World.

    World 1.0 was, indeed, a beautiful but terrifying wilderness. A rich and fabulous place, a world of cathedrals and palaces, of gardens and parks, but only for some. This world was the cradle of culture that took civilisation to the known world using organised force and hammered out democracy on the backs of slaves who carried the books of the Aristos all the way from the library to the arena and back.

    God looked at Adam and Adam looked at god.

    And then printing came along.

    And literacy allowed ignorance to barter with influence in a deal brokered on ideas and funded by paper. And then, after one revolution or another, that tarnished the plated silver of its own industry, lying unused on the banqueting tables of its rulers, removed the golden crowns of our monarchs, and with them their heads.

    And we came to know this world as World 2.0, the Second World.

    And this world was, indeed, a beautiful but terrifying wilderness. A world of industry and commerce. A world of politics and science. A world of ambition.

    And in this world Adam no longer looked at God but looked at the apes and the apes looked at Adam.

    Adam said Finally we will remedy the degenerate geometry of our calendar by including Year Zero, a number not present in the years of our Lord, and with this we will step out of time, out of history.

    God said You cant do that!

    Adam said No offence intended, but what

    need have we of God when we have technology? Need a pillar of fire? Coming right up. Need to part the seas? Not a problem. Need to displace a nation? Consider it done. Need to flood the world? Well were getting there.Adam said I have put my faith in industry, I have put my faith in the laboratory, I have put my faith in the bomb. Technology works, technology delivers.

    God said No offence taken, but be warned; remember why the common cold is so-called. Also, two heads are usually better than one but not when they share the same neck. Please read the user manual of your telescope and finally, remember that there is no such thing as cold fission.

    Thank you. Adam said Ill take it under advisement.

    Youre welcome. God said Ill be back.

    Adam looked at the apes and the apes looked at Adam.

    Adam said Imagine a world where rules dont apply. Imagine a world without guilt. Can you imagine that world? I can. A world without regulation or limit, without conscience or restraint. A world without sin. Can you imagine that world? I can, and this world we will call World 3.0 and it will begin beneath a rising sun, at Ground Zero, in the blink of an eye.

    Adam looked at the apes and the apes looked at Adam.

    Adam said This world, World 3.0, the Third World, our New World, is indeed a beautiful but terrifying wilderness. We have gathered all of our horizons into a single, unbroken circle.

    Adam looked at the apes and the apes looked at Adam.

    And then, with no more worlds to conquer, Adam said Im confused. How much is too much? How far is too far? How many is too many before enough is enough? 1? 2? 3? 2,975? approximately

    140,000? approximately 2 million? approximately 6 million? or maybe even an estimated 50 - 60 million? All those that we have incinerated, pig after pig and cow after cow, that were burned or crushed or ground to mince, have shared our DNA, although a pig is not a cow nor a cat nor a dog nor a horse nor a sheep nor an ape nor a man.Although a dog will eat a dog and a cat will eat a cat, an ape may eat an ape and a man will eat more or less anything. But a pig won't eat a cow, and a cow, no matter how hungry, could not eat a horse."

    And at about this time God thought Where is that asteroid now that I need it?.

    And then the internet came along.

    God said Enough is enough. Here is wisdom.Your rumours have spread around the globe like wild mint, all the way from Israel to the West Bank in both directions via every supermarket in between, and that near-instant consensus, if mistaken or misheard or misconstrued, could bankrupt your world in the blink of an eye.

    Those carbon filaments that you have proposed for Jacobs Ladder, related more closely to the soot of ovens than the dust of diamonds, may have a disproportion whose half-life could be half a life, and in turn halve the lives of those poor unfortunates who may be required to take a more direct route to Heaven.

    That handful of plutonium, assembled in a symmetry never attempted by nature, gave birth to your New World faster than a blinking eye could shade, with the glare of a thousand suns that would shame the very angels.

    Your unforgiving schedule has chased billions into the next life with a telemetry broadcast instantly to every scorched eye on earth.

    "And you have rebooted the world.

    Adam said I would have chosen to repent at leisure but eighty million years seemed like an awfully long time.

    God looked up and said "You have reached your limit. Those frozen heads of the Americas, buried in glass, and sleeping at the bottom of silos, have dreamed a canopy of desperate hope, whose network of widening pinholes has all but wrecked the sky, and darkened the blue of its dome."Neither vultures nor magpies would have recognized, nor could have predicted this, your definition of beauty, and those unblinking eyes and gaping mouths can not be sated."Your warring nations are merely pigs and cows and horses and sheep and cats and dogs of straw."

    Adam thought for a moment and said "How could it have been any other way? I am merely a dragon, wrapped in a lamb, and surrounded by a cloud of doubt. That one small step was a leap of faith and those painted masks were merely smiles, directed to our nearest of stars."

    Adam looked up and said "Is that Superman? Is it a bird? No it's a plane. Here comes another."

    And god said Now, where was I?.

    He reminded the apes of their nakedness and, though surprised, they were not ashamed. They returned to what was left of the trees and looked down at the rising seas, marveling at this new irony and wondered how long it would take them to evolve webbed feet.

    God said This world I call World 4.0 and it will begin between two towers, at Ground Zero-point-blank. And this world, World 4.0, the Fourth World, the Last World will, indeed, be a beautiful but terrifying wilderness. Amen.

    The end.

    Retrospective Issue XX

    World X

    A Speculative History

    By Richard Bolam