divendres, 28 de febrer de 2014

ALMA RELIGIOSA - 1916 -ANTÓNIO CORRÊA D'OLIVEIRA

E POR TUDO ONDE SE ESCONDA

A VIDA, EM NÉVOA OU CAVERNA

DE ALMA EM ALMA, DE ONDA EM ONDA

NÃO HÁ VOZ QUE NÃO RESPONDA

AO CANTO DA VOZ ETERNA

dijous, 27 de febrer de 2014

HISTORIA VERDADERA DE LA CONQUISTA DE LA NUEVA ESPAÑA - BERNAL DÍAZ DEL CASTILLO

is the first-person narrative of Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492–1581), the 16th-century military adventurer, conquistador, and colonist settler, who served in three Mexican expeditions; those of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (1517) to the Yucatán peninsula; the expedition of Juan de Grijalva (1518), and the expedition of Hernán Cortés (1517) in the Valley of Mexico; the history relates his participation in the fall of Emperor Moctezuma II, and the subsequent defeat of the Aztec empire.

In the colonial history of Latin America, The Conquest of New Spain is a vivid, military account that establishes Bernal Díaz del Castillo “among chroniclers what Daniel Defoe is among novelists”. Late in life, when Díaz del Castillo was eighty-four years old, and residing in his encomienda estates in Guatemala, he wrote The True History of the Conquest of New Spain to defend the story of the common-soldier conquistador within the histories about the Spanish conquest of Mexico. He presents his narrative as an alternative to the critical writings of Fr. Bartolomé de Las Casas, whose Indian-native histories emphasized the cruelty of the conquest; and the histories of the hagiographic biographers of Hernán Cortés — specifically that of Francisco López de Gómara, whom he believed minimized the role of the 700 enlisted soldiers who were instrumental to conquering the Aztec empire. That said historians and hagiographers speak the truth “neither in the beginning, nor the middle, nor the end”, is why Díaz del Castillo strongly defended the actions of the conquistadors, whilst emphasising their humanity and honesty in his eyewitness narrative, which he summarised as: “We went there to serve God, and also to get rich”.

The history is occasionally uncharitable about Captain Cortés, because, like other professional soldiers who participated in the Conquest of New Spain, Díaz del Castillo found himself among the ruins of Tenochtitlán only slightly wealthier than when he arrived to Mexico; a financial state common to many soldiers, who accused Cortés of taking more loot than his agreed fifth of the Aztec treasury. Certainly, the land and gold compensation paid to many of the conquistadores proved a poor return for their investment of months of soldiering and fighting across Mexico and the Anahuac Valley. Another interpretation of The True History of the Conquest of New Spain proposes that the author was one of several family relatives of Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, the governor of Cuba, and mortal enemy of Cortés; many of whom later plotted against the conquistador Captain. Although the narrative thrust diminishes the Cortés–Díaz del Castillo relationship, contrary to the factual record, his complex relationship with Cortés, and the sub-ordinate captains, suggests that, although he represented the faction of Governor Velázquez de Cuéllar in the expedition, Bernal Díaz del Castillo fully honoured his personal and military loyalty to Hernán Cortés.
Controversy[edit]

Historians have criticized the use of The True History of the Conquest of New Spain as a primary source due to Díaz del Castillo’s conflicts of interest, and multiple inaccuracies, including exaggerated accounts of human sacrifice by the Aztecs, misunderstandings of their political organization and leadership models, and misinterpretations of the roles of women in Aztec societies.

Scholars have also raised questions as to the true authorship of The True History of the Conquest of New Spain, pointing to a lack of reliable biographical information on Díaz del Castillo as well as a lack of evidence that he was among Cortés' soldiers in the expedition.

NO HABRÁ MÁS PENAS NI OLVIDO - SORIANO - OS HOMENS FORMAM FACÇÕES MESMO DEBAIXO DO MESMO DEUS OU DIOS - HEIL PÉRON SIEG HEIL .....

No habrá más penas ni olvido 
El título proviene de un famoso tango de Carlos Gardel y Alfredo Le Pera, Mi Buenos Aires querido: "Mi Buenos Aires querido/cuando yo te vuelva a ver/no habrá más penas ni olvido".


La novela relata la lucha interna en la localidad de Colonia Vela entre peronistas de izquierda y peronistas de derecha. A grandes trazos, es una reflexión sobre éste movimiento político durante aquellos turbulentos años.


A pesar de su demorada fecha de publicación, esta novela no fue escrita -como se afirma- en Bélgica, donde Soriano se exilió en 1976 al comenzar la Última dictadura cívico-militar ......UNTIL 201?), sino que fue escrita en el año 1974 mientras estaba aún en el país, concretamente en la ciudad de Capitán Sarmiento.
A causa del nivel crítico que esta obra poseía respecto de los sucesos que acontecían por esa época en Argentina, no hubo editor que quisiera publicarla, y es por eso que recién en 1978 se da a luz su primera versión

dimarts, 25 de febrer de 2014

JORNAL D'UM PRISIONEIRO DE GUERRA NA ALEMANHA - CARLOS OLAVO -1919

O CARACTER ALLEMÃO É SUPREENDENTE DE GROSSERIAS INÉDITAS

´NÃO FALLO DAS CASERNAS E DAS ENXERGAS IMUNDAS ONDE MUITOS DE NÓS, 

ALGUNS OFFICIAIS SUPERIORES, TINHAM DE SE DEITAR, QUE PRAXE MEUS...

COMO O IRMÃO DO AUTHOR DE NOME AMERICUS NÃO QUIZE RESPONDER A

UM OFICIER GERMANICUS PUSERAM-NO NA CASERNA COM SOLDADOS...

OH A HUMILHAÇÃO, A DESGRAÇA

O BLOK É UM GRANDE QUADRADO LIMITADO POR DUAS ORDENS DE FIOS DE FERRO

8 HORAS CAFÉ COM UM QUARTO DE PÃO

11 E MEIA PRIMEIRA SÔPA

ÀS 4 E MEIA CHÁ

ÀS 6 SEGUNDA SÔPA

ISTO ASSIM DITO PARECE UM PROGRAMA DE ALIMENTAÇÃO ATTRAHENTE

MAS A FOME...OS FRANCESES AINDA RECEBEM BOLACHA DAS POPULAÇÕES

DAS REGIÕES INVADIDAS MAS A GENTE NEM FALARE FRANCEZ SABE....

NEM ELLES PRECEVEM DÁ-ME BOLACHA SEU BRUTE...

TODOS OS OFFICIAES QUAESQUER QUE SEJAM AS SUAS GRADUAÇÕES

SÃO OBRIGADOS A CUMPRIMENTAR MILITARMENTE QUALQUER OFFICIAL ALEMÃO

OLHA O TYPO TEM UMA PERNA FANFA

E OBVIAMENTE ADMITO-O PUXA PELA PERNA DO BRUTO

dilluns, 24 de febrer de 2014

THE REALITY OF THE RELATIVITY OF WRONG

DESDE BANALIDADES COMO A PRATA É 20 VEZES MAIS COMUM QUE O OURO

E O COBRE 450 VEZES MAIS COMUM QUE A Ag

ATÉ O QUE É O HOMEM SENÃO UMA MÁQUINA QUE TRANSFORMA COM MINUCIOSA

ARTE O VINHO TINTO DE SHIRAZ EM URINA

PHOSPHOROS FOSFORESCÊNCIA DEVIDO AO MINERAL SER EXPOSTO À LUZ

MAS O FÓSFORO BRILHA MESMO SEM TER SIDO EXPOSTO À LUX

E O BRILHO PERMANECE MUITO TEMPO PORQUE SE COMBINA EXPONTÂNEA E LENTAMENTE COM O OXIGÉNIO LIBERTANDO ENERGIA QUÍMICA QUE SE CONVERTE
EN PARTE EM LUX

É TAMBÉM O NOME DO 3260º ASTERÓIDE CUJA ÓRBITA FOI CALCULADA EM 1983

SEGUNDO A BÍBLIA DEUS FEZ O UNIVERSO EM 7 DIAS E DESCANSOU

PORQUE É DE SUPOR NADA HAVIA PARA FAZER

É CERTO QUE A BÍBLIA DESCREVE DEUS  INTERFERINDO COM OS SERES HUMANOS

LANÇANDO PRAGAS DILÚVIOS E ORDENANDO A SAMUEL QUE DIZIMASSE OS AMALECITAS MAS ISTO PORQUE OS SERES HUMANOS O IRRITAVAM

DEIXAVA AS ESTRELAS E AS OUTRAS ESPÉCIES EM PAZ

Asimov argues that there exist degrees of wrongness, and being wrong in one way is not necessarily as bad as being wrong in another way. For example, if a child spells the word sugar as "pqzzf", the child is clearly incorrect. Yet, Asimov says, a child who spells the word "shuger" (or in some other phonetic way) is "less wrong" than one who writes a random sequence of letters. Furthermore, a child who writes "sucrose or "C12H22O11" completely disregards the "correct" spelling but shows a degree of knowledge about the real thing under study. Asimov proposes that a better test question would ask the student to spell sugar in as many ways as possible, justifying each.
Likewise, believing that the Earth is a sphere is less wrong than believing that the Earth is flat, but wrong nonetheless, since it is really an oblate spheroid or a reasonable approximation thereof. As the state of knowledge advanced, the statement of the Earth's shape became more refined, and each successive advance required a more careful and subtle investigation. Equating the wrongness of the theory that the Earth is flat with the wrongness of the theory that the Earth is a perfect sphere is wronger than wrong
Asimov wrote "The Relativity of Wrong" in response to an "English major" who criticized him for believing in scientific progress. This unnamed individual is portrayed by Asimov as having taken the postmodern viewpoint that all scientific explanations of the world are equally in error. I
  1. The Moon and We (F&SF April 1986)
  2. The Minor Objects (May 1986)
  3. The Second Lightest (June 1986)
  4. Labels on the Molecules (July 1986)
  5. The Consequences of Pie (August 1986)
  6. The Enemy Within (September 1986)
  7. The Relativity of Wrong (October 1986)
  8. The Unmentionable Planet (November 1986)
  9. The Dead-End Middle (December 1986))
  10. Opposite! (January 1987)
  11. Sail On! Sail On! (February 1987)
  12. The Incredible Shrinking Planet (March 1987)
  13. The Light-Bringer (April 1987)
  14. Beginning with Bone (May 1987)
  15. New Stars (June 1987)
  16. Brightening Stars (July 1987)
  17. Super-Exploding Stars (August

DOS DIÁLOGOS NO VAZIO E PARA O VAZIO - VACUIDADES QUE O CONTÍNUO ESPACIO-TEMPORAL APAGA E REESCREVE -TIME AND AGAIN OR IN SOME BAD TRANSLATION TRADUCCIÓN TRADUZIONE TRADUTOR TRAITOR STYLE - GUERRE DANS LE TEMPS - SIMAK

FRAGMENTOS DA NARRATIVA TEMPORALMENTE DESFASADOS:
and now in anglo-sax techno
 One of those complex and enormously inventive stories... based on some real, honest, practical ethical thinking. It is an idea book.'
 Socrates has been lost in deepest space for twenty years. 

Suddenly arrives a warning from the future, that he will return- and that he must be killed. 
He is destined to write a book whose message may lead to the death of millions in centuries to come. 
(The torture of tortugas by democratic fellows )
For this reason Socrates is hounded by the sinister warring factions of the future who wish to influence or prevent the writing of this book he has not yet begun to write.
Yet already a copy has been found in the burnt-out wreckage of a space-craft on Alderbaran XII



-OIÇA MEU JOVEM AMIGO

- NÃO SOU JOVEM, NEM SEU AMIGO

SOU SEU SUCESSOR.
DENTRO DE 5 DIAS SOCRATES REGRESSARÁ

-VIAGENS NO TEMPO? NÃO ACREDITO NISSO

-JÁ O RECEAVA

-PORQUÊ?

-PORQUE QUANDO VOLTAR - DISSE O ESTRANHO- SOCRATES TEM DE SER MORTO

....RESPIRA DISSE ELE A SI MESMO ...DEVES ESTAR A RESPIRAR

 QUANDO ELES CHEGAREM...DEVES SORRIR-LHES

....HÁ QUALQUER COISA QUE ESTÁ MAL ...EM PORTUGAL

NÃO SEI O QUE É. DENTRO DO MEU CÉREBRO UMA VOZ SEGREDA-ME :

NÃO FAZ MAL ...É NORMAL

FOMOS APANHADOS ENTÃO VEIO A ESCURIDÃO

NENHUM HOMEM COM MENOS DE 100 ANOS PODE ANDAR DESARMADO

MAS E SE ANDAR?

NESSE CASO QUALQUER UM PODE ABATÊ-LO COMO A UM COELHO.....

ESTÁ DE ACORDO COM A REVISÃO DE 7990

MAS EU PENSEI QUE NÃO CONCORDASSE COM OS DUELLOS

-DE FACTO NÃO APROVO - DISSE O AUTÓMATO - MAS É O MEU EMPREGO

SOU FUNCIONÁRIO DO PARTIDO LOGO TEMOS QUE PROMOVER OS DUELOS

A CORONHA ADAPTAVA-SE À MÃO...SENTIA-SE PODER DENTRO DELA

PODER DE VIDA E DE MORTE  OBVIAMENTE

MAS O AUTHOR REPETE PODER E AUTORIDADE...

PELA SUA CONVICÇÃO FEROZ DE QUE O HOMEM ERA A MAIOR COUSA VIVA

NA GALÁXIA

PELA SUA COLOSSAL ARROGÂNCIA, INVEJOSO E DESDENHOSO DE QUALQUER

GRANDEZA QUE NÃO FOSSE IMPIEDOSA E AGRESSORA

PEQUENAS BOLHAS DE CÉREBROS E MÚSCULOS

O MENTOFONE COLOCOU A TOUCA NA CABEÇA

PENSAMENTOS FANTASMAGÓRICOS FLUTUANDO PELO UNIVERSO

AS ESCÓRIAS RESIDUAIS DE COISAS INIMAGINÁVEIS NO ESPAÇO E NO TEMPO

GELOU-LHE OS OSSOS ENQUANTO UMA GARRA AFIADA

LHE REVOLVIA AS ENTRANHAS

HAVIA MILHARES DE OUVINTES ( NUMA INTERNET NO VÁCUO )

ATENTOS AOS PENSAMENTOS VAGOS, PROCURANDO UMA GOTA DE SENSO

NO MEIO DA CORRENTE DE DISPARATES

UM NOVO CONCEITO POLÍTICO PODERIA SER PERIGOSO

A LIGA PARA A IGUALDADE DOS ANDRÓIDES PARTIDÁRIOS

A HUMANIDADE QUÍMICA MAS ESTÉRIL DE CONCEITOS E IDEIAS

NÃO CONSEGUIAM QUE AS IDEOLOGIAS ARTIFICIAIS FOSSEM REPRODUTÍVEIS

QUEREM ENTRAR NO PARTIDO POR QUALQUER FACTOR DESCONHECIDO

ASH SOCRATES FOI RECONSTRUIDO 2 CORAÇÕES SISTEMA PSEUDO CIRCULATÓRIO

NÃO FUNCIONANTE SISTEMA NERVOSO SOBRESSELENTE...

SONHOS POR ENCOMENDA

VIVA A VIDA QUE O PARTIDO NÃO O DEIXOU VIVER

A PROPÓSITO DE PEIXES ...NÃO PARECE MUITO INTERESSADO EM PESCÁ-LOS

-NEM POR ISSO...SE SE APANHAR ALGUMA PPP

TEM DE SE TIRAR DO ANZOL

 E DEPOIS ISCAR DE NOVO E ATIRAR À ÁGUA....UMA MAÇADA

DEPOIS AINDA TEM DE SE LIMPAR O PEIXE

E FINALMENTE A MORAL DO LIVRE EM DOIS PÉNALTI'S

NADA CAMINHA SOZINHO, O NOSSO DESTINO ACOMPANHA-NOS

SERES "SIMBIÓTICOS LIGAM-SE A TODOS OS SERES VIVOS DESDE QUE NASCEM

ATÉ QUE SE VÃO ...E A

 SUA BASE É CYGNI 61 OR 69 IS THE SAME LAME NUMBER




dissabte, 22 de febrer de 2014

RAVAGE - 1943 -RENÉ BARJAVEL - THE BLACK EMPEROR ROBINSON RULER OF SOUTH AMERICA DECLARES WAR TO U.S. OF A .....SEEMS THAT IN 2052 THE PROBABILITY IS THAT THE REVERSE HAPPENS ....LET'S LOOK AT THE VENEZUELAN TRAILERBA


Paris 2052 ; dans une France où la Ville prospère, où le Progrès de l'homme éclate, où l'électricité, devenue indispensable, a même remplacé l'agriculture, tout semble possible et l'Homme n'a même plus peur de la mort. THE MEAT IS CULTIVATED BY DES CHIMIQUES N'EST PAS (COMO O CUORE DE GALINÁCEO DO DOCTOR CARREL ...) UMA CASA FABRICA MEAT FLAVORED WITH FRUITS ELEPHANT FOOT GIRAFFE MEAT WITH ONION FLAVOR ET CAETERA
BEERHALL 13 A BRANCH OF THE STEAK-AND-FRIES FACTORY, WITH A VAT OF SERUM WHERE OR IN WHICH FLOATED THE MOTHER A LUMP OF FLESH COM 500 TONNES UND THE FAMOUS BEER 13 EXTRACTED FROM CLAY DE LA ARGILE ...DU BARRO...
 FACTORIES FURNISHED WHITE AND YOLK OF EGG IN BOTTLES ONE DID NOT ORDER A SIX EGG OMELET BUT A HALF-LITER ONE EACH HOUSE HAVE A MILK PIPELINE E UM DISPOSITIVO (A GADGET) PARA O TRANSFORMAR  IN MANTEQUILLA OR BUTTER
NATIONAL WOMEN'S SCHOOL A KIND OF FASCIST OR NATIONAL FRONT SCHOOL THAT OFFERS A PHYSICAL MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL PREPARATION TO THE FUTURE MOTHERS OF THE ELITE .....1000 MISSILE'S WITH TELEGUIDAGE THAT NONE ANTI MISSILE SYSTEM OR RAY CAN DESTROY ARE GOING TO LEVEL ALL CITIES, EVEN UNDERGROUND CITIES THAT WILL HAVE BEEN DUG UP LIKE TRUFFLES BY THE 1000 ATOMIC BOMBS ....100,000 AIRPLANES AND 10 MILLION MEN ARE THE AIR ARMY EACH AIRPLANE A FORTRESS MÓVEL QUANDO ATERRA...EM 1978 THE BLACK MOB'S POR AMEAÇAREM AS SEGURANÇAS INTERNAS SÃO TRANSPORTADOS À FORÇA PARA A AMÉRICA DO SUL FORÇADOS A ACEITAR THE BLACK INVASION
Pourtant, après une formidable panne électrique, FRANCE UNDER ATTACK WITH LONG RANGE K-RAYS  la ville est brusquement plongée dans le chaos.
Un panique effroyable prend les Parisiens, laissant les hommes en proie à leurs instincts les plus primaires: égoïsme, folie, pillages, tuerie, barbarie..THE FALLEN CITIES ENFIM O HERÓI JUNTA UNS GAJOS E RECONSTRÓI A CIVILIZAÇÃO SEM FERRO QUE FICOU QUEBRADIÇO E SEM GRANDE COUSA POIS TUDO É UM DESERTO DE CINZAS MAS UM AVIÃO COM SEMENTES CHOCOU COM UM VALE E...FLORESCEU ...E POR QUALQUER RAZÃO ....VONTADE DE ALLAH HÁ 4 MULHERES PRA CADA HOMEM E A POLIGAMIA OBVIAMENTE É UM SACRIFÍCIO A SUPORTAR...AOS 120 ANOS O HERÓI TEM UMA COMUNIDADE FLORESCENTE  E CASA COM UMA MULHER SOBRESSELENTE DE 17 ANOS 
UM DOS JOVENS METALSMITHS (FERREIRO NON PORQUE EL HIERRO TÁ EM BAIXA VER NOTA DE 20 EUROS NO TOPO DA PÁGINA)  CRIA UMA MÁQUINA A VAPOR DE BRONZE E O PATER NOSTRUM DIZ-LHE QUE A MÁQUINA VAI PRÓ CAMANO E O CÉREBRO QUE A CONSTRUIU IDEM  POIS AS MÁQUINAS NÃO TRAZEM FELICIDADE
O JOVEM NÃO ATINA COM A SAÍDA DO CÉREBRO POIS É O ÚNICO QUE TEM POIS É POBREZINHO NÃO TEM DOIS COMO O FLIP OU O GAMMA GAMMA E ENFIA UM FACALHÃO NA ANATOMIE DU PATRIARCHE QUE SE EXTINGUE...

dimecres, 19 de febrer de 2014

LAST AND FIRST MAN - THE AMERICAN YES WE CAN AND THE CHINEESE CULTURES IN REVIEW BY OLAF BUY STAPLEDOOM DOOM MESMO PÔ

At heart, indeed, they were never far apart in mood, though opposed in doctrine. The real cleavage was between the truly spiritual view on the one hand, and the spiritistic and materialistic on the other. Thus the most materialistic of Christian sects and the most doctrinaire of scientific sects were not long in finding a formula to express their unity, their denial of all those finer capacities which had emerged to be the spirit of man.
These two faiths were at one in their respect for crude physical movement. And here lay the deepest difference between the American and the Chinese minds. For the former, activity, any sort of activity, was an end in itself; for the latter, activity was but a progress toward the true end, which was rest, and peace of mind. Action was to be undertaken only when equilibrium was disturbed. And in this respect China was at one with India. Both preferred contemplation to action.
Thus in China and India the passion for wealth was less potent than in America. Wealth was the power to set things and people in motion; and in America, therefore, wealth came to be frankly regarded as the breath of God, the divine spirit immanent in man. God was the supreme Boss, the universal Employer. His wisdom was conceived as a stupendous efficiency, his love as munificence towards his employees. The parable of the talents was made the corner-stone of education; and to be wealthy, therefore, was to be respected as one of God's chief agents. The typical American man of big business was one who, in the midst of a show of luxury, was at heart ascetic. He valued his splendour only because it advertised to all men that he was of the elect. The typical Chinese wealthy man was one who savoured his luxury with a delicate and lingering palate, and was seldom tempted to sacrifice it to the barren lust of power.
On the other hand, since American culture was wholly concerned with the values of the individual life, it was more sensitive than the Chinese with regard to the well-being of humble individuals. Therefore industrial conditions were far better under American than under Chinese capitalism. And in China both kinds of capitalism existed side by side. There were American factories in which the Chinese operatives thrived on the American system, and there were Chinese factories in which the operatives were by comparison abject wage-slaves. The fact that many Chinese industrial workers could not afford to keep a motor-car, let alone an aeroplane

UKRAINA UCRANIA UCRAINE VENEZUELA - THE WINTER OF THE DEMONIC MALES

Demonic Males humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans are a group of genetically related Great Apes, BUT humans are genetically closer to chimps than chimps are to gorillas, and that chimps and bonobos are most closely genetically related.
 After speculating about what enabled humans' ancestors to leave the rainforest (the use of roots as sources of water and food), Demonic Males next provides a catalog of the types of violence practiced by male chimpanzees (intra-group hierarchical violence, violence against females and extra-group murdering raids). 
The high incidence of rape and plunder and loot by non-alpha male humans and orangutans and infanticide by male gorillas and charles cruziana types are also cited as examples of our mutual genetic heritage. The DAEMON MALES present chimp or bochechas society as extremely SOARES-LIKE patriarchal, in that no adult or very very old male chimpanzee is subordinate to any female of any rank. They present evidence that most dominant human civilizations have always been likewise behaviorally patriarchal, and that male humans share male chimpanzees' innate propensity for dominance, gratuitous violence, war, rape and murder. They claim that the brain's prefrontal cortex is also a factor, as humans have been shown experimentally to make decisions based both on logic and prefrontal cortex-mediated emotion.
 
The Peaceful Ape,  behaviors like those of the bonobo, presenting logical biological reasons for the more pacific (although also aggressive and antagonistic) behaviors  Reasons include a bonobo female social organization that doesn't tolerate male aggression, the invisibility of bonobo ovulation (in chimps, ovulation has both olfactory and genital swelling manifestations, leading to ferocious male competition for mating), and overall social organization, whereby male bonobos don't form alliances as male chimps do.

The Demonic Males consider male violence to be evolutionarily undesirable and morally reprehensible (explicitly detailing the Hutu-Tutsi cross-genocides in Africa's Great Ape habitats, and argue that the advent of modern weapons such as nerve gas and atomic bombs threaten our collective future. Like Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2012), which makes the case that violence has been decreasing in human society over time, Demonic Males makes the case that human males are genetically predisposed to violence, but that our species also has the intellectual capacity to override this flaw if we recognize that it is in our survival interest to do so.


In a political interpretation of Demonic Males, biologist Philip Regal says that the book is partly an attack on the deconstructivist feminist theory that male violence is a purely social construct. Regal also considers the book to be "a broadside against the old utopian dreams of Atlantis, Eden, Elysium, a Golden Age, Romantic paintings, and the late Margaret Mead" which imagined human beings as naturally peaceful are stronsos or in italian moron's

dimarts, 18 de febrer de 2014

OUTRA VISÃO QUE RENOVO - AVENTURAS DE DOM MARTINHO DE AGUILAR EM LISBOA - ARMANDO FERREIRA ANO TAL NUM DIA ASSIM

EU QUERO UM GALEGO

GALEGO, NÃO...

NÓS SOMOS MOÇOS.....CARREGADORES SE QUIZER, MAS LÁ CHAMAR-NOS GALEGOS

NÃO VALE

A NOSSA ASSOCIAÇÃO DE CLASSE PROIBIU PATRÃOZINHO

TREM? NÃO HÁ ACABARAM-SE. QUER UM TAXI??

INZACTAMENTE AO CONTRÁRIO

PARECIA-LHE IMPOSSÍVEL QUE O MAR

 FICASSE PARA O LADO MAIS ESTREITO DO RIO

( POIS É O PROBLEMA DA FALHA DO GARGALO DO TEJO QUE REJUVENESCEU

UM TROÇO DE RIO VELHO PODE SER QUE FUNCIONE COM OS VELHOS POLÍTICOS

DA PRAÇA E PSEUDO-ESCREVINHADORES E CORREIAS DE NATÁLIAS)

PARA ONDE É O CAIS DESSE TAL DE SODRÉ?

- VAMOS NO INLÉTRICO

ESTAMOS NO TEMPLO DO FADO

CONSUMO 25 TOSTÕES

MORREU ALGUÉM? (ILLUMINAÇÃO TRISTE. FUNÉREA)

SILÊNCIO VAI-SE CANTAR O FADO

A DAMA GORDA DE NOME NATÁLIA, SOFRIA, SOFRIA  POR AQUELE ANJO PURO

QUE UM CANALHA, LANÇOU NA LAMA DO MONTURO

VÃO UNS CAMARÕEZINHOS?

