Monday, May 04, 2009

"God be with those whose main supply has been diverted straight into Wombland!"

Below is an excerpt from Buckminster Fuller's introduction to Gene Youngblood's Expanded Cinema (1970), and following it are some of my thoughts. (I'm going to post a more interesting excerpt from Expanded Cinema shortly.)

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"At all times nowadays, there are approximately 66 million human beings around Earth who are living comfortably inside their mothers' wombs. The country called Nigeria embraces one-fourth of the human beings of the great continent of Africa. There are 66 million Nigerians. We can say that the number of people living in Wombland is about the same as one-fourth the population of Africa. This 66 million Womblanders tops the total population of either West Germany's 58 million, the United Kingdom's 55 million, Italy's 52 million, France's 50 million, or Mexico's 47 million. Only nine of the world's so-called countries (China, India, Soviet Union, United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Japan, and Brazil) have individual populations greater than our luxuriously-living, under-nine-months-old Womblanders.

Seemingly switching our subject, but only for a moment, we note that for the last two decades scientists probing with electrodes have learned a great deal about the human brain. The brain gives off measurable energy and discrete wave patterns disclosed by the oscillograph. Specific, repetitive dreams have been identified by these wave patterns. The neurological and physiological explorers do not find it extravagant to speculate that we may learn that what humanity has thus far spoken of mystifiedly as telepathy, science will have discovered, within decades, to be ultra-ultra high-frequency electro-magnetic wave propagations.

All good science fiction develops realistically that which scientific data suggests to be imminent. It is good science fiction to suppose that a superb telepathetic communication system is inter-linking all those young citizens of worldaround Wombland. We intercept one of the conversations: "How are things over there with you?" Answer: "My mother is planning to call me either Joe or Mary. She doesn't know that my call frequency is already 7567-00-3821." Other: "My mother had better apply to those characters Watson, Crick, and Wilkerson for my call numbers!" And another of their 66 million Womblanders comes in with, "I'm getting very apprehensive about having to 'go outside.' We have been hearing from some of the kids who just got out. They say we are going to be cut off from the main supply. We are going to have to shovel fuel and pour liquids into our systems. We are going to have to make our own blood. We are going to have to start pumping some kind of gas into our lungs to purify our own blood. We are going to have to make ourselves into giants fifteen times our present size. Worst of all, we are going to have to learn to lie about everything. It's going to be a lot of work, very dangerous, and very discouraging." Answer: "Why don't we strike? We are in excellent posture for a 'sit-down.'" Other: "Wow! What an idea. We will have the whole population of worldaround Wombland refuse to go out at graduation day. Our cosmic population will enter more and more human women's wombs, each refusing to graduate at nine months. More and more Earthian women will get more and more burdened. Worldaround consternation—agony. We will notify the outsiders that, until they stop lying to themselves and to each other and give up their stupid sovereignties and exclusive holier-than-thou ideologies, pollutions, and mayhem, we are going to refuse to come out. Only surgery fatal to both the mothers and ourselves could evacuate us."

Another: "Great! We had might as well do it. If we do come out we will be faced with the proliferation of Cold War's guerrillerized killing of babies for psycho-shock demoralization of worldaround innocent communities inadvertently involved in the abstruse ideological warfare waged by diametrically opposed, equally stubborn, would-be do-gooder, bureaucratic leaders and their partisans who control all of the world's means of production and killing, whose numbers (including all the politically preoccupied individuals around the Earth) represent less than one per cent of all humanity, to whose human minds and hearts the politicos and their guns give neither satisfaction nor hope. Like the women in Lysistrata who refused intercourse with their men until they stopped fighting, we Womblanders would win."

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When I read this I immediately replaced telepathetic communication system (is "telepathetic" even a word anymore?) with the Internet. Using this example, Wombland would either be the comfortable area where we sit in close proximity to our computers (most literally) or the comfortable mental state shared by all of us who are lucky enough simply to own computers. In either case, even amidst the greatest inter-linking communications system ever devised, the Wombland revolution has yet to take place. Is this because Wombland is too abstract a place? Perhaps, but I think the real reason is far more obvious: We -- the privileged people of comfortable Wombland -- know that the best way to stay in Wombland as long as possible is to keep our heads down and our mouths shut.

A more frightening view on why there has been no "Wombland revolution":

"So is this century of runaway global warming – hidden for a while by the sedative-haze of consumerism – going to be Ballardian?

Ballard suspects that we always pined for a pacific land of plenty – but once we achieve it, we can't adjust our primate brains. We start wanting to smash it up and bring it down, restoring the old, violent world for which we are evolved."

MORE.

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