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The Neutral Universe
by Jan Sand
2006-12-18 10:02:57
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In its early naïve condition, humanity depicted its environment based upon itself and its social order. Thunderstorms were expressions of anger, warm sunlight and gentle rain denoted love and care, earthquakes and tornadoes were punishments for bad behaviour and good crops were a reward for conforming to the rules of a postulated universal emperor that inhabited regions otherwise strictly for the birds.

Initially, all this overwhelming theological government was very departmental and some of it was quite local. Just as human governments developed bureaucracies the invisible powers had many minions that kept an eye on local affairs. Occasionally Zeus and a few of the other gods invaded human provinces to savour the pleasures of human females but the encounters, with gods appearing as bulls and swans, must surely have had its grotesque aspects.

I imagine an errant wife who indulged herself with a willing handsome younger man might have forestalled her spouse’s anger by telling him it was actually a wandering god who might be upset if the woman was punished for succumbing to a superior power.

But these lesser powers, demons, devils, genii, angels, sprites, elves, gnomes, fairies, goblins, etc. held dominion over aspects of nature and special territories with inhuman powers that humanity had to obey or be chastised. Nikols and Kobolds cast spells over certain ores that were thought to be copper containing but would not refine into the metal. Fairies and elves turned milk sour and teased the dog. Devils invaded the mind and caused young girls going through puberty to behave in an odd and disobedient manner. And demons were employed by senile old ladies with black cats to torture whole neighbourhoods.

There are still places in Africa and Asia where these odd imaginary creatures lurk and cause a whole neighbourhood to murder some poor human that falls into the suspicion of dealing with them. In less benighted areas the same psychopathology erupts in new disguises. Demons are now fashionable in the costumes of little grey people with huge almond shaped eyes and they no longer torture in the old manner. They are equipped with the latest scientific vivisection equipment and are especially fascinated with human reproductive organs. Nor do they arrive in a puff of smoke but have the latest interplanetary equipment at their disposal. Star trek has done its work well.

All of this nonsense stems from the paranoid conviction inherent in most of humanity that the universe is intensely fascinated with life on Earth in general with a special attention to humanity. Galileo, Newton and Einstein have ganged up on these poor victims of narcissism and clearly demonstrated that our whole solar system could vanish with not the least notice of our local galaxy, not to mention all the other billions of galaxies in this particular universe.

But human fables and old traditions are still remembered and persist. Stories of Moses prevailing upon the Red Sea to move aside are still presented as the viability of the power of speech over normally unresponsive matter and the old tale of the mill that grinds the salt of the sea on command is another example of human speech calling forth action of inanimate matter through vocal imperatives.

It has taken many years for the more intelligent and observant sector of humanity to accommodate itself to the fact that screaming at a rock or kicking and cursing at a stubborn door is accepted with placid equanimity by both rock and door and more pragmatic mechanics is required for effect on these indifferent objects. But still, it is not uncommon, even in these enlightened days, for people to curse a snowstorm or kneel in prayer at an oncoming tornado.

Therefore I am somewhat disconcerted these days when porch lights illuminate and doors spring open to welcome me with not so much as an “open sesame” in prompt. Computers type almost reasonably well on mere dictation and monkeys have caused robot arms to comply with purely mental requests. How long will it be before sidewalks bump me unwillingly into some store where the doors lock behind me to stand me before a counter where I must purchase some damned thing or another to unlock the doors and get free? All for my own good, of course, in this commercial civilization.

Those doors that I kicked, those rocks that I screamed at, are preparing their savage revenge.

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trol2006-12-19 09:38:46
great article, i feel the same

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