The Cave Pt II

Phraya-Nakhon-cave-Thailand

Convex walls, rising up through the dim, blue light. Mosaics created from scraps of failed crafts plastered the sides of the temple, while the front was embellished with reflective metals mined from the cave’s precious foundations.

The benefit of mining, one scholar once explained, was that their very home expanded over time as they became richer in commodities. Everything had been discovered to have a use; rocks for weapons, farming and building; metals for decoration and culinary experiences; soil for gardening and glow worm breeding – which had proved to be outstandingly unsuccessful.

Many believed Alaff was displeased by the idea of exploiting the glow worms to such a degree. The intellects tried to teach that it was simply the altitude the worms were not comfortable with mating in, but nobody was honestly quite sure. Either way, the intellects assured they were making progress on ways to simulate higher altitudes. In the mean time, the village had to stick to the rapidly declining stock of roof-worms, while accepting that their life would be lived in darker and darker conditions.

When it came to food, the village thrived quite comfortably on a wide diet involving largely meat and fish, but many delicious fruits and vegetables managed to survive without the sun. It was noted years before that the inexplicable glow emanating from somewhere around the centre of the cave seemed to boost crop yields, and there was in fact a specific ratio described by mathematicians on exactly how much energy appeared to exude from a particular level of brightness. The glow was steady and somewhat limited in distance, extending just a few hectares from the brightest point, but it was enough.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the temple was surrounded by crop fields, tightly packed and blooming taller every year as plant adaptation allowed for more energy efficiency and tolerance for short roots. As population increased, the more rugged plants were cast to the outer edges and given more space to grow. with growing population, farms and ground space, the only resource on the decline was light.

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Alaff was in a grumpy mood. Some people had sinned, and although it was none of Alaff’s business really, Alaff felt disrespected. The worms Alaff placed among Alaff were a one-time offer to show Alaff’s altruistic backbone. Alaff did not expect the people to start utilizing ‘science’ in order to basically learn to take Alaff’s kindness for granted.

Alaff wanted to do something about it, but Alaff was in a good place right now, just like everybody else. At the very least, Alaff had no intention on replenishing the clearly dying breed of worms. They could figure it out themselves. Alaff didn’t require lighting as the humans did, Alaff created Alaff’s own, blue-lit gas after indulging in Alaff’s favourite offerings from the people. The glow would linger for millenia if need be, but the humans were gracious and kind, so Alaff would usually allow a steady stream to float down, directly below Alaff’s usual upper-rung hangout, above the temple where Alaff felt most at home. Alaff was unaware that humans could even sense Alaff’s light, let alone utilise it.

——–

As time went by, crops were yielded, homes were expanded and families were enlarged. Darkness came to be at a rate rapidly enough to think about, but subtly enough to ignore the smart people’s desire to do something about it.

Doing things about stuff seemed like effort for most people, and so in a world of plenty, doing stuff was the black sheep. It was better to live in the shade and work on how to get more shiny metal.

Some architects argued that reflecting the dimmer light with shiny metals could enhance the overall glow of the colony, even reaching those far-off corners. Other figures of importance pushed the increasingly popular idea that figures of lesser importance should move into the darker areas, leaving the brightness to the brighter minds.

Hierarchy was on the return.

——–

To be continued…

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The Cave Pt. I

Concave walls, towering impossibly into the miraculous light above. Their very peaks lurched over, acquainting each other in the middle.

Below this natural dome, darkness ruled. The light above served as a beautiful monument of nature, and increasingly frequently, a delicacy. But when it came to lighting their way, the people had to consider other methods.

Using a lightly sewn wicker-style jar, the glow worms were transported around the village until their light died out, at which point they were swiftly thrown into the nearest stew.

Getting the glow worms in the first place was an achievement to behold. A member of the village would, over time, carve a ladder into the walls straight to the top. The higher the rungs climbed, the more hooked the carvings became, allowing a person to grab and hang from the acutely angled tops with relative ease.

Of course, anyone who has ever tried such rock climbing would know it to be easier said than done. Those permitted to climb for glow worms were trained and tested, ritualised and awarded the rite to the right to the harvest.

Money and trade were not significant characteristics of this secret underworld civilisation; all commodities were considered to be in abundance, and so all could take whatever they wished – if they had the know-how.

As centuries passed, knowledge spread exponentially. There were once rules to prevent this progression in a desperate attempt for hierarchy, but in a world of plenty, hierarchy is the black sheep.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before every wishful thinker was clambering up the rungs, higher and higher until they either fell to their deaths, exhaustively climbed back down or achieved their goal of a handful of worms.

But worms could only breed so quickly. They rapidly became scarce, the pseudo stars above started to fall into darkness.

—-

Below, hues of dark blue penetrated the central setting from an unknown source. This led to the village’s natural inclination to a higher power, and they had thus constructed a majestic temple directly in this navy glimmer.

The walls of the temple opposed the cave. Slightly convex, they could be slotted perfectly into the segment of cave wall they were facing. This slightly eggshell design was built to withstand forces believed to be pressed upon the people by a vengeful God – the same God that had forced them to retreat into the cave in the first place and now struggle eternally with ventures into the outside world in case He had some free time to slaughter the slightest sinners.

The villagers hadn’t a name for Him, but they had a name for their protector, Alaff who, to be honest, didn’t do a great deal. Any day that went by without incident was generally assigned to Alaff and the village pretty much settled with that.

Exceptionally, praise for the plethora of food and abundance of water in such a drab, dark location was given to the people, the workers, the architects. Those who sat down and furrowed their brows until something sustainable came to mind. Needless to say, Glow worms were also praised for their inevitable involvement.