O QUÊ? DEPOIS DESTA TRISTEZA

AFONSO HENRIQUES....INRÓI PRIMEIRO

É O FEDALGO




UM OLHAR NOVO SOBRE AS DIFERENÇAS CULTURAIS DAS ALMAS QUE FORMAM E REFORMAM O POVO

Τρίτη, 18 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

CARTAS DO JAPÃO -WENCESLAU DE MORAES

1905  ...ainda sou da epoca em que tal separacao consistia n'um simples cordel; de modo que o viajante recem chegado a Yokohama, e levado invariavelmente pelo guia matreiro a uma casa de banhos publicos, via n'um so relance de olhos o jucundo espectaculo do grupo de homens que se banhavam e do grupo de mulheres que se banhavam... separados por um fio de pudor 
O fio ja foi substituido por uma solida parede; isto nas cidades e pontos mais frequentados, porque nas aldeias e nos banhos de todas as hospedarias ainda persiste a mesma innocente promiscuidade dos velhos tempos. Ainda ha poucas semanas um missionario inglez contava pela imprensa o seguinte caso divertido. 
Achava-se elle, nao sei como, tomando o seu banho em certa hospedaria, modestamente recolhido a um canto do recinto; a distancia, uma familia japoneza deliciava-se em ablucoes, dando as costas ao reverendo; eis que, casualmente, o chefe de familia volta-se, fita o inglez, reconhece n'elle um amigo, seguindo-se as interminaveis cortezias proverbiaes; o japonez nao quer perder o ensejo de apresentar sua familia ao missionario, vindo entao cada qual por hierarchias, --primeiro a esposa, depois as filhas, depois as creancas, -prestar suas homenagens ao estrangeiro, na doce toilette de nymphas encharcadas, alvejantes de espuma de sabao. 
Ha alguns dias, eu contava este caso, lido n'um jornal, a um amigo europeu; este, que acabava de chegar de Matzuyama, onde em servico official tora conferenciar com os presos russos, narrou-me por seu turno que na vespera, tomando o seu banho matinal, encontrara o recinto regorgitando de freguezes; dentro da tina, as damas cortezmente conchegavam-se entre si, faziam logar, acenando-me que entrasse,

Agora, chego à minha porta. Busco nas algibeiras a chave do cadeado protector, que 
me garante das possíveis visitas dos ladrões. Encontro a chave; mas, cego pelas trevas, 
maldisposto pelo desconsolo em que me sinto, pelos embrulhos que me pesam, pela 
fadiga que me enerva, pela chuvinha que me molha, multiplico-me em tentativas, 
prodigalizo-me em manejos, sem conseguir dar com o buraco do cadeado e abrir a 
porta. Assim se passam uns minutos, que bem longos me pareceram e me iam levando 
quase ao desespero. Então, de dentro da rama espessa da árvore única, um carvalho, 
que se ergue robusto e vicejante mesmo à entrada do casebre, a luzinha azulada de um 
pirilampo surdiu e começou a volutear cerca de mim; tão próximo das minhas mãos e 
do cadeado, que me permitiu sem custo servir-me da chave eficazmente, podendo 
penetrar em minha casa. 
Abençoado insecto, que veio assim, na ampla curva do voo casual, tão gentilmente 
beneficiar-me!... Casual? E porque não premeditado?... Ponho-me agora a divagar em 
estranhas conjecturas. Nesta grande cidade de Tokushima, que conta cerca de setenta 
mil habitantes, duas únicas criaturas, ninguém mais, duas mulheres indígenas, filhas do 
povo, da mesma família, tia e sobrinha, OYoné e Ko-Haru, seriam capazes, se ainda 
existissem, de se dar à incómoda tarefa de virem de longe, arrastando as sandálias 
pela lama, lanterna de papel transparente suspensa dos deditos, para alumiarem o 
meu caminho e facilitarem-me a operação de abrir a minha porta. Mas estas duas 
criaturas já não podem vir aqui, jamais aqui virão; já não existem; morreram; morreu 
primeiro a tia, depois a sobrinha, num intervalo de quatro anos. Vi-as eu, ambas, 
jazerem frias, descoradas, sobre as colchas dos seus leitos, como hastes de plantas 
mimosas, que duas rajadas de tempestade houvessem cortado cerce, brutalmente. 
Não, já não podem vir aqui, jamais virão aqui. Quanto ao insecto, atribuir-lhe simples 

intenções benévolas a meu respeito, seria disparate. No entretanto, aquele insecto...

  
Não são os Japoneses que crêem que os seus mortos podem voltar à Terra, encarnados 
noutros corpos, uma ave por exemplo, um insecto por exemplo, embora conservando 
reminiscências afectivas de suas existências anteriores?... 
Após esta última interrogação, que o meu espírito a si próprio se fizera, senti não sei 
que angústia pesar tão duramente, que me estacou de súbito as pulsações do coração. 
Foi um momento apenas. Em seguida, mais sereno, não pude conter estas palavras: 
“Será O-Yoné?... Será Ko-Haru?...” A frase soltou-se-me a meia-voz dos lábios trémulos, 
ungida de amargura, e então, fitando o espaço negro, ainda distingui, longe porém, a 
rutilância exígua do insecto, como uma estrela pequenina, que subisse, que subisse em 
curvas serpentinas, até alcançar o firmamento!...


 TESTEMUNHOS DA INFLUÊNCIA DA LÍNGUA 

 Palavras portuguesas e japonesas adoptadas por ambos os países. 
(Armando Martins Janeira, O Impacto Português sobre a Civilização Japonesa: seguido 
de epílogo sobre as relações entre Portugal e o Japão do século XVII aos nossos dias, 

BANZÉ  - BANZAI
BIOMBO BYÔBO
BONZO BOZU
VIDRO BIDORO
SACANA SAKANA SAKANAYA PEIXE E PEIXEIRO
CANA E CATA CANA KANA KATAKANA
CATANA KATANA

RELANCE DA ALMA JAPONESA - POIS ATÉ A ALMA COUSA VIRTUAL E INTERNÉTICA SE EXPRESSA NA LÍNGUA LIMPA OU SUJA DE UM POVO - WENCESLAU DE MORAES

E fugi, e voei, e fui deixando farrapos de alma (…).
 “Todavia, eu nunca experimentei a sensação plena do gozo, o prazer que domina tudo,
triunfante.
Eu nunca, no Japão como em parte alguma, me senti plenamente feliz, sem
dúvida por incompetência e incongruências de meus dotes afectivos: O enlevo das
coisas acorda sempre no íntimo do meu ser um sofrimento ignoto, a impressão de dor
por uma catástrofe sofrida ou por sofrer, - sofrida, talvez numa outra vida já vivida; por
sofrer, talvez em dias futuros da minha vida actual, talvez numa outra vida que há-de
vir; - ou terei eu o estranho dom de sofrer, por indução, a dor dos males que ferem os
outros seres?

YAMATO-DAMASHI (ALMA DE YAMATO)

 ki (espírito) no (de) doku (veneno - ki no doku -veneno de espírito

kinodoku pena ou pesar que sente pelo desgosto de outra pessoa

Aínoko filho (ki) de (no) amor (ai),,,,mestiços de pae estrangeiro

chocho chocho - gta a gota

jiri-jiri apressando-se

beta beta cousa peganhenta lamacenta

onomatopéas ....bisho-bisho molhar alagar

goro-goro estrondo do trovão

e não dizem noroeste mas leste norte

ou oeste sul

fechaduras fecham no sentido oposto das nossas

laranjas e ameixas temperam-se com sal

peixe e carne de vacca temperam-se com assucar

enxuga-se com uma toalha molhada ( e não com uma seca)

kaerimasu ( presente do indicativo -regressar ...mas quem regressa?

eu? tu? elle? nós? vós? elles? não se sabe

honorífico - ó o nobre arroz

a nobre água o nobre assucar

o termo mais rude que um japonês pode proferir é Baka imbecil

alheia a sua personalidade do turbilhão da vida

o indivíduo é nada, a família é tudo

A VIDA PASSA COMO O ORVALHO

DESAPARECE COMO O VENTO

 TODA A ALMA TRANSPARECE NO VERBO E POR VEZES NEM POR ISSO...

dilluns, 17 de febrer de 2014

THE HUMAN EXTINCTION ARE ON IS A GREAT CHAIN OF EXTINCTIONS THATS GOING MAD LIKE THE MAD CESARS THE MAD CZAR'S AND THE MAD KAISERS VON CUNUM



Δευτέρα, 17 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

QUATERNARY EXTINCTIONS: A PREHISTORIC REVOLUTION THAT NEVER ENDS .....AND IS GOING NICELY...

Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution FROM GIANT CAVE BEARS TO LAME VICUÑAS

4.What caused the extinction of so many animals at or near the end of the Pleistocene? Was it overkill by human hunters, the result of a major climatic change or was it just a part of some massive evolutionary turnover? Questions such as these have plagued scientists for over one hundred years and are still being heatedly debated today. Quaternary Extinctions presents the latest and most comprehensive examination of these questions. —Geological Magazine

"May be regarded as a kind of standard encyclopedia for Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology for years to come." —American Scientist

"Should be read by paleobiologists, biologists, wildlife managers, ecologists, archeologists, and anyone concerned about the ongoing extinction of plants and animals." —Science

"Uncommonly readable and varied for watchers of paleontology and the rise of humankind." —Scientific American

"Represents a quantum leap in our knowledge of Pleistocene and Holocene palaeobiology. . . . Many volumes on our bookshelves are destined to gather dust rather than attention. But not this one." —Nature

"Two strong impressions prevail when first looking into this epic compendium. One is the judicious balance of views that range over the whole continuum between monocausal, cultural, or environmental explanations. The second is that both the data base and theoretical sophistication of the protagonists in the debate have improved by a quantum leap since 1967." —American Anthropologist
Paperback, 892 pages is a little ...but is good to killing mosquito plagues and vicuñas

EVOLUTION OF INSANITY - A DRAMA WITH VARIOUS COSMIC COMIC ARTISTS (À LA CUÑA) AND NO SAFE METHODOLOGY TO ESCAPE

An author having a conversation with his fictional character, or losing control of his character, mind numbing points leading one twists and turns spinning the mind of the reader with hallucinogenic colors, concepts, and eurekas.
 The short stories begin simplified FOR GAMAS À CUNHA, and walks together with the author A FREAK VON GAMA GAMA À CUNHA as he takes a personal journey deep within the universe of his own consciousness, dwelling, prodding, dissecting, and creating... WELL CREATING SOME SHIT-LIKE IN WORD FORM

This book is a play on different writing styles uniquely conjured by the writer from random inspiration and experimentation with poetry as prior experience. This is a chronological anthology spanning the imagination and sanity of the writer. This book is a collection of humour, satire, and philosophy, with the most unique writing style and twists. 

This books evolves as one reads, from basic and simple stories of humor, to deeper and more profound satire best savored twice.

diumenge, 16 de febrer de 2014

CARTAS DA POBRE GENTE AO SENHORES DA TERRA - A SUA EXCELÊNCIA SENHOR ADMINISTRADOR-GERAL DO DISTRICTO DE LISBOA O EXCELLENTISSIMO COSTA CABRAL DA BOA CAMA QUE GAMA Y GAMA

DIZEM AS MULHERES PUBLICAS ABAIXO-ASSINADAS QUE ELAS ESTÃO PRONTAS

A OBEDECER ÀS ORDENS DE VOSSA EXCELÊNCIA JÁ QUE A NOSSA TRISTE SORTE

DITADA NOS EDITAIS DE 3 E DE 23 DO CORRENTE MÊS DE MAIO

QUE NOS MUDEMOS DAS RUAS QUE ELE DECLARA, PORQUE DIZ

QUE POR NOSSAS TORPEZAS  E DEVASSIDÕES NOS TORNAMOS INDIGNAS

DE AVIZINHARMOS COM FAMÍLIAS HONESTAS E RECATADAS

POIS A CARAPUÇA NÃO SERVE A TODAS MAS PELO QUE FAZEM UMAS,

PAGAM TODAS, POIS TALVEZ VOSSA EXCELÊNCIA DIGA QUE A LEI É IGUAL PARA

TODAS, ASSIM NÓS ESTAMOS PRONTAS A MUDAR-NOS SEJA PARA ONDE FOR

CONTANDO QUE VOSSA EXCELÊNCIA NOS DETERMINE RUAS CERTAS PARA

ONDE NÓS HAVEMOS PRESIDIR (E NÃO RESIDIR...POIS É UM PRESÍDIO)

PORQUE ISTO É O BOTO GERAL DE TODOS OS CIDADÃOS

PORQUE NENHUM QUER AVIZINHAR-SE CONNOSCO À LUZ DO DIA.....

