The Post-Man Letters: An Evolutionary Epic

By | 1 December 2009
However you look at it, the sense that humanity
is now facing its evolutionary moment of truth
is almost tangible. We are living through the most
exciting, challenging, and critical times in human
history – possibly the most critical time in the history
of life on earth.
–   Peter Russell, Waking Up in Time, p. ix

 

(Explanatory Note from the Editor)

 

Suburban Sin City, Christmas holidays,
early sixties. To top up my pocket money,
keep me out of mischief, dad
gets me my first job, a temporary
postman helping out with the card glut.

The many worlds concept takes
literally quantum theory's idea
that a quantum entity like an
atom can exist in many states at
once,

In the gloom of the backroom sorting office
my mentor a weird old postie, white beard,
black brush eyebrows, toes like the roots
of a Moreton Bay fig squeezed into sandals,
who never looks you in the eye and rambles.

and posits the existence of
parallel universes

One heatwave day he throws me a sack
marked RetSenAdUn, tells me,
sideways with a snigger, to sift out
the ones with senders and chuck the bigger
bloody rest in the bin out the back.

containing infinite copies of
you

Six letters and an ‘exordium',
whatever that is, with no senders
but black borders and weird stamps
from a country I'd never heard of
called Glossalia. Bin them, no way,
nor burn. Curious, took them with me

 

with different histories

when I left at Chrissie and tried
to read them on the tram. Gobbeldy gook,
neither head nor tail, some silly scam.
Chucked them in the bottom drawer
with the false base next to the Playboys

and   futures.

and forgot all about them for fifty years
till my father died the other day
of old age and boredom. Taking the old
drawers to the tip, these letters fell out.
So here they are for your bemusement.

 

Exordium & the Argument

 
We seem to be in a bit of pickle.
The old story is up shit creek
without a paddle. Every schoolchild
knows it. When we press the gas pedal,
Greenland melts. When we eat
our vegan tofu, the Amazon burns.
Old hat: bombs kill babies
even before they explode, WMD,
melting poles now our Buddha reminding us
we'd better wise up. Meanwhile,
we watch television. Time
to grow up. Into a new story. Fast.
 

Let us (since Life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expiate free o'er all this scene of Man;
A mighty maze! But not without a plan;

And here's the argument:

The joke is
this is
no joke

(only joking)

& a pretty dicey
theodicy
of sorts I s'pose.

– The Post-Man

 

Letter 1: The Wanting

 
Dear Kidman,

You ask me
how it all started.

First, in absolute silence,
a wanting.
I am the Post-Man.
I say: I'm lonely.
I want an Other.

A bit like sperm sighing
for an egg, thought
for word. So, split, fusing,
there's an awfully big
bang or low moan, and
hey presto: the post office
is the universe, the hiss
of its wanting
suffusing stars.

 

 

The universe began not with a bang
but with a low moan, building into a
roar that gave way to a deafening
hiss. And those first sounds gave
birth to the first stars. Translating
the observed frequency spectrum
directly to sound yields tones far too
low for ears to hear – some 50
octaves below middle A – but
transpose the score up all those
octaves and you can listen to it.

Since then it's all gone double,
everything married to its opposite,
downhill and up, outwards
and inwards. Light, galaxies,
gravity, dark matter, black
holes, singularities, you name it
you got it. I'm all entrained & tangled,
strings attached. Quite a dance,
lots of splits and funny moves.
Hold your hats.

As for volume, the intensity of the
variations corresponds to about 110
decibels, as loud as a rock concert.

Hear it for yourself at www.astro.virginia.edu/~dmw8f
under ‘AAS presentation'.

Lila, the Vedantists called it, or her.
Play. Trying it on. A million
zillion masks, charming,
terrifying, depending
on the velocity of your mind space.
I become a love letter.

Probably the cosmic dark matter is a
cocktail of many things, some of them
as yet undreamed of. Whatever it
may be, it seems that ordinary atoms
of the sort we are made of represent
a tiny impurity in a universe
dominated by Something Else.