——–

Alaff looked down on the villagers from some disused upper rung, idly ‘keeping watch’, protecting them all from whatever they pleased. They didn’t really expect much of Alaff, so it never did any harm to take a break here and there.

Alaff knew the other guy was weak. The very thought of entering The Cave spelled certain doom, because Alaff was bigger and more suited to the darkness. Should He threaten The Cave and cause the lights to go out, Alaff will assure a final breath from Him.

Alaff knew he was an effective bluff. And that was more than enough. 

——–

To be continued…

Perspectives

Perspectives have surprised me at many corners, and it frequently demonstrates to me that our minds are simply not well wired for the things we discover via outer-mind processes such as maths, science and history. The problem that arises, is that we assign the problem of the unknown to the things we can know; fear and paranoia. To me, it’s apparent that this is exactly where religion and conspiracy thrives. But that’s for another post.

We cannot possibly know with our brain alone what happened 1,000 years ago. We cannot possibly see the stars behind the sheet we see in the sky, nor can we know what those dots we do see actually are, without science. We cannot fathom almost anything of the modern era without maths propping us up.

It’s really fascinating, and perspectives have given me a new fascination in history.

I was recently discussing and being corrected on some ideas of Russian/Ukranian history including Normans, Vikings, Germans and Mongolians, and to me it was fascinating that the area of Crimea has been interwoven by so many different battles of culture over the centuries, ones you don’t even remotely relate to that area. 

When you see the spread of the Mongol empire, for example, you just have to sit there in awe. You know that massive land called China? Mongol Empire. You know all of those countries ending in -stan that dominate the Middle East? Mongols. You know the entire southern half of Russia, and Eastern Europe? Mongol Empire. 

Talking of perspective, the Roman Empire, an empire we consider one of the greatest due to its duration, at its largest covered a mere 6.5 million square kilometers, or 4.3% of the earth’s land. The Mongols in comparison total a monstrous 22.29% of the world’s land, second only slightly to the British empire at 22.43%, or 33 million square kilometers. 

Over 1/5th of the world, dominated by Mongols at a point in time, and I wasn’t even aware of any mongol empire until some self study occurred a few years ago. It’s surprising something like this just wasn’t mentioned in school (perhaps in later, choice courses of history, prepping for university, who knows).

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Here are some more unreal perspectives:

  • The British Empire was at its Greatest when my granddad was alive and walking around, accounting for 20% of the entire world’s population.
  • To the Romans, Egypt was as Ancient as we consider the Romans ancient to us. We are taught that the Romans came into Egypt and changed things around, and so we (or at least I) get this kind of overlapping feeling that the two ages were at least in the same general area of history, but realistically the Egyptians were just… Before. Before everything. By a long shot.

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  • Except dinosaurs. However, the Stegosaurus was even more ancient to the T-rex than the T-rex is to humans, The T-rex being 65 million years before us, and the Stegosaurus being over 80 million years before the T-rex. Again, school and education from media has shown us that these two walked around hand in hand, had their fair share of rival battles of attack and defense and died together somewhat romantically in a burst of fire. We clearly had no idea.
  • We all know there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies, but what people don’t realise is the sheer size difference in these galaxies. The IC 1101 galaxy is up to 5–6 million light-years across, compared to the milky way, at around 100,000 light years across. That’s 50 times the disc size of our entire galaxy.

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  • A Great Basin bristle-cone pine in North America is a 5,000 year old tree. This single tree, sitting on its roots, unmoved, undisturbed, has watched all the aforementioned empires come and go, rise and fall. It was there to see the Egyptians build their pyramids and it remains today. In fact, its leaves are almost twice my age, at over 4 decades a piece.

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  • There are 10 times more bacteria in you than there are actual cells. That means you, as a person, are a fraction of what you think you are. 90-odd percent of you is foreign species, living rent free off your already 70% water existence. In fact, over 4,000 species of bacteria were found in a few swabs of belly buttons. Over 1,000 of which were likely new, undiscovered species.
  • If the world’s population was equally distributed with a density of New York, the whole 7.1 billion of us could fit into Texas, leaving the rest of the world to vegetate. 
  • Voyager 1 has taken 40 years to leave our solar system at 62,000 kilometers/hour, faster than anything we can even imagine on earth. It will still take another 300 years to reach the Oort cloud – the very outer edge of our solar system, and a further 30,000 years to actually get through it. In 40,000 years, it will reach a mere 1.6 light years from the next star, Gliese 445. If you want to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, it will take a mere 73,000 years at this speed. Unfortunately it’s going the wrong way, so we’re gonna be waiting, probably longer than the material of the satellite can exist without decaying, before reaching anything other than blackness.

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  • The famous Black Death Pandemic was minuscule, if you find the right comparison. Influenza, in a year of The Great War killed more people – up to 40 million – than in five years of the black death – around 25 million.
  • This image is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, created in 2012. An enhanced and 20% further zoomed update (using 10 years of previous images) of the Ultra-deep field photo, it shows over 15,000 galaxies across an area of the sky barely 10% the area of a full moon.

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I’m not going to make this become a listical or infographic, I think that’s enough to get my point across. To be honest, The last few months I’ve come across such perspectives magnitudes more ridiculous than any of these may come across as. You can find them all the time if you spend some time listening, watching various documentaries/articles/podcasts. 

We sit here so sure of ourselves all the time. Those slightly more bored than others realise that we are tiny and insignificant when watching Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ scene, but really, we have no clue. We sit here acknowledging our hopelessness but somehow, even that just fails to grasp the comparative ineptitude of our minds. It’s not just about size we can’t comprehend, it’s age, variation, numbers, diversity, cause and effect, practically every corner of our life is inconceivable, and we just do our best to live in the little cracks in the walls, away from the light, concerned it will fry us to a crisp of utter confusion.

Awesome.

 

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