The separation of humanity from itself must nearly be ultimate in places. But not the places we expect.
Cities, we see many faces, many things. You can't surprise a mouse, a mouse has seen everything. A mouse in the city, I mean. And I mean really, it's not just the mice.
Let us picture mother nature, that is, the biosphere, and upon it humans, sustained by it. Let's picture automatons, that can drain nature and tend nature and pick the fruit, grow the crops, cleanse the water and the air. 🌈☁✨ K so then what.
Should we live outside the city? The free market would confidently state: no; the humans are moving into the cities, as the resource technology improves, and so on, there are economic opportunities, it's magic.
But really there are lots of reasons things group together; for instance bees in winter form a ball, vibrate slightly to generate warmth, gradually the inner bees, presently recipients of this warmth, migrate to the outer shell, to take their turn to be cold for awhile, before migrating back in. Or birds flock, animals herd for safety.
Humans are social animals, but we only need a small number of people to meet those needs. So maybe the resource answer really is it. It's also true that our appetites extend far beyond what animal appetites would appear to be-- we are in fact surprised to find when animals exhibit extraneous behaviour, playing with, or being cruel to, one another. But most of what a human does seems extraneous.
Nature didn't design us to have large brains, but at a certain point, intelligence became such an advantage that it spiraled out of control; our particular form of intelligence, whatever that is, anyhow.
The cities can slake many and curious the appetite.
So what's happening, in humans moving to the cities? It might just be, that moving away from them is difficult, because our desires are being met. As power and wealth concentrate there, power and wealth which are an abstract construction of our particular intelligence, opportunities to advance in human society move there, too. The resources that sustain us are fed into the city; the city stares into a mirror of it's own device and doesn't need care for much else.
And this is where things diverge, and they diverge twice.
First diversion: the city divides itself in two. An inner-city, where things side-by-side are roughly human-scale. And an outer city, which functions like a giant machine, everything connected by steel and concrete, countless small pods all fruit on a magnificent metal tree.
Both parts of the city need the resources from outside the city to nourish them. The second, mechanical city is more abstract; it needs more resources, because it's seeking to transcend space and time. It exists in it's endpoints, which are all human-scaled and lived and abided by humans, but the machinery to connect them is mighty. This machinery is hungry. Transcending space and time is not beyond the limits of our particular type of intelligence, but it has a great cost in resources.
The inner-city is less abstract. It walks form place to place, it is in some sense unpalatable in concept because everything is more, which if we fear, are the bad things. But it does not, by and large, have the same scope of machinery joining it's endpoints. The endpoints and the connecting tissue (for in the inner-city, all space is organic, and, negotiable but not easily reformed, because it is intimate and familiar) butt up to one another.
The inner and outer cities both hunger, but the inner city hungers much less. Intuitively, it seems worse— but it's just that it's all in one place. The outer city hungers for all the same things, but it also hungers to transcend time and space.
And beyond both these cities, sits the countryside.
It watches the city, that it feeds; it wonders about it.
Think about it for a sec. It's a picture of someone, that much, a real person. It's a real person, but the point of it really is to reduce that person to a point, to one-dimension. That's so another person, well several, can have an interaction about this one-dimensional point-person.
What's that conversation about?
So the conversation is about other people, who that picture now stands in for. Other people.
And fuck them, you know? They are not human. They're a picture, and seven words overtop. Hey look at this. You know those people. You know them. You know them. You know them. They are 7 words and this picture, this picture. You've seen this picture. You know the other 7 words we've all shared about them. They all say the same sorts of things, expanded different ways.
This picture never fights back. It's a moment in time. We took it, we use it however we want, because it's an object. It represents everyone we know who we mean it represents. It's an object. It's an object. It's an object.
It never fights back.
It's a perfect, comforting, blanket.
Some time ago, not long, we all came in and thought up agriculture, which is amenable to our certain kind of intelligence. Then we made cities.
We were already very good at knowing who we know who we mean. There's we, then there's other people; sometimes maybe we gotta kill them, we know it because we thought about it when they weren't here, we sat around the campfire and we made the image of them very, very real. The image was an object, in our mind, and we said 7 words about it, and another 7 words, and expanded on it variously until we were, well, absolutely certain— we gotta kill them.
After agrictulture came, we had a lot of extra that particular kind of intelligence, and so we set about discovering our other appetites.
It's been a hell of one.
The city's got to get less hungry. It's got to stop trying to abstract space and time. It can't exist in that state, because we can't violate the laws of nature. We pay a price for creating the illusion, though, and the price is millions and millions of years of stored energy from the sun, burned out and sent up each year. Even on the face of it it's just not smart.
Our appetites aren't going anywhere, we should accept that. The city's going to show us things we didn't know we could know, surprise us like a mouse has never been surprised.
We have to reconcile and accept the countryside that actually is what feeds us. I haven't actually got any bright ideas here, sorry. But we can't do without cities, unless we want to do without our particular kind of intelligence, which if you think about it, we can't do without anymore than our heart or lungs or liver, because brain is an organ, it's meat, it's firey churny meat and we can't be rid of it, though drugs of all sorts external and internal can help.
We got to get off the online, the new fireside, where we conjure up the dread fearful images, that can't fight back, but that we can't empathise with, but only talk about, because we know who we mean when we talk about them.
Let's do some of these things. We can do some of them with our mind, just. Then, figure out what's next that has to be done.