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Stephen Hawking Is An Idiot

May 1, 2015

There, I said it. That felt good. I mean, I’m sure Hawking’s got game on other fields, but his comments last week betray a serious misunderstanding of how things work in the real world. Hawking took the trouble to beam his hologram half way across the world to say: “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.” Hawking’s dream is just another iteration of the post-adolescent Libertarian, transcendist, escapist fantasy, a trope as old as Icarus.icarus Which “fragile planet” is Hawking referring to? The one that founded and supported life here for the past 3ish billion years? The one that took the trouble to grow us right out of its womb and in whose breath we breath and at whose breast we nurse? The one that has tolerated (at least for now) the exponential population and pollution growth of the past two hundred years? The one, that given even half a chance, heals and regenerates itself spontaneously? The one that when cared for and protected properly, produces a superabundance of life and resources? The one that autotelically adapts, generates, recombines and creates life?

Our destruction of this Earth, has NOTHING to do with its supposed fragility and everything to do with our ignorance. It is largely a result of what might be best understood as a developmental crisis. In the childhood and adolescence of the human beings as a species, which (not coincidentally) is just now ending, it didn’t matter that much how we treated anything. Worst case scenario was a local degradation, and well, one could always go West, young man. There is no West anymore…”Huck, honey, there’s no territory to light out to…” (Marge Piercy) We are living, and hopefully will continue to live, through the time in which humans quit grabbing the candy in front of them and smashing their little toddler friends to the mat, and mature into a deeply and commonly held understanding that we are responsible for tending the substrates of life: soil, air, and water. Duh, right?

Space is the new West, and the place where our fantasy of liberation from the heavy, dying body and its surrounding sticky, womb matrix (from the Latin: mater, Mother) web of life will be complete. There, in the clear, cold, abiotic ether, we will arise in fire and spirit and be shed of our mortal coils. And party with harps and angels and streets of gold and stuff. Or 72 virgins. (Can I put in my order from some experienced ladies on the other side? And honestly, don’t get me wrong, I’m all man, and am quite fond of women, but 72 seems like a lot.)

Please help me understand how a species that manages to shit its own nest- on a world where shit is literally fertilizer, is going to make it good on some barren lifeless rock, huddled under a glass dome watching kitty videos while munching InsectaBrix(tm)?  Because “in heaven, as on earth, the dishes must be done.” (Piercy, again.)

We have work to do. Here. In ourselves. With each other. With our world. Space is nice, I’m sure we learn useful things there, touch the face of God, etc. It helps us see ourselves more clearly. Let’s do space a little. Let’s do us and earth, a lot. What we need is here.

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

-Wendell Berry


  1. jesse permalink

    *14 billion years is not correct. Waaay off actually. It should be a smaller number than the age of the earth, approx 4.5 billion years


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Ceremony Matters

The Official Blog of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute


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