The Time Exchange
Chapter 10

I'm not a particularly talented dreamer by any means, unlike Castaneda's informant Don Juan who was by all accounts a prodigious dreamer. I mention him in the past tense as a matter of formality but really the old Mexican sorcerer is still a dreamer. I know this because I've seen him there. I wish I was a more talented dreamer but my wings were clipped long ago. Dreaming is a skill which has no particular value in an economically driven culture such as the one I grew up in, and I'm not talking about the possession of a colourful imagination which can be very useful to the economy. I'm talking about a person who has the ability to wake up in the place he or she has been dreaming of.

In spite of all the unusual perceptual experiences I've been telling you about I nevertheless regard myself as a very average dreamer, and it's not particularly contentious to suppose that this is the case for most people in society. I expect the reason why I'm such an average dreamer is because of all the implicit social contracts I've agreed to during the course of my life going back to a very young age. Nevertheless I believe that dreaming is the natural state of every living thing on this planet, and that what we call "wakefulness" is a special case of dreaming which parents hook their children into for the sake of feeding and to fulfil the goal of reproduction later on in life.

In the case of humanity our wakefulness is unique among the many species here on Earth in so far as we have developed not only a rigorous social order, but we have a system of physical principles which is the same for all creatures without exception. In the case of all the other creatures who share the world we seem determined to exploit, they may not be in possession of such a powerful and adaptive technology but I suspect that they're much more successful dreamers.

All creatures wherever they may be occupy a position in the infinite regression, and are no less a representation of the entire universe just as we are. But I expect that such dreamers are much more able to hide within its infinities, and that they may never have left the beloved world which humans have lost and long lamented. Just as my dreaming was brought to the surface of my consciousness so could it be brought to the surface of any creature's consciousness under the right circumstances such as the threat of impending doom posed by the recent behaviour of much of humanity.

My experience on the farm with Hoppy's young calf Brown Star has shown me that animals are aware of the vastness beyond the sky just as we are. I also suspect that a select number of animals on this planet have dreamed as I did of both the ghost of death, and the regression of abstractions. The regression of abstractions is itself not that complicated. It is merely an acquaintance with the different scales of time and space which such creatures could find in their dreaming given a development of the necessary motivation.

Those creatures whose destiny has been to take possession of these two empowering bits of information occupy a world which differs from the one which so many others take for granted. Those few who dream of the ghost of death and the infinite regression share with all the others of their kind a grieving for the loss of their natural habitats, but they also suffer the delirium which is the price they must pay for their possession of such knowledge. They may suffer more than others of their kind but when they trace the rays of sunlight arriving on their shores on a cold winter's morn they know that the ancestral solar being cares about what happens here on Earth. They look out into the vastness and remember that this being cares enough to provide them with a path to survival in the face of their species' extinction.

They remember the warm yellow light from early in their infancy and associate it with their earliest memories of self and familial kinship. Later on in life it's a memory which tells them of their cosmic ancestors, the planet, but perhaps more importantly in this context, the Sun and the larger solar entity.

Because the regression of abstractions consists of a structure very much like that of a pyramid, and because the tip of a pyramid represents the consciousness of a body then all creatures great and small on this planet embody the consciousness of both the planet and the entire solar entity. Just as mind and body work together to achieve common goals for creatures here on Earth so too do the solar organism and Earthly creatures. In this case Earthly creatures are the pointy tips of the larger system's consciousness.

I expect that any one of us could correspond with the greater cosmic consciousness just as I have, but what remains unclear to me is just how many of us go to the trouble of doing this, and to what extent does our behaviour conform with the intentions of this being. If your actions throughout your life have found favour with this ancestor then your deathly adaptations may be a matter of some simplicity, but this will not be the case if you have lived at odds with this being. If transgression has been your path through life then the memories of your evil deeds will be unescapable.

For those of us who are able to dream of a scale of time like the one which the solar ancestor enjoys then death may be the dreaming of fond memories of your time here on Earth. Your dreaming may be somewhat incongruous but it will be otherwise organised according to the various topics you've had an interest in. You'll meet those others who are dear to you and whatever conflicts or happiness you may have enjoyed on Earth will continue, after some reorientation, virtually seamlessly. I know this because this is what I've seen among the many dead I've been telling you about. The soul is immutable. You can hurt it and it will suffer, and in time memory of it will fade, but it cannot cease to exist.

Now, maybe you're thinking that all of this sounds pretty good to you, that heaven beckons the righteous to come forth and suckle at its bosom, but what about all the animals who have had to suffer because of our industrialisation of the landscape. Are these creatures not entitled to justice in the cosmic theatre we've been discussing?

I happen to live in a small country town so I see a lot of dead animals lying by the roadside every time I get in my car and drive to a neighbouring town. It surprises me how many animals are killed in this way and how little people care for the suffering of these creatures. But such numbers are vanishingly small compared with global death rates among wildlife and the lack of consideration I see around me has become normal for so many of us in recent times. And I'm not talking about global road kill rates here. I'm talking more generally about all the creatures who got in the way of human "progress". I'm talking about the most serious episode of mass extinction since the demise of dinosaurs some 65 million years ago for which much of recent human behaviour is singularly responsible.

