Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oggs Stone Axes (Draft 2, with a new improved ending.)

Oggs Stone Axes.

Once upon a time there lived two small primates who were forced to leave the safety of their tree tops and search for a better life in the grasslands of the savanna.  The trees of the forests that had once been home to their civilization had begun to die out, and many had caught fire and burned away.  Shortly after the last hospitable tree disappeared behind them into the grasslands of their new home, they gave birth to a baby boy named Ogg.

Soon Ogg was waddling around his parents full of all the excitement that comes with discovering the world for the first time.  Ogg’s father was keen to point out to Ogg how he should try to be like Grog, a boy a little older that Ogg.  Grog had discovered how to make a stone ax by smashing rocks together for a few hours, and this made BOTH of the eligible females, Shrog and Mog, fawn over Grog as if he were the only male in the savanna.  And for all of their own practical purposes, he was.  Even little Clog adored Grog, but as Ogg’s father pointed out, she would not be ripe for at least two more summers.

Shortly after that Ogg’s mother and father got sick.  Ogg’s father explained to Ogg that he and Ogg’s mother were going up to the tree tops in the sky to be with their own mothers and fathers.  But he told Ogg not to worry because they would be looking down on Ogg to make sure everything was OK, and they would still try to help him whenever he asked.  Ogg’s father also told him to stay close to Grog and try to be like him.  “You too will someday contribute something of great value like Grog has”, said Oggs father, “if you never quit trying.”  And then Ogg’s mother and father left to live in the sky.

Ogg adored Grog as an honorary big brother and eagerly tried to copy him in everything he did, especially when he was smashing rocks.  Grog was very proud to have a young male admirer, especially since this seemed to make the women fawn over him all the more.  So he eagerly aided Ogg in his studies as a rock smasher and soon Ogg was making stone axes that were better than Grogs.

Grog continued to praised Ogg for his stone axe making ability, but he himself abandoned the Axe making and started making spears instead.  This worked perfectly because Ogg could trade an axe for a spear anytime he wanted, and they both could trade axes and spears for berries, meat, furs when it was cold, and even some luxury items like feathers that made the girls smile and wave at them.  Everyone praised Ogg’s axes and by now some of the females had started to notice Ogg too, and this made Ogg very happy with himself.  But more than anything Ogg LOVED making those axes.  It was so satisfying to work with his hands on those stones, and the time flew by as if it were no time at all whenever he was smashing rocks.

Then one day Grog announced to Ogg he was going over the farthest hill to see if anyone over there needed axes or spears too.  But Grog never returned.  Each day more and more people passed by in the direction Grog had traveled until one day the hand full of people in the tribe decided they should move that direction to see what was happening.

When they reached the top of the farthest hill and looked down they saw the strangest sight.  The valley below was filled with dozens of people all digging evenly aligned rows in the dirt.  And at one end of the valley there was a raised platform made of dead trees tied together with a kind of vine Ogg had never seen before.  On the platform stood a huge male shouting directing down to all of the diggers.  Also on the platform were several females fawning over the male giving directions.  As Ogg got closer, he could see that it was Grog!  He was ecstatic!

But Grog was very busy, and only had time to explain to Ogg that they had no use anymore for making axes or spears anymore because they had plenty.  Stone axes had no value Grog said.  What were really needed were people who could dig in the dirt and place little seeds in a row.  This would cause lots of food to come out of the ground.  So much food would come up that they would have all they needed for a long time to come and could trade the extra for anything they needed, Grog promised.  Ogg began to dig in the dirt with the others.  But the dirt got under his nails, and he was not very good at digging strait rows.  Soon he was daydreaming about the days when he and Grog had made spears and axes, and how they had all the meat and feathers and admirers that they had ever wanted.  But mostly he thought about how much he enjoyed the process of making stone axes.

Ogg never really liked digging in the dirt, but he slowly got better at it, and noticed that there were actually a lot more females here to choose from than when he had been in the grasslands smashing rocks.  “Maybe this wasn’t THAT bad”, Ogg thought, “even if I do feel a little less special among so many people.”  And when he looked up at Grog he saw that more females than ever adored him on that little platform.  Remembering the words of his father, Ogg looked up to the sky and asked: dad, please help me dig good enough rows to reach Grog again.