divendres, 14 de febrer de 2014

STAR MAKER - OLAF STAPLEDON -1937 VERSION REDOX IN SOME YEARS OF ERASING FAULTY LINES

3.3 Prospects of the racE XENOS PROSPECT
5 Worlds innumerable
5.1 The diversity of worlds
5.2 Strange mankinds
9.1 Busy utopias .
9.5 The tragedy of the perverts . . .
9.6 A galactic utopia .
At a moment when Europe is in danger of a catastrophe worse than that of 1914 a book like this
 may be condemned as a distraction from the desperately urgent defence of civilization
against modern barbarism. Year by year, month by month, the plight of our fragmentary
and precarious civilization becomes more serious.
Fascism abroad grows more bold and ruthless in its foreign ventures, more tyrannical toward
 its own citizens, more barbarian in its contempt for the life of the mind.
Even in our own country we have reason to fear a tendency toward militarization and
the curtailment of civil liberty.
 Moreover,while the decades pass, no resolute step is taken to alleviate the injustice of our
social order.
 Our outworn economic system dooms millions to frustration.
Some merely shrug their shoulders and withdraw from the central struggle of our age.
These, with their minds closed against the world's most vital issues, inevitably produce works
which not only have no depth of significance for their contemporaries but also are subtly insincere.
But the crisis does exist, is of supreme importance, and concerns us all.
Can anyone who is at all intelligent and informed hold the contrary without self-deception?
Yet I have a lively sympathy with some of those "intellectuals" who declare that they have no
useful contribution to make to the struggle, and therefore had betternot dabble in it. 
In our defense I should say that, though we are inactive or ineffective as direct
 supporters of the cause, we do not ignore it. Gallantly plunging into the struggle,
they use their powers to spread urgent propaganda, or they even take up arms in the cause.
even in this age of crisis, what may be called metaphorically the "self-critical self-consciousness
of the human species," or the attempt to see man's life as a whole in relation to the rest of things.
This involves the will to regard all human affairs and ideals and theories with as little human prejudice
 as possible.
Those who are in the thick of the struggle inevitably tend to become, though in
a great and just cause, partisan. They nobly forgo something of that detachment,
that power of cold assessment, which is, after all, among the most valuable human
capacities. In their case this is perhaps as it should be; for a desperate struggle demands
less of detachment than of devotion.
And perhaps the attempt to see our turbulent world against a background of
stars may, after all, increase, not lessen the significance of the present human crisis.
It may also strengthen our charity toward one another.
In this belief I have tried to construct an imaginative sketch of the dread but
vital whole of things. I know well that it is a ludicrously inadequate and in some
ways a childish sketch, even when regarded from the angle of contemporary human
experience. In a calmer and a wiser age it might well seem crazy..
 The valuable, though much damaged words  which have become almost as obscene
 to the Left as the good old sexual words are to the Right, are here intended to suggest
an experience which the Right is apt to pervert and the Left to misconceive. This
experience, I should say, involves detachment from all private, all social, all racial ends
ONE night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill. Dark heather
checked my feet. Below marched the suburban lamps. Windows, their curtains
drawn, were shut eyes, inwardly watching the lives of dreams. Beyond the sea's
level darkness a lighthouse pulsed. Overhead, obscurity. I distinguished our own
house, our islet in the tumultuous and bitter currents of the world. There, for a
decade and a half, we two, so different in quality, had grown in and in to one another,
for mutual support and nourishment, in intricate symbiosis. There daily we
planned our several undertakings, and recounted the day's oddities and vexations.
There letters piled up to be answered, socks to be darned. There the children were
born, those sudden new lives. There, under that roof, our own two lives, recalcitrant
sometimes to one another, were all the while thankfully one, one larger, more
conscious life than either alone.
All this, surely, was good. Yet there was bitterness. And bitterness not only
invaded us from the world; it welled up also within our own magic circle. For
horror at our futility, at our own unreality, and not only at the world's delirium,
had driven me out on to the hill.
We were always hurrying from one little urgent task to another, but the upshot
was insubstantial. Had we, perhaps, misconceived our whole existence? Were we,
as it were, living from false premises? And in particular, this partnership of ours,
this seemingly so well-based fulcrum for activity in the world
Had we perhaps after all deceived ourselves? Behind those rapt windows
did we, like so many others, in-deed live only a dream? In a sick world even the
hale are sick. And we two, spinning our little life mostly by rote, seldom with clear
cognizance, seldom with firm intent, were products of a sick world.
Yet this life of ours was not all sheer and barren fantasy. Was it not spun from
the actual fibres of reality, which we gathered in with all the comings and goings
through our door, all our traffic with the suburb and the city and with remoter
cities, and with the ends of the earth? And were we not spinning together an authentic
expression of our own nature? Did not our life issue daily as more or less
firm threads of active living, and mesh itself into the growing web, the intricate,
ever-proliferating pattern of mankind?
I considered "us" with quiet interest and a kind of amused awe. How could I
describe our relationship even to myself without either disparaging it or insulting
it with the tawdry decoration of sentimentality? For this our delicate balance of
dependence and independence, this coolly critical, shrewdly ridiculing, but loving
mutual contact, was surely a microcosm of true community, was after all in its
simple style an actual and living example of that high goal which the world seeks.
The whole world? The whole universe? Overhead, obscurity unveiled a star.
One tremulous arrow of light, projected how many thousands of years ago, now
stung my nerves with vision, and my heart with fear. For in such a universe as
this what significance could there be in our fortuitous, our frail, our evanescent
community?
But now irrationally I was seized with a strange worship, not, surely of the star,
that mere furnace which mere distance falsely sanctified, but of something other,
which the dire contrast of the star and us signified to the heart. Yet what, what could
thus be signified? Intellect, peering beyond the star, discovered no Star Maker,
but only darkness; no Love, no Power even, but only Nothing. And yet the heart
praised.
Impatiently I shook off this folly, and reverted from the inscrutable to the familiar
and the concrete. Thrusting aside worship, and fear also and bitterness, I
determined to examine more coldly this remarkable "us," this surprisingly impressive
datum, which to ourselves remained basic to the universe, though in relation
to the stars it appeared so slight a thing.
Considered even without reference to our belittling cosmical background, we
were after all insignificant, perhaps ridiculous. We were such a commonplace occurrence,
so trite, so respectable. We were just a married couple, making shift to
live together without undue strain. Marriage in our time was suspect. And ours,
with its trivial romantic origin, was doubly suspect.
We had first met when she was a child. Our eyes encountered. She looked at
me for a moment with quiet attention; even, I had romantically imagined, with
obscure, deep-lying recognition. I, at any rate, recognized in that look (so I persuaded
myself in my fever of adolescence) my destiny. Yes! How predestinate had
seemed our union! Yet now, in retrospect, how accidental! True, of course, that
as a long-married couple we fitted rather neatly, like two close trees whose trunks
have grown upwards together as a single shaft, mutually distorting, but mutually
supporting. Coldly I now assessed her as merely a useful, but often infuriating adjunct
to my personal life. We were on the whole sensible companions. We left one
another a certain freedom, and so we were able to endure our proximity.
Such was our relationship. Stated thus it did not seem very significant for the
understanding of the universe. Yet in my heart I knew that it was so. Even the cold
stars, even the whole cosmos with all its inane immensities could not convince me
that this our prized atom of community, imperfect as it was, short-lived as it must
be, was not significant.
But could this indescribable union of ours really have any significance at all
beyond itself? Did it, for instance, prove that the essential nature of all human
beings was to love, rather than to hate and fear? Was it evidence that all men and
women the world over, though circumstance might prevent them, were at heart
capable of supporting a world-wide, love-knit community? And further, did it,
being itself a product of the cosmos, prove that love was in some way basic to the
cosmos itself? And did it afford, through its own felt intrinsic excellence, some
guarantee that we two, its frail supporters, must in some sense have eternal life?
Did it, in fact, prove that love was God, and God awaiting us in his heaven?
No! Our homely, friendly, exasperating, laughter-making, undecorated though
most prized community of spirit proved none of these things. It was no certain
guarantee of anything but its own imperfect rightness. It was nothing but a very
minute, very bright epitome of one out of the many potentialities of existence.
 I remembered the swarms of the unseeing stars. I remembered the tumult of hate
and fear and bitterness which is man's world. I remembered, too, our own not
infrequent discordancy. And I reminded myself that we should very soon vanish
like the flurry that a breeze has made on still water.
Once more there came to me a perception of the strange contrast of the stars
and us. The incalculable potency of the cosmos mysteriously enhanced the Tightness
of our brief spark of community, and of mankind's brief, uncertain venture.
And these in turn quickened the cosmos.
I sat down on the heather. Overhead obscurity was now in full retreat. In its
rear the freed population of the sky sprang out of hiding, star by star.
On every side the shadowy hills or the guessed, featureless sea extended beyond
sight. But the hawk-flight of imagination followed them as they curved downward
below the horizon. I perceived that I was on a little round grain of rock and metal,
filmed with water and with air, whirling in sunlight and darkness. And on the skin
of that little grain all the swarms of men, generation by generation, had lived in labor
and blindness, with intermittent joy and intermittent lucidity of spirit. And all
their history, with its folk-wanderings, its empires, its philosophies, its proud sciences,
its social revolutions, its increasing hunger for community, was but a flicker
in one day of the lives of stars.
If one could know whether among that glittering host there were here and there
other spirit-inhabited grains of rock and metal, whether man's blundering search
for wisdom and for love was a sole and insignificant tremor, or part of a universal
movement!
1.2 Earth among the stars
Overhead obscurity was gone. From horizon to horizon the sky was an unbroken
spread of stars. Two planets stared, unwinking. The more obtrusive of the constellations
asserted their individuality. Orion's four-square shoulders and feet, his
belt and sword, the Plough, the zigzag of Cassiopeia, the intimate Pleiades, all were
duly patterned on the dark. The Milky Way, a vague hoop of light, spanned the sky.
Imagination completed what mere sight could not achieve. Looking down,
I seemed to see through a transparent planet, through heather and solid rock,
through the buried graveyards of vanished species, down through the molten flow
of basalt, and on into the Earth's core of iron; then on again, still seemingly downwards,
through the southern strata to the southern ocean and lands, past the roots
of gum trees and the feet of the inverted antipodeans, through their blue, sunpierced
awning of day, and out into the eternal night, where sun and stars are together.
For there, dizzyingly far below me, like fishes in the depth of a lake, lay
the nether constellations. The two domes of the sky were fused into one hollow
sphere, star-peopled, black, even beside the blinding sun. The young moon was a
curve of incandescent wire. The completed hoop of the Milky Way encircled the
universe. In a strange vertigo, I looked for reassurance at the little glowing windows
of our home. There they still were; and the whole suburb, and the hills. But
stars shone through all. It was as though all terrestrial things were made of glass,
or of some more limpid, more ethereal vitreosity. Faintly the church clock chimed
for midnight. Dimly, receding, it tolled the first stroke.
Imagination was now stimulated to a new, strange mode of perception. Looking
from star to star, I saw the heaven no longer as a jeweled ceiling and floor, but
as depth beyond flashing depth of suns. And though for the most part the great
and familiar lights of the sky stood forth as our near neighbors, some brilliant stars
were seen to be in fact remote and mighty, while some dim lamps were visible only
because they were so near. On every side the middle distance was crowded with
swarms and streams of stars. But even these now seemed near; for the Milky Way
had receded into an incomparably greater distance. And through gaps in its nearer
parts appeared vista beyond vista of luminous mists, and deep perspectives of stellar
populations.
The universe in which fate had set me was no spangled chamber, but a perceived
vortex of star-streams. No! It was more. Peering between the stars into the
outer darkness, I saw also, as mere flecks and points of light, other such vortices,
such galaxies, sparsely scattered in the void, depth beyond depth, so far afield that
even the eye of imagination could find no limits to the cosmical, the all-embracing
galaxy of galaxies. The universe now appeared to me as a void wherein floated rare
flakes of snow, each flake a universe.
Gazing at the faintest and remotest of all the swarm of universes, I seemed, by
hypertelescopic imagination, to see it as a population of suns; and near one of those
suns was a planet, and on that planet's dark side a hill, and on that hill myself. For
our astronomers assure us that in this boundless finitude which we call the cosmos
the straight lines of light lead not to infinity but to their source.
But now, once more shunning these immensities, I looked again for the curtained
windows of our home, which, though star-pierced, was still more real to me
than all the galaxies. But our home had vanished, with the whole suburb, and the
hills too, and the sea. The very ground on which I had been sitting was gone. Instead
there lay far below me an insubstantial gloom. And I myself was seemingly
disembodied, for I could neither see nor touch my own flesh. And when I willed to
move my limbs, nothing happened. I had no limbs. The familiar inner perceptions
of my body, and the headache which had oppressed me since morning, had given
way to a vague lightness and exhilaration.
When I realized fully the change that had come over me, I wondered if I had
died, and was entering some wholly unexpected new existence. Such a banal possibility
at first exasperated me. Then with sudden dismay I understood that if indeed
I had died I should not return to my prized, concrete atom of community. The violence
of my distress shocked me. But soon I comforted myself with the thought
that after all I was probably not dead, but in some sort of trance, from which I
might wake at any minute. I resolved, therefore, not to be unduly alarmed by this
mysterious change. With scientific interest I would observe all that happened to
me.
I noticed that the obscurity which had taken the place of the ground was shrinking
and condensing. The nether stars were no longer visible through it. Soon the
earth below me was like a huge circular table-top, a broad disc of darkness surrounded
by stars. I was apparently soaring away from my native planet at incredible
speed.
 Every star had seemingly
flared up into higher magnitude. The heavens blazed. The major stars were like the
headlights of a distant car. The Milky Way, no longer watered down with darkness,
was an encircling, granular river of light.
Presently, along the Planet's eastern limb, now far below me, there appeared
a faint line of luminosity; which, as I continued to soar, warmed here and there
to orange and red. Evidently I was traveling not only upwards but eastwards, and
swinging round into the day. Soon the sun leapt into view, devouring the huge crescent
of dawn with its brilliance. But as I sped on, sun and planet were seen to drift
apart, while the thread of dawn thickened into a misty breadth of sunlight. This
increased, like a visibly waxing moon, till half the planet was illuminated. Between
the areas of night and day, a belt of shade, warm-tinted, broad as a sub-continent,
now marked the area of dawn. As I continued to rise and travel eastwards, I saw
the lands swing westward along with the day, till I was over the Pacific and high
noon. The Earth appeared now as a great bright orb hundreds of times larger than
the full moon. In its center a dazzling patch of light was the sun's image reflected in
the ocean. The planet's circumference was an indefinite breadth of luminous haze,
fading into the surrounding blackness of space. Much of the northern hemisphere,
tilted somewhat toward me, was an expanse of snow and cloud-tops. I could trace
parts of the outlines of Japan and China, their vague browns and greens indenting
the vague blues and grays of the ocean. Toward the equator, where the air was
clearer, the ocean was dark. A little whirl of brilliant cloud was perhaps the upper
surface of a hurricane. The Philippines and New Guinea were precisely mapped.
Australia faded into the hazy southern limb.
The spectacle before me was strangely moving. Personal anxiety was blotted
out by wonder and admiration; for the sheer beauty of our planet surprised me. It
was a huge pearl, set in spangled ebony. It was nacrous, it was an opal. No, it was far
more lovely than any jewel. Its patterned coloring was more subtle, more ethereal.
It displayed the delicacy and brilliance, the intricacy and harmony of a live thing.
Strange that in my remoteness I seemed to feel, as never before, the vital presence
of Earth as of a creature alive but tranced and obscurely yearning to wake.
I reflected that not one of the visible features of this celestial and living gem
revealed the presence of man. Displayed before me, though invisible, were some
of the most congested centers of human population. There below me lay huge
industrial regions, blackening the air with smoke. Yet all this thronging life and humanly
momentous enterprise had made no mark whatever on the features of the
planet. From this high look-out the Earth would have appeared no different before
the dawn of man. No visiting angel, or explorer from another planet, could
have guessed that this bland orb teemed with vermin, with world-mastering, selftorturing,
incipiently angelic beasts.
 Interstellar travel
WHILE I was thus contemplating my native planet, I continued to soar through
space. The Earth was visibly shrinking into the distance, and as I raced eastwards,
it seemed to be rotating beneath me. All its features swung westwards, till presently
sunset and the Mid-Atlantic appeared upon its eastern limb, and then the night.
Within a few minutes, as it seemed to me, the planet had become an immense
half-moon. Soon it was a misty, dwindling crescent, beside the sharp and minute
crescent of its satellite.
With amazement I realized that I must be traveling at a fantastic, a quite impossible
rate. So rapid was my progress that I seemed to be passing through a constant
hail of meteors. They were invisible till they were almost abreast of me; for they
shone only by reflected sunlight, appearing for an instant only, as streaks of light,
like lamps seen from an express train. Many of them I met in head-on collision,
but they made no impression on me. One huge irregular bulk of rock, the size of a
house, thoroughly terrified me. The illuminated mass swelled before my gaze, displayed
for a fraction of a second a rough and lumpy surface, and then engulfed me.
Or rather, I infer that it must have engulfed me; but so swift was my passage that I
had no sooner seen it in the middle distance than I found myself already leaving it
behind.
Very soon the Earth was a mere star. I say soon, but my sense of the passage
of time was now very confused. Minutes and hours, and perhaps even days....weeks etc
orbit of Mars, and rushing across the thoroughfare of the asteroids.
Some of these
tiny planets were now so near that they appeared as great stars streaming across
the constellations.
 One or two revealed gibbous, then crescent forms before they
faded behind me.
Already Jupiter, far ahead of me, grew increasingly bright and shifted its position
among the fixed stars. The great globe now appeared as a disc, which soon
was larger than the shrinking sun. Its four major satellites were little pearls floating
beside it. The planet's surface now appeared like streaky bacon, by reason of its
cloud-zones. Clouds fogged its whole circumference. Now I drew abreast of it and
passed it. Owing to the immense depth of its atmosphere, night and day merged
into one another without assignable boundary. I noted here and there on its eastern
and unilluminated hemisphere vague areas of ruddy light, which were perhaps
the glow cast upwards through dense clouds by volcanic upheavals.
In a few minutes, or perhaps years, Jupiter had become once more a star, and
then was lost in the splendor of the diminished but still blazing sun. No other of
the outer planets lay near my course, but I soon realized that I must be far beyond
the limits of even Pluto's orbit. The sun was now merely the brightest of the stars,
fading behind me.
At last I had time for distress. Nothing now was visible but the starry sky.
The Plough, Cassiopeia, Orion, the Pleiades, mocked me with their familiarity and
their remoteness. The sun was now but one among the other bright stars. Nothing
changed. Was I doomed to hang thus for ever out in space, a bodiless view-point?
Had I died? Was this my punishment for a singularly ineffectual life? Was this the
penalty of an inveterate will to remain detached from human affairs and passions
and prejudices?
In imagination I struggled back to my suburban hilltop. I saw our home. The
door opened. A figure came out into the garden, lit by the hall light. She stood for
a moment looking up and down the road, then went back into the house. But all
this was imagination only. In actuality, there was nothing but the stars.
After a while I noticed that the sun and all the stars in his neighborhood were
ruddy. Those at the opposite pole of the heaven were of an icy blue. The explanation
of this strange phenomenon flashed upon me. I was still traveling, and traveling
so fast that light itself was not wholly indifferent to my passage. The overtaking
undulations took long to catch me.
than they normally were, and I saw them therefore as red. Those that met me on
my headlong flight were congested and shortened, and were seen as blue.
Very soon the heavens presented an extraordinary appearance, for all the stars
directly behind me were now deep red, while those directly ahead were violet. Rubies
lay behind me, amethysts ahead of me. Surrounding the ruby constellations
there spread an area of topaz stars, and round the amethyst constellations an area
of sapphires. Beside my course, on every side, the colors faded into the normal
white of the sky's familiar diamonds. Since I was traveling almost in the plane of
the galaxy, the hoop of the Milky Way, white on either hand, was violet ahead of
me, red behind. Presently the stars immediately before and behind grew dim, then
vanished, leaving two starless holes in the heaven, each hole surrounded by a zone
of colored stars. Evidently I was still gathering speed. Light from the forward and
the hinder stars now reached me in forms beyond the range of my human vision.
As my speed increased, the two starless patches, before and behind, each with
its colored fringe, continued to encroach upon the intervening zone of normal stars
which lay abreast of me on every side. Amongst these I now detected movement.
Through the effect of my own passage the nearer stars appeared to drift across the
background of the stars at greater distance. This drifting accelerated, till, for an
instant, the whole visible sky was streaked with flying stars. Then everything vanished.
Presumably my speed was so great in relation to the stars that light from
none of them could take normal effect on me.
Though I was now perhaps traveling faster than light itself, I seemed to be floating
at the bottom of a deep and stagnant well. The featureless darkness, the complete
lack of all sensation, terrified me, if I may call "terror"
for might I not discover that the whole universe was no mere
place of dust and ashes with here and there a stunted life, but actually beyond the
parched terrestrial waste land, a world of flowers?
Was man indeed, as he sometimes desired to be, the growing point of the cosmical
spirit, in its temporal aspect at least? Or was he one of many million growing
points? Or was mankind of no more importance in the universal view than rats
in a cathedral? And again, was man's true function power, or wisdom, or love, or
worship, or all of all these?
I now seemed to my self-important self to be no isolated individual, craving
aggrandizement, but rather an emissary of mankind, no, an organ of exploration,
a feeler, 'projected by the living human world to make contact with its fellows in
space. At all cost I must go forward
Of all that I experienced on my travels, only a fraction was clearly intelligible to
me even at the time; and then, as I shall tell, my native powers were aided by beings
of superhuman development.
But a mysterious change had come over me. I soon discovered that, by merely
willing to approach a star, I could set myself in motion toward it, and at such a
speed that I must have traveled much faster than normal light. This, as I knew very
well, was physically impossible. Scientists had assured me that motion faster than
the speed of light was meaningless. I inferred that my motion must therefore be
in some manner a mental, not a physical phenomenon, that I was enabled to take
up successive viewpoints without physical means of locomotion. It seemed to me
evident, too, that the light with which the stars were now revealed to me was not
normal, physical light; for I noticed that my new and expeditious means of travel
took no effect upon the visible colors of the stars. However fast I moved, they
retained their diamond hues, though all were somewhat brighter and more tinted
than in normal vision.
No sooner had I made sure of my new power of locomotion than I began feverishly
to use it. I told myself that I was embarking on a voyage of astronomical and
metaphysical research; but already my craving for the Earth was distorting my purpose.
It turned my attention unduly toward the search for planets, and especially
for planets of the terrestrial type.
At random I directed my course toward one of the brighter of the near stars.
So rapid was my advance that certain lesser and still nearer luminaries streamed
past me like meteors. I swung close to the great sun, insensitive to its heat. On its
mottled surface, in spite of the pervading brilliance, I could see, with my gamma gamma ray
 vision, a group of huge dark sun-spots, each one a pit into which a dozen
Earths could have been dropped. Round the star's limb the excrescences of the
chromosphere looked like fiery trees and plumes and prehistoric monsters, atiptoe
or awing, all on a globe too small for them. Beyond these the pale corona spread
its films into the darkness. As I rounded the star in hyperbolic flight I searched
anxiously for planets, but found none. I searched again, meticulously, tacking and
veering near and far. In the wider orbits a small object like the earth might easily
be overlooked. I found nothing but meteors and a few insubstantial comets. This
was the more disappointing because the star seemed to be of much the same type
as the familiar sun.
Once more I struck out into the ocean of space, heading for another near star.
Once more I was disappointed. I approached yet another lonely furnace.
This too was unattended by the minute grains that harbor life.
I now hurried from star to star, a lost dog looking for its master. I rushed hither
and thither, intent on finding a sun with planets, and among those planets my
home. Star after star I searched, but far more I passed impatiently, recognizing
at once that they were too large and tenuous and young to be Earth's luminary.
Some were vague ruddy giants broader than the orbit of Jupiter; some, smaller and
more definite, had the brilliance of a thousand suns, and their color was blue. I had
been told that our Sun was of average type, but I now discovered many more of the
great youngsters than of the shrunken, yellowish middle-aged. Seemingly I must
have strayed into a region of late stellar condensation.
I noticed, but only to avoid them, great clouds of dust, huge as constellations,
eclipsing the star-streams; and tracts of palely glowing gas, shining sometimes by
their own light, sometimes by the reflected light of stars. Often these nacrous cloudcontinents
had secreted within them a number of vague pearls of light, the embryos
of future stars. I glanced heedlessly at many star-couples, trios, and quartets, in
which more or less equal partners waltz in close union. Once, and once only, I
came on one of those rare couples in which one partner is no bigger than a mere
Earth, but massive as a whole great star, and very brilliant. Up and down this region
of the galaxy I found here and there a dying star, somberly smoldering; and
here and there the encrusted and extinguished dead.
I never approached nearer to them than I could help, for they were of no interest
to me in my crazy yearning for the Earth. Moreover, they struck a chill into my
mind, prophesying the universal death. I was comforted, however, to find that as
yet there were so few of them.
I found no planets. I knew well that the birth of planets was due to the close
approach of two or more stars, and that such accidents must be very uncommon.
I reminded myself that stars with planets must be as rare in the galaxy as gems
among the grains of sand on the sea-shore. What chance had I of coming upon
one? I began to lose heart. The appalling desert of darkness and barren fire, the
huge emptiness so sparsely pricked with scintillations, the colossal futility of the
whole universe, hideously oppressed me. And now, an added distress, my power
of locomotion began to fail. Only with a great effort could I move at all among the
stars, and then but slowly, and ever more slowly. Soon I should find myself pinned
fast in space like a fly in a collection; but lonely, eternally alone. Yes, surely this was
my special Hell.
I pulled myself together. I reminded myself that even if this was to be my fate,
it was no great matter. The Earth could very well do without me. And even if there
was no other living world anywhere in the cosmos, still, the Earth itself had life,
and might wake to far fuller life. And even though I had lost my native planet, still,
that beloved world was real. Besides, my whole adventure was a miracle, and by
continued miracle might I not stumble on some other Earth? I remembered that I
had undertaken a high pilgrimage, and that I was man's emissary to the stars.
Resolving to explore a new region of the galaxy, where perhaps there would be
more of the older stars and a greater hope of planets, I headed in the direction of a
remote and populous cluster. From the faintness of the individual members of this
vaguely speckled ball of light I guessed that it must be very far afield. On and on
I traveled in the darkness. As I never turned aside to search, my course through
the ocean of space never took me near enough to any star to reveal it as a disc. The
lights of heaven streamed remotely past me like the lights of distant ships. After
a voyage during which I lost all measure of time I found myself in a great desert,
empty of stars, a gap between two star-streams, a cleft in the galaxy. The Milky Way
surrounded me, and in all directions lay the normal dust of distant stars; but there
were no considerable lights, save the thistle-down of the remote cluster which was
my goal.
This unfamiliar sky disturbed me with a sense of my increasing dissociation
from my home. It was almost a comfort to note, beyond the furthest stars of our
galaxy, the minute smudges that were alien galaxies, incomparably more distant
than the deepest recesses of the Milky Way; and to be reminded that, in spite of all
my headlong and miraculous traveling, I was still within my native galaxy, within
the same little cell of the cosmos where she, my life's friend, still lived. I was surprised,
by the way, that so many of the alien galaxies appeared to the naked eye,
and that the largest was a pale, cloudy mark bigger than the moon in the terrestrial
sky.
By contrast with the remote galaxies, on whose appearance all my voyaging
failed to make impression, the star-cluster ahead of me was now visibly expanding.
Soon after I had crossed the great emptiness between the star-streams, my cluster
confronted me as a huge cloud of brilliants. Presently I was passing through
a more populous area, and then the cluster itself opened out ahead of me, covering
the whole forward sky with its congested lights. As a ship approaching port
encounters other craft, so I came upon and passed star after star. When I had penetrated
into the heart of the cluster, I was in a region far more populous than any that
I had explored. On every side the sky blazed with suns, many of which appeared
far brighter than Venus in the Earth's sky. I felt the exhilaration of a traveler who,
after an ocean crossing, enters harbors by night and finds himself surrounded by
the lights of a metropolis. In this congested region, I told myself, many close approaches
must have occurred, many planetary systems must have been formed.
Once more I looked for middle-aged stars of the sun's type. All that I had passed
hitherto were young giants, great as the whole solar system. After further searching
I found a few likely stars, but none had planets. I found also many double and triple
stars, describing their incalculable orbits; and great continents of gas, in which new
stars were condensing. At last, at last I found a planetary system. With almost insupportable
hope I circled among these worlds; but all were greater than Jupiter,
and all were molten. Again I hurried from star to star. I must have visited thousands,
but all in vain. Sick and lonely I fled out of the cluster. It dwindled behind
me into a ball of down, sparkling with dew-drops. In front of me a great tract of
darkness blotted out a section of the Milky Way and the neighboring area of stars,
save for a few near lights which lay between me and the obscuring opacity. The
billowy edges of this huge cloud of gas or dust were revealed by the glancing rays
of bright stars beyond it. The sight moved me with self-pity; on so many nights at
home had I seen the edges of dark clouds silvered just so by moonlight. But the
cloud which now opposed me could have swallowed not merely whole worlds, not
merely countless planetary systems, but whole constellations.
Once more my courage failed me. Miserably I tried to shut out the immensities
by closing my eyes. But I had neither eyes nor eyelids. I was a disembodied,
wandering view-point. I tried to conjure up the little interior of my home, with the
curtains drawn and the fire dancing. I tried to persuade myself that all this horror
of darkness and dis tance and barren incandescence was a dream, that I was dozing
by the fire, that at any moment I might wake, that she would reach over from her
sewing and touch me and smile. But the stars still held me prisoner.
Again, though with failing strength, I set about my search. And after I had
wandered from star to star for a period that might have been days or years or aeons,
luck or some guardian spirit directed me to a certain sun-like star; and looking
outwards from this center, I caught sight of a little point of light, moving, with
my movement, against the patterned sky.4 As I leapt toward it, I saw another, and
another. Here was indeed a planetary system much like my own. So obsessed was I
with human standards that I sought out at once the most earth-like of these worlds.
And amazingly earth-like it appeared, as its disc swelled before me, or below me.
Its atmosphere was evidently less dense than ours, for the outlines of unfamiliar
continents and oceans were very plainly visible.
As on the earth, the dark sea brilliantly reflected the sun's image. White cloudtracts
lay here and there over the seas and the lands, which, as on my own planet,
were mottled green and brown. But even from this height I saw that the greens were
more vivid and far more blue than terrestrial vegetation. I noted, also, that on this
planet there was less ocean than land, and that the centers of the great continents
were chiefly occupied by dazzling creamy-white deserts.
 The other earth
AS I slowly descended toward the surface of the little planet, I found myself searching
for a land which promised to be like England. But no sooner did I realize what I
was doing than I reminded myself that conditions here would be entirely different
from terrestrial conditions, and that it was very unlikely that I should find intelligent
beings at all. If such beings existed, they would probably be quite incomprehensible
to me. Perhaps they would be huge spiders or creeping jellies. How could
I hope ever to make contact with such monsters?
After circling about at random for some time over the filmy clouds and the
forests, over the dappled plains and prairies and the dazzling stretches of desert, I
selected a maritime country in the temperate zone, a brilliantly green peninsula.
When I had descended almost to the ground, I was amazed at the verdure of the
country-side. Here unmistakably was vegetation, similar to ours in essential character,
but quite unfamiliar in detail. The fat, or even bulbous, leaves reminded me
of our desert-flora, but here the stems were lean and wiry. Perhaps the most striking
character of this vegetation was its color, which was a vivid blue-green, like the
color of vineyards that have been treated with copper salts. I was to discover later
that the plants of this world had indeed learnt to protect themselves by means of
copper sulphate from the microbes and the insect-like pests which formerly devastated
this rather dry planet.
I skimmed over a brilliant prairie scattered with Prussian blue bushes. The sky
also attained a depth of blue quite unknown on earth, save at great altitudes. There
were a few low yet cirrus clouds, whose feathery character I took to be due to the
tenuousness of the atmosphere. This was borne out by the fact that, though my
descent had taken place in the forenoon of a summer's day, several stars managed
to pierce the almost nocturnal sky. All exposed surfaces were very intensely illuminated.
The shadows of the nearer bushes were nearly black. Some distant objects,
rather like buildings, but probably mere rocks, appeared to be blocked out in ebony
and snow. Altogether the landscape was one of unearthly and fantastical beauty.
I glided with wingless flight over the surface of the planet, through glades,
across tracts of fractured rock, along the banks of streams. Presently I came to
a wide region covered by neat, parallel rows of fern-like plants, bearing masses of
nuts on the lower surfaces of their leaves. It was almost impossible to believe that
this vegetable regimentation had not been intelligently planned. Or could it after
all be merely a natural phenomenon not known on my own planet? Such was my
surprise that my power of locomotion, always subject to emotional interference,
now began to fail me. I reeled in the air like a drunk man. Pulling myself together,
I staggered on over the ranked crops toward a rather large object which lay some
distance from me beside a strip of bare ground. Presently, to my amazement, my
stupefaction, this object revealed itself as a plow. It was rather a queer instrument,
but there was no mistaking the shape of the blade, which was rusty, and obviously
made of iron. There were two iron handles, and chains for attachment to a beast
of burden. It was difficult to believe that I was many light-years distant from England.
Looking round, I saw an unmistakable cart track, and a bit of dirty ragged
cloth hanging on a bush. Yet overhead was the unearthly sky, full noon with stars.
I followed the lane through a little wood of queer bushes, whose large fat drooping
leaves had cherry-like fruits along their edges. Suddenly, round a bend in the
lane, I came upon a man. Or so at first he seemed to my astounded and star-weary
sight. I should not have been so surprised by the strangely human character of
this creature had I at this early stage understood the forces that controlled my adventure.
Influences which I shall later describe doomed me to discover first such
worlds as were most akin to my own. Meanwhile the reader may well conceive
my amazement at this strange encounter. I had always supposed that man was a
unique being. An inconceivably complex conjunction of circumstances had produced
him, and it was not to be supposed that such conditions would be repeated

