I just finished recording the audio book for Recapture the Rapture––three days wrapped in goose down comforters (for the sound dampening) during a freak Austin snowstorm, telling the tale I've just spent the last two years writing. It was super fun, and also really interesting.
One of the things that struck me was a real-world demonstration of what we talked about last week––how anorexic Logos, or "the Word" has been getting lately, and how hard it's become to understand the truth of what we say to each other in a flattened digital world.
Reading, and actually intoning the words in the book was much higher signal than even those same words inert on the page. I found that with the ability to inflect and emote, meaning, nuance, humor, pathos––all of it, could come alive in a way that text on a page simply can't. Word Sound Power for the win.
I'm stoked to share it with you in a couple of months when it comes out.
And hopefully, we can all get back to seeing and feeling each other, live, and in person soon!
But at the same time that Logos has been getting thinner and thinner, Time (or Chronos) has been getting thicker and thicker. And that's causing as much or even more of our grief. And if you missed last week's riff on Logos, check it here for full context––this is very much a two-parter.
If we wind back the clock again to our hunter and farmer days, what happened on any given day was likely to be pretty similar to what had happened the day before that, or the day before that, or the generation before that––all the way back into the dim mists of the past. The "bit rate" was slow and predictable. Time, in the sense of the amount information coming at us, was pretty thin.
But then, with the advent of the modern world, industrialism, telegraphs, radios, televisions and internets brought the world increasingly into our living rooms, and ramped up the frame rate exponentially.
In 1982, futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller estimated that up until 1900, human knowledge doubled approximately every century, but by 1945 it was doubling every 25 years. And by 1982, it was doubling every 12-13 months. With the advent of the internet of things, IBM recently reckoned that will then double every 12 hours.
And that's pretty much broken our brains. Not just in the sheer volume and complexity of all of that information, but in its implications.
We're becoming acutely aware of where we've come from, how we got here, what's possible, and what's vulnerable. What we're responsible for, what we're powerless over. And it's a lot to process.
Never before have teenagers had to wrestle with the very real prospect they may not inherit a world more or less like the one their parents lived in. While the rest of us now bear the burden of holding the whole Alpha and Omega shooting match in our heads––from the Big Bang all the way to potentially snuffing it, with overlapping overwhelming existential risks crashing down around our ears.
Check this fascinating piece out from MIT––a timeline of humanity's self awareness of our own vulnerabilities.
It's the most psychoactive article I've read all year.
While Rapture ideologies have been present in religious contexts, they almost always reflected an abrupt transformation of life, the universe and everything––rather than cold extinction for ours truly.
It wasn't until Haley's Comet, the development of evolutionary theory, and the invention of atomic warfare that we became acutely aware that humanity could end, but life could go on without us.
That's a very different prospect––so overwhelming in fact, that it wasn't until 1803 that the first dystopian piece of science fiction was even written––called, appropriately The Last Man. The burden of telling that tale was apparently so intense that the author tragically offed himself, immediately after printing.
This overwhelming burden of awareness is causing us to crumple in grief. And it's not just the fact that we could go the way of the Dodo.
When millions of people around the world saw the video of George Floyd, with a blue knee on his brown neck, and his words "I can't breathe," it clearly broke something in our collective hearts. (this itself is an example of thickening Chronos––we're not just aware of our own lives or village, we're aware of everyone everywhere, all at once).
Never mind the more rigorous analyses after the fact that suggested that statistically blue on black violence was less the issue than militarized police response more broadly. It was a gestalt hit of something profoundly, deeply wrong with a society that's supposed to care for everyone, and for officers to live up to the commitment "to serve and protect."
The same for the paroxysms of the MeToo movement. The outrage, the grief, of so many being abused and misused for so long has created a reactive rage. It's not especially "rational" or necessarily even strategic for the longer term goals of sexual safety and gender equality, but it is expressing a repressed anger that has been tamped down for too long.
We ache for the gap between the world as it is, and the world as it should be.
But really, what did we expect?
I mean, nobody ever promised us a rose garden.
If we're outraged now about all the injustice in the world, when was it ever more just? It's critical to appreciate this fact, otherwise we become tempted to tear down what we've got in the hopes of getting what we deserve. The way out, is through.
In reality, life on earth has been a thinly veiled knife fight from the beginning, and all our hands are bloody. Nearly ten percent of Asians share Genghis Khan's DNA. (He wasn't a Mormon polygamist either. Those numbers are the stark genetic record of war and rape.) Just thirty two generations ago, the Yale statistician Joseph Chang showed that we all shared a single common ancestor!
We're all rapists and murderers, slavers and enslaved. Conquerors and conquered. The collective blame and burden is ours, together.
And that's even more to handle. But it also gives us a path forward.
"Ain't no saint without a past, nor sinner without a future" Dolly Parton reminds us.
So as we come unstuck in time, and become overwhelmed by the enormity of being aware of past, present and future all at once, the only way to handle all of that––the pitfalls and the potentials, is to open our hearts even further to the whole great unfolding.
The agony and the ecstasy––both, forever, or at least, for as long as it takes. As Alice Walker once wrote, "my heart's been broken open so many times now, it just swings open wide now, like a suitcase."
So what's the solution to struggling through a world filled with skinny Logos, and fatty Chronos? (no body shaming, these are hyperobjects after all).
Well, it seems like we need to screw our courage to the sticking point, let our hearts open in the breaking, and hold minds clear enough in the eye of the storm to take it all in without short circuiting into tribalism or conspiracies.
In other words, the only refuge from getting completely overwhelmed by how thick Chronos is becoming, is to step out of it altogether and reside in the Deep Now, in Kairos––sacred time.
There, everything is redeemed in the unfolding. The endless struggle of humanity to find its way, to rise up from the muck and grime and blood and guts of our nasty, brutish and short, existences and craft what Charles Eisenstein calls "the better world our hearts know is possible."
We can do it, but only if we commit to playing the Long Game––and that requires rebalancing the informational overwhelm and the burden of awareness we're all crumpling under, and taking our walk on part in a much longer, more glorious war.
Speaking of walk on parts in the war, the lads of Pink Floyd probably summed up what it feels like to hold the Whole Enchilada from the POV of Kairos in their coda to Dark Side of the Moon.
It's a beautiful catechism, and worth turning up to 11 on the ol' hi-fi.
All that you touch
And all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
And all that you love
And all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
And all that you give
And all that you deal
And all that you buy
Beg, borrow or steal
And all you create
And all you destroy
And all that you do
And all that you say
And all that you eat
And everyone you meet (everyone you meet)
And all that you slight
And everyone you fight
And all that is now
And all that is gone
And all that's to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon
Always and already, the Indian philosopher Nisargadatta invites us, "the other world is this world, right seen!"
May it be so.
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