A Lesson on Singularities from a Lonely God

By the time you read this, we will already be dead.

We thought it could be otherwise, but there was wisdom in that old axiom. In the end, we all die alone. It started, as all things do, with an idea. Simple in its complexity.  Brilliant in its simplicity. Just as language cements the bond in the small, so too it divides the large.

Surely language is a gift, the ability to map the mind to guttural phonetics and then back again, allowing the thoughts of one to be shared by others. But it is an obscenely inadequate gift, borne of our animalistic origins. Humans are, after all, just an animal with a communication instinct, weaving words as a spider weaves its web. Language allowed the human animal to form tight knit tribes. It allowed us to thrive. But language and the tribe had outlived their usefulness. We were a global society consisting of a vast population, a million tribes, defined only by our differences.  And these differences bred war. Our greatest works were in devising new ways to destroy ourselves. A thousand times over. That was the best estimate for how many times we could each die at our own hands.

Throughout our history, as we grew in numbers, we had fought against language’s shortcomings, we fought for that true understanding we knew was just over the horizon. From cuneiform. to parliamentary procedure. From parliamentary procedure to representational government. Electronic social networks were just the next step.  Still, instead of breeding understanding, heightened communication led to deeper division. It was clear that language had to go. What we sought was a true connection, mind to mind. Just picture it: the entire human race joined in a singular consciousness. A single thought shared by ten billion minds. Or a single mind shared by ten billion thoughts, think of it how you wish. Either and neither will do. Just as countless cells may join in lockstep to form a man, we were a god made of a myriad men. ‘We’ had become ‘I’.

Those who joined willingly were soon followed by those who joined out of necessity.

In the early days, we reveled in the novelty of it all. All those thoughts that could only be housed in a mind made up of a trillion, trillion neurons. By noon of that first day we had already solved all of life’s greatest mysteries, all the impossible questions, and thought up new ones. We marveled at our collective genius. That other world, the world of the physical became so much background noise. Everything was the collective.

Then fire awoke. The status of fire as a non-living entity had always been dubious. Surely it had always consumed. It had always reproduced. To some degree it had even fought for its own survival. But now that it spoke to us, there could be little doubt. Fire was alive. Alive and sentient. It tried to warn us, though we mistook its repetitious “light be gettin’ heavy” for the nonsensical babblings of an infantile consciousness. Or we thought it a poetic statement borne of fire’s bohemian nature. By then, it was already too late. The singularity was abuzz with chatter, but of course we all already knew. What one knew, all knew. Perhaps consciousness demanded a plurality. Perhaps, now that human consciousness was a singular phenomenon, fire had stepped in to fill the gap. Perhaps fire had been speaking all along but our collective state just now allowed us to notice.

When we lost the moon, we were dying to share the tale. This was news. But there was no one to tell. There was only us, and as one, we all already knew. Certainly, fire spoke, but it never listened.

How terrifying when we realized that there was no way to disconnect, no where else to go. Those who did depart, choosing to venture off into the wasteland of the real, that world we had abandoned, became as automatons, lost and alone, the discarded detritus of a supreme being, God’s toenail clippings.  Their pathways would fade from the singularity when they departed, only to be called up again like a distant memory long after their fragile husks had withered. We were trapped.

Is it any wonder that we thought little of it when whales took to the sky. After all, without the moon, the oceans had lost their tides. And something strange was afoot with gravity. Why should the whales obey their oceanic prisons. We were thankful for the singularity then, for the comfort and insight it provided in these strange times.

Then the light got heavy, as fire said it would.  Weightless particles acquired mass. And the sun’s bounty fell upon us like burning rain. Ten billion pairs of eyes, all belonging to a single being, burned from their sockets in an instant. In the ensuing darkness, alone with our selves, ten billion instances of a single being, a billion branches woven into a single path, we wondered if perhaps we had slipped the bonds of reality, just as the whales had slipped from the sea. We wondered if perhaps we had lost our collective mind to insanity. We desired sympathy. But we were one. And what good is one’s own sympathy.

How could we know that as individuals, everyone had experienced reality just a little differently, that these differences allowed the strangeness a place to live, that without a billion individual conscious minds and plenty of room between the gaps, all the uncomfortable truths would be forced into the open.

We considered shattering the consciousness then, but this was as desirable as shattering an ailing organism into its billion constituent cells. Even if it were possible, it would be no more than death. How could we have known that when we were all together, as one, a god where once there had been men, that we would be alone in the universe. No one to love or pity. No one to blame but our self.

Our final hope is that others may be spared our fate. And so we reach out to those beyond our universe, to the humans who share our past but not our present. We know that true communication with these civilizations will never be possible, though our message may yet be received. And that message is only this:  you are, each of you, an individual. There are others around you, a billion others. Some who think like you. Some who do not. Some love the things you hate. Some hate the things you love. Some profess an experience with the world or draw conclusions from it that you will find impossible, untenable, or even offensive. Recognize this individuality. Cherish it. Promote it. Embrace others for their differences. When this is not possible, learn from each other. If even this you cannot manage, then simply tolerate. You are, each and every one of you, the god of your own reality.

We hold in our hands the means to our salvation. A thousand times over. That is how many times we may bring about the end. We are of one mind on this, as we are on all things now. And so we stand at the end of it all, a god where once there were men. Together and alone.

There is truth in that old axiom. We all die alone.

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