It seemed to Ogg that his father answered this request because soon Ogg was digging the best rows of anyone.  Ogg figured any day now he would move up to be on that platform with Grog.

But the next day when Ogg got up, no one was digging rows anymore except for a couple of people who had tethered wild ox to pull a stone axe through the ground.  They were digging rows by themselves in minutes that use to take dozens of people all day.

When Ogg finally found Grog, Grog had no time to speak with him.  He was busy looking over what looked like a giant leaf with markings on it that was laid out on a stone table.  “We don’t need to dig rows anymore, that has no value” Grog explained over his shoulder.  “Talk to my man over there, he will explain.”

The man Grog had referred to explained to Ogg that they had to build a great pile of stones so that his brother could take his place among the other gods.

“What is a god?” Ogg asked.  “Well”, replied the man, “they are like men.  Except you can’t see them, except for Grog of course, and they are very powerful and make it rain, and they make the sun come up, and if you please them they will do you favors and if you displease them they will punish you.”  Ogg explained how he asked his mother in father in the sky for all the favors he needed, but the man explained to him that his mother and father had gone to Osiris in the land of the dead, and could not hear him anymore.  From now on he would have to pray to Ra or Horus or one of the other gods, preferably Grog who was a god on earth.  These ideas seemed very strange to Ogg, but who was he to argue.

So Ogg went to work in the stone yards with hundreds of others as directed.  He was excited about this at first because he thought he could use his rock smashing techniques again.  But unfortunately the stones they needed now were much too large to smash.  In fact they were so large it took Ogg and many other men just to move one of the many stones that they had to cut into perfect blocks.  Ogg was not very good at this and soon found himself day dreaming about the old days of smashing rocks, and the feathers and meat and adoring females.  “How will I ever stand out again among so many people” Ogg wondered.

Ogg thought to pray to his mother and father for help, but remembered the last time they answered his prayers a little too late and his row digging skills were no longer useful once they arrived.  Maybe it is because they could not hear me he thought.  Perhaps the man was right, and now I must pray to Ra and Grog and the other gods.  I guess there was a good reason why father told me to be like Grog.  I had no idea he was a god.  If I can get close to gods then maybe everything will be alright again.

After praying, Ogg remembered the markings he had seen on the strange leaf that his brother had had.  He started to ask around about these markings, but was told that they were magic marks for gods and NOT for him to understand.  When Ogg next saw Grog he asked him about the magic marks and asked if they were really forbidden.  Grog said that it was OK because as his friend he would have someone teach Ogg the basics of mark making and that Ogg should be doing that instead anyway because carving and moving stones had no value.

Grog explained that the leaves were actually called papyrus, and the marks were not magic, but Ogg should not tell anyone that because that was a secret.  Grog told another man to teach Ogg the secret of the marks while he attended to some other matters.

The man explained to Ogg the meanings for different symbols and taught him the proper ways to draw them.  Ogg found this tedious work and often found himself day dreaming about the days of smashing rocks to make axes.  That had been fun and Ogg was good at it.  He wondered when what he was good at would be valued again.  But Ogg remembered what his father had told him about trying to be like Grog, so he kept at it and he prayed to Ra and Seth and Horus that he would become as good as Grog.  And it seemed that Ra answered his prayers because soon he got good at understanding the markings and at making his own.  Soon he was able to use them to take down messages between the rock carvers at the various quarries, and the rock stackers at the build site, just as he was told.

But then one day he woke up and discovered that all the tables had been moved out.  The stone pyramids had been finished, and his mark making skills, he was told, no longer had value.  He was told that men from far away could come on horses, or pulled with horses, carrying shiny spears and clubs and would take everything they had worked for.  What was needed now was the ability to work with metal.

Once again Ogg found himself learning new things.  He worked long hours near thousands of others all stoking fires that scared him, and hammering copper which hurt his ears and made him tired.  The fires were so hot that it was very uncomfortable to be near, and Ogg didn’t enjoy the work that much.  Ogg dreamed of the simple days of making stone axes.  He was told that the gods he knew had no power anymore, and new gods took their place.  This happened many times, and the metals changed a few times too.