Anyway, eventually I'm a blue planet
curdled out of a very milky galaxy
and there we are, almost.

 

Dr Lewis said the gas had taken so
long to find because it was so thin –
close to what would normally be
considered a vacuum. He speculated
that dark matter could become a
resource of the future. ‘It will be an
exciting day when we can say what it
is. It may seem esoteric today, but in
50 years it may have uses we never
thought of.'

Give or take a few billion
eons of shifting star dust
and the unknowable
magic of water and I'm the first
little critters we call bacteria,
the fellows who still direct our cells
and pleasure our stomachs
when we're nice.

 

In theory, inflation could still be
happening, with bubbles of space-
time suddenly blowing up to create
new pocket universes.

You know the rest:
bacteria eat up the CO2, fart out
the oxygen and turn into plants
who breathe out even more oxygen
and help fish land and go four-legged,
apes and then, alarums,
I, Post-Man, is us.

 

Approximately 45 billion light years
away lies the cosmic horizon, the
ultimate barrier because light
beyond it has not had time to reach
us. So here we are, stuck inside our
patch of universe, wondering what
lies beyond and resigned to the fact
we may never know. The best we can
hope for, through some combination
of luck and vigilance, is to spot a
crack in the structure of things, a
possible window to that hidden place
beyond the edge of the universe. Now
Sasha Kashlinsky believes he has
stumbled upon such a window.

The whole shabam drawn by desire,
attraction, fire for an other, the gravity
of Love, delusion, mirror tricks.
What a way to go.
As we're doing, and always have been.
What a wanting.

If universes really are crashing into
us willy-nilly, should we be worrying
about a fatal collision? ‘It's true,
there is always a chance we will be
hit by a lethal bubble, which would
come without warning,' says
Vilenkin. ‘But since we'll just
evaporate in an instant and there's
nothing we can do to stop it, there's
really no use in worrying.'

Yours, truly,

The Post-Man

 

Letter 2: About Time Two

 
Dear Kidman,

It's about time
for some Time.
Ding dong. Tick tock.
So the Post-Man falls some more.
For us, again, for chrissake.

No longer can we think lazily of time
as a constantly flowing, uniform
background entity. Optical clocks
confront us with the difficult realities
of general relativity.

Think Eden without God:

An ape looks up.
The spine straightens a little.
It looks at its hands.
It looks at that stick.
It looks at this fruit.
It looks at its hands.

In your home, time is not the same
upstairs as downstairs.

Its fattest finger twitches, adjusts
in opposition to the rest.
A mind leaps across light years
between now and: possible.

A gesture, imagined,
collapses stick, hand, mind
into a marriage that lifts him
for ever out of instinct into head.

Soon, if you were to have one of the
future ultra-precise atomic-
synchronised clocks in your home,
the time it told would be different
according to how far up the wall it
was fixed.

Urge slowly segues into word
like star dust into plant into animal.
His mouth and tongue begin to dance
more deftly around vague feelings
in his bones. Suddenly: breath is shaped
into the first wet clay of ‘stick',
‘fruit', ‘get', ‘eat', ‘me'.

GPS already takes into account such
effects, which (assuming you spend
most of your life upright) cause your
scalp to age a few nanoseconds a
year more than the soles of your feet.

Horizons are collapsing,
widening like a new savannah,
desire pushing his mind
into language, tool, poetry.

He has imagined. Then does it.
The sexy poem that is ‘fruit'
is in his hand, that digital outgrowth
of his budding mind
attuned to sugar, pleasure,
bacteria happy in his stomach's walls.
Hunger stilled, he sees the world is good.
Song arises, wild celebration
of all that is, Mother. Eve.

 

By tossing caesium clouds upwards
over the course of a day and
averaging the resulting frequency,
the most accurate caesium-fountain
clocks can now keep time with an
accuracy of 1 second in around 80
million years.