anywhere in the universe. Yet here, on the very first globe to be explored, was an
obvious peasant. Approaching him, I saw that he was not quite so like terrestrial
man as he seemed at a distance; but he was a man for all that. Had God, then,
peopled the whole universe with our kind? Did he perhaps in very truth make us
in his image? It was incredible. To ask such questions proved that I had lost my
mental balance.
As I was a mere disembodied view-point, I was able to observe without being
observed. I floated about him as he strode along the lane. He was an erect biped
and in general plan definitely human. I had no means of judging his height, but he
must have been approximately of normal terrestrial stature, or at least not smaller
than a pigmy and not taller than a giant. He was of slender build. His legs were
almost like a bird's, and enclosed in rough narrow trousers. Above the waist he was
naked, displaying a disproportionately large thorax, shaggy with greenish hair. He
had two short but powerful arms, and huge shoulder muscles. His skin was dark
and ruddy, and dusted plentifully with bright green down. All his contours were
uncouth, for the details of muscles, sinews and joints were very plainly different
from our own. His neck was curiously long and supple. His head I can best describe
by saying that most of the brain-pan, covered with a green thatch, seemed to have
slipped backwards and downwards over the nape. His two very human eyes peered
from under the eaves of hair. An oddly projecting, almost spout-like mouth made
him look as though he were whistling. Between the eyes, and rather above them,
was a pair of great equine nostrils which were constantly in motion. The bridge of
the nose was represented by an elevation in the thatch, reaching from the nostrils
backwards over the top of the head. There were no visible ears. I discovered later
that the auditory organs opened into the nostrils.
Clearly, although evolution on this Earth-like planet must have taken a course
on the whole surprisingly like that which had produced my own kind, there must
also have been many divergencies.
The stranger wore not only boots but gloves, seemingly ol tough leather. His
boots were extremely short. I was to discover later that the feet of this race, the
"Other Men," as I called them, were rather like the feet of an ostrich or a camel.
The instep consisted of three great toes grown together. In place of the heel there
was an additional broad, stumpy toe. The hands were without palms. Each was a
bunch of three gristly fingers and a thumb.
The aim of this book is not to tell of ray own adventures but to give some idea of
the worlds which I visited. I shall therefore not recount in detail how I established
myself among the Other Men. Of myself it is enough to say a few words. When I
had studied this agriculturalist for a while, I began to be strangely oppressed by his
complete unawareness, of myself. With painful clearness I realized that the purpose
of my pilgrimage was not merely scientific observation, but also the need to effect
some kind of mental and spiritual traffic with other worlds, for mutual enrichment
and community. How should I ever be able to achieve this end unless I could find
some means of communication? It was not until I had followed my companion to
his home, and had spent many days in that little circular stone house with roof of
mudded wicker, that I discovered the power of entering into his mind, of seeing
through his eyes, sensing through all his sense organs, perceiving his world just as
he perceived it, and following much of his thought and his emotional life. Not till
very much later, when I had passively "inhabited" many individuals of the race, did
I discover how to make my presence known, and even to converse inwardly with
my host.
This kind of internal "telepathic" intercourse, which was to serve me in all my
wanderings, was at first difficult, ineffective, and painful. But in time I came to be
able to live through the experiences of my host with vividness and accuracy, while
yet preserving my own individuality, my own critical intelligence, my own desires
and fears. Only when the other had come to realize my presence within him could
he, by a special act of volition, keep particular thoughts secret from me.
It can well be understood that at first I found these alien minds quite unintelligible.
Their very sensations differed from my familiar sensations in important
respects. Their thoughts and all their emotions and sentiments were strange to me.
The traditional groundwork of these minds, their most familiar concepts, were derived
from a strange history, and expressed in languages which to the terrestrial
mind were subtly misleading.
I spent on the Other Earth many "other years," wandering from mind to mind
and country to country, but I did not gain any clear understanding of the psychology
of the Other Men and the significance of their history till I had encountered
one of their philosophers, an aging but still vigorous man whose eccentric and
unpalatable views had prevented him from attaining eminence. Most of my hosts,
when they became aware of 'my presence within them, regarded me either as an evil
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 22
spirit or as a divine messenger. The more sophisticated, however, assumed that I
was a mere disease, a symptom of insanity in themselves. They therefore promptly
applied to the local "Mental Sanitation Officer." After I had spent, according to the
local calendar, a year or so of bitter loneliness among minds who refused to treat me
as a human being, I had the good fortune to come under the philosopher's notice.
One of my hosts, who complained of suffering from "voices," and visions of "another
world," appealed to the old man for help. Bvalltu, for such approximately was
the philosopher's name, the "11" being pronounced more or less as in Welsh, Bvalltu
effected a "cure" by merely inviting me to accept the hospitality of his own mind,
where, he said, he would very gladly entertain me. It was with extravagant joy that
I made contact at last with a being who recognized in me a human personality.
3.2 A busy world
So many important characteristics of this world-society need to be described that
I cannot spend much time on the more obvious features of the planet and its race.
Civilization had reached a stage of growth much like that which was familiar to
me. I was constantly surprised by the blend of similarity and difference. Traveling
over the planet I found that cultivation had spread over most of the suitable areas,
and that industrialism was already far advanced in many countries. On the prairies
huge flocks of mammal-like creatures grazed and scampered. Larger mammals, or
quasi-mammals, were farmed on all the best pasture land for food and leather. I
say "quasi-mammal" because, though these creatures were viviparous, they did not
suckle. The chewed cud, chemically treated in the maternal belly, was spat into the
offspring's mouth as a jet of pre-digested fluid. It was thus also that human mothers
fed their young.
The most important means of locomotion on the Other Earth was the steamtrain,
but trains in this world were so bulky that they looked like whole terraces
of houses on the move. This remarkable railway development was probably due
to the great number and length of journeys across deserts. Occasionally I traveled
on steam-ships on the few and small oceans, but marine transport was on
the whole backward. The screw propeller was unknown, its place being taken by
paddle wheels. Internal-combustion engines were used in road and desert transCHAPTER
3. THE OTHER EARTH 23
port. Flying, owing to the rarified atmosphere, had not been achieved; but rocketpropulsion
was already used for long-distance transport of mails, and for longrange
bombardment in war. Its application to aeronautics might come any day.
My first visit to the metropolis of one of the great empires of the Other Earth
was an outstanding experience. Everything was at once so strange and so familiar.
There were streets and many-windowed stores and offices. In this old city the
streets were narrow, and so congested was the motor traffic that pedestrians were
accommodated on special elevated tracks slung beside the first-story windows and
across the streets.
The crowds that streamed along these footpaths were as variegated as our own.
The men wore cloth tunics, and trousers surprisingly like the trousers of Europe,
save that the crease affected by the respectable was at the side of the leg. The women,
breastless and high-nostriled like the men, were to be distinguished by their more
tubular lips, whose biological function it was to project food for the infant. In place
of skirts they disported green and glossy silk tights and little gawdy knickers. To my
unaccustomed vision the effect was inexpressibly vulgar. In summary both sexes
often appeared in the streets naked to the waist; but they always wore gloves.
Here, then, was a host of persons who, in spite of their oddity, were as essentially
human as Londoners. They went about their private affairs with complete
assurance, ignorant that a spectator from another world found them one and all
grotesque, with their lack of forehead, their great elevated quivering nostrils, their
startlingly human eyes, their spout-like mouths. There they were, alive and busy,
shopping, staring, talking. Children dragged at their mothers' hands. Old men
with white facial hair bowed over walking-stocks. Young men eyed young women.
The prosperous were easily to be distinguished from the unfortunate by their newer
and richer clothes, their confident and sometimes arrogant carriage.
How can I describe in a few pages the distinctive character of a whole teeming
and storied world, so different from my own, yet so similar? Here, as on my own
planet, infants were being born every hour. Here, as there, they clamored for food,
and very soon for companionship. They discovered what pain was, and what fear,
and what loneliness, and love. They grew up, molded by the harsh or kindly pressure
of their fellows, to be either well nurtured, generous, sound, or mentally crippled,
bitter, unwittingly vindictive. One and all they desperately craved the bliss of
true community; and very few, fewer here, perhaps, than in my own world, found
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 24
more than the vanishing flavor of it. They howled with the pack and hounded with
the pack. Starved both physically and mentally, they brawled over the quarry and
tore one another to pieces, mad with hunger, physical or mental. Sometimes some
of them paused and asked what it was all for; and there followed a battle of words,
but no clear answer. Suddenly they were old and finished. Then, the span from
birth to death being an imperceptible instant of cosmical time, they vanished.
This planet, being essentially of the terrestrial type, had produced a race that
was essentially human, though, so to speak, human in a different key from the
terrestrial. These continents were as variegated as ours, and inhabited by a race
as diversified as Homo sapiens. All the modes and facets of the spirit manifested
in our history had their equivalents in .3. the history of the Other Men. As with
us, there had been dark ages and ages of brilliance, phases of advancement and
of retreat, cultures predominantly material, and others in the main intellectual,
aesthetic, or spiritual. There were "Eastern" races and "Western" races. There were
empires, republics, dictatorships. Yet all was different from the terrestrial. Many
of the differences, of course, were superficial; but there was also an underlying,
deep-lying difference which I took long to understand and will not yet describe.
I must begin by speaking of the biological equipment of the Other Men. Their
animal nature was at bottom much like ours. They responded with anger, fear,
hate, tenderness, curiosity, and so on, much as we respond. In sensory equipment
they were not unlike ourselves, save that in vision they were less sensitive to color
and more to form than is common with us. The violent colors of the Other Earth
appeared to me through the eyes of its natives very subdued. In hear-ing also they
were rather ill-equipped. Though their auditory organs were as sensitive as ours
to faint sounds, they were poor discriminators. Music, such as we know, never
developed in this world.
In compensation, scent and taste developed amazingly. These beings tasted not
only with their mouths, but with then-moist black hands and with their feet. They
were thus afforded an extraordinarily rich and intimate experience of their planet.
Tastes of metals and woods, of sour and sweet earths, of the many rocks, and of the
innumerable shy or bold flavors of plants crushed beneath the bare running feet,
made up a whole world unknown to terrestrial man.
The genitals also were equipped with taste organs. There were several distinctive
male and female patterns of chemical characteristics, each powerfully attractive
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 25
to the opposite sex. These were savored faintly by contact of hands or feet with any
part of the body, and with exquisite intensity in copulation.
This surprising richness of gustatory experience made it very difficult for me
to enter fully into the thoughts of the Other Men. Taste played as important a part
in their imagery and conception as sight in our own. Many ideas which terrestrial
man has reached by way of sight, and which even in their most abstract form still
bear traces of their visual origin, the Other Men conceived in terms of taste. For
example, our "brilliant," as applied to persons or ideas, they would translate by a
word whose literal meaning was "tasty." For "lucid" they would use a term which in
primitive times was employed by hunters to signify an easily runnable taste-trail.
To have "religious illumination" was to "taste the meadows of heaven." Many of our
non-visual concepts also were rendered by means of taste. "Complexity" was "many
flavored," a word applied originally to the confusion of tastes round a drinking pool
frequented by many kinds of beasts. "Incompatibility" was derived from a word
meaning the disgust which certain human types felt for one another on account of
their flavors.
Differences of race, which in our world are chiefly conceived in terms of bodily
appearance, were for the Other Men almost entirely differences of taste and
smell. And as the races of the Other Men were much less sharply localized than
our own races, the strife between groups whose flavors were repugnant to one another
played a great part in history. Each race tended to believe that its own flavor
was characteristic of all the finer mental qualities, was indeed an absolutely reliable
label of spiritual worth. In former ages the gustatory and olfactory differences
had, no doubt, been true signs of racial differences; but in modern times, and in
the more developed lands, there had been great changes. Not only had the races
ceased to be clearly localized, but also industrial civilization had produced a crop
of genetic changes which rendered the old racial distinctions meaningless. The ancient
flavors, however, though they had by now no racial significance at all, and
indeed members of one family might have mutually repugnant flavors, continued
to have the traditional emotional effects. In each country some particular flavor
was considered the true hall-mark of the race of that country, and all other flavors
were despised, if not actually condemned.
In the country which I came to know best the orthodox racial flavor was a kind
of saltness inconceivable to terrestrial man. My hosts regarded themselves as the
very salt of the earth. But as a matter of fact the peasant whom I first "inhabited"
was the only genuine pure salt man of orthodox variety whom I ever encountered.
The great majority of that country's citizens attained their correct taste and smell
by artificial means. Those who were at least approximately salt, with some variety
of saltness, though not the ideal variety, were forever exposing the deceit of their
sour, sweet, or bitter neighbors. Unfortunately, though the taste of the limbs could
be fairly well disguised, no effective means had been found for changing the flavor
of copulation. Consequently newly married couples were apt to make the most
shattering discoveries about one another on the wedding night. Since in the great
majority of unions neither party had the orthodox flavor, both were willing to pretend
to the world that all was well. But often there would turn out to be a nauseating
incompatibility between the two gustatory types. The whole population was rotten
with neuroses bred of these secret tragedies of marriage. Occasionally, when one
party was more or less of the orthodox flavor, this genuinely salt partner would
indignantly denounce the impostor. The courts, the news bulletins, and the public
would then join in self-righteous protests.
Some "racial" flavors were too obtrusive to be disguised. One in particular, a
kind of bitter-sweet, exposed its possessor to extravagant persecution in all but the
most tolerant countries. In past times the bitter-sweet race had earned a reputation
of cunning and self-seeking, and had been periodically massacred by its less
intelligent neighbors. But in the general biological ferment of modern times the
bitter-sweet flavor might crop up in any family. Woe, then, to the accursed infant,
and to all its relatives! Persecution was inevitable; unless indeed the family was
wealthy enough to purchase from the state "an honorary salting" (or in the neighboring
land, "an honorary sweetening"), which removed the stigma.
In the more enlightened countries the whole racial superstition was becoming
suspect. There was a movement among the intelligentsia for conditioning infants
to tolerate every kind of human flavor, and for discarding the deodorants and degustatants,
and even the boots and gloves, which civilized convention imposed.
Unfortunately this movement of toleration was hampered by one of the consequences
of industrialism. In the congested and unhealthy industrial centers a new
gustatory and olfactory type had appeared, apparently as a biological mutation. In
a couple of generations this sour, astringent, and undisguisable flavor dominated
in all the most disreputable working-class quarters. To the fastidious palates of the
well-to-do it was overwhelmingly nauseating and terrifying. In fact it became for
them an unconscious symbol, tapping all the secret guilt and fear and hate which
the oppressors felt for the oppressed.
In this world, as in our own, nearly all the chief means of production, nearly
all the land, mines, factories, railways, ships, were controlled for private profit by
a small minority of the population. These privileged individuals were able to force
the masses to work for them on pain of starvation. The tragic farce inherent in such
a system was already approaching. The owners directed the energy of the workers
increasingly toward the production of more means of production rather than to
the fulfilment of the needs of individual life. For machinery might bring profit to
the owners; bread would not. With the increasing competition of machine with
machine, profits declined, and therefore wages, and therefore effective demand for
goods. Marketless products were destroyed, though bellies were unfed and backs
unclad. Unemployment, disorder, and stem repression increased as the economic
system disintegrated. A familiar story!
As conditions deteriorated, and the movements of charity and state-charity became
less and less able to cope with the increasing mass of unemployment and
destitution, the new pariah-race became more and more psychologically useful to
the hate-needs of the scared, but still powerful, prosperous. The theory was spread
that these wretched beings were the result of secret systematic race-pollution by
riff-raff immigrants, and that they deserved no consideration whatever. They were
therefore allowed only the basest forms of employment and the harshest conditions
of work. When unemployment had become a serious social problem, practically
the whole pariah stock was workless and destitute. It was of course easily believed
that unemployment, far from being due to the decline of capitalism, was due to the
worthless-ness of the pariahs.
At the time of my visit the working class had become tainted through and
through by the pariah stock, and there was a vigorous movement afoot amongst
the wealthy and the official classes to institute slavery for pariahs and half-pariahs,
so that these might be openly treated as the cattle which in fact they were. In view of
the danger of continued race-pollution, some politicians urged wholesale slaughter
of the pariahs, or, at the least, universal sterilization. Others pointed out that,
as a supply of cheap labor was necessary to society, it would be wiser merely to
keep their numbers down by working them to an early death in occupations which
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 28
those of "pure race" would never accept. This, at any rate, should be done in times
of prosperity; but in times of decline, the excess population could be allowed to
starve, or might be used up in the physiological laboratories.
The persons who first dared to suggest this policy were scourged by the whips of
generous popular indignation. But their policy was in fact adopted; not explicitly
but by tacit consent, and in the absence of any more constructive plan.
The first time that I was taken through the poorest quarter of the city I was surprised
to see that, though there were large areas of slum property far more squalid
than anything in England, there were also many great clean blocks of tenements
worthy of Vienna. These were surrounded by gardens, which were crowded with
wretched tents and shanties. The grass was worn away, the bushes damaged, the
flowers trampled. Everywhere men, women, and children, all filthy and ragged,
were idling.
I learned that these noble buildings had been erected before the world-economiccrisis
(familiar phrase!) by a millionaire who had made his money in trading an
opium-like drug. He presented the buildings to the City Council, and was gathered
to heaven by way of the peerage. The more deserving and less unsavory poor
were duly housed; but care was taken to fix the rent high enough to exclude the
pariah-race. Then came the crisis. One by one the tenants failed to pay their rent,
and were ejected. Within a year the buildings were almost empty.
There followed a very curious sequence of events, and one which, as I was to discover,
was characteristic of this strange world. Respectable public opinion, though
vindictive toward the unemployed, was passionately tender toward the sick. In
falling ill, a man acquired a special sanctity, and exercised a claim over all healthy
persons. Thus no sooner did any of the wretched campers succumb to a serious
disease than he was carried off to be cared for by all the resources of medical science.
The desperate paupers soon discovered how things stood, and did all in their
power to fall sick. So successful were they, that the hospitals were soon filled. The
empty tenements were therefore hastily fitted out to receive the increasing flood of
patients.
Observing these and other farcical events, I was reminded of my own race. But
though the Other Men were in many ways so like us, I suspected increasingly that
some factor still hidden from me doomed them to a frustration which my own
nobler species need never fear. Psychological mechanisms which in our case are
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 29
tempered with common sense or moral sense stood out in this world in flagrant
excess. Yet it was not true that Other Man was less intelligent or less moral than
man of my own species. In abstract thought and practical invention he was at least
our equal. Many of his most recent advances in physics and astronomy had passed
beyond our present attainment. I noticed, however, that psychology was even more
chaotic than with us, and that social thought was strangely perverted.
In radio and television, for instance, the Other Men were technically far ahead
of us, but the use to which they put their astounding inventions was disastrous. In
civilized countries everyone but the pariahs carried a pocket receiving set. As the
Other Men had no music, this may seem odd; but since they lacked newspapers,
radio was the only means by which the man in the street could learn the lottery and
sporting results which were his staple mental diet. The place of music, moreover,
was taken by taste- and smell-themes, which were translated into patterns of ethereal
undulation, transmitted by all the great national stations, and restored to their
original form in the pocket receivers and taste-batteries of the population. These
instruments afforded intricate stimuli to the taste organs and scent organs of the
hand. Such was the power of this kind of entertainment that both men and women
were nearly always seen with one hand in a pocket. A special wave length had been
allotted to the soothing of infants.
A sexual receiving set had been put upon the market, and programs were broadcast
for it in many countries; but not in all. This extraordinary invention was a
combination of radio--touch, taste, odor, and sound. It worked not through the
sense organs, but direct stimulation of the appropriate brain-centers. The recipient
wore a specially constructed skullcap, which transmitted to him from a remote
studio the embraces of some delectable and responsive woman, as they were then
actually being experienced by a male "love-broadcaster" or as electromagnetically
recorded on a steel tape on some earlier occasion. Controversies had arisen about
the morality of sexual broadcasting. Some countries permitted programs for males
but not for females, wishing to preserve the innocence of the purer sex. Elsewhere
the clerics had succeeded in crushing the whole project on the score that radio-sex,
even for men alone, would be a diabolical substitute for a certain much desired and
jealously guarded religious experience, called the immaculate union, of which I
shall tell in the sequel. Well did the priests know that their power depended largely
on their ability to induce this luscious ecstasy in their flock by means of ritual and
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 30
other psychological techniques.
Militarists also were strongly opposed to the new invention; for in the cheap
and efficient production of illusory sexual embraces they saw a danger even more
serious than contraception. The supply of cannon-fodder would decline.
Since in all the more respectable countries broadcasting had been put under the
control of retired soldiers or good churchmen, the new device was at first adopted
only in the more commercial and the more disreputable states. From their broadcasting
stations the embraces of popular "radio love-stars" and even of impecunious
aristocrats were broadcast along with advertisements of patent medicines,
taste-proof gloves, lottery results, savors, and degustatants.
The principle of radio-brain-stimulation was soon developed much further.
Programs of all the most luscious or piquant experiences were broadcast in all
countries, and could be picked up by simple receivers that were within the means
of all save the pariahs. Thus even the laborer and the factory hand could have
the pleasures of a banquet without expense and subsequent repletion, the delights
of proficient dancing without the trouble of learning the art, the thrills of motorracing
without danger. In an ice-bound northern home he could bask on tropical
beaches, and in the tropics indulge in winter sports. Governments soon discovered
that the new invention gave them a cheap and effective kind of power over
their subjects. Slum-conditions could be tolerated if there was an unfailing supply
of illusory luxury. Reforms distasteful to the authorities could be shelved if they
could be represented as inimical to the national radio-system. Strikes and riots
could often be broken by the mere threat to close down the broadcasting studios,
or alternatively by flooding the ether at a critical moment with some saccharine
novelty.
The fact that the political Left Wing opposed the further development of radio
amusements made Governments and the propertied classes the more ready to
accept it. The Communists, for the dialectic of history on this curiously earthlike
planet had produced a party deserving that name, strongly condemned the
scheme. In their view it was pure Capitalist dope, calculated to prevent the otherwise
inevitable dictatorship of the proletariat.
The increasing opposition of the Communists made it possible to buy off the
opposition of their natural enemies, the priests and soldiers. It was arranged that
religious services should in future occupy a larger proportion of broadcasting time,
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 31
and that a tithe of all licensing fees should be allocated to the churches. The offer
to broadcast the immaculate union, however, was rejected by the clerics. As an additional
concession it was agreed that all married members of the staffs of Broadcasting
Authorities must, on pain of dismissal, prove that they had never spent
a night away from their wives (or husbands). It was also agreed to weed out all
those B.A. employees who were suspected of sympathy with such disreputable ideals
as pacifism and freedom of expression. The soldiers were further appeased by a
state-subsidy for maternity, a tax on bachelors, and regular broadcasting of military
propaganda.
During my last years on the Other Earth a system was invented by which a man
could retire to bed for life and spend all his time receiving radio programs. His
nourishment and all his bodily functions were attended to by doctors and nurses