Soon the metal working was no longer most important, and Ogg found himself at the markings again, but the old marks didn’t count.  This time they were representing numbers and geometry.  There were new gods again too: Zeus and Apollo and Athena.   It seemed to Ogg that most new gods were often very similar to the old ones with little changes, but maybe that was just because those were the qualities that gods had.  And no matter what Ogg did, always Grog was at least one step ahead and he grew farther and farther out of reach.

Then there was more metal working, but again it was a different kind of metal, and again there were new gods.

Soon Ogg was told that all the gods he had ever prayed to were false, and that his mother and father had never heard him either.  He was told there was only one God who was jealous and angry that Ogg had ever prayed to the false gods and even to his mother and father.  Supposedly Ogg could also pray to saints, many of which kind of seemed like some of the old god’s, but saints had to be approved first by Grog in Rome before they could receive prayers.  Ogg thought maybe that was why he had never had the luck that he had hoped for since the days of making axes, but the new God didn’t seem useful at answering prayers either.  Maybe the God’s never were so much about answering prayers, but just wanted to be pleased, Ogg thought.  But no matter what Ogg had ever done it never seemed to please any of the gods Ogg prayed to.  Ogg began to wonder if there were in fact any God’s at all.  If there were, it didn’t seem that they took any notice of Ogg’s, or anyone else,  just as Grog never had any time to see him either.  It seemed nothing he ever did was good enough until just before it was too late for that thing to be of use.  The new God also supposedly said Ogg wasn’t good enough and that was why Ogg needed him, and that did seem true.  Although the new God didn’t seem to make Ogg good enough either, nor to make up for his shortcomings in any perceivable way.

Some men figured out how to use clear rocks to see things there were very small or very far away.  Soon Ogg learned that the earth was not round, which he had heard once before, but also that it was actually smaller than the sun, which it orbited.  Who knew?  Ogg heard from others that Grog had denied this at first, but then acted as if he had always known it, as he was infallible.  Cells were discovered, and by looking through the clear rocks it looked like there were rivers on another planet, just like on earth.  Ogg remembered when Mars was a god moving inexplicably through the sky, and not another planet.

Ogg tried to predict what would come next.  Sometimes he was right about what would come next.  But it never came about like he suspected it would, and usually at not the right time either.  Some things he predicted he wanted to do himself, but he never had the time and didn’t know how to get enough support to get it done.  Often people thought ideas he had were stupid at the time he had them, and didn’t remember that he had ever had them later on when they in fact became a reality like he had predicted, albeit not in a way he was ever able to benefit from.

As the years passed and time marched forward, Grog discovered the atom, walked on the moon, popularized the operating system, invented the internet, the search engine, and then social media and smart phones.

One day while standing outside of a 3D movie theater Ogg overheard someone talking about something called ‘The Coming Singularity’.  He looked this up online on his phone.  The phone told him that the Coming Singularity was an event expected in the almost immediate future in which human progress would start to come so fast that no one would be able to keep up with it anymore.  People would have computers as part of their bodies and brains, and genetic enhancements and reengineering would be commonplace.  Humans would probably be a single living hive machine, like a bees nest or the Borg.  Super human strength and speed, hearing and vision would be the norm, along with worldwide telepathy.  All the best current world athletes would pale in comparison to the physical abilities of the average person of the future once they were enhanced by Grog’s coming nanobots.  Ogg wondered how that would work, but he had little trouble doubting it was probably true.  Cell phones and microwaves had been predicted only about 100 years before, and sure enough Grog had invented those things as predicted.   Ogg didn’t even understand how his smart phone worked, but he knew that it was not magic and yet he still held more power than many of his gods he had once believed in.   He wondered who would have power in that future.  No one commands the bees or the ants or the birds or the fish.  No one that Ogg could see anyway.  Yet they acted as one.  Would humans be this way?  Or would they still always have a Grog above them telling them what to do, and how to be, and what was to have value?  And he wondered if anything he did would ever have value.

