The Great Stillness

“The Great Stillness”

To the north, there is a great stillness…

The glaciers have returned, the ice is no longer melting at a rate exponentially accelerated by human-created industry. They are in a state of great stillness, moving forward at a rate similar to tens of thousands of years past.

The non-human animal species of the north have returned at full number. The salmon runs have returned to full capacity, the stillness of the natural environment has a comforting quiet to it now.

The flowers and other plant foliage have also evolved and returned. Now, in the quiet of the Great Stillness, they have flourished and are nourishing the animals and the planet as they once were.

To the west, to the east, to the south … all starting the long process of healing, all returning to normal stasis … as the Great Stillness continues.

If you could see the Great Stillness, it would be unlike anything you’ve ever seen with your own eyes. Even in the most serene natural settings available in 2015, you couldn’t comprehend the natural beauty of the Great Stillness.

Because everything as we know it now has stopped completely … industry, noise, pollution, construction, technology etc…

We don’t know what that stillness feels like, even in our most still areas on the planet in 2015.

We were given the gifts to hear the stillness, but we had to create noise to drown it out. We stare in awe and wonder out our windows, at the possibility we can “get away” from the very noise we created in the first place.

The paradox of the stillness is we crave it, yet we work really hard (in the name of “progress”) to get away from it.

The Great Stillness is the culmination of a series of balancing events we were too prideful to see coming, because we thought all of “this” was created for “us.”

Here is the rough outline of the events leading up to the beginning of The Great Stillness (there is some overlap of course):

2015 – 2150 The Great Resource Depletion and World War III

Not just peak oil, but peak “everything” … water, silicon, metals, all of it. In a fit of corporate greed, noble altruism, environmentalism, alternate energy, technological upheaval, etc… we completely drain the planet of all resources known to humans.

Even solar panels, harnessing the great power of the Sun require energy and resources to create, and we eventually build our last and cannot build any more. The infrastructure for this new energy begins to critically decay close to 2100. All power systems, decentralized homes, etc… cannot persist.

Any sort of fuel (bio or otherwise) is in short supply, because the resources necessary to create fuel (even with cloning technologies we are barely figuring out) begin to run out, permanently.

These processes also prevented us from launching our “missions to Mars” and explorations of other planets to live on. In short, we were limited to what was here.

The changing climate we failed to address because of corporate, political, and some individual greed and ignorance accelerates this resource depletion at an exponential pace we cannot understand.

While this is happening, World War III breaks out. Billions of people (soldiers and civilians) are killed, left starving … and savage damage to an already damaged planetary ecosystem erupts exponentially. The entire planet is scarred; resources are depleted in the name of endless War.

Mini wars ensue, states and Governments start to break down, many of our animal species go extinct … and the human race enters “survival mode” as a whole.

2100 – 2202 World War IV and The Great Realization

In 2108, the last of war-mongering, tyrannical factions has it’s way … and we enter into World War IV.

With limited resources, and in a world similar in appearance to the movie The Road Warrior (from the 1980’s), the people who are left after the last World War begin to fight over what is left. Some smart ones survive, even through this tragedy.

Alas, because of our carelessness as a species in the 21st century, the human gene pool was invaded by the advanced chemicals and “food stuffs” we started to create in response to crisis.

The Great Realization, a period of time between 2150 and 2202, is a magical time in our 210,000 or so years on this planet Earth.

We finally realized that our technology can only take us so far, and the lessons learned from the 21st century taught us that our planet has finite resources. The same natural systems we tried to separate ourselves from proved too complex to re-engineer.

After all, we also realized we were given brains, consciousness, and eyes so we could see, adapt to, and contemplate our environment. We realized we couldn’t live out of harmony with nature, and ourselves.

We couldn’t, until The Great Realization, even begin to understand ourselves and our connection to each other as a whole. And we mistakenly thought we could fully understand and dominate, even re-engineer the complex natural systems that gave birth to our species.