Yet no gain, no pain.
Imagining can't stop at angling fruit.
Now Post-Man dreams of death.
The outside is like a skin
he's one with but must shed
like a snake when his time has come,
for Time has come.
(As the walrus said.)

In 1967, the base unit of time was
officially redefined as ‘the duration
of 9,192,631,770 periods of the
radiation corresponding to the
transition between the two hyperfine
levels of the ground state of the
caesium-133 atom'.

With time and possibility
the world livens up with dream
trees, rocks, rivers, mountains
all teeming with spirits that may help
or kill, like witches, stepmothers,
infanticidal parents in the night.
This first oneness is also paranoia.
Abracadabra.

Does it make a difference if a clock
drifts by 1 second in a billion years
or in 10 billion? Yes, says Gill. For
one thing, a clock accurate to a
second over the age of the cosmos
would allow tests of whether physical
laws and constants have varied over
the universe's history.

When you're on your knees
with helplessness, the mountains
booming, the earth cracking open,
lightning throwing atom bombs,
your woman, child dying without cause,
the night alive with spine-chilling sounds,
your dreams and the world itself
one river, one law
 

‘If they have, that would be pretty
Earth-shattering,' says Gill.

all Post-Man can now do is rock
like a foetus and hope Mum hears,
pray, hum, beat a drum, chant,
sacrifice four- or two-legged ones,
invent religion and some gods,
start singing the poems his shamans sing
when they do battle with the unknown
that is without and in.

Time, gentlemen, please.

Time to be
moving on.

Yours, truly,

The Post-Man.

 

Letter 3: The Emerging

 
Dear Kidman,

One fine day in Mesopotamia,
the Indus Valley, the Nile Delta,
history begins like a textbook.
Maybe with an abacus, writing tablet,
potter's wheel, smithy's forge, baskets
or a perhaps whip: all these proud insignia
of differentiation and class. Post-Man
is now really rolling with his roles.

To be a scientist you have to be an
optimist. We've tied down a huge
proportion of the universe, from
today and the near future right back
to a fraction of a second after the big
bang 13.7 billion years ago.

Definitely with patriarchs lording it
like lions, peacocks over the women,
kids, granaries, shopping lists.
Village big men crown themselves
into kinghood, set up their state
protection rackets, put their shaky
egos and erections still fearful
of big old Mama's monster teeth
into stone, swords, empires,
texts they think will last.

Of course people want to go back
further – past God if you like.

Traders find coins sexier than
pots or produce, and the mind
gets used to abstracting like money
from the feel and taste of things.

My extreme optimism is that the
universe can ultimately be reduced to
something simple. It has been a
powerful business model so far.

You can't eat money but
you can think like it: no more
bogeymen in the bushes, but
first principles like air, water, fire,
philosophy, finally no more gods
but One Principle or God above it all
a tyrant like the belief in gold, reason
limitless, omnipotent, invisible
caller of the all-dance tune.

We have to live for a kind of
performance art, to get civilisation
as far and as high as we can before it
disappears – unless we discover
some kind of Douglas Adams-esque
escape hatch such as a portal to
extra dimensions.

Post-Man's now a spark of brainy ego
emerging from the dark Mothers,
Medusas, Gorgons, dragons
you have to kill like Heracles,
Perseus, Theseus or Saint George,
like the night-conquering sun
this little ego puts on its shields
and crowns, greedy for spotlight
and plunder.

 

You soon realise that humans will
easily live to 1000 once we've fixed
the errors in DNA replication. But

Only in his dreams
does he confess: Big Man
is still dancing for Big Mama,
but boy, those pyramids look good
and love of light and wisdom is love
of Sophia, sweet dark Other in the night.

 

we have  to guard against dark ages

Yours, truly,

The Post-Man

 

Letter 4: Things in the Saddle

 
Dear Kidman,

Now it's now, the time we're still in:
capitalism, industry, doing over nature
till she squeals for the greater good
and double entries in our fat accounts.