He looked up and saw Grog on a billboard with several females clinging to him in an ad for a newer phone than the one he had which came with reality augmenting contact lenses.  Each of the females was more beautiful than any Ogg had ever actually seen in real life.  Ogg looked around the plaza.  There were so many people there he felt like a tiny fish in a huge ocean.  All of the people were so busy it seemed as if they rushed by, each like a single blood cell hurdling down the vessels Ogg had read about which were supposed to exist in a living body.  Each person passing by was talking on his or her cell phones, or with each other, as if in a trance… each with their own individual realities.  They moved so fast it was if they could not even see Ogg at all.

Ogg felt old, even though he knew he was still quite young.  He wanted to see what would came next, but part of him felt too tired to actually live through it to find out.  That night Ogg went home alone to his apartment as usual, and dreamt he was making stone axes while his mother and father looked down from tree tops in the sky approvingly.

But then there were no people left to take the axes, and his mother and father were gone, and somehow he knew with the special knowledge that only comes in dreams, that the grasslands were completely desolate of people, as if his eyes could see to the ends of the earth.  And he sat alone on the rocks, without even the will anymore to even make his once beloved stone axes.  And having seen how the world turns, he wished he could go into a deeper sleep from which he would never wake up.

It was at that moment, when things seemed darkest, that suddenly in Ogg’s dream changed as a result of his next action.  Ogg looked up to the sky and addressed his parents, and all of the progression of gods, and even to another copy of Ogg deep within himself, and he said the following words to them: “I don’t know which if any of you are real.  But I am done following Grog!  I am tired of perpetually living in another man’s shadow!  I am not an ox or a deer that must always follow in the herd.”

It was at this moment that a huge dark cloud surged from Ogg’s chest and swirled violently in a vortex before solidifying into Ogg’s parents, and all the progression of Gods Ogg had ever heard of, and even Ogg himself, all fused into a single body.  And then the hybrid of beings spoke to Ogg (who was somehow still separate also, as dreams work this way).  And the being spoke to Ogg in a voice that was both legion and yet one voice at the same time!

And the voice said: “Do not quit!  Long have I watched you as you struggled and toiled in Grogg’s shadow; the shadow you created.”  Ogg wanted to counter that he had not created Grog or his shadow, but the voice continued: “Do not fight Grog, do not kill him, or try to destroy any of his works in jealousy.  But rather add your own uniqueness to his own.”  And with that the being swirled back into a dark cloud and rocketed back into Ogg’s chest from which it had come with such a force that it knocked Ogg to the ground in his dream, and awoke him with a start.

Having already lived through so many experiences that it seemed in many ways to have been many lifetimes, Ogg realized that it was time to cast a shadow of his own.  And so he wrote about his many experiences, and in so doing paved a way for others to follow.  He did it freely, and expected nothing in return for it, encouraging others to do the same, and to hold nothing back.  Ogg created for the freedom of expression, and for the aid it could off others.  Many people did likewise, while others tried to silence Ogg and the many people who followed his example, and claim their work for themselves.  But Ogg created new places and new ways for them to speak, until one day all the world spoke with one voice that was not controlled or hindered by the will of gods, or by any one man, or sub collection amongst them.

And so it was that Ogg, though he did not entirely live to see it, aided in bringing about the first well educated global democracy.  And it was just in time too, for the birth of the Homo Evolutis Collective took place the same year, and continues to be free a free thinking democratic hive mind to this day with as many voices as there are people.  And no voice is ever allowed to go out, even those who no longer have bodies among us.  And this is why all new Homo Evolutis children, children such as you, must live as their first full length virtual life: “A Reenactment Of The Life of Ogg and his Stone Axes” as part of their education.  This way they may grow up understanding what it means to be part of the life and mind that we share in the hive, and to begin to learn what it means to find their own individual voice among the gods, and to not allow themselves to be constrained by the voice or shadow of another whether real or imagined.  Now sleep tight, the dream will begin soon and you will not remember me or my words again until you awake from the life of Ogg incarnate, your first full life dream.  Good luck, and enjoy the ride!

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