We finally realized that this planet, the only planet we had to live on, wasn’t created “for us.” We realized that we were part of something special already, but from 1850 – 2150, we chose instead to create our technological noise in the failed attempts to claim this speck of dust in the vast Cosmos as ours.

But for about 50 years, without electrical power, without much technology, we finally lived in such harmony. The 350,000 or so left after all of the Wars, famine, destruction, racism, greed and consumption of previous generations, these remaining survivors lived in peace with each other.

And they didn’t end up living as most people in 2015 thought, like primitive savages.

Instead they lived in what was left of the sparse trees and foliage in the North (between what we call Iceland and Alaska in 2015). They foraged, some tried to hunt and farm, some built little homes by the remains of creeks and rivers. Some even tried to rebuild small fragments of technology’s past.

But with limited drinkable water and almost no mineral resources to access and build the technology to desalinate the already acidified oceans … most of our remaining species died in the 30 years between 2150 – 2180.

The last of our species, and some might say the strongest, died peacefully in 2202, their bodies and genetic pools so ravaged by industry and bio-chemical society of centuries past, they could not reproduce.

Homo-sapiens was no more.

2203 – 4014

The Healing and the beginning of The Great Stillness

The two-thousand year period after Homo-sapiens was the beginning of a great healing for the planet.

Robust bacteria, similar to (and perhaps the same as) the type that began life on this planet, survived our time on this planet. So did a few animal species. Plants, bacteria, animals … all beginning life anew.

But the scars the planet suffered would probably take tens of thousands, to even hundreds of thousands of years to completely heal, the eco-sphere fully repaired and re-evolved with species new and old.

Because you see, in 4014 The Great Stillness has just begun.

Welcome to the “Digital Society”

We live in The Digital Society.

We are using digital data to pursue some illusion of “perfection.”  In some cases, we are using it against each other.

In more nefarious cases, we are using this data to profit at the expense of our fellow human.  Some institutions are using your own data to extract your own life from you (see “We Almost Had a World-Changing Idea With the Internet“).

Nicholas Carr has most of this correct:

But, as Carr notes, if your insurance company can adjust your premium according to who’s in your car, it can also adjust it according to how many slices of pizza you eat. This is the nightmare world of Big Data, he says, where “puritanism and fascism meet and exchange fist bumps.”

And finally … I wrote about this back in 2009, in an article I titled simply…

The Digital Society. (PDF)

You have no choice but to welcome your digital overlords.  Enjoy the real-life embodiment of George Orwell’s novel “1984” everyone.

Why Intelligent Design Fails…

My short answer, anyhow…

We need to explicate the “intelligent” in intelligent design. Why focus on the intelligence behind the design?

Here’s why … So the ID proponents could put some sort of “entity with intelligence” there. Otherwise intelligence logically wouldn’t be necessary for a natural process of creation that perpetually repeats itself.

There is no “brain” or other mechanism for intelligence necessary for a seed to grow into whatever plant it would produce. Plus, the seed is created by the plant itself to regrow.

There is no intelligence, that is simply a natural process that is recursive (the seed grows the plant which produces the seed which grows the plant etc.).

So, intelligent design fails because of the needed “insertion” of intelligence by its proponents, in processes where intelligence isn’t necessary at all.

In an evolutionary sense, we could not “insert” anything into a creation process, we simply need to explain the process itself and the results of that process.

Going on a Twitter Sabbatical

I will be going on a Twitter sabbatical for awhile.

I have not determined for how long, and it may result in deleting Twitter permanently.

The value of Twitter is becoming questionable at best, and this platform is less and less valuable as time goes on.  The 2016 election process highlighted this lack of value.

EDIT 11/23:  I’m going to change how I use Twitter instead of the deleting / sabbatical approach.  Here’s to getting the value that I can out of this service.

The Writer’s Process by Anne Janzer

I recently had the fortune of receiving a review copy of a book titled “The Writer’s Process” by Anne Janzer.

