I posted a poem yesterday: The shape of humanity. (It’s the first time I’ve ever tried a ‘butterfly cinquain’.) I don’t know what you take away from that poem — if anything — but I wanted to try to explain what I meant by it.
So, here goes:
Imagine the first humans on our planet, Earth. As our current understanding is, we came out of Africa. Now, think of time as being something that you can view from outside: watch what happens to those first people. The females split into multiple parts; each child becomes an extension of the original being. And then the children live their lives, and the female ones of them project other extensions of themselves into the future. All the while, we as a species are expanding our boundaries… we move out of Africa and into the wider world.
Remember that you’re looking at this from outside time. So what you’re seeing is a kind of ‘worm’, moving through time and, every now and then, splitting. Some branches of this worm will wither and die (“shrivelling termini“) — this is a perfectly normal part of life — but the main branches continue.
And, over time, we expand to cover much of the planet. Not all of it, granted: some parts of the world are still wilderness, and untouched by human hand (but how long will that last?). And the worm continues to grow, branch, and expand. A few branches reach out into space. Two dozen tendrils extend around the Moon, and, of those, half touch it.
Again, I remind you that our perspective is outside of time. We have this mass of humanity seething and roiling on — and off — the planet. Now: take a snapshot of this four-dimensional worm, reaching from the past to the present. What kind of picture do we have?
(I’ve ended it on a positive note — ‘the worm endures’ — but I have no crystal ball. Something has to change, and soon, if the worm is to continue into the future….)
I wish I were an artist or a sculptor so that I could render an image of this ‘shape of humanity’.