Sunday, September 18, 2005

Strange Geometries, Ray Bradbury and Evolution

I’ve been waking before dawn, for reasons unknown, to lie there in the darkness and think about all sorts of things. Often, if I forget to check myself, I begin to worry about things I have no control over. This morning seemed no different. The sheets were cool, the ceiling fan was running at helicopter speed, the room was mostly shadows and outlines. I lay there and decided I was going to stop being an artist.
It was an unexpected decision, and a surprisingly unemotional one. I decided I was tired of it. I’d finish up my commitments and start something new. Get a grant, go back to school. I felt calm, almost numb.
Then I woke up. The sheets were cool, the ceiling fan was running at helicopter speed, the room was mostly shadows and outlines.
And, this was the second time in two weeks I’d had this dream.

It doesn’t make sense to me, this particular dream, because in my waking hours I believe I’m just beginning to understand what kinds of images I want to create, just now perfecting the skills I need to make them, and have no intentions of quitting art. I’ve had intense, vividly detailed dreams since I can remember. Some so frightening I wake gasping, some so heartbreaking, I wake sobbing, and some so lucid I can affect them from within, or wake myself, or cry out to be awakened.

There have been a number of recurring themes in my dreaming life, but the one at the top of my long-term list is that of strange geometries. I have explored impossible spaces, entered all manner of structures that were larger inside than out, held tiny cubes between my fingers that I could climb into and turn inside out, walked on ceilings, cared for creatures that were one minute protected in my palm and the next surrounding me. Often I wake with tatters of understanding, a nagging illusion that some answer is lurking in my periphery, winking out of sight as my room comes into focus.

Like many others, I believe the next step in humanity’s evolution could well be one of perception. This is what fuels my constant expedition. The hard part is the documentation. One, upon exploring the mind, can collect strange artifacts. It’s hard to know what is valuable and what is not. The best approach is to keep good notes, without conjecture and hope that something might be gleaned eventually.

I really haven’t wanted to talk about evolution, because there is so much to say and so many who can say it better, but DAMN. It is massively disturbing that there are many people who can’t make the short leap from acknowledging heredity to acknowledging the evolutionary process. I met someone who rejects the concept of evolution yet owns a pure-bred Persian cat. As in a cat with artificially selected genetic traits. There are so few dots to connect, but she can’t let herself draw the picture.
There are so many things wrong with these scenarios. But one that stands out urgently is that we must protect the freedom of our teachers to teach this subject. And, we have to take responsibility for our educations, and that of our children.

That said, I hope you saw The Daily Show’s Evolution Schmevolution week. If not, find someone who taped or T-Vo’d it. It’s “like orange juice”. It’s ”good for you”.

Ray Bradbury is much on my mind today. Would you consider yourself to have done a good deed if you introduced Fahrenheit 451 to someone unfamiliar with the work? Have you thought about freedom of speech today? Remember those bumper stickers “Have you Hugged your Kid Today?” How about we come up with a new one? “Have you Defended Your Kid’s Education Today?”
Lots of you guys are writers. What have you got?

Strange geometries, Ray Bradbury and the Theory of Evolution. Now there’s some dreaming matter. I’m thinking, if I wake at five in the morning, I’ll get out of bed and take a brisk walk.



david golbitz said...

I've always been partial to "Ignorance isn't bliss, it's laziness," which I think I coined many, many years ago. I don't remember hearing it anywhere else.

Anyway, I think that'd be really neat on t-shirts and bumper stickers and a billboard across the street from the White House.

jordan's mom said...

Good post today. Early morning waking and vivid, bizarro dreams are the subjects of many a fascinating conversation......

...and, if you stop making art, I'll have to hobble from Maryland to California just to whop you upside the head.

yr pal

Carl V. Anderson said...

My stomach dropped when I read the opening lines of this post indicating that you were going to quit making art. Thankfully it was only a nightmare, er, dream.

ravyn said...

Don't worry Carl. i won't let her quit. i'd be on a plane to CA so fast she wouldn't know what hit her til after. WHAP!!!

K said...

Dear me, this is too confusing this early in the morning. Now there are two Ks posting here (and now I look, one is a librarian and the other is an archivist. How odd.)

I'm the Scottish, archivist one who comments a lot, by the way.

Just like Lisa, I dreamt this morning that I was awake. And late for work and unable somehow to get myself together to go. Lately, my dreams have involved lost items, scheduling clashes, frustration. I don't know why, but I'd like it to stop.

I agree with the other K about the Evolution Question. Looking at it from here in Britain, the intelligent-designers ought to be on a hiding to nothing. Here most people are either non-theists (and believe in evolution) or don't feel that a belief in evolution is inconsistent with religious faith. So we don't give much thought to the question of teaching evolution. We just do it. We think it's a great shame that teachers who want to teach it can be prevented from doing so in some US states, and that so many children are not being given a proper scientific education.

On the other hand, there is a philanthropist who wants to start a couple of private schools where evolution will not be taught (or not promoted over creationism) so perhaps we won't entirely escape... And our education system is hardly perfect, so perhaps we should look to the beam in our own eye.