It was a unique book about what I will call the “science” behind the writer’s process … and I highly recommend it.

So I sent Anne 5 questions about the book, to which she graciously gave her answers (my question in bold, her answer in regular type).

Here they are, enjoy…

1.  Can you please give a brief overview of the book’s main purpose and points?

The Writer’s Process is about the inner game of writing, from coming up with ideas to seeing projects through to completion. Think of your own experience. Sometimes, when you write, the words stream forth and you lose track of time. Other times, you work all day to scratch out a few words that you later delete. Writing uses multiple systems in the brain – sometimes they make writing fun and rewarding, and other times they sabotage us.

By understanding the different mental systems behind each stage of writing, you can work more productively and creatively. You can also minimize the common problems that beset writers, like writer’s block and procrastination.

2.  What I like most about the book is it breaks down the writing process using a “scientific” angle … can you explain that further?

People used to pray to Muses or unseen spirits for inspiration. (Some still do.) But cognitive scientists tell us that we are our own Muses. We have to learn to navigate the inner workings of our minds to work creatively and productively.

The book explores cognitive science topics relevant to writers, such as attention, focus,creativity, and willpower. These are all staples of the writer’s inner game.

Scientists have studied the different types of attention, and how we switch between them. As writers, we can figure out when we need to use each type, in which stage of the writing process. Cognitive science also offers clues to the creative process and that magical state of flow, when the outside world disappears and you become absorbed in the work. We can take those lessons and apply them within our daily writing lives.

Even proficient, experienced writers with well-developed practices can fine-tune and improve their processes. Cognitive science may explain why something that you’ve always done works, and that knowledge helps you stay the course through temptations to multitask or cut corners. I know that writing the book has had that effect on my own practices!

3.  My favorite part of the book starts on page 71 … and breaks down the “Process” of writing itself, including ideas.  Can you give a little taste of “letting ideas incubate”?

Writing has many parts, including researching, drafting, and revision. In many ways, it’s like the process of baking bread. Bakers mix the ingredients and knead the dough, then let it rise for a while. When the bread rises, unseen organisms work their magic and transform the ingredients.

Incubation is like the rising phase of bread; parts of your brain below the conscious attention explore the work, even as you do other things.

Most of us have experienced this incubation effect: you get a great idea for a problem while you’re in the shower or driving to work. That’s because the associative, non-linear thought processes in your mind are at work. Incubation is one of my favorite writing practices: I’ll think about a writing issue or topic, then take a walk or go to the gym. When I return to focused writing, I’ve got something to work with.

It’s counter-intuitive, but you can often be more productive by taking breaks from the writing, giving your brain time to incubate ideas and topics.

4.  You cover a very specific method for breaking through what writers call “writers block” … can you give us a little taste of how you approach that problem?  (Personally, or from the book)

Writer’s block is often a sign that you’re bringing the wrong mental systems to the drafting of the writing process, trying to use focused attention to pull ideas out of thin air, or skipping the research and incubation part of the process. To counteract this, I rely on freewriting, or typing thoughts without internal criticism or filters. This often leads to new discoveries and avenues to explore.

My most important advice for the blocked writer is to shift your thinking: write for discovery, and don’t let the inner critic prevent you from writing. Use freewriting to give the other parts of your brain a chance to chip in. They usually do. You can always revise it later.

5.  The subtitle of the book is “Getting Your Brain in Gear” … can you explain what that means for a writer?

This book is about discovering and improving your unique writing process. Each section offers exercises for exploring the ways that you work best – whether examining your mindset or changing your writing environment to invite the right mental state. After reading it, you should better understand which mental process to bring to each phase of the writing process, and how to set yourself up for success.

Thank you for your time Anne, and great book!  Please share how writers can check out more about you on the web.

The site has information about the book, my latest blog posts, and upcoming events. I continue to learn and explore them in my weekly Writing Practices blog posts – you can subscribe to them from the website, or on this link.