attached to the Broadcasting Authority. In place of exercise he received periodic
massage. Participation in the scheme was at first an expensive luxury, but its inventors
hoped to make it at no distant date available to all. It was even expected
that in time medical and menial attendants would cease to be necessary. A vast system
of automatic food-production, and distribution of liquid pabulum by means
of pipes leading to the mouths of the recumbent subjects, would be complemented
by an intricate sewage system. Electric massage could be applied at will by pressing
a button. Medical supervision would be displaced by an automatic endocrinecompensation
system. This would enable the condition of the patient's blood to
regulate itself automatically by tapping from the communal drug-pipes whatever
chemicals were needed for correct physiological balance.
Even in the case of broadcasting itself the human element would no longer be
needed, for all possible experiences would have been already recorded from the
most exquisite living examples. These would be continuously broadcast in a great
number of alternative programs.
A few technicians and organizers might still be needed to superintend the system;
but, properly distributed, their work would entail for each member of the
World Broadcasting Authority's staff no more than a few hours of interesting activity
each week.
Children, if future generations were required, would be produced ectogenetically.
The World Director of Broadcasting would be requested to submit psychological
and physiological specifications of the ideal "listening breed." Infants produced
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 32
in accordance with this pattern would then be educated by special radio programs
to prepare them for adult radio life. They would never leave their cots, save to pass
by stages to the full-sized beds of maturity. At the latter end of life, if medical science
did not succeed in circumventing senility and death, the individual would at
least be able to secure a painless end by pressing an appropriate button.
Enthusiasm for this astounding project spread rapidly in all civilized countries,
but certain forces of reaction were bitterly opposed to it. The old-fashioned religious
people and the militant nationalists both affirmed that it was man's glory to
be active. The religious held that only in self-discipline, mortification of the flesh,
and constant prayer, could the soul be fitted for eternal life. The nationalists of each
country declared that their own people had been given a sacred trust to rule the
baser kinds, and that in any case only the martial virtues could ensure the spirit's
admittance to Valhalla.
Many of the great economic masters, though they had originally favored radiobliss
in moderation as an opiate for the discontented workers, now turned against
it. Their craving was for power; and for power they needed slaves whose labor they
could command for their great industrial ventures. They therefore devised an instrument
which was at once an opiate and a spur. By every method of propaganda
they sought to rouse the passions of nationalism and racial hatred. They created,
in fact, the "Other Fascism," complete with lies, with mystical cult of race and state,
with scorn of reason, with praise of brutal mastery, with appeal at once to the vilest
and to the generous motives of the deluded young.
Opposed to all these critics of radio-bliss, and equally opposed to radio-bliss
itself, there was in each country a small and bewildered party which asserted that
the true goal of human activity was the creation of a world-wide community of
awakened and intelligently creative persons, related by mutual insight and respect,
and by the common task of fulfilling the potentiality of the human spirit on earth.
Much of their doctrine was a re-statement of the teachings of religious seers of a
fine long past, but it had also been deeply influenced by contemporary science.
This party, however, was misunderstood by the scientists, cursed by the clerics,
ridiculed by the militarists, and ignored by the advocates of radio-bliss.
Now at this time economic confusion had been driving the great commercial
empires of the Other Earth into more and more desperate competition for markets.
These economic rivalries had combined with ancient tribal passions of fear and
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 33
hate and pride to bring about an interminable series of war scares each of which
threatened universal Armageddon.
In this situation the radio-enthusiasts pointed out that, if their policy were accepted,
war would never occur, and on the other hand that, if a world-war broke
out, their policy would be indefinitely postponed. They contrived a worldwide
peace movement; and such was the passion for radio-bliss that the demand for
peace swept all countries. An International Broadcasting Authority was at last
founded, to propagate the radio gospel, compose the differences between the empires,
and eventually to take over the sovereignty of the world.
Meanwhile the earnestly "religous" and the sincere militarists, rightly dismayed
at the baseness of the motives behind the new internationalism, but in their own
manner equally wrong-headed, determined to save the Other Men in spite of themselves
by goading the peoples into war. All the forces of propaganda and financial
corruption were heroically wielded to foment the passions of nationalism. Even so,
the greed for radio-bliss was by now so general and so passionate, that the war party
would never have succeeded had it not been for the wealth of the great armorers,
and their experience in fomenting strife.
Trouble was successfully created between one of the older commercial empires
and a certain state which had only recently adopted mechanical civilization, but was
already a Great Power, and a Power in desperate need of markets. Radio, which formerly
had been the main force making for cosmopolitanism, became suddenly in
each country the main stimulus to nationalism. Morning, noon and night, every
civilized people was assured that enemies, whose flavor was of course subhuman
and foul, were plotting its destruction. Armament scares, spy stories, accounts of
the barbarous and sadistic behavior of neighboring peoples, created in every country
such uncritical suspicion and hate that war became inevitable. A dispute arose
over the control of a frontier province. During those critical days Bvalltu and I
happened to be in a large provincial town. I shall never forget how the populace
plunged into almost maniacal hate. All thought of human brotherhood, and even
of personal safety, was swept away by a savage blood-lust. Panic-stricken governments
began projecting long-range rocket bombs at their dangerous neighbors.
Within a few weeks several of the capitals of the Other Earth had been destroyed
from the air. Each people now began straining every nerve to do more hurt than it
received.
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 34
Of the horrors of this war, of the destruction of city after city, of the panicstricken,
starving hosts that swarmed into the open country, looting and killing,
of the starvation and disease, of the disintegration of the social services, of the
emergence of ruthless military dictatorships, of the steady or catastrophic decay
of culture and of all decency and gentleness in personal relations, of this there is
no need to speak in detail.
Instead, I shall try to account for the finality of the disaster which overtook the
Other Men. My own human kind, in similar circumstances, would never, surely,
have allowed itself to be so completely overwhelmed. No doubt, we ourselves are
faced with the possibility of a scarcely less destructive war; but, whatever the agony
that awaits us, we shall almost certainly recover. Foolish we may be, but we always
manage to avoid falling into the abyss of downright madness. At the last moment
sanity falteringly reasserts itself. Not so with the Other Men.
3.3 Prospects of the race
The longer I stayed on the Other Earth, the more I suspected that there must be
some important underlying difference between this human race and my own. In
some sense the difference was obviously one of balance. Homo sapiens was on
the whole better integrated, more gifted with common sense, less apt to fall into
extravagance through mental dissociation.
Perhaps the most striking example of the extravagance of the Other Men was
the part played by religion in their more advanced societies. Religion was a much
greater power than on my own planet; and the religious teachings of the prophets
of old were able to kindle even my alien and sluggish heart with fervor. Yet religion,
as it occurred around me in contemporary society, was far from edifying.
I must begin by explaining that in the development of religion on the Other
Earth gustatory sensation had played a very great part. Tribal gods had of course
been endowed with the taste-characters most moving to the tribe's own members.
Later, when monotheisms arose, descriptions of God's power, his wisdom, his justice,
his benevolence, were accompanied by descriptions of his taste. In mystical
literature God was often likened to an ancient and mellow wine; and some reports
of religious experience suggested that this gustatory-ecstasy was in many ways akin
CHAPTER 3. THE OTHER EARTH 35
to the reverent zest of our own wine-tasters, savoring some rare vintage.
Unfortunately, owing to the diversity of gustatory human types, there had seldom
been any widespread agreement as to the taste of God. Religious wars had
been waged to decide whether he was in the main sweet or salt, or whether his
preponderant flavor was one of the many gustatory characters which my own race
cannot conceive. Some teachers insist ed that only the feet could taste him, others
only the hands or the mouth, others that he could be experienced only in the subtle
complex of gustatory flavors known as the immaculate union, which was a sensual,
and mainly sexual, ecstasy induced by contemplation of intercourse with the deity.
Other teachers declared that, though God was indeed tasty, it was not through
any bodily instrument but to the naked spirit that his essence was revealed; and
that his was a flavor more subtle and delicious than the flavor of the beloved, since
it included all that was most fragrant and spiritual in man, and infinitely more.
Some went so far as to declare that God should be thought of not as a person at
all but as actually being this flavor. Bvalltu used to say, "Either God is the universe,
or he is the flavor of creativity pervading all things."
Some ten or fifteen centuries earlier, when religion, so far as I could tell, was
most vital, there were no churches or priesthoods; but every man's life was dominated
by religious ideas to an extent which to me was almost incredible. Later,
churches and priesthoods had returned, to play an important part in preserving
what was now evidently a declining religious consciousness. Still later, a few centuries
before the Industrial Revolution, institutional religion had gained such a
hold on the most civilized peoples that three-quarters of their total income was
spent on the upkeep of religious institutions. The working classes, indeed, who
slaved for the owners in return for a mere pittance, gave much of their miserable
earnings to the priests, and lived in more abject squalor than need have been.
Science and industry had brought one of those sudden and extreme revolutions
of thought which were so characteristic of the Other Men. Nearly all the churches
were destroyed or turned into temporary factories or industrial museums. Atheism,
lately persecuted, became fashionable. All the best minds turned agnostic.
More recently, however, apparently in horror at the effects of a materialistic culture
which was far more cynical and blatant than our own, the most industrialized
peoples began to turn once more to religion. A spiritistic foundation was provided
for natural science. The old churches were re-sanctified, and so many new reliCHAPTER
3. THE OTHER EARTH 36
gious edifices were built that they were soon as plentiful as cinema houses with us.
Indeed, the new churches gradually absorbed the cinema, and provided non-stop
picture shows in which sensual orgies and ecclesiastical propaganda were skilfully
blended.
At the time of my visit the churches had regained all their lost power. Radio
had indeed at one time competed with them, but was successfully absorbed. They
still refused to broadcast the immaculate union, which gained fresh prestige from
the popular belief that it was too spiritual to be transmitted on the ether. The more
advanced clerics, however, had agreed that if ever the universal system of "radiobliss"
was established, this difficulty might be overcome. Communism, meanwhile,
still maintained its irreligious convention; but in the two great Communist countries
the officially organized "irreligion" was becoming a religion in all but name.
It had its institutions, its priesthood, its ritual, its morality, its system of absolution,
its metaphysical doctrines, which, though devoutly materialistic, were none
the less superstitious. And the flavor of deity had been displaced by the flavor of
the proletariat.
Religion, then, was a very real force in the life of all these peoples. But there
was something puzzling about their devout-ness. In a sense it was sincere, and even
beneficial; for in very small personal temptations and very obvious and stereotyped
moral choices, the Other Men were far more conscientious than my own kind. But I
discovered that the typical modern Other Man was conscientious only in conventional
situations, and that in genuine moral sensibility he was strangely lacking.
Thus, though practical generosity and superficial comradeship were more usual
than with us, the most diabolic mental persecution was perpetrated with a clear
conscience. The more sensitive had always to be on their guard. The deeper kinds
of intimacy and mutual reliance were precarious and rare. In this passionately social
world, loneliness dogged the spirit. People were constantly "getting together,"
but they never really got there. Everyone was terrified of being alone with himself;
yet in company, in spite of the universal assumption of comradeship, these strange
beings remained as remote from one another as the stars. For everyone searched
his neighbor's eyes for the image of himself, and never saw anything else. Or if he
did, he was outraged and terrified.
Another perplexing fact about the religious life of the Other Men at the time
of my visit was this. Though all were devout, and blasphemy was regarded with
horror, the general attitude to the deity was one of blasphemous commercialism.
Men assumed that the flavor of deity could be bought for all eternity with money
or with ritual. Further, the God whom they worshipped with the superb and heartsearching
language of an earlier age was now conceived either as a just but jealous
employer or as an indulgent parent, or else as sheer physical energy. The crowning
vulgarity was the conviction that in no earlier age had religion been so widespread
and so enlightened. It was almost universally agreed that the profound teachings of
the prophetic era were only now being understood in the sense in which they had
originally been intended by the prophets themselves. Contemporary writers and
broadcasters claimed to be re-interpreting the scriptures to suit the enlightened
religious needs of an age which called itself the Age of Scientific Religion. Now
behind all the complacency which characterized the civilization of the Other Men
before the outbreak of the war I had often detected a vague restlessness and anxiety.
Of course for the most part people went about their affairs with the same absorbed
and self-satisfied interest as on my own planet. They were far too busy making a
living, marrying, rearing families, trying to get the better of one another, to spare
time for conscious doubt about the aim of life. Yet they had often the air of one who
has forgotten some very important thing and is racking his brains to recover it, or
of an aging preacher who uses the old stirring phrases without clear apprehension
of their significance. Increasingly I suspected that this race, in spite of all its triumphs,
was now living on the great ideas of its past, mouthing concepts that it no
longer had the sensibility to understand, paying verbal homage to ideals which it
could no longer sincerely will, and behaving within a system of institutions many
of which could only be worked successfully by minds of a slightly finer temper.
These institutions, I suspected, must have been created by a race endowed not only
with much greater intelligence, but with a much stronger and more comprehensive
capacity for community than was now possible on the Other Earth. They seemed
to be based on the assumption that men were on the whole kindly, reasonable and
self-disciplined.
It was a few days after the bombardment of the metropolis of his country.
Through Bvalltu's eyes and the goggles of his gas-mask I saw the results of that
bombardment. We had missed the horror itself, but had attempted to return to the
city to play some part in the rescue work. Little could be done. So great was the heat
still radiated from the city's incandescent heart, that we could not penetrate beyond
the first suburb. Even there, the streets were obliterated, choked with fallen buildings.
Human bodies, crushed and charred, projected here and there from masses
of tumbled masonry. Most of the population was hidden under the ruins. In the
open spaces many lay gassed. Salvage parties impotently wandered. Between the
smoke-clouds the Other Sun occasionally appeared, and even a daytime star.
After clambering among the ruins for some time, seeking Vainly to give help,
Bvalltu sat down. The devastation round about us seemed to "loosen his tongue," if I
may use such a phrase to express a sudden frankness in his thinking toward myself.
I had said something to the effect that a future age would look back on all this madness
and destruction with amazement. He sighed through his gas-mask, and said,
"My unhappy race has probably now doomed itself irrevocably." I expostulated; for
though ours was about the fortieth city to be destroyed, there would surely some
day be a recovery, and the race would at last pass through this crisis and go forward
from strength to strength.
The species, he said, was apparently subject to strange and long-drawn-out fluctuations
of nature, fluctuations which lasted for some twenty thousand years. All
races in all climates seemed to manifest this vast rhythm of the spirit, and to suffer
it simultaneously. Its cause was unknown. Though it seemed to be due to an influence
affecting the whole planet at once, perhaps it actually radiated from a single
starting point, but spread rapidly into all lands. Very recently an advanced scientist
had suggested that it might be due to variations in the intensity of "cosmic rays."
Geological evidence had established that such a fluctuation of cosmical radiation
did occur, caused perhaps by variations in a neighboring cluster of young stars. It
was still doubtful whether the psychological rhythm and the astronomical rhythm
coincided, but many facts pointed to the conclusion that when the rays were more
violent the human spirit declined. On the whole he inclined to the opinion
that the rhythmical waxing and waning of human mentality was due to causes
nearer home. Whatever the true explanation, it was almost certain that a high degree
of civilization had been attained many times in the past, and that some potent
influence had over and over again damped down the mental vigor of the human
race. In the troughs of these vast waves Other Man sank to a state of mental and
spiritual dullness more abject than anything which my own race had ever known
since it awoke from the subhuman. But at the wave's crest man's intellectual power,
moral integrity, and spiritual insight seem to have risen to a pitch that we should
regard as superhuman. Again and again the race would emerge from savagery, and
pass through barbarian culture into a phase of worldwide brilliance and sensibility.
Whole populations would conceive simultaneously an ever-increasing capacity
for generosity, self-knowledge, self-discipline, for dispassionate and penetrating
thought and uncontaminated religious feeling.
Consequently within a few centuries the whole world would blossom with free
and happy societies. Average human beings would attain an unprecedented clarity
of mind, and by massed action do away with all grave social injustices and private
cruelties. Subsequent generations, inherently sound, and blessed with a favorable
environment, would create a world-wide Utopia of awakened beings.
Presently a general loosening of fiber would set in. The golden age would be
followed by a silver age. Living on the achievements of the past, the leaders of
thought would lose themselves in a jungle of subtlety, or fall exhausted into mere
slovenliness. At the same time moral sensibility would decline. Men would become
on the whole less sincere, less self-searching, less sensitive to the needs of others, in
fact less capable of community. Social machinery, which had worked well so long
as citizens attained a certain level of humanity, would be dislocated by injustice and
corruption. Tyrants and tyrannical oligarchies would set about destroying liberty.
Hate-mad submerged classes would give them good excuse. Little by little, though
the material benefits of civilization might smolder on for centuries, the flame of the
spirit would die down into a mere flicker in a few isolated individuals. Then would
come sheer barbarism, followed by the trough of almost sub-human savagery.
It was confidently believed that the present
apex of civilization was the most brilliant of all, that its best was as yet to come, and
that by means of its unique scientific knowledge it would discover how to preserve
the mentality of the race from a recurrence of deterioration.
The present condition of the species was certainly exceptional. In no earlier
recorded cycle had science and mechanization advanced to such lengths. So far
as could be inferred from the fragmentary relics of the previous cycle, mechanical
invention had never passed beyond the crude machinery known in our own midnineteenth
century. The still earlier cycles, it was believed, stagnated at even earlier
stages in their industrial revolutions.
Now though it was generally assumed in intellectual circles that the best was
yet to be, Bva were convinced that the crest of the wave had
already occurred many centuries ago. In their view
civilization and mechanization were almost identical, and never before had there
been such a triumph of mechanization. The benefits of a scientific civilization were
obvious. For the fortunate class there was more comfort, better health, increased
stature, a prolongation of youth, and a system of technical knowledge so vast and
intricate that no man could know more than its outline or some tiny corner of
its detail. Moreover, increased communications had brought all the peoples into
contact. Local idiosyncrasies were fading out before the radio, the cinema, and
the gramophone. In comparison with these hopeful signs it was easily overlooked
that the human constitution, though strengthened by improved conditions, was
intrinsically less stable than formerly. Certain disintegrative diseases were slowly
but surely increasing. In particular, diseases of the nervous system were becoming
more common and more pernicious. Cynics used to say that the mental hospitals
would soon outnumber even the churches. But the cynics were only jesters. It was
almost universally agreed that, in spite of wars and economic troubles and social
upheavals, all was now well, and the future would be better.
The truth, said Bvalitu, was almost certainly otherwise. There was, as I had
suspected, unmistakable evidence that the average of intelligence and of moral integrity
throughout the world had declined; and they would probably continue to do
so. Already, a spate of revolutionary scientific
discoveries and theories, but not one of them, he said, contained any really
novel principle. They were all re-combinations of familiar principles. Scientific
method, invented some centuries ago, was so fertile a technique that it might well
continue to yield rich fruit for centuries to come even in the hands of workers incapable
of any high degree of originality.
But it was not in the field of science so much as in moral and practical activity
that the deterioration of mental caliber was most evident. I myself, with Bvalltu's
aid, had learnt to appreciate to some extent the literature of that amazing period,
many centuries earlier, when every country seemed to blossom with art, philosophy
and religion; when people after people had changed its whole social and political
order so as to secure a measure of freedom and prosperity to all men; when
state after state had courageously disarmed, risking destruction but reaping peace
and prosperity; when police forces were disbanded, prisons turned into libraries
or colleges; when weapons and even locks and keys came to be known only as museum
pieces; when the four great established priesthoods of the world had exposed
their own mysteries, given their wealth to the poor, and led the triumphant campaign
for community; or had taken to agriculture, handicrafts, teaching, as befitted
humble supporters of the new priestless, faithless, Godless religion of world-wide
community and inarticulate worship. After some five hundred years locks and keys,
weapons and doctrines, began to return. The golden age left behind it only a lovely
and incredible tradition, and a set of principles which, though now sadly misconceived,
were still the best influences in a distraught world.
Those scientists who attributed mental deterioration to the increase of cosmic
rays affirmed that if the race had discovered science many centuries earlier, when it
had still before it the period of greatest vitality, all would have been well. It would
soon have mastered the social problems which industrial civilization entails. It
would have created not merely a "mediaeval" but a highly mechanized Utopia. It
would almost certainly have discovered how to cope with the excess of cosmic rays
and prevent deterioration.
He did not pretend to know whether the disaster was caused by the increase of artificial food,
or the increased nervous strain of modern conditions, or interference with natural
selection, or the softer upbringing of children, or to some other cause. Perhaps it
should be attributed to none of these comparatively recent influences; for evidence
did suggest that deterioration had set in at the very beginning of the scientific age,
if not even earlier. It might be that some mysterious factor in the conditions of the
golden age itself had started the rot. It might even be, he suggested, that genuine
community generated its own poison, that the young human being, brought up
in a perfected society, in a veritable "city of God" on earth, must inevitably revolt
toward moral and intellectual laziness, toward romantic individualism and sheer
devilment; and that once this disposition had taken root, science and a mechanized
civilization had augmented the spiritual decay.
Shortly before I left the Other Earth a geologist discovered a fossil diagram of
a very complicated radio set. It appeared to be a lithographic plate which had been
made some ten million years earlier. The highly developed society which produced
it had left no other trace. This find was a shock to the intelligent world; but the
comforting view was spread abroad that some non-human and less hardy species
had long ago attained a brief flicker of civilization. It was agreed that man, once he
had reached such a height of culture, would never have fallen from it.
It was known to scientists that, owing to the weak gravitational hold of their world,
the atmosphere, already scant, was steadily deceasing. Sooner or later humanity
would have to face the problem of stopping this constant leakage of precious oxygen.
Hitherto life had successfully adapted itself to the progressive rarefaction of
atmosphere, but the human physique had already reached the limit of adaptability
in this respect. If the loss were not soon checked, the race would inevitably decline.
The only hope was that some means to deal with the atmospheric problem would
be discovered before the onset of the next age of barbarism. 
That a whole world of intelligent beings could be destroyed was
not an unfamiliar idea to me; but there is a great difference between an abstract
possibility and a concrete and inescapable danger
It seemed that the universe, or the maker of the universe,
must be indifferent to the fate of worlds. That there should be endless struggle and
suffering and waste must of course be accepted; and gladly, for these were the very
soil in which the spirit grew. But that all struggle should be finally, absolutely vain,
that a whole world of sensitive spirits fail and die, must be sheer evil. In my horror
it seemed to me that Hate must be the Star Maker.
 "Even if the powers destroy us," he said, "who are we, to
condemn them? As well might a fleeting word judge the speaker that forms it.
Perhaps they use us for their own hihg ends, use our strength and our weakness, our
joy and our pain, in some theme inconceivable to us, and excellent." But I protested,
"What theme could justify such waste, such futility? And how can we help judging;
and how otherwise can we judge than by the light of our own hearts, by which we
judge ourselves? It would be base to praise the Star Maker, knowing that he was too
insensitive to care about the fate of his worlds."
and waste all your lovely worlds, the little figments of your imagination, yet I must
praise you.

