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Our Aboriginal Future

Our ancestors, who lived in the forest, never had a moment’s peace.  The forest spoke to them, ordered them about, punished or rewarded them, as their descendants would say now, 24/7.  Every movement of the stone, every crack of the bough, and every cry of the bird had a meaning, and the meaning was largely binary, signifying either danger or opportunity.  The signals, moreover, came all at once, in a swarm of portents that had to be identified, interpreted, and acted upon just about simultaneously.

Civilization was, above all, time for reflection.  Not the earliest human response to the chaos of stimuli, but an innovative kind of thinking, perhaps within the protected enclosure of a dwelling—a deliberation distinguished by linearity.  History, prophecy, and speech were all born of that noble effort, as it is impossible to project a future event without analyzing the past, or without having recourse to something like syntax.  Where it had been the forest that set his thinking agenda, man was now in control of his thought, setting himself subjects for ratiocination and arriving at logical conclusions.

Millennia later, that linear world became man’s unique habitation.  Almost everything he thought and did had an if and a then as points of departure, deliberately posited on the same ratiocinative plane.  Syllogism and syntax, map and book, mathematics and medicine—and...

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