Outstanding financial derivatives
contracts relating to securitised
debt obligations and credit
default swaps are a major worry.

Post-Man is getting tricky. Why not,
he thinks, let things men made
rule men? Could be fun. It's a potential
that must be explored. Let my greed reign.

These financial instruments are
exceedingly complicated, and
traded on the unregulated over-
the-counter market with no
transparency or disclosure or
counter-parties.

Money becomes a vampire on work
that sucks out life so it can grow
and turn the world into its dead self.
Eaten, people sell themselves to eat.
The world becomes a factory,
all life a proletariat violated
by men who know no dance
but productivity and profit.

The credit crisis was precipitated
when counter-parties failed to
meet insurance covers, setting off
a chain of losses in the banking
and investment world.

And yes, a double entry this bourgeois
sorcerer I also am, powerless to prevent
the powers I set loose:

universal trade breeds universal laws,
greed spawns human rights, science,
printing, the total doubt of reason
that dissolves the flat-earth eye,
shakes the shaky thrones of dogma
and oppression. No big daddies
of tribe, religion, nation
can withstand the limitless freedom
of those young bourgeois twins
Money & Reason.

 

Nonetheless, full details of
outstanding financial
derivatives are not publicly
known and apprehension
persists of another round of
plunging asset values, given the
potential for counter-parties to
fail.

The Post-Man is now too
a huge-hand prole
who wants to read his own Bible
and finds Jesus is a carpenter
who upturned traders' tables
in the temple, no gentry, kings
around when old Adam delved
and Evie spun, old future Eden
the commons of his unenclosed right,
all equal under God and money
that know no race, class, creed,
gender, communism implied
in holy text and basest coin:
the radical abstraction of the brotherhood
of man jingles in the purses, vaults,
banks, scholars' and sectarian tracts
so ferociously guarded from the poor.

All this would suggest distasteful
financial adjustments are
inevitable, possibly leading to
social upheaval, as well as a
decline in the prestige of the
nation.

Will they be up to it though?
Are they ready, strong enough
to see that they are me?
Can they cope
with such singularity?

Yours, truly,

The Post-Man

 

Letter 5: A Singular Spike

 
Dear Kidman,

Wider and wider
faster and faster,
even the rate
of acceleration
accelerating.

 

If you plot the curve of this sort
of acceleration, you find that the
curve soon approaches the
vertical.

Post-Man is getting dizzy.
Everything madly peaking,
all the old debts
being called,
whirlwinds reaped.
Limitless more
hits the wall
of my other, nature's enough.

 

In other words, the rate of
change tends toward the
infinitely rapid. Mathematicians
call such a point a singularity.

Quantity explodes.
Now is so fast
it speeds into future
bending into past
like some dream
always there
beneath the dream
they call
real.

 

Whether or not humanity actually
reaches this point of unimaginably
rapid progress I shall leave for the
moment.

Utopia is there
for the asking,
global networkman
walks the streets
beyond old warring
tribes, old selves
uplifted
into now.
Remembering the future
past, ice flows, fire
hardens into stars,
the post-man
arrives into ourselves
like a first breath
into the lungs
of a mountain morning
and the world is new
as we understand our
ancient futurity
becoming now

 

What is clear is that a trend that
has been going on for billions of
years is going to come to an end
– and probably fairly soon.

Yours Truly,

The Post-Man

 

Letter 6: Now No Mountain

 
Dear Post-Man,

Now there is no mountain.
Hey presto.

Back to square one.
Now, ever
beyond square, circle.

The movement
of the universe
motionless, the storm
the eye, the teacup
one.

Evolution inside
now-ever,
infinite grain

all there
already

everyday joke
master game,
timeless

as the heart
singing in the bird

the light word
on the water's paper

the watery word
in the paper light

fading eternally
into birth and death

and dream …

Yours in truth,

The Postman

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