I MUST have spent several years on the Other Earth, a period far longer than I
intended when I first encountered one of its peasants trudging through the fields..
but a moment since I was sitting on the hill looking at the lights of our suburb. Yet
several years had passed.
Though we were both civilized
human beings, who tried always to behave with courtesy and generosity, our extreme
intimacy did sometimes fatigue us. I used, for instance, to find his passion
for the gustatory fine art of his world very wearisome. He would sit by the hour
passing his sensitive fingers over the impregnated cords to seize the taste sequences
that had for him such great subtlety of form and symbolism. I was at first intrigued,
then aesthetically stirred; but in spite of his patient help I was never at this early
stage able to enter fully and spontaneously into the aesthetic of taste. Sooner or
later I was fatigued or bored. Then again, I was impatient of his periodic need for
sleep. Since I was disembodied, I myself felt no such need. I could, of course, disengage
myself from Bvalitu and roam the world alone; but I was often exasperated
by the necessity of breaking off the day's interesting experiences merely in order to
afford my host's body time to recuperate. Bvalitu, for his part, at least in the early
days of our partnership, was inclined to resent my power of watching his dreams.
For though, while awake, he could withdraw his thoughts from my observation,
asleep he was helpless. Naturally I very soon learned to refrain from exercising
this power; and he, on his side, as our intimacy developed into mutual respect, no
longer cherished this privacy so strictly. In time each of us came to feel that to taste
the flavor of life in isolation from the other was to miss half its richness and subtlety.
Neither could entirely trust his own judgment or his own motives unless the
other were present to offer relentless though friendly criticism.
We hit upon a plan for satisfying at once our friendship, his interest in my
world, and my own longing for home. Why should we not somehow contrive to
visit my planet together? I had traveled thence; why should we not both travel
thither? After a spell on my planet, we could proceed upon the larger venture,
again together.
For this end we had to attack two very different tasks. The technique of interstellar
travel, which I had achieved only by accident and in a very haphazard
manner, must now be thoroughly mastered. Also we must somehow locate my
native planetary system in the astronomical maps of the Other Men.
This geographical, or rather cosmographical, problem proved insoluble. Do
what I would, I could provide no data for the orientation. The attempt, however,
led us to an amazing, and for me a terrifying discovery. I had traveled not only
through space but through time itself. In the first place, it appeared that, in the very
advanced astronomy of the Other Men, stars as mature as the Other Sun and as my
own Sun were rare. Yet in terrestrial astronomy this type of star was known to be the
commonest of all throughout the galaxy.
 According to the Other Men the great star-system was much less
flattened than we observe it to be. Our astronomers tell us that it is like a circular
biscuit five times as wide as it is thick. In their view it was more like a bun. I myself
had often been struck by the width and indefiniteness of the Milky Way in the sky
of the Other Earth. I had been surprised, too, that the Other Astronomers believed
the galaxy to contain much gaseous matter not yet condensed into stars. To our
astronomers it seemed to be almost wholly stellar.
Had I then traveled unwittingly much further than I had supposed, and actually
entered some other and younger galaxy? Perhaps in my period of darkness,
when the rubies and amethysts and diamonds of the sky had all vanished, I had
actually sped across intergalactic space. This seemed at first the only explanation,
but certain facts forced us to discard it in favor of one even stranger.
Comparison of the astronomy of the Other Men with my fragmentary recollection
of our own astronomy convinced me that the whole cosmos of galaxies known
to them differed from the whole cosmos of galaxies known to us. The average form
of the galaxies was much more rotund and much more gaseous, in fact much more
primitive, for them than for us.
Moreover, in the sky of the Other Earth several galaxies were so near as to be
prominent smudges of light even for the naked eye. And astronomers had shown
that many of these so-called "universes" were much closer to the home "universe"
than the nearest known in our astronomy.
The truth that now flashed on Bvalltu and me was indeed bewildering. Everything
pointed to the fact that I had somehow traveled up the river of time and
landed myself at a date in the remote past, when the great majority of the stars
were still young. The startling nearness of so many galaxies in the astronomy of
the Other Men could be explained on the theory of the "expanding universe." Well
I knew that this dramatic theory was but tentative and very far from satis-factory;
but at least here was one more striking bit of evidence to suggest that it must be
in some sense true. In early epochs the galaxies would of course be congested together.
There could be no doubt that I had been transported to a world which had
reached the human stage very long before my native planet had been plucked from
the sun's womb.
The full realization of my temporal remoteness from my home reminded me
of a fact, or at least a probability, which, oddly enough, I had long ago forgotten.
Presumably I was dead. I now desperately craved to be home again. Home was
all the while so vivid, so near. Even though its distance was to be counted in parsecs
and in aeons, it was always at hand. Surely, if I could only wake, I should find
myself there on our hill-top again. But there was no waking. Through Bvalltu's
eyes I was studying star-maps and pages of outlandish script. When he looked up,
I saw standing opposite us a caricature of a human being, with a frog-like face that
was scarcely a face at all, and with the thorax of a pouter-pigeon, naked save for a
greenish down. Red silk knickers crowned the spindle shanks that were enclosed in
green silk stockings. This creature, which, to the terrestrial eye, was simply a monster,
passed on the Other Earth as a young and beautiful woman. And I myself,
observing her through Bvalltu's benevolent eyes, recognized her as indeed beautiful.
To a mind habituated to the Other Earth her features and her every gesture
spoke of intelligence and wit. Clearly, if I could admire such a woman, I myself
must have changed.
It would be tedious to tell of the experiments by which we acquired and perfected
the art of controlled flight through interstellar space. Suffice it that, after
many adventures, we learned to soar up from the planet whenever we wished, and
to direct our course, by mere acts of volition, hither and thither among the stars.
We seemed to have much greater facility and accuracy when we worked together
than when either ventured into space by himself. Our community of mind seemed
to strengthen us even for spatial locomotion.
It was a very strange experience to find oneself in the depth of space, surrounded
only by darkness and the stars, yet to be all the while in close personal
contact with an unseen companion. As the dazzling lamps of heaven flashed past
us, we would think to one another about our experiences, or debate our plans, or
share our memories of our native worlds. Sometimes we used my language, sometimes
his. Sometimes we needed no words at all, but merely shared the-flow of
imagery in our two minds.
The sport of disembodied flight among the stars must surely be the most exhilarating
of all athletic exercises. It was not without danger; but its danger, as we
soon discovered, was psychological, not physical. In our bodiless state, collision
with celestial objects mattered little. Sometimes, in the early stages of our adventure,
we plunged by accident headlong into a star. Its interior would, of course, be
inconceivably hot, but we experienced merely brilliance.
CHAPTER 4. I TRAVEL AGAIN 49
The psychological dangers of the sport were grave. We soon discovered that
disheartenment, mental fatigue, fear, all tended to reduce our powers of movement.
More than once we found ourselves immobile in space, like a derelict ship on the
ocean; and such was the fear roused by this plight that there was no possibility of
moving till, having experienced the whole gamut of despair, we passed through
indifference and on into philosophic calm.
A still graver danger, but one which trapped us only once, was mental conflict.
A serious discord of purpose over our future plans reduced us not only to
immobility but to terrifying mental disorder. Our perceptions became confused.
Hallucinations tricked us. The power of coherent thought vanished. After a spell of
delirium, filled with an overwhelming sense of impending annihilation, we found
ourselves back on the Other Earth; Bvalltu in his own body, lying in bed as he had
left it, I once more a disembodied view-point floating somewhere over the planet's
surface. Both were in a state of insane terror, from which we took long to recover.
Months passed before we renewed our partnership and our adventure.
Long afterwards we learned the explanation of this painful incident. Seemingly
we had attained such a deep mental accord that, when conflict arose, it was more
like dissociation within a single mind than discord between two separate individuals.
Hence its serious consequences.
As our skill in disembodied flight increased, we found intense pleasure in sweeping
hither and thither among the stars. We tasted the delights at once of skating
and of flight. Time after time, for sheer joy, we traced huge figures-of-eight in and
out around the two partners of a "double star." Sometimes we stayed motionless for
long periods to watch at close quarters the waxing and waning of a variable. Often
we plunged into a congested cluster, and slid amongst its suns like a car gliding
among the lights of a city. Often we skimmed over billowy and palely luminous
surfaces of gas, or among feathery shreds and prominences; or plunged into mist,
to find ourselves in a world of featureless dawn light. Sometimes, without warning,
dark continents of dust engulfed us, blotting out the universe. Once, as we were
traversing a populous region of the heaven, a star suddenly blazed into exaggerated
splendor, becoming a "nova." As it was apparently surrounded by a cloud of nonluminous
gas, we actually saw the expanding sphere of light which was radiated by
the star's explosion. Traveling outward at light's speed, it was visible by reflection
from the surrounding gas, so that it appeared like a swelling balloon of light, fading
CHAPTER 4. I TRAVEL AGAIN 50
as it spread.
These were but a few of the stellar spectacles that delighted us while we easefully
skated, as on swallow wings, hither and thither among the neighbors of the Other
Sun. This was during our period of apprenticeship to the craft of interstellar flight.
When we had become proficient we passed further afield, and learned to travel so
fast that, as on my own earlier and involuntary flight, the forward and the hinder
stars took color, and presently all was dark. Not only so, but we reached to that more
spiritual vision, also experienced on my earlier voyage, in which these vagaries of
physical light are overcome.
On one occasion our flight took us outwards toward the limits of the galaxy,
and into the emptiness beyond. For some time the near stars had become fewer
and fewer. The hinder hemisphere of sky was now crowded with faint lights, while
in front of us lay starless blackness, unrelieved save by a few isolated patches of
scintillation, a few detached fragments of the galaxy, or planetary "sub-galaxies."
Apart from these the dark was featureless, save for half a dozen of the vague flecks
which we knew to be the nearest of the alien galaxies.
Awed by this spectacle, we stayed long motionless in the void. It was indeed
a stirring experience to see spread out before us a whole "universe," containing a
billion stars and perhaps thousands of inhabited worlds; and to know that each tiny
fleck in the black sky was itself another such "universe," and that millions more of
them were invisible only because of their extreme remoteness.
What was the significance of this physical immensity and complexity? By itself,
plainly, it constituted nothing but sheer futility and desolation. But with awe and
hope we told ourselves that it promised an even greater complexity and subtlety and
diversity of the psychical. This alone could justify it. But this formidable promise,
though inspiring, was also terrifying.
Like a nestling that peers over the nest's rim for the first time, and then shrinks
back from the great world into its tiny home, we had emerged beyond the confines
of that little nest of stars which for so long, but falsely, men called "the universe."
And now we sank back to bury ourselves once more in the genial precincts of our
native galaxy.
As our experiences had raised many theoretical problems which we could not
solve without further study of astronomy, we now decided to return to the Other
Earth; but after long and fruitless search we realized that we had completely lost
CHAPTER 4. I TRAVEL AGAIN 51
our bearings. The stars were all much alike, save that few in this early epoch were
as old and temperate as the Other Sun. Searching at random, but at high speed,
we found neither Bvalltu's planet nor mine, nor any other solar system. Frustrated,
we came to rest once more in the void to consider our plight. On every side the
ebony of the sky, patterned with diamonds, confronted us with an enigma. Which
spark of all this star-dust was the Other Sun? As was usual in the sky of this early
epoch, streaks of nebular matter were visible in all directions; but their shapes were
unfamiliar, and useless for orientation.
The fact that we were lost among the stars did not distress us. We were exhilarated
by our adventure, and each was a cause of good spirits in the other. Our
recent experiences had quickened our mental life, still further organizing our two
minds together. Each was still at most times conscious of the other and of himself
as separate beings; but the pooling or integration of our memories and of our temperaments
had now gone so far that our distinctness was often forgotten. Two disembodied
minds, occupying the same visual position, possessing the same memories
and desires, and often performing the same mental acts at the same time,
can scarcely be conceived as distinct beings. Yet, strangely enough, this growing
identity was complicated by an increasingly intense mutual realization and comradeship.
Our penetration of one another's minds brought to each not merely addition
but multiplication of mental riches; for each knew inwardly not only himself and
the other but also the contrapuntal harmony of each in relation to the other. Indeed,
in some sense which I cannot precisely describe, our union of minds brought
into being a third mind, as yet intermittent, but more subtly conscious than either
of us in the normal state. Each of us, or rather both of us together, "woke up" now
and then to be this superior spirit. All the experiences of each took on a new significance
in the light of the other; and our two minds together became a new, more
penetrating, and more self-conscious mind. In this state of heightened lucidity we,
or rather the new I, began deliberately to explore the psychological possibilities of
other types of beings and intelligent worlds. With new penetration I distinguished
in myself and in Bvalltu those attributes which were essential to the spirit and those
mere accidents imposed on each by his peculiar world. This imaginative venture
was soon to prove itself a method, and a very potent method, of cosmological research.
CHAPTER 4. I TRAVEL AGAIN 52
We now began to realize more clearly a fact that we had long suspected. In my
previous interstellar voyage, which brought me to the Other Earth, I had unwittingly
employed two distinct methods of travel, the method of disembodied flight
through space and a method which I shall call "physical attraction." This consisted
of telepathic projection of the mind directly into some alien world, remote perhaps
in time and space, but mentally "in tune" with the explorer's own mind at the time
of the venture. Evidently it was this method that had really played the chief part in
directing me to the Other Earth. The remarkable similarities of our two races had
set up a strong "physical attraction" which had been far more potent than all my
random interstellar wanderings. It was this method that Bvalltu and I were now to
practice and perfect.
Presently we noticed that we were no longer at rest but slowly drifting. We
had also a queer sense that, though we were seemingly isolated in a vast desert of
stars and nebulae, we were in fact in some kind of mental proximity with unseen
intelligences. Concentrating on this sense of presence, we found that our drift accelerated;
and that, if we tried by a violent act of volition to change its course, we
inevitably swung back into the original direction as soon as our effort ceased. Soon
our drift became a headlong flight. Once more the forward stars turned violet, the
hinder red. Once more all vanished.
In absolute darkness and silence we debated our situation. Clearly we were now
passing through space more quickly than light itself. Perhaps we were also, in some
incomprehensible manner, traversing time. Meanwhile that sense of the proximity
of other beings became more and more insistent, though no less confused. Then
once again the stars appeared. Though they streamed past us like flying sparks,
they were colorless and normal. One brilliant light lay right ahead of us. It waxed,
became a dazzling splendor, then visibly a disc. With an effort of will we decreased
our speed, then cautiously we swung round this sun, searching. To our delight,
it proved to be attended by several of the grains that may harbor life. Guided by
our unmistakable sense of mental presence, we selected one of these planets, and
slowly descended toward it.
 Worlds innumerable
5.1 The diversity of worlds
THE planet on which we now descended after our long flight among the stars was
the first of many to be visited. In some we stayed, according to the local calendar,
only a few weeks, in others several years, housed together in the mind of some
native. Often when the time came for our departure our host would accompany
us for subsequent adventures. As we passed from world to world, as experience
was piled upon experience like geological strata, it seemed that this strange tour of
worlds was lasting for many lifetimes. Yet thoughts of our own home-planets were
constantly with us. Indeed, in my case it was not till I found myself thus exiled that
I came to realize fully the little jewel of personal union that I had left behind. I had
to comprehend each world as best I could by reference to the remote world where
my own life had happened, and above all by the touchstone of that common life
that she and I had made together.
Before trying to describe, or rather suggest, the immense diversity of worlds
which I entered, I must say a few words about the movement of the adventure itself.
After the experiences which I have just recorded it was clear that the method of
disembodied flight was of little use. It did indeed afford us extremely vivid perception
of the visible features of our galaxy; and we often used it to orientate ourselves
when we had made some fresh discovery by the method of psychological attraction.
But since it gave us freedom only of space and not of time, and since, moreover,
planetary systems were so very rare, the method of sheer random physical
53
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 54
flight alone was almost infinitely unlikely to produce results. Physical attraction,
however, once we had mastered it, proved very effective. This method depended on
the imaginative reach of our own minds. At first, when our imaginative power was
strictly limited by experience of our own worlds, we could make contact only with
worlds closely akin to our own. Moreover, in this novitiate stage of our work we
invariably came upon these worlds when they were passing through the same spiritual
crisis as that which underlies the plight of Homo sapiens today. It appeared
that, for to enter any world at all, there had to be a deep-lying likeness or identity
in ourselves and our hosts.
As we passed on from world to world we greatly increased our understanding of
the principles underlying our venture, and our powers of applying them. Further,
in each world that we visited we sought out a new collaborator, to give us insight
into his world and to extend our imaginative reach for further exploration of the
galaxy. This "snowball" method by which our company was increased was of great
importance, since it magnified our powers. In the final stages of the exploration
we made discoveries which might well be regarded as infinitely beyond the range
of any single and unaided human mind.
At the outset Bvalltu and I assumed that we were embarking on a purely private
adventure; and later, as we gathered helpers, we still believed that we ourselves were
the sole initiators of cosmical exploration. But after a while we came in psychical
contact with another group of cosmical explorers, natives of worlds as yet unknown
to us. With these adventurers, after difficult and often distressing experiments, we
joined forces, entering first into intimate community, and later into that strange
mental union which Bvalitu and I had already experienced together in some degree
on our first voyage among the stars.
When we had encountered many more such groups, we realized that, though
each little expedition had made a lonely start, all were destined sooner or later to
come together. For, no matter now alien from one another at the outset, each group
gradually acquired such far-reaching imaginative power that sooner or later it was
sure to make contact with others.
In time it became clear that we, individual inhabitants of a host of other worlds,
were playing a small part in one of the great movements by which the cosmos was
seeking to know itself, and even see beyond itself.
In saying this I do not for a moment claim that, because I have shared in this
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 55
vast process of cosmical self-discovery, the story which I have to tell is true in a fully
literal sense. Plainly it does not deserve to be taken as part of the absolute objective
truth about the cosmos. I, the human individual, can only in a most superficial
and falsifying way participate in the superhuman experience of that communal "I"
which was supported by the innumerable explorers. This book must needs be a
ludicrously false caricature of our actual adventure. But further, though we were
and are a multitude drawn from a multitude of spheres, we represent only a tiny
fraction of the diversity of the whole cosmos. Thus even the supreme moment of
our experience, when it seemed to us that we had penetrated to the very heart of
reality, must in fact have given us no more than a few shreds of truth, and these not
literal but symbolic.
My account of that part of my adventure which brought me into contact with
worlds of more or less human type may be fairly accurate; but that which deals with
more alien spheres must be far from the truth. The Other Earth I have probably
described with little more falsehood than our historians commit in telling of the
past ages of Homo sapiens. But of the less human worlds, and the many fantastic
kinds of beings which we encountered up and down the galaxy and throughout the
whole cosmos, and even beyond it, I shall perforce make statements which, literally
regarded, must be almost wholly false. I can only hope that they have the kind of
truth that we sometimes find in myths.
Since we were now free of space, we ranged with equal ease over the nearer
and the remoter tracts of this galaxy. That we did not till much later make contact
with minds in other galaxies was not due to any limitations imposed by space, but
seemingly to our own inveterate parochialism, to a strange limitation of our own
interest, which for long rendered us inhospitable to the influence of worlds lying
beyond the confines of the Milky Way. I shall say more of this curious restriction
when I come to describe how we did at last outgrow it.
Along with freedom of space we had freedom of time. Some of the worlds that
we explored in this early phase of our adventure ceased to exist long before my
native planet was formed; others were its contemporaries; others were not born till
the old age of our galaxy, when the Earth had been destroyed, and a large number
of the stars had already been extinguished.
As we searched up and down time and space, discovering more and more of
the rare grains called planets, as we watched race after race struggle to a certain
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 56
degree of lucid consciousness, only to succumb to some external accident or, more
often, to some flaw in its own nature, we were increasingly oppressed by a sense of
the futility, the planlessness of the cosmos. A few worlds did indeed wake to such
lucidity that they passed beyond our ken. But several of the most brilliant of these
occurred in the earliest epoch of the galactic story; and nothing that we could as yet
discover in the later phases of the cosmos suggested that any galaxies, still less the
cosmos as a whole, had at last come (or will at last come) more under the sway of
the awakened spirit than they were during the epoch of those early brilliant worlds.
Not till a much later stage of our inquiry were we fitted to discover the glorious but
ironical and heart-rending climax for which this vast proliferation of worlds was
but a prologue.
In the first phase of our adventure, when, as I have said, our powers of telepathic
exploration were incomplete, every world that we entered turned out to be in the
throes of the same spiritual crisis as that which we knew so well on our native
planets. This crisis I came to regard as having two aspects. It was at once a moment
in the spirit's struggle to become capable of true community on a world-wide scale;
and it was a stage in the age-long task of achieving the right, the finally appropriate,
the spiritual attitude toward the universe.
In every one of these "chrysalis" worlds thousands of millions of persons were
flashing into existence, one after the other, to drift gropingly about for a few instants
of cosmical time before they were extinguished. Most were capable, at least in some
humble degree, of the intimate kind of community which is personal affection;
but for nearly all of them a stranger was ever a thing to fear and hate. And even
their intimate loving was inconstant and lacking in insight. Nearly always they
were intent merely on seeking for themselves respite from fatigue or boredom, fear
or hunger. Like my own race, they never fully awoke from the primeval sleep of
the subman. Only a few here and there, now and then, were solaced, goaded, or
tortured by moments of true wakefulness. Still fewer attained a clear and constant
vision, even of some partial aspect of truth; and their half-truths they nearly always
took to be absolute. Propagating their little partial truths, they bewildered and
misdirected their fellow mortals as much as they helped them.
Each individual spirit, in nearly all these worlds, attained at some point in life
some lowly climax of awareness and of spiritual integrity, only to sink slowly or
catastrophically back into nothingness. Or so it seemed. As in my own world, so
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 57
in all these others, lives were spent in pursuit of shadowy ends that remained ever
just round the comer. There were vast tracts of boredom and frustration, with here
and there some rare bright joy. These were ecstasies of personal triumph, of mutual
intercourse and love, of intellectual insight, of aesthetic creation. There were also
religious ecstasies; but these, like all else in these worlds, were obscured by false
interpretations. There were crazy ecstasies of hate and cruelty, felt against individuals
and against groups. Sometimes during this early phase of our adventure we
were so distressed by the incredible bulk of suffering and of cruelty up and down
the worlds that our courage failed, our telepathic powers were disordered, and we
slipped toward madness.
Yet most of these worlds were really no worse than our own. Like us, they
had reached that stage when the spirit, half awakened from brutishness and very
far from maturity, can suffer most desperately and behave most cruelly. And like
us, these tragic but vital worlds, visited in our early adventures, were agonized by
the inability of their minds to keep pace with changing circumstance. They were
always behindhand, always applying old concepts and old ideals inappropriately to
novel situations. Like us, they were constantly tortured by their hunger for a degree
of community which their condition demanded but their poor, cowardly, selfish
spirits could by no means attain. Only in couples and in little circles of companions
could they support true community, the communion of mutual insight and respect
and love. But in their tribes and nations they conceived all too easily the sham
community of the pack, baying in unison of fear and hate.
Particularly in one respect these races were recognizably our kin. Each had
risen by a strange mixture of violence and gentleness. The apostles of violence and
the apostles of gentleness swayed them this way and that. At the time of our visit
many of these worlds were in the throes of a crisis of this conflict. In the recent
past, loud lip-service had been paid to gentleness and tolerance and freedom; but
the policy had failed, because there was no sincere purpose in it, no conviction
of the spirit, no true experience of respect for individual personality. All kinds
of self-seeking and vindictiveness had nourished, secretly at first, then openly as
shameless individualism. Then at last, in rage, the peoples turned away from individualism
and plunged into the cult of the herd. At the same time, in disgust with
the failure of gentleness, they began openly to praise violence, and the ruthlessness
of the god-sent hero and of the armed tribe. Those who thought they believed in
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 58
gentleness built up armaments for their tribes against those foreign tribes whom
they accused of believing in violence. The highly developed technique of violence
threatened to destroy civilization; year by year gentleness lost ground. Pew could
understand that their world must be saved, not by violence in the short run, but by
gentleness in the long run. And still fewer could see that, to be effective, gentleness
must be a religion; and that lasting peace can never come till the many have wakened
to the lucidity of consciousness which, in all these worlds, only the few could
as yet attain.
If I were to describe in detail every world that we explored, this book would
develop into a world of libraries. I can give only a few pages to the many types of
worlds encountered in this early stage of our adventure, up and down the whole
breadth and length and the whole duration of our galaxy. Some of these types had
apparently very few instances; other occurred in scores or hundreds.
The most numerous of all classes of intelligent worlds is that which includes
the planet familiar to readers of this book. Homo sapiens has recently flattered and
frightened himself by conceiving that, though perhaps he is not the sole intelligence
in the cosmos, he is at least unique, and that worlds suited to intelligent life of any
kind must be extremely rare. This view proves ludicrously false. In comparison
with the unimaginable number of stars intelligent worlds are indeed very rare; but
we discovered some thousands of worlds much like the Earth and possessed by
beings of essentially human kind, though superficially they were often unlike the
type that we call human. The Other Men were amongst the most obviously human.
But in a later stage of our adventure, when our research was no longer restricted to
worlds that had reached the familiar spiritual crisis, we stumbled on a few planets
inhabited by races almost identical with Homo sapiens, or rather with the creature
that Homo sapiens was in the earliest phase of his existence. These most human
worlds we had not encountered earlier because, by one accident or another, they
were destroyed before reaching the stage of our own mentality.
Long after we had succeeded in extending our research from our peers among
the worlds to our inferiors in mental rank we remained unable to make any sort of
contact with beings who had passed wholly beyond the attainment of Homo sapiens.
Consequently, though we traced the history of many worlds through many
epochs, and saw many reach a catastrophic end, or sink into stagnation and inevitable
decline, there were a few with which, do what we would, we lost touch just
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 59
at that moment when they seemed ripe for a leap forward into some more developed
mentality. Not till a much later stage of our adventure, when our corporate
being had itself been enriched by the influx of many superior spirits, were we able
to pick up once more the threads of these most exalted world-biographies.
5.2 Strange mankinds
Though all the worlds which we entered in the first phase of our adventure were
in the throes of the crisis known so well in our own world, some were occupied
by races bio-logically similar to man, others by very different types. The more obviously
human races inhabited planets of much the same size and nature as the
Earth and the Other Earth. All, whatever the vagaries of their biological history,
had finally been molded by circumstance to the erect form which is evidently most
suited to such worlds. Nearly always the two nether limbs were used for locomotion,
the two upper limbs for manipulation. Generally there was some sort of head,
containing the brain and the organs of remote perception, and perhaps the orifices
for eating and breathing. In size these quasi-human types were seldom larger than
our largest gorillas, seldom much smaller than monkeys; but we could not estimate
their size with any accuracy, as we had no familiar standards of measurements.
Within this approximately human class there was great variety. We came upon
feathered, penguin-like men, descended from true fliers, and on some small planets
we found bird-men who retained the power of flight, yet were able to carry an
adequate human brain. Even on some large planets, with exceptionally buoyant
atmosphere, men flew with their own wings. Then there were men that had developed
from a slug-like ancestor along a line which was not vertebrate, still less
mammalian. Men of this type attained the necessary rigidity and flexibility of limb
by means of a delicate internal "basket-work" of wiry bones.
On one very small but earthlike planet we discovered a quasi-human race which
was probably unique. Here, though life had evolved much as on earth, all the higher
animals differed remarkably from the familiar type in one obvious respect. They
were without that far-reaching duplication of organs which characterizes all our
vertebrates. Thus a man in this world was rather like half a terrestrial man. He
hopped on one sturdy, splay-footed leg, balancing himself with a kangaroo tail. A
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 60
single arm protruded from his chest, but branched into three forearms and prehensile
fingers. Above his mouth was a single nostril, above that an ear, and on the
top of his head a flexible three-pronged proboscis bearing three eyes.
A very different and fairly common quasi-human kind was sometimes produced
by planets rather larger than the Earth. Owing to the greater strength of
gravitation, there would first appear, in place of the familiar quadruped, a sixlegged
type. This would proliferate into little sextuped burrowers, swift and elegant
sextuped grazers, a sextuped mammoth, complete with tusks, and many
kinds of sextuped carnivora. Man in these worlds sprang usually from some small
opossum-like creature which had come to use the first of its three pairs of limbs for
nest-building or for climbing. In time, the forepart of its body thus became erect,
and it gradually assumed a form not unlike that of a quadruped with a human torso
in place of a neck. In fact it became a centaur, with four legs and two capable arms.
It was very strange to find oneself in a world in which all the amenities and conveniences
of civilization were fashioned to suit men of this form.
In one of these worlds, rather smaller than the rest; man was not a centaur,
though centaurs were among his remote ancestors. In sub-human stages of evolution
the pressure of the environment had telescoped the horizontal part of the
centaur's body, so that the forelegs and the hind-legs were drawn closer and closer
together, till at last they became a single sturdy pair. Thus man and his nearer ancestors
were bipeds with very large rumps, reminiscent of the Victorian bustle, and
legs whose internal structure still showed their "centaur" origin.
One very common kind of quasi-human world I must describe in more detail,
as it plays an important part in the history of our galaxy. In these worlds man,
though varying greatly in form and fortune in particular worlds, had in every case
developed from a sort of five-pronged marine animal, rather like a star-fish. This
creature would in time specialize one prong for perceiving, four for locomotion.
Later it would develop lungs, a complex digestive apparatus, and a well-integrated
nervous system. Later still the perceiving limb would produce a brain, the others
becoming adapted for running and climbing. The soft spines which covered the
body of the ancestral star-fish often developed into a kind of spiky fur. In due season
there would arise an erect, intelligent biped, equipped with eyes, nostrils, ears,
taste-organs, and sometimes organs of electric perception. Save for the grotesqueness
of their faces, and the fact that the mouth was generally upon the belly, these
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 61
creatures were remarkably human. Their bodies, however, were usually covered
with the soft spines or fat hairs characteristic of these worlds. Clothes were unknown,
save as protection against cold in the arctic regions. Their faces, of course,
were apt to be far from human. The tall head often bore a coronet of five eyes. Large
single nostrils, used for breathing and smelling and also speaking, formed another
circlet below the eyes.
The appearance of these "Human Echinoderms" belied their nature, for though
their faces were inhuman, the basic pattern of their minds was not unlike our own.
Their senses were much like ours, save that in some worlds they developed a far
more varied color-sensitivity. Those races that had the electric sense gave us some
difficulty; for, in order to understand their thought, we had to learn a whole new
gamut of sense qualities and a vast system of unfamiliar symbolism. The electric
organs detected very slight differences of electric charge in relation to the subject's
own body. Originally this sense had been used for revealing enemies equipped
with electric organs of offense. But in man its significance was chiefly social. It
gave information about the emotional state of one's neighbors. Beyond this its
function was meteorological.
One example of this kind of world, one which clearly illustrates the type, and at
the same time presents interesting peculiarities must be described in more detail.
The key to the understanding of this race is, I believe, its strange method of
reproduction, which was essentially communal. Every individual was capable of
budding a new individual; but only at certain seasons, and only after stimulation by
a kind of pollen emanating from the whole tribe and carried on the air. The grains
of this ultra-microscopically fine pollen dust were not germ cells but "genes," the elementary
factors of inheritance. The precincts of the tribe were at all times faintly
perfumed by the communal pollen; but on occasions of violent group emotion
the pollen cloud became so intensified as to be actually visible as a haze. Only on
these rare occasions was conception probable. Breathed out by every individual,
the pollen was breathed in by those who were ripe for fertilization. By all it was
experienced as a rich and subtle perfume, to which each individual contributed
his peculiar odor. By means of a curious psychical and physiological mechanism
the individual in heat was moved to crave stimulation by the full perfume of the
tribe, or of the great majority of its members; and indeed, if the pollen clouds were
insufficiently complex, conception would not occur. Cross-fertilization between
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 62
tribes happened in inter-tribal warfare and in the ceaseless coming and going between