Now, the time has come for me to mention a difficult subject which most people seem to be fully conscious of, but it seems to be a subject so difficult that they don't want to talk about it.

You will no doubt be familiar with the celebrated mathematician and cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk the businessman, and founder of the aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, but you may be wondering what these two gentlemen have in common with each other. Well, both gentlemen have argued long and loudly in favour of establishing a colony away from Planet Earth, on either the Moon or Mars depending on which is feasible, as a matter of some urgency.

I'm not going to comment on the potential dangers of an expedition like this because it won't affect me in any way. They won't be asking me to join the team that's for sure, and I'll probably be dead before much can be done to get the project off the ground. But what does affect me here and now is the reason which advocates offer in support of the project, and why it is a matter of such urgency. They haven't made an effort to disguise their thinking in any way so you're probably already familiar with it, but they seem to justify this project in terms of a very dim view of our prospects for survival on this planet. According to this view not only are we responsible for the extinction of countless other creatures on this planet but our own extinction is beginning to look very distinctly possible.

These two venerable gentlemen are far from alone with this sort of thinking. You've probably seen more than one or two post apocalyptic zombie movies in the popular media of today, there are literally dozens of them now. It is also worth noting that the very premise for the modern Islamic jihad is that we are now living among the end of days which were foretold by biblical texts, and which will be followed by the final judgement of mankind and the punishment of the unfaithful.

Notwithstanding these considerations the ecological impact of human behaviour on this planet was virtually insignificant early in the nineteenth century, some two hundred or so years ago, so the global transformation we see around us today happened in a very short space of time indeed. When compared with the vast scale of time which the Earth and its infinite regression depict, the meagre interval of just two hundred years is virtually instantaneous. In view of this comparison I can't help feeling that humanity has committed a very serious assault on the ecological integrity of this planet, and that its very magnitude fittingly warrants definition in terms of a dastardly act of crime. In spite of whatever reservations you may have about the validity of this view you can be quite certain on the basis of our long obsession with justice that the many victims of human ascendency are entitled to feel exactly this way about us.

You may have gathered that I'm teasing you somewhat with the suggestion that all these victims of our careless behaviour deserve the same right to have injustices corrected that we enjoy. I feel strongly about this myself, but I expect there will be a lot of you who don't actually give a damn about animals, and that you certainly won't be granting them any kind of right to have the many injustices we may have committed against them corrected. There is the linguistic problem at least, and the problem of how to provide a satisfactory redress when so many of the victims are already dead to mention just a couple of crucial practicalities.

Before you lose all hope for the future of this planet and start trashing the joint let me assure you that there will very likely be an array of survivors of whatever kind of catastrophe we can level on it in the next couple of hundred years or so. When eventually catastrophe befalls us the living will be few in number and the dead will be many, but if my experience has shown me anything then it is that the dead will linger among the living and provide them with a lasting reminder of our folly. In the case of all the dead animals they won't be providing the remaining humans with this facility but they will rather provide them with a great reservoir of resentment and animosity. Exactly which animals will be counted among the living remains a matter of speculation, but whichever they may be you can be sure that they will blame us for their grievous losses.

Now, I want to correct a misperception which diminishes the value placed on the lives of animals by human observers, but first I need to correctly locate human culture in the eyes of our cosmic ancestors, and to do this I must refer to a little of the current sociological literature.

It is generally assumed in much of the sociological literature of today that the North Atlantic region constitutes the centre of global society while anywhere else on this planet is relegated to the periphery. This may be a valid assessment in some respects, both European and North American cultures are profound global leaders among the many peoples assembled on this planet, but this little bit of cultural hubris doesn't make them the centre of all existence here on Earth. On the contrary, the host model of Earth indicates the unique functionality of each geographical region and locates the Asia Pacific region at the centre of planetary topography, both geographically and functionally. In terms of the functionality indicated by the host model Europe performs the role of capital of planet Earth while North America is located in the pelvic region, and in this case both regions are relatively peripheral.

The Indian subcontinent is found at the very heart of global topography and therefore has a very special significance indeed. It is in India that the planetary dreaming has its beginning and its end.

Much like the hubris which presumes that European and North American culture defines the central hub of global society is the hubris which presumes that humans define the standard against which all other creatures are to be compared. If you allow that Planet Earth conforms with the definition of God from our point of view then God may have made man in His own image but there are other creatures on this planet who more closely resemble this being. The topographical configuration of the continents of Earth suggest quite unequivocally that four legged animals have been envisioned although I concede that the continental outlines would have been drawn long before human ancestors began to walk upright.

There are so many four legged creatures surviving on Earth today that another criteria is required to determine which of them most closely resembles the planetary host. Since the planet is a very long suffering and docile creature it would seem that temperament is a criteria which may be useful in this context. Since docility has been selectively bred into farm animals over the course of thousands of years, and since they have long suffered our determination to enjoy eating them I suggest that farm animals are more able to represent the planetary host than we are.

And with this I return to the plight of cows who share with horses the honour of being the friendliest of creatures among farm animals, and who I have found to be the most interested in entering into a constructive dialogue with their human captors. They may seem like impossibly humble creatures to you but it is the cows who are out there in the sunlight and when it's raining, and who watch the twilight in the morning and early in the eve, and whose nature is to embody the Earth's most sacred dreaming.

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