tribes in the modern world.
In this race, then, every individual might bear children. Every child, though
it had an individual as its mother, was fathered by the tribe as a whole. Expectant
parents were sacred, and were tended communally. When the baby "Echinoderm"
finally detached itself from the parental body, it also was tended communally along
with the rest of the tribe's juvenile population. In civilized societies it was handed
over to professional nurses and teachers.
I must not pause to tell of the important psychological effects of this kind of reproduction.
The delights and disgusts which we feel in contact with the flesh of our
kind were unknown. On the other hand, individuals were profoundly moved by
the ever-changing tribal perfume. It is impossible to describe the strange variant of
romantic love which, each individual periodically felt for the tribe. The thwarting,
the repression, the perversion of this passion was the source at once of the loftiest
and most sordid achievements of the race. Communal parenthood gave to the tribe
a unity and Strength quite unknown in more individualistic races. The primitive
tribes were groups of a few hundred or a few thousand individuals, but in modern
times their size greatly increased. Always, however, the sentiment of tribal loyalty,
if it was to remain healthy, had to be based on the personal acquaintance of its
members. Even in the larger tribes, everyone was at least "the friend of a friend's
friend" to every other member. Telephone, radio, and television enabled tribes as
large as our smaller cities to maintain a sufficient degree of personal intercourse
among their members.
But always there was some point beyond which further growth of the tribe was
unwholesome. Even in the smallest and most intelligent tribes there was a constant
strain between the individual's natural passion for the tribe and his respect
for individuality in himself and his fellows. But whereas in the small tribes and
healthy larger tribes the tribal spirit was kept sweet and sane by the mutual-respect
and self-respect of the individuals, in the largest and imperfectly sane tribes the
hypnotic influence of the tribe was all too apt to drown personality. The members
might even lose all awareness of themselves and their fellows as persons, and become
mere mindless organs of the tribe. Thus the community would degenerate
into an instinctive animal herd.
Throughout history the finer minds of the race had realized that the supreme
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 63
temptation was the surrender of individuality to the tribe. Prophets had over and
over again exhorted men to be true to themselves, but their preaching had been
almost wholly vain. The greatest religions of this strange world were not religions
of love but religions of self. Whereas in our world men long for the Utopia in which
all men shall love one another, the "Echinoderms" were apt to exalt the religious
hunger for strength to "be oneself " without capitulation to the tribe. Just as we
compensate for our inveterate selfishness by religious veneration of the community,
so this race compensated for inveterate "gregism" by religious veneration of the
individual.
In its purest and most developed form, of course, the religion of self is almost
identical with the religion of love at its best. To love is to will the self-fulfilment of
the beloved, and to find, in the very activity of loving, an incidental but vitalizing
increase of oneself. On the other hand, to be true to oneself, to the full potentiality
of the self, involves the activity of love. It demands the discipline of the private self
in service of a greater self which embraces the community and the fulfilment of the
spirit of the race.
But the religion of self was no more effective with the "Echinoderms" than the
religion of love with us. The precept, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," breeds in us
most often the disposition to see one's neighbor merely as a poor imitation of oneself,
and to hate him if he proves different. With them the precept, "Be true to
thyself," bred the disposition merely to be true to the tribal fashion of mentality.
Modern industrial civilization caused many tribes to swell beyond the wholesome
limit. It also introduced artificial "super-tribes" or "tribes of tribes," corresponding
to our nations and social classes. Since the economic unit was the internally
communistic tribe, not the individual, the employing class was a small group of
small and prosperous tribes, and the working class was a large group of large and
impoverished tribes. The ideologies of the super-tribes exercised absolute power
over all individual minds under their sway.
In civilized regions the super-tribes and the overgrown natural tribes created
an astounding mental tyranny. In relation to his natural tribe, at least if it was
small and genuinely civilized, the individual might still behave with intelligence
and imagination. Along with his actual tribal kinsmen he might support a degree of
true community unknown on Earth. He might in fact be a critical, self-respecting
and other-respecting person. But in all matters connected with the super-tribes,
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 64
whether national or economic, he behaved in a very different manner. All ideas
coming to him with the sanction of nation or class would be accepted uncritically
and with fervor by himself and all his fellows. As soon as he encountered one of
the symbols or slogans of his super-tribe he ceased to be a human personality and
became a sort of de-cerebrate animal, capable only of stereotyped reactions. In
extreme cases his mind was absolutely closed to influences opposed to the suggestion
of the super-tribe. Criticism was either met with blind rage or actually not
heard at all. Persons who in the intimate community of their small native tribe
were capable of great mutual insight and sympathy might suddenly, in response to
tribal symbols, be transformed into vessels of crazy intolerance and hate directed
against national or class enemies. In this mood they would go to any extreme of
self-sacrifice for the supposed glory of the super-tribe. Also they would show great
ingenuity in contriving means to exercise their lustful vindictiveness upon enemies
who in favorable circumstances could be quite as kindly and intelligent as themselves.
At the time of our visit to this world it seemed that mob passions would destroy
civilization completely and irrevocably. The affairs of the world were increasingly
conducted under the sway of the spreading mania of super-tribalism; conducted,
in fact, not intelligently but according to the relative emotional compulsions of almost
meaningless slogans. I must not stay to describe how, after a period of chaos,
a new way of life at last began to spread over this distressed world. It could not
do so till the super-tribes had been disintegrated by the economic forces of mechanized
industry, and by their own frenzied conflict. Then at last the individual mind
became once more free. The whole prospect of the race now changed.
It was in this world that we first experienced that tantalizing loss of contact
with the natives just at that point where, having established something like a social
Utopia throughout their planet, they were beset by the first painful stirrings of
the spirit before advancement to some mental plane beyond our reach, or at least
beyond such comprehension as we then had.
Of the other "Echinoderm" worlds in our galaxy, one, more promising than
the average, rose early to brilliance, but was destroyed by astronomical collision.
Its whole solar system encountered a tract of dense nebula. The surface of every
planet was fused. In several other worlds of this type we saw the struggle for
the more awakened mentality definitely fail. Vindictive and superstitious herdCHAPTER
5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 65
cults exterminated the best minds of the race, and drugged the rest with customs
and principles so damaging that the vital sources of sensitivity and adaptability on
which all mental progress depends were destroyed forever.
Many thousands of other quasi-human worlds, besides those of the "Echinoderm"
type, came to an untimely end. One, which succumbed to a curious disaster,
perhaps deserves brief notice. Here we found a race of very human kind. When
its civilization had reached a stage and character much like our own, a stage in
which the ideals of the masses are without the guidance of any well-established
tradition, and in which natural science is enslaved to individualistic industry, biologists
discovered the technique of artificial insemination. Now at this time there
happened to be a wide-spread cult of irrationalism, of instinct, of ruthlessness, and
of the "divine" primitive "brute-man." This figure was particularly admired when
he combined brutishness with the power of the mob-controller. Several countries
were subjected to tyrants of this type, and in the so-called democratic states the
same type was much favored by popular taste.
In both kinds of country, women craved "brute-men" as lovers and as fathers
for their children. Since in the "democratic" countries women had attained great
economic independence, their demand for fertilization by "brute-men" caused the
whole matter to be commercialized. Males of the desirable type were taken up by
syndicates, and graded in five ranks of desirability. At a moderate charge, fixed in
relation to the grade of the father, any woman could obtain "brute-man" fertilization.
So cheap was the fifth grade that only the most abject paupers were debarred
from its services. The charge for actual copulation with even the lowest grade of
selected male was, of course, much higher, since perforce the supply was limited.
In the non-democratic countries events took a different turn. In each of these
regions a tyrant of the fashionable type gathered upon his own person the adoration
of the whole population. He was the god-sent hero. He was himself p divine. Every
woman longed passionately to have him, if not as a lover, at least as father of her
children. In some lands artificial insemination from the Master was permitted only
as a supreme distinction for women of perfect type. Ordinary women of every class,
however, were entitled to insemination from the authorized aristocratic stud of
"brute-men." In other countries the Master himself condescended to be the father
of the whole future population.
The result of this extraordinary custom, of artificial fatherhood by "brute-men,"
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 66
which was carried on without remission in all countries for a generation, and in a
less thorough manner for a very much longer period, was to alter the composition
of the whole quasi-human race. In order to maintain continued, adaptability to
an ever-changing environment a race must at all costs preserve in itself its slight
but potent salting of sensibility and originality. In this world the precious factor
now became so diluted as to be ineffective. Henceforth the desperately complex
problems of the world were consistently bungled. Civilization decayed. The race
entered on a phase of what might be called pseudo-civilized barbarism, which was
in essence sub-human and incapable of change. This state of affairs continued for
some millions of years, but at last the race was destroyed by the ravages of a small
rat-like animal against which it could devise no protection.
I must not stay to notice the strange fortunes of all the many other quasi-human
worlds. I will mention only that in some, though civilization was destroyed in a
succession of savage wars, the germ of recovery precariously survived. In one, the
agonizing balance of the old and the new seemed to prolong itself indefinitely. In
another, where science had advanced too far for the safety of an immature species,
man accidentally blew up his planet and his race. In several, the dialectical process
of history was broken short by invasion and conquest on the part of inhabitants of
another planet. These and other disaster, to be described in due course, decimated
the galactic population of worlds.
In conclusion I will mention that in one or two of these quasi-human worlds
a new and superior biological race emerged naturally during the typical world crisis,
gained power by sheer intelligence and sympathy, took charge of the planet,
persuaded the aborigines to cease breeding, peopled the whole planet with its own
superior type, and created a human race which attained communal mentality, and
rapidly advanced beyond the limits of our exploring and over-strained understanding.
Before our contact failed, we were surprised to observe that, as the new species
superseded the old and took over the vast political and economic activity of that
world, it came to realize with laughter the futility of all this feverish and aimless living.
Under our eyes the old order began to give place to a new and simpler order,
in which the world was to be peopled by a small "aristocratic" population served by
machines, freed alike from drudgery and luxury and intent on exploration of the
cosmos and the mind.
This change-over to a simpler life happened in several other worlds not by the
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 67
intervention of a new species, but simply by the victory of the new mentality in its
battle against the old.
5.3 Nautiloids
As our exploration advanced and we gathered more and more helpers from the
many worlds that we entered, our imaginative insight into alien natures increased.
Though our research was still restricted to races which were in the throes of the
familiar spiritual crisis, we gradually acquired the power of making contact with
beings whose minds were very far from human in texture. I must now try to give
some idea of the main types of these "non-human" intelligent worlds. In some cases
the difference from humanity, though physically striking, and even mentally very
remarkable, was not nearly so far-reaching as the cases to be described in the next
chapter.
In general the physical and mental form of conscious beings is an expression
of the character of the planet on which they live. On certain very large and aqueous
planets, for instance, we found that civilization had been achieved by marine
organisms. On these huge globes no land-dwellers as large as a man could possibly
thrive, for gravitation would have nailed them to the ground. But in the water there
was no such limitation to bulk. One peculiarity of these big worlds was that, owing
to the crushing action of gravitation, there were seldom any great elevations and
depressions in their surface. Thus they were usually covered by a shallow ocean,
broken here and there by archipelagos of small, low islands.
I shall describe one example of this kind of world, the greatest planet of a
mighty sun. Situated, if I remember rightly, near the congested heart of the galaxy,
this star was born late in galactic history, and it gave birth to planets when already
many of the older stars were encrusted with smoldering lava. Owing to the violence
of solar radiation its nearer planets had (or will have) stormy climates. On one of
them a mollusk-like creature, living in the coastal shallows, acquired a propensity
to drift in its boat-like shell on the sea's surface, thus keeping in touch with
its drifting vegetable food. As the ages passed, its shell became better adapted to
navigation. Mere drifting was supplemented by means of a crude sail, a membrane
extending from the creature's back. In time this nautiloid type proliferated into
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 68
a host of species. Some of these remained minute, but some found size advantageous,
and developed into living ships. One of these became the intelligent master
of this great world.
The hull was a rigid, stream-lined vessel, shaped much as the nineteenth-century
clipper in her prime, and larger than our largest whale. At the rear a tentacle or fin
developed into a rudder, which was sometimes used also as a propeller, like a fish's
tail. But though all these species could navigate under their own power to some extent,
their normal means of long-distance locomotion was their great spread of sail.
The simple membranes of the ancestral type had become a system of parchmentlike
sails and bony masts and spars, under voluntary muscular control. Similarity
to a ship was increased by the downward-looking eyes, one on each side of the
prow. The mainmast-head also bore eyes, for searching the horizon. An organ of
magnetic sensitivity in the brain afforded a reliable means of orientation. At the
fore end of the vessel were two long manipulatory tentacles, which during locomotion
were folded snugly to the flanks. In use they formed a very serviceable pair
of arms. It may seem strange that a species of this kind should have developed
human intelligence. In more than one world of this type, however, a number of
accidents combined to produce this result. The change from a vegetarian to a carnivorous
habit caused a great increase of animal cunning in pursuit of the much
speedier submarine creatures. The sense of hearing was wonderfully developed,
for the movements of fish at great distances could be detected by the underwater
ears. A line of taste-organs along either bilge responded to the ever-changing composition
of the water, and enabled the hunter to track his prey. Delicacy of hearing
and of taste combined with omnivorous habits, and with great diversity of behavior
and strong sociality, to favor the growth of intelligence.
Speech, that essential medium of the developed mentality, had two distinct
modes in this world. For short-range communication, rhythmic underwater emissions
of gas from a vent in the rear of the organism were heard and analyzed by
means of underwater ears. Long-distance communication was carried on by means
of semaphore signals from a rapidly agitating tentacle at the mast head.
The organizing of communal fishing expeditions, the invention of traps, the
making of lines and nets, the practice of agriculture, both in the sea and along the
shores, the building of stone harbors and work-shops, the use of volcanic heat for
smelting metals, and of wind for driving mills, the projection of canals into the
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 69
low islands in search of minerals and fertile ground, the gradual exploration and
mapping of a huge world, the harnessing of solar radiation for mechanical power,
these and many other achievements were at once a product of intelligence and an
opportunity for its advancement.
It was a strange experience to enter the mind of an intelligent ship to see the
foam circling under one's own nose as the vessel plunged through the waves, to
taste the bitter or delicious currents streaming past one's flanks, to feel the pressure
of air on the sails as one beat up against the breeze, to hear beneath the water-line
the rush and murmur of distant shoals of fishes, and indeed actually to hear the
sea-bottom's configuration by means of the echoes that it cast up to the under-water
ears. It was strange and terrifying to be caught in a hurricane, to feel the masts
straining and the sails threatening to split, while the hull was battered by the small
but furious waves of that massive planet. It was strange, too, to watch other great
living ships, as they plowed their way, heeled over, adjusted the set of their yellow
or russet sails to the wind's variations; and very strange it was to realize that these
were not man-made objects but themselves conscious and purposeful.
Sometimes we saw two of the living ships fighting, tearing at one another's sails
with snake-like tentacles, stabbing at one another's soft "decks" with metal knives,
or at a distance firing at one another with cannon. Bewildering and delightful it
was to feel in the presence of a slim female clipper the longing for contact, and to
carry out with her on the high seas the tacking and yawing, the piratical pursuit and
overhauling, the delicate, fleeting caress of tentacles, which formed the love-play of
this race. Strange, to come up alongside, close-hauled, grapple her to one's flank,
and board her with sexual invasion. It was charming, too, to see a mother ship
attended by her children. I should mention, by the way, that at birth the young
were launched from the mother's decks like little boats, one from the port side,
one from the starboard. Thenceforth they were suckled at her flanks. In play they
swam about her like ducklings, or spread their immature sails. In rough weather
and for long voyaging they were taken aboard. At the time of our visit natural
sails were beginning to be aided by a power unit and propeller which were fixed to
the stem. Great cities of concrete docks had spread along many of the coasts, and
were excavated out of the hinterlands. We were delighted by the broad water-ways
that served as streets in these cities. They were thronged with sail and mechanized
traffic, the children appearing as tugs and smacks among the gigantic elders.
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 70
It was in this world that we found in its most striking form a social disease
which is perhaps the commonest of all world-diseases-namely, the splitting of the
population into two mutually unintelligible castes through the influence of economic
forces. So great was the difference between adults of the two castes that they
seemed to us at first to be distinct species, and we supposed ourselves to be witnessing
the victory of a new and superior biological mutation over its predecessor.
But this was far from the truth.
In appearance the masters were very different from the workers, quite as different
as queen ants and drones from the workers of their species. They were more
elegantly and accurately stream-lined. They had a greater expanse of sail, and were
faster in fair weather. In heavy seas they were less seaworthy, owing to their finer
lines; but on the other hand they were the more skilful and venturesome navigators.
Their manipulatory tentacles were less muscular, but capable of finer adjustments.
Their perception was more delicate. While a small minority of them perhaps excelled
the best of the workers in endurance and courage, most were much less hardy,
both physically and mentally. They were subject to a number of disintegrative diseases
which never affected the workers, chiefly diseases of the nervous system. On
the other hand, if any of them contracted one of the infectious ailments which were
endemic to the workers, but seldom fatal, he would almost certainly die. They were
also very prone to mental disorders, and particularly to neurotic self-importance.
The whole organization and control of the world was theirs. The workers, on the
other hand, though racked by disease and neurosis bred of their cramping environment,
were on the whole psychologically more robust. They had, however, a
crippling sense of inferiority. Though in handicrafts and all small-scale operations
they were capable of intelligence and skill, they were liable, when faced with tasks
of wider scope, to a strange paralysis of mind.
The mentalities of the two castes were indeed strikingly different. The masters
were more prone to individual initiative and to the vices of self-seeking. The workers
were more addicted to collectivism and the vices of subservience to the herd's
hypnotic influence. The masters were on the whole more prudent, far-seeing, independent,
self-reliant; the workers were more impetuous, more ready to sacrifice
themselves in a social cause, often more clearly aware of the right aims of social
activity, and incomparably more generous to individuals in distress.
At the time of our visit certain recent discoveries were throwing the world into
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 71
confusion. Hitherto it had been supposed that the natures of the two castes were
fixed unalterably, by divine law and by biological inheritance. But it was now certain
that this was not the case, and that the physical and mental differences between
the classes were due entirely to nurture. Since time immemorial, the castes had
been recruited in a very curious manner. After weaning, all children born on the
port side of the mother, no matter what the parental caste, were brought up to be
members of the master caste; all those born on the starboard side were brought up
to be workers. Since the master class had, of course, to be much smaller than the
working class, this system gave an immense superfluity of potential masters. The
difficulty was overcome as follows. The starboard-born children of workers and the
port-born children of masters were brought up by their own respective parents; but
the port-born, potentially aristocratic children of workers were mostly disposed of
by infant sacrifice. A few only were exchanged with the starboard-born children of
masters.
With the advance of industrialism, the increasing need for large supplies of
cheap labor, the spread of scientific ideas and the weakening of religion, came the
shocking discovery that port-born children, of both classes, if brought up as workers,
became physically and mentally indistinguishable from workers. Industrial
magnates in need of plentiful cheap labor now developed moral indignation against
infant sacrifice, urging that the excess of port-born infants should be mercifully
brought up as workers. Presently certain misguided scientists made the even more
subversive discovery that starboard-born children brought up as masters developed
the fine lines, the great sails, the delicate constitution, the aristocratic mentality
of the master caste. An attempt was made by the masters to prevent this
knowledge from spreading to the workers, but certain sentimentalists of their own
caste bruited it abroad, and preached a new-fangled and inflammatory doctrine of
social equality.
During our visit the world was in terrible confusion. In backward oceans the
old system remained unquestioned, but in all the more advanced regions of the
planet a desperate struggle was being waged. In one great archipelago a social revolution
had put the workers in power, and a devoted though ruthless dictatorship
was attempting so to plan the life of the community that the next generation should
be homogeneous and of a new type, combining the most desirable characters of
both workers and masters. Elsewhere the masters had persuaded their workers
CHAPTER 5. WORLDS INNUMERABLE 72
that the new ideas were false and base, and certain to lead to universal poverty and
misery. A clever appeal was made to the vague but increasing suspicion that "materialistic
science" was misleading and superficial, and that mechanized civilization
was crushing out the more spiritual potentialities of the race. Skilled propaganda
spread the ideal of a kind of corporate state with "port and starboard flanks" correlated
by a popular dictator, who, it was said, would assume power "by divine right
and the will of the people."
I must not stay to tell of the desperate struggle which broke out between these
two kinds of social organizations. In the worldwide campaigns many a harbor,
many an ocean current, flowed red with slaughter. Under the pressure of a war
to the death, all that was best, all that was most human and gentle on each side
was crushed out by military necessity. On the one side, the passion for a unified
world, where every individual should live a free and full life in service of the world
community, was overcome by the passion to punish spies, traitors, and heretics.
On the other, vague and sadly misguided yearnings for a nobler, less materialistic
life were cleverly transformed by the reactionary leaders into vindictiveness against
the revolutionaries.
Very rapidly the material fabric of civilization fell to pieces. Not till the race
had reduced itself to an almost subhuman savagery, and all the crazy traditions of
a diseased civilization had been purged away, along with true culture, could the
spirit of these "ship-men" set out again on the great adventure of the spirit. Many
thousands of years later it broke through on to that higher plane of being which I
have still to suggest, as best I may.
 Intimations of the star maker
IT must not be supposed that the normal fate of intelligent races in the galaxy is to
triumph. So far I have spoken mainly of those fortunate Echinoderm and Nautiloid
worlds which did at last pass triumphantly into the more awakened state, and I
have scarcely even mentioned the hundreds, the thousands, of worlds which met
disaster. This selection was inevitable because my space is limited, and because
these two worlds, together with the even stranger spheres that I shall describe in the
next chapter, were to have great influence on the fortunes of the whole galaxy. But
many other worlds of "human" rank were quite as rich in history as those which I
have noticed. Individual lives in them were no less varied than lives elsewhere, and
no less crowded with distress and joy. Some triumphed; some in their last phase
suffered a downfall, swift or slow, which lent them the splendor of tragedy. But
since these worlds play no special part in the main story of the galaxy, they must
be passed over in silence, along with the still greater host of worlds which never
attained even to "human" rank. If I were to dwell upon their fortunes I should
commit the same error as a historian who should try to describe every private life
and neglect the pattern of the whole community.
I have already said that, as our experience of the destruction of worlds increased,
we were increasingly dismayed by the wastefulness and seeming aimlessness
of the universe. So many worlds, after so much distress, attained so nearly to
social peace and joy, only to have the cup snatched from them forever. Often disaster
was brought by some trivial flaw of temperament or biological nature. Some
races had not the intelligence, some lacked the social will, to cope with the prob-
73
CHAPTER 6. INTIMATIONS OF THE STAR MAKER 74
lems of a unified world-community. Some were destroyed by an upstart bacterium
before their medical science was mature. Others succumbed to climatic change,
many to loss of atmosphere. Sometimes the end came through collision with dense
clouds of dust or gas, or with swarms of giant meteors. Not a few worlds were destroyed
by the downfall of a satellite. The lesser body, plowing its way, age after age,
through the extremely rarefied but omnipresent cloud of free atoms in interstellar
space, would lose momentum. Its orbit would contract, at first slowly, then rapidly.
It would set up prodigious tides in the oceans of the larger body, and drown much
of its civilization. Later, through the increasing stress of the planet's attraction, the
great moon would begin to disintegrate. First it would cast its ocean in a deluge
on men's heads, then its mountains, and then the titanic and fiery fragments of
its core. If in none of these manners came the end of the world, then inevitably,
though perhaps not till the latter days of the galaxy, it must come in another way.
The planet's own orbit, fatally contracting, must bring every world at last so close
to its sun that conditions must pass beyond the limit of life's adaptability, and age
by age all living things must be parched to death and roasted.
Dismay, terror, horror many a time seized us as we witnessed these huge disasters.
An agony of pity for the last survivors of these worlds was part of our schooling.
The most developed of the slaughtered worlds did not need our pity, since their
inhabitants seemed capable of meeting the end of all that they cherished with peace,
even a strange unshakable joy which we in this early stage of our adventure could by
no means comprehend. But only a few, very few, could reach this state. And only
a few out of the great host of worlds could win through even to the social peace
and fullness toward which all were groping. In the more lowly worlds, moreover,
few were the individuals who won any satisfaction of life even within the narrow
bounds of their own imperfect nature. No doubt one or two, here and there, in
almost every world, found not merely happiness but the joy that passes all understanding.
But to us, crushed now by the suffering and futility of a thousand races,
it seemed that this joy itself, this ecstasy, whether it was supported by scattered individuals
or by whole worlds, must after all be condemned as false, and that those
who had found it must after all have been drugged by their own private and untypical
well-being of spirit. For surely it had made them insensitive to the horror
around them.
CHAPTER 6. INTIMATIONS OF THE STAR MAKER 75
The sustaining motive of our pilgrimage had been the hunger which formerly
drove men on Earth in search of God. Yes, we had one and all left our native planets
in order to discover whether, regarding the cosmos as a whole, the spirit which we
all in our hearts obscurely knew and haltingly prized, the spirit which on Earth we
sometimes call humane, was Lord of the Universe, or outlaw; almighty, or crucified.
And now it was becoming clear to us that if the cosmos had any lord at all, he was
not that spirit but some other, whose purpose in creating the endless fountain of
worlds was not fatherly toward the beings that he had made, but alien, inhuman,
dark.
Yet while we felt dismay, we felt also increasingly the hunger to see and to face
fearlessly whatever spirit was indeed the spirit of this cosmos. For as we pursued
our pilgrimage, passing again and again from tragedy to farce, from farce to glory,
from glory often to final tragedy, we felt increasingly the sense that some terrible,
some holy, yet at the same time unimaginably outrageous and lethal, secret lay just
beyond our reach. Again and again we were torn between horror and fascination,
between moral rage against the universe (or the Star Maker) and unreasonable worship.
This same conflict was to be observed in all those worlds that were of our own
mental stature. Observing these worlds and the phases of their past growth, and
groping as best we might toward the next plane of spiritual development, we came
at last to see plainly the first stages of any world's pilgrimage. Even in the most
primitive ages of every normal intelligent world there existed in some minds the
impulse to seek and to praise some universal thing. At first this impulse was confused
with the craving for protection by some mighty power. Inevitably the beings
theorized that the admired thing must be Power, and that worship was mere propitiation.
Thus they came to conceive the almighty tyrant of the universe, with
themselves as his favored children. But in time it became clear to their prophets
that mere Power was not what the praiseful heart adored. Then theory enthroned
Wisdom, or Law, or Righteousness. And after an age of obedience to some phantom
lawgiver, or to divine legality itself, the beings found that these concepts too
were inadequate to describe the indescribable glory that the heart confronted in all
things, and mutely prized in all things.
But now, in every world that we visited, alternative ways opened out before
the worshippers. Some hoped to come face to face with their shrouded god solely
CHAPTER 6. INTIMATIONS OF THE STAR MAKER 76
by inward-searching meditation. By purging themselves of all lesser, all trivial:
desires, by striving to see everything dispassionately and with universal sympathy,
they hoped to identify themselves with the spirit of the cosmos. Often they traveled
far along the way of self-perfecting and awakening. But because of this inward
absorption most of them became insensitive to the suffering of their less-awakened
fellows and careless of the communal enterprise of their kind. In not a few worlds
this way of the spirit was thronged by all the most vital minds.
And because the best attention of the race was given wholly to the inner life,
material and social advancement was checked. The sciences of physical nature and
of life never developed. Mechanical power remained unknown, and medical and
biological power also. Consequently these worlds stagnated, and sooner or later
succumbed to accidents, which might well have been prevented.
There was a second way of devotion, open to creatures of a more practical temperament.
These, in all the worlds, gave delighted attention to the universe around
them, and chiefly they found the worshipped thing in the persons of their fellowbeings,
and in the communal bond of mutual insight and love between persons. In
themselves and in each other they prized above all things love.
And their prophets told them that the thing which they had always adored, the
universal spirit, the Creator, the Almighty, the All-wise, was also the All-loving.
Let them therefore worship in practical love of one another, and in service or the
Love-God. And so for an age, short or long, they strove feebly to love and to become
members one of another. They spun theories in defense of the theory of the
Love-God. They set up priesthoods and temples in service of Love. And because
they hungered for immortality they were told that to love was the way to attain
eternal life. And so love, which seeks no reward, was misconceived.
In most worlds these practical minds dominated over the meditators. Sooner
or later practical curiosity and economic need produced the material sciences.
Probing every region with these sciences, the beings found nowhere, neither in
the atom nor in the galaxy, nor for that matter in the heart of "man" either, any
signature of the Love-God. And what with the fever of mechanization, and the
exploitation of slaves by masters, and the passions of intertribal warfare, and the
increasing neglect or coarsening of all the more awakened activities of the spirit,
the little flame of praise in their hearts sank lower than it had ever been in any
earlier age, so low that they could no longer recognize it. And the flame of love,
CHAPTER 6. INTIMATIONS OF THE STAR MAKER 77
long fanned by the forced draught of doctrine, but now suffocated by the general
obtuseness of the beings to one another, was reduced to an occasional smoldering
warmth, which was most often mistaken for mere lust. With bitter laughter and
rage the tortured beings now dethroned the image of the Love-God in their hearts.
And so without love and without worship the unhappy beings faced the increasingly
formidable problems of their mechanized and hate-racked world.
This was the crisis which we in our own worlds knew so well. Many a world up
and down the galaxy never surmounted it. But in a few, some miracle, which we
could not yet clearly envisage, raised the average minds of these worlds to a higher
plane of mentality. Of this I shall speak later. Meanwhile I will say only that in the
few worlds where this happened, we noticed invariably, before the minds of that
world passed beyond our reach, a new feeling about the universe, a feeling which
it was very difficult for us to share. Not till we had learned to conjure in ourselves
something of this feeling could we follow the fortunes of these worlds.
But, as we advanced on our pilgrimage, our own desires began to change. We
came to wonder whether, in demanding lordship of the universe for the divinely
humane spirit that we prized most in ourselves and in our fellow-mortals in all
the worlds, we were perhaps impious. We came less and less to require that Love
should be enthroned behind the stars; more and more we desired merely to pass
on, opening our hearts to accept fearlessly whatever of the truth might fall within
our comprehension.
There was a moment, late in this early phase of our pilgrimage, when, thinking
and feeling in unison, we said to one another, "If the Star Maker is Love, we know
that this must be right. But if he is not, if he is some other, some inhuman spirit,
this must be right. And if he is nothing, if the stars and all else are not his creatures
but self-subsistent, and if the adored spirit is but an exquisite creature of our minds,
then this must be right, this and no other possibility. For we cannot know whether
the highest place for love is on the throne or on the cross. We cannot know what
spirit rules, for on the throne sits darkness. We know, we have seen, that in the
waste of stars love is indeed crucified; and rightly, for its own proving, and for the
throne's glory. Love and all that is humane we cherish in our hearts. Yet also we
salute the throne and the darkness upon the throne. Whether it be Love or not
Love, our hearts praise it, out-soaring reason."
But before our hearts could be properly attuned to this new, strange feeling, we
CHAPTER 6. INTIMATIONS OF THE STAR MAKER 78
had still far to go in the understanding of worlds of human rank, though diverse. I
must now try to give some idea of several kinds of worlds very different from our
own, but not in essentials more mature.
 More worlds
7.1 A symbolic race
ON certain large planets, whose climates, owing to the proximity of a violent sun,
were very much hotter than our tropics, we sometimes found an intelligent fish-like
race. It was bewildering to us to discover that a submarine world could rise to
mentality of human rank, and to that drama of the spirit, which we had now so
often encountered.
The very shallow and sun-drenched oceans of these great planets provided an
immense diversity of habitats and a great wealth of living things. Green vegetation,
which could be classified as tropical, subtropical, temperate and arctic, basked on
the bright ocean floors. There were submarine prairies and forests. In some regions
the giant weeds stretched from the sea-bottom to the waves. In these jungles
the blue and blinding light of the sun was reduced almost to darkness. Immense
coral-like growths, honeycombed with passages and swarming with all manner
of live-things, lifted their spires and turrets to the surface. Innumerable kinds of
fish-like creatures of all sizes from sprat to whale inhabited the many levels of the
waters, some gliding on the bottom, some daring an occasional leap into the torrid
air. In the deepest and darkest regions hosts of sea-monsters, eyeless or luminous,
browsed on the ceaseless rain of corpses which sank from the upper levels.
Over their deep world lay other worlds of increasing brightness and color, where
gaudy populations basked, browsed, stalked, or hunted with arrowy flight. Intelligence
in these planets was generally achieved by some unimposing social creature,
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CHAPTER 7. MORE WORLDS 80
neither fish nor octopus nor crustacean, but something of all three. It would be
equipped with manipulatory tentacles, keen eyes and subtle brain. It would make
nests of weed in the crevices of the coral, or build strongholds of coral masonry.
In time would appear traps, weapons, tools, submarine agriculture, the blossoming
of primitive art, the ritual of primitive religion. Then would follow the typical
fluctuating advance of the spirit from barbarism to civilization.
One of these submarine worlds was exceptionally interesting. Early in the life
of our galaxy, when few of the stars had yet condensed from the "giant" to the solar
type, when very few planetary births had yet occurred, a double star and a single
star in a congested cluster did actually approach one another, reach fiery filaments
toward one another, and spawn a planet brood. Of these worlds, one, an immense
and very aqueous sphere, produced in time a dominant race which was not a single
species but an intimate symbiotic partnership of two very alien creatures. The
one came of a fish-like stock. The other was in appearance something like a crustacean.
In form it was a sort of paddle-footed crab or marine spider. Unlike our
crustaceans, it was covered not with a brittle carapace but with a tough pachydermatous
hide. In maturity this serviceable jerkin was more or less rigid, save at the
joints; but in youth it was very pliant to the still-expanding brain. This creature
lived on the coasts and in the coastal waters of the many islands of the planet. Both
species were mentally of human rank, though each had specific temperament and
ability. In primitive times each had attained by its own route and in its own hemisphere
of the great aqueous planet to what might be called the last stage of the subhuman
mentality. The two species had then come into contact, and had grappled
desperately. Their battle-ground was the shallow coastal water. The "crustaceans,"
though crudely amphibian, could not spend long under the sea; the "fish" could
not emerge from it. The two races did not seriously compete with one another
in economic life, for the "fish" were mainly vegetarian, the "crustaceans" mainly
carnivorous; yet neither could tolerate the presence of the other. Both were sufficiently
human to be aware of one another as rival aristocrats in a subhuman world,
but neither was human enough to realize that for each race the way of life lay in
cooperation with the other. The fish-like creatures, which I shall call "ichthyoids,"
had speed and range of travel. They had also the security of bulk. The crab-like
or spider-like "crustaceans," which I shall call "arachnoids," had greater manual
dexterity, and had also access to the dry land. Cooperation would have been very
CHAPTER 7. MORE WORLDS 81
beneficial to both species, for one of the staple foods of the arachnoids was parasitic
to the ichthyoids.
In spite of the possibility of mutual aid, the two races strove to exterminate one
another, and almost succeeded. After an age of blind mutual slaughter, certain of
the less pugnacious and more flexible varieties of the two species gradually discovered
profit in fraternization with the enemy.
This was the beginning of a very remarkable partnership. Soon the arachnoids
took to riding on the backs of the swift ichthyoids, and thus gained access to more
remote hunting grounds.
As the epochs passed, the two species molded one another to form a wellintegrated
union. The little arachnoid, no bigger than a chimpanzee, rode in a
snug hollow behind the great "fish's" skull, his back being stream-lined with the
con-tours of the larger creature. The tentacles of the ichthyoid were specialized for
large-scale manipulation, those of the arachnoid for minute work. A biochemical
interdependence also evolved. Through a membrane in the ichthyoid's pouch an
exchange of endocrine products took place. The mechanism enabled the arachnoid
to become fully aquatic. So long as it had frequent contact with its host, it
could stay under water for any length of time and descend to any depth. A striking
mental adaptation also occurred in the two species. The ichthyoids became on the
whole more introvert, the arachnoids more extrovert.
Up to puberty the young of both species were free-living individuals; but, as
their symbiotic organization developed, each sought out a partner of the opposite
species. The union which followed was life-long, and was interrupted only by
brief sexual matings. The symbiosis itself constituted a kind of contrapuntal sexuality;
but a sexuality that was purely mental, since, of course, for copulation and
reproduction each individual had to seek out a partner belonging to his or her own
species. We found, however, that even the symbiotic partnership consisted invariably
of a male of one species and a female of the other; and the male, whichever his
species, behaved with parental devotion to the young of his symbiotic partner.
I have not space to describe the extraordinary mental reciprocity of these strange
couples. I can only say that, though in sensory equipment and in temperament the
two species were very different, and though in abnormal cases tragic conflicts did
occur, the ordinary partnership was at once more intimate than human marriage
and far more enlarging to the individual than any friendship between members
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of distinct human races. At certain stages of the growth of civilization malicious
minds had attempted to arouse widespread interspecific conflict, and had met with
temporary success; but the trouble seldom went as deep even as our "sex war," so
necessary was each species to the other. Both had contributed equally to the culture
of their world, though not equally at all times. In creative work of every kind
one of the partners provided most of the originality, the other most of the criticism
and restraint. Work in which one partner was entirely passive was rare. Books, or
rather scrolls, which were made from pulped seaweed, were nearly always signed
by couples. On the whole the arachnoid partners dominated in manual skill, experimental
science, the plastic arts, and practical social organization. The ichthyoid
partners excelled in theoretical work, in literary arts, in the surprisingly developed
music of that submarine world, and in the more mystical kind of religion. This
generalization, however, should not be interpreted very strictly.
The symbiotic relationship seems to have given the dual race a far greater mental
flexibility than ours, and a quicker aptitude for community. It passed rapidly
through the phase of inter-tribal strife, during which the nomadic shoals of symbiotic
couples harried one another like hosts of submarine-cavalry; for the arachnoids,
riding their ichthyoid mates, attacked the enemy with bone spears and swords,
while their mounts wrestled with powerful tentacles. But the phase of tribal warfare
was remarkably brief. When a settled mode of life was attained, along with
submarine agriculture and coral-built cities, strife between leagues of cities was the
exception, not the rule. Aided no doubt by its great mobility and ease of communication,
the dual race soon built up a world-wide and unarmed federation of cities.
We learned also with wonder that at the height of the pre-mechanical civilization
of this planet, when in our worlds the cleavage into masters and economic slaves
would already have become serious, the communal spirit of the city triumphed
over all individualistic enterprise. Very soon this world became a tissue of interdependent
but independent municipal communes.
At this time it seemed that social strife had vanished forever. But the most
serious crisis of the race was still to come.
The submarine environment offered the symbiotic race no great possibilities of
advancement. All sources of wealth had been tapped and regularized. Population
was maintained at an optimum size for the joyful working of the world. The social
order was satisfactory to all classes, and seemed unlikely to change. Individual lives
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were full and varied. Culture, founded on a great tradition, was now concerned
entirely with detailed exploration of the great fields of thought that had long ago
been pioneered by the revered ancestors, under direct inspiration, it was said, of
the symbiotic deity. Our friends in this submarine world, our mental hosts, looked
back on this age from their own more turbulent epoch sometimes with yearning,
but often with horror; for in retrospect it seemed to them to display the first faint
signs of racial decay. So perfectly did the race fit its unchanging environment that
intelligence and acuity were already ceasing to be precious, and might soon begin
to fade. But presently it appeared that fate had decreed otherwise.
In a submarine world the possibility of obtaining mechanical power was remote.
But the arachnoids, it will be remembered, were able to live out of the water.
In the epochs before the symbiosis their ancestors had periodically emerged
upon the islands, for courtship, parenthood, and the pursuit of prey. Since those
days the air-breathing capacity had declined, but it had never been entirely lost.
Every arachnoid still emerged for sexual mating, and also for certain ritual gymnastic
exercises. It was in this latter connection that the great discovery was made
which changed the course of history. At a certain tournament the friction of stone
weapons, clashing against one another, produced sparks, and fire among the sunscorched
grasses.
In startlingly quick succession came smelting, the steam engine, the electric
current. Power was obtained first from the combustion of a sort of peat formed
on the coasts by congested marine vegetation, later from the constant and violent
winds, later still from photo-chemical light traps which absorbed the sun's lavish
radiation. These inventions were of course the work of arachnoids. The ichthyoids,
though they still played a great part in the systematization of knowledge, were debarred
from the great practical work of scientific experiment and mechanical invention
above the seas. Soon the arachnoids were running electric cables from the
island power-stations to the submarine cities. In this work, at least, the ichthyoids
could take part, but their part was necessarily subordinate. Not only in experience
of electrical engineering but also in native practical ability they were eclipsed by
their arachnoid partners.
For a couple of centuries or more the two species continued to cooperate, though
with increasing strain. Artificial lighting, mechanical transport of goods on the
ocean floor, and large-scale manufacture, produced an immense increase in the
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amenities of life in the submarine cities. The islands were crowded with buildings
devoted to science and industry. Physics, chemistry, and biology made great
progress. Astronomers began to map the galaxy. They also discovered that a neighboring
planet offered wonderful opportunities for settlement by arachnoids, who
might without great difficulty, it was hoped, be conditioned to the alien climate,
and to divorce from their symbiotic partners. The first attempts at rocket flight
were leading to mingled tragedy and success. The directorate of extra-marine activities
demanded a much increased arachnoid population.
Inevitably there arose a conflict between the two species, and in the mind of every
individual of either species. It was at the height of this conflict, and in the spiritual
crisis in virtue of which these beings were accessible to us in our novitiate stage,
that we first entered this world. The ichthyoids had not yet succumbed biologically
to their inferior position, but psychologically they were already showing signs of
deep mental decay. A profound disheartenment and lassitude attacked them, like
that which so often undermines our primitive races when they find themselves
struggling in the flood of European civilization. But since in the case of the symbiotics
the relation between the two races was extremely intimate, far more so than
that between the most intimate human beings, the plight of the ichthyoids deeply
affected the arachnoids. And in the minds of the ichthyoids the triumph of their
partners was for long a source of mingled distress and exultation. Every individual
of both species was torn between conflicting motives. While every healthy arachnoid
longed to take part in the adventurous new life, he or she longed also, through
sheer affection and symbiotic entanglement, to assist his or her ichthyoid mate to
have an equal share in that life. Further, all arachnoids were aware of subtle dependence
on their mates, a dependence at once physiological and psychological. It
was the ichthyoids who mostly contributed to the mental symbiosis the power of
self-knowledge and mutual insight, and the contemplation which is so necessary to
keep action sweet and sane. That this was so was evident from the fact that already
among the arachnoids internecine strife had appeared. Island tended to compete
with island, and one great industrial organization with another.
I could not help remarking that if this deep cleavage of interests had occurred
on my own planet, say between our two sexes, the favoured sex would have singlemindedly
trampled the other into servitude. Such a "victory" on the part of the
arachnoids did indeed nearly occur. More and more partnerships were dissolved,
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each member attempting by means of drugs to supply his or her system with the
chemicals normally provided by the symbiosis. For mental dependence, however,
there was no substitute, and the divorced partners were subject to serious mental
disorders, either subtle or flagrant. Nevertheless, there grew up a large population
capable of living after a fashion without the symbiotic intercourse. Strife now took
a violent turn. The intransigents of both species attacked one another, and stirred
up trouble among the moderates. There followed a period of desperate and confused
warfare. On each side a small and hated minority advocated a "modernized
symbiosis," in which each species should be able to contribute to the common life
even in a mechanized civilization. Many of these reformers were martyred for their
faith.
Victory would in the long run have gone to the arachnoids, for they controlled
the sources of power. But it soon appeared that the attempt to break the symbiotic
bond was not as successful as it had seemed. Even in actual warfare, commanders
were unable to prevent widespread fraternization between the opposed forces.
Members of dissolved partnerships would furtively meet to snatch a few hours
or moments of each other's company. Widowed or deserted individuals of each
species would timidly but hungrily venture toward the enemy's camps in search of
new mates. Whole companies would surrender for the same purpose. The arachnoids
suffered more from the neuroses than from the weapons of the enemy. On
the islands, moreover, civil wars and social revolutions made the manufacture of
munitions almost impossible.
The most resolute faction of the arachnoids now attempted to bring the struggle
to an end by poisoning the ocean. The islands in turn were poisoned by the
millions of decaying corpses that rose to the sea's surface and were cast up on the
shores. Poison, plague, and above all neurosis, brought war to a standstill, civilization
to ruin, and the two species almost to extinction. The deserted sky-scrapers
that crowded the islands began to crumble into heaps of wreckage. The submarine
cities were invaded by the submarine jungle and by shark-like sub-human ichthyoids
of many species. The delicate tissue of knowledge began to disintegrate into
fragments of superstition.
Now at last came the opportunity of those who advocated a modernized symbiosis.
With difficulty they had maintained a secret existence and their individual
partnerships in the more remote and inhospitable regions of the planet. They
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now came boldly forth to spread their gospel among the unhappy remnants of the
world's population. There was a rage of interspecific mating and remating. Primitive
submarine agriculture and hunting maintained the scattered peoples while a
few of the coral cities were cleared and rebuilt, and the instruments of a lean but
hopeful civilization were refashioned. This was a temporary civilization, without
mechanical power, but one which promised itself great adventures in the "upper
world" as soon as it had established the basic principles of the reformed symbiosis.
To us it seemed that such an enterprise was doomed to failure, so clear was it
that the future lay with a terrestrial rather than a marine creature. But we were
mistaken. I must not tell in detail of the heroic struggle by which the race refashioned
its symbiotic nature to suit the career that lay before it. The first stage was
the reinstatement of power stations on the islands, and the careful reorganization
of a purely submarine society equipped with power. But this reconstruction would
have been useless had it not been accompanied by a very careful study of the physical
and mental relations of the two species. The symbiosis had to be strengthened
so that interspecific strife should in future be impossible. By means of chemical
treatment in infancy the two kinds of organism were made more interdependent,
and in partnership more hardy. By a special psychological ritual, a sort of mutual
hypnosis, all newly joined partners were henceforth brought into indissoluble
mental reciprocity. This interspecific communion, which every individual knew in
immediate domestic experience, became in time the basic experience of all culture
and religion. The symbiotic deity, which figured in all the primitive mythologies,
was reinstated as a symbol of the dual personality of the universe, a dualism, it was
said, of creativity and wisdom, unified as the divine spirit of love. The one reasonable
goal of social life was affirmed to be the creation of a world of awakened, of
sensitive, intelligent, and mutually understanding personalities, banded together
for the common purpose of exploring the universe and developing the "human"
spirit's manifold potentialities. Imperceptibly the young were led to discover for
themselves this goal.
Gradually and very cautiously all the industrial operations and scientific researches
of an earlier age were repeated, but with a difference. Industry was subordinated
to the conscious social goal. Science, formerly the slave of industry, became
the free colleague of wisdom.
Once more the islands were crowded with buildings and with eager arachnoid
CHAPTER 7. MORE WORLDS 87
workers. But all the shallow coastal waters were filled with a vast honeycomb of
dwelling-houses, where the symbiotic partners took rest and refreshment with their
mates. In the ocean depths the old cities were turned into schools, universities, museums,
temples, palaces of art and of pleasure. There the young of both kinds grew
up together. There the full-grown of both species met constantly for recreation
and stimulation. There, while the arachnoids were busy on the islands, the ichthyoids
performed their work of education and of refashioning the whole theoretical
culture of the world. For it was known clearly by now that in this field their temperament
and talents could make a vital contribution to the common life. Thus
literature, philosophy, and non-scientific education were carried out chiefly in the
ocean; while on the islands industry, scientific inquiry, and the plastic arts were
more prominent.
Perhaps, in spite of the close union of each couple, this strange division of labor
would have led in time to renewed conflict, had it not been for two new discoveries.
One was the development of telepathy. Several centuries after the Age of War it was
found possible to establish full telepathic intercourse between the two members of
each couple. In time this intercourse was extended to include the whole dual race.
The first result of this change was a great increase in the facility of communication
between individuals all over the world, and therewith a great increase in mutual
understanding and in unity of social purpose. But before we lost touch with this
rapidly advancing race we had evidence of a much more far-reaching effect of universal
telepathy. Sometimes, so we were told, telepathic communion of the whole
race caused something like the fragmentary awakening of a communal world-mind
in which all individuals participated.
The second great innovation of the race was due to genetic research. The arachnoids,
who had to remain capable of active life on dry land and on a massive planet,
could not achieve any great improvement in brain weight and complexity; but the
ichthyoids, who were already large and were buoyed up by the water, were not subject
to this limitation. After long and often disastrous experiment a race of "superichthyoids"
was produced. In time the whole ichthyoid population came to consist
of these creatures. Meanwhile the arachnoids, who were by now exploring and colonizing
other planets of their solar system, were genetically improved not in respect
of general brain complexity but in those special brain centers which afforded telepathic
intercourse. Thus, in spite of their simpler brain-structure, they were able to
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maintain full telepathic community even with their big-brained mates far away in
the oceans of the mother-planet. The simple brains and the complex brains formed
now a single system, in which each unit, however simple its own contribution, was
sensitive to the whole.
It was at this point, when the original ichthyoid race had given place to the
super-ichthyoids, that we finally lost touch. The experience of the dual race passed
completely beyond our comprehension. At a much later stage of our adventure we
came upon them again, and on a higher plane of being. They were by then already
engaged upon the vast common enterprise which, as I shall tell, was undertaken by
the Galactic Society of Worlds. At this time the symbiotic race consisted of an immense
host of arachnoid adventurers scattered over many planets, and a company
of some fifty thousand million super-ichthyoids living a life of natatory delight and
intense mental activity in the ocean of their great native world. Even at this stage
physical contact between the symbiotic partners had to be maintained, though at
long intervals. There was a constant stream of space-ships between the colonies
and the mother-world. The ichthyoids, together with their teeming colleagues on
a score of planets, supported a racial mind. Though the threads of the common
experience were spun by the whole symbiotic race, they were woven into a single
web by the ichthyoids alone in their primeval oceanic home, to be shared by all
members of both races.
7.2 Composite beings
Sometimes in the course of our adventure we came upon worlds inhabited by intelligent
beings, whose developed personality was an expression not of the single
individual organism but of a group of organisms. In most cases this state of affairs
had arisen through the necessity of combining intelligence with lightness of the
individual body. A large planet, rather close to its sun, or swayed by a very large
satellite, would be swept by great ocean tides. Vast areas of its surface would be
periodically submerged and exposed. In such a world flight was very desirable, but
owing to the strength of gravitation only a small creature, a relatively small mass
of molecules, could fly. A brain large enough for complex "human" activity could
not have been lifted.
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In such worlds the organic basis of intelligence was often a swarm of avian creatures
no bigger than sparrows. A host of individual bodies were possessed together
by a single individual mind of human rank. The body of this mind was multiple,
but the mind itself was almost as firmly knit as the mind of a man. As flocks of dunlin
or redshank stream and wheel and soar and quiver over our estuaries, so above
the great tide-flooded cultivated regions of these worlds the animated clouds of
avians maneuvered, each cloud a single center of consciousness. Presently, like our
own winged waders, the little avians would settle, the huge volume of the cloud
shrinking to a mere film upon the ground, a sort of precipitate along the fringe of
the receding tide.
Life in these worlds was rhythmically divided by the tides. During the nocturnal
tides the bird-clouds all slept on the waves. During the day-time tides they
indulged in aerial sports and religious exercises. But twice a day, when the land
was dry, they cultivated the drenched ooze, or carried out in their cities of concrete
cells all the operations of industry and culture. It was interesting to us to see how
ingeniously, before the tide's return, all the instruments of civilization were sealed
from the ravages of the water.
We supposed at first that the mental unity of these little avians was telepathic,
but in fact it was not. It was based on the unity of a complex electromagnetic field,
in fact on "radio" waves permeating the whole group. Radio, transmitted and received
by every individual organism, corresponded to the chemical nerve current
which maintains the unity of the human nervous system. Each brain reverberated
with the ethereal rhythms of its environment; and each contributed its own peculiar
theme to the complex pattern of the whole. So long as the flock was within a
volume of about a cubic mile, the individuals were mentally unified, each serving
as a specialized center in the common "brain." But if some were separated from the
flock, as sometimes happened in stormy weather, they lost mental contact and became
separate minds of very low order. In fact each degenerated for the time being
into a very simple instinctive animal or a system of reflexes, set wholly for the task
of restoring contact with the flock.
It may easily be imagined that the mental life of these composite beings was
very different from anything which we had yet encountered. Different and yet the
same. Like a man, the bird-cloud was capable of anger and fear, hunger and sexual
hunger, personal love and all the passions of the herd; but the medium of these exCHAPTER
7. MORE WORLDS 90
periences was so different from anything known to us that we found great difficulty
in recognizing them.
Sex, for instance, was very perplexing. Each cloud was bisexual, having some
hundreds of specialized male and female avian units, indifferent to one another,
but very responsive to the presence of other bird-clouds. We found that in these
strange multiple beings the delight and shame of bodily contact were obtained not
only through actual sexual union of the specialized sexual members but, with the
most exquisite subtlety, in the aerial interfusion of two flying clouds during the
performance of courtship gymnastics in the air.
More important for us than this superficial likeness to ourselves was an underlying
parity of mental rank. Indeed, we should not have gained access to them at
all had it not been for the essential similarity of their evolutionary stage with that
which we knew so well in our own worlds. For each one of these mobile-minded
clouds of little birds was in fact an individual approximately of our own spiritual
order, indeed a very human thing, torn between the beast and the angel, capable
of ecstasies of love and hate toward other such bird-clouds, capable of wisdom and
folly, and the whole gamut of human passions from swinishness to ecstatic contemplation.
Probing as best we could beyond the formal similarity of spirit which gave us
access to the bird-clouds, we discovered painfully how to see with a million eyes at
once, how to feel the texture of the atmosphere with a million wings. We learned to
interpret the composite percepts of mud-flats and marshes and great agricultural
regions, irrigated twice daily by the tide. We admired the great tide-driven turbines
and the system of electric transport of freight. We discovered that the forests of high
concrete poles or minarets, and platforms on stilts, which stood in the shallowest
of the tidal areas, were nurseries where the young were tended till they could fly.
Little by little we learned to understand something of the alien thought of these
strange beings, which was in its detailed texture so different from our own, yet
in general pattern and significance so similar. Time presses, and I must not try
even to sketch the immense complexity of the most developed of these worlds. So
much else has still to be told. I will say only that, since the individuality of these
bird-clouds was more precarious than human individuality, it was apt to be better
understood and more justly valued. The constant danger of the bird-clouds was
physical and mental disintegration. Consequently the ideal of the coherent self
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was very prominent in all their cultures. On the other hand, the danger that the
self of the bird-cloud would be psychically invaded and violated by its neighbors,
much as one radio station may interfere with another, forced these beings to guard
more carefully than ourselves against the temptations of the herd, against drowning
the individual cloud's self in the mob of clouds. But again, just because this danger
was effectively guarded against, the ideal of the world-wide community developed
without any life-and-death struggle with mystical tribalism, such as we know too
well. Instead the struggle was simply between individualism and the twin ideals of
the world-community and the world-mind.
At the time of our visit world-wide conflict was already breaking out between
the two parties in every region of the planet. The individualists were stronger in
one hemisphere, and were slaughtering all adherents of the world-mind ideal, and
mustering their forces for attack on the other hemisphere. Here the party of the
world-mind dominated, not by weapons but by sheer radio-bombardment, so to
speak. The pattern of ethereal undulations issuing from the party imposed itself
by sheer force on all recalcitrants. All rebels were either mentally disintegrated
by radio-bombardment or were absorbed intact into the communal radio system.
The war which ensued was to us astounding. The individualists used artillery and
poison gas. The party of the world-mind used these weapons far less than the radio,
which they, but not their enemies, could operate with irresistible effect. So greatly
was the radio system strengthened, and so adapted to the physiological receptivity
of the avian units, that before the individualists had done serious harm, they found
themselves engulfed, so to speak, in an overwhelming torrent of radio stimulation.
Their individuality crumbled away. The avian units that made up their composite
bodies were either destroyed (if they were specialized for war), or reorganized into
new clouds, loyal to the world-mind.
Shortly after the defeat of the individualists we lost touch with this race. The
experience and the social problems of the young world-mind were incomprehensible
to us. Not till a much later stage of our adventure did we regain contact with
it.
Others of the worlds inhabited by races of bird-clouds were less fortunate. Most,
through one cause or another, came to grief. In many of them the stresses of industrialism
or of social unrest brought about a plague of insanity, or disintegration of
the individual into a swarm of mere reflex animals. These miserable little creatures,
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which had not the power of independent intelligent behavior, were slaughtered in
myriads by natural forces and beasts of prey. Presently the stage was clear for some
worm or amoeba to reinaugurate the great adventure of biological evolution toward
the human plane.
In the course of our exploration we came upon other types of composite individuals.
For instance, we found that very large dry planets were sometimes inhabited
by populations of insect-like creatures each of whose swarms of nests was the
multiple body of a single mind. These planets were so large that no mobile organism
could be bigger than a beetle, no flying organism bigger than an ant. In the
intelligent swarms that fulfilled the part of men in these worlds, the microscopic
brains of the insect-like units were specialized for microscopic functions within the
group, much as the members of an ant's nest are specialized for working, fighting,
reproduction, and so on. All were mobile, but each class of the units fulfilled special
"neurological" functions in the life of the whole. In fact they acted as though
they were special types of cells in a nervous system.
In these worlds, as in the worlds of the bird-clouds, we had to accustom ourselves
to the unified awareness of a huge swarm of units. With innumerable hurrying
feet we crept along Lilliputian concrete passages, with innumerable manipulatory
antennae we took part in obscure industrial or agricultural operations, or
in the navigation of toy ships on the canals and lakes of these flat worlds. Through
innumerable many-faceted eyes we surveyed the plains of moss-like vegetation or
studied the stars with minute telescopes and spectroscopes.
So perfectly organized was the life of the minded swarm that all routine activities
of industry and agriculture had become, from the point of view of the swarm's
mind, unconscious, like the digestive processes of a human being. The little insectoid
units themselves carried on these operations consciously, though without
understanding their significance; but the mind of the swarm had lost the power
of attending to them. Its concern was almost wholly with such activities as called
for unified conscious control, in fact with practical and theoretical invention of all
kinds and with physical and mental exploration.
At the time of our visit to the most striking of these insectoid worlds the worldpopulation
consisted of many great nations of swarms. Each individual swarm had
its own nest, its Lilliputian city, an area of about an acre, in which the ground was
honey-combed to a depth of two feet with chambers and passages. The surroundCHAPTER
7. MORE WORLDS 93
ing district was devoted to the cultivation of the moss-like food-plants. As the
swarm increased in size, colonies might be founded beyond the range of the physiological
radio system of the parent swarm. Thus arose new group-individuals.
But neither in this race, nor in the race of bird-clouds, was there anything corresponding
to our successive generations of individual minds. Within the minded
group, the insectoid units were ever dying off and giving place to fresh units, but the
mind of the group was potentially immortal. The units succeeded one another; the
group-self persisted. Its memory reached back past countless generations of units,
fading as it receded, and finally losing itself in that archaic time when the "human"
was emerging from the "sub-human." Thus the civilized swarms had vague and
fragmentary memories of every historical period.
Civilization had turned the old disorderly warrens into carefully planned subterranean
cities; had turned the old irrigation channels into a widespread mesh
of waterways for the transport of freight from district to district; had introduced
mechanical power, based on the combustion of vegetable, matter; had smelted metals
from outcrops and alluvial de-posits; had produced the extraordinary tissue of
minute, almost microscopic machinery which had so greatly improved the comfort
and health of the more advanced regions; had produced also myriads of tiny
vehicles, corresponding to our tractors, trains, ships; had created class distinctions
between those group-individuals that remained primarily agricultural, those that
were mainly industrial, and those that specialized in intelligent co-ordination of
their country's activities. These last became in time the bureaucratic tyrants of the
country, Owing to the great size of the planet and the extreme difficulty of longdistance
travel by creatures so small as the insectoid units, civilizations had developed
independently in a score of insulated regions; and when at last they came
in contact, many of them were already highly industrialized, and equipped with
the most "modern" weapons. The reader may easily imagine what happened when
races that were in most cases biologically of different species, and anyhow were
I completely alien in customs, thought, and ideals, suddenly found themselves in
contact and in conflict. It would be wearisome to describe the insane warfare which
ensued. But it is of interest to note that we, the telepathic visitors from regions remote
in time and space, could communicate with these warring hosts more easily
than one host could communicate with another. And through this power we were
actually able to play an important part in the history of this world. Indeed, it was
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probably through our mediation that these races were saved from mutual destruction.
Taking up positions in "key" minds on each side of the conflict, we patiently
induced in our hosts some insight into the mentality of the enemy. And since each
of these races had already passed far beyond the level of sociality known on the
Earth, since in relation to the life of his own race a swarm-mind was capable of
true community, the realization of the enemy as being not monstrous but essentially
humane, was enough to annihilate the will to fight.
The "key" minds on either side, enlightened by "divine messengers," heroically
preached peace. And though many of them were hastily martyred, their cause triumphed.
The races made terms with each other; all save two formidable and culturally
rather backward peoples. These we could not persuade; and as they were
by now highly specialized for war, they were a very serious menace. They regarded
the new spirit of peace as mere weakness on the part of the enemy, and they were
determined to take advantage of it, and to conquer the rest of that world. But now
we witnessed a drama which to terrestrial man must surely seem incredible. It was
possible in this world only because of the high degree of mental lucidity which
had already been attained within the bounds of each race. The pacific races had
the courage to disarm. In the most spectacular and unmistakable manner they
destroyed their weapons and their munition factories. They took care, too, that
these events should be witnessed by enemy-swarms that had been taken prisoner.
These captives they then freed, bidding them report their experiences to the enemy.
In reply the enemy invaded the nearest of the disarmed countries and set
about ruthlessly imposing the military culture upon it, by means of propaganda
and persecution. But in spite of mass executions and mass torture, the upshot was
not what was expected. For though the tyrant races were not appreciably more developed
in sociality than Homo sapiens, the victims were far superior. Repression
only strengthened the will for passive resistance. Little by little the tyranny began
to waver. Then suddenly it collapsed. The invaders withdrew, taking with them the
infection of pacifism. In a surprisingly short time that world became a federation,
whose members were distinct species.
With sadness I realized that on the Earth, though all civilized beings belong
to one and the same biological species, such a happy issue of strife is impossible,
simply because the capacity for community in the individual mind is still too weak.
I wondered, too, whether the tyrant races of insectoids would have had greater
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success in imposing their culture on the invaded country if there had been a distinct
generation of juvenile malleable swarms for them to educate.
When this insectoid world had passed through its crisis, it began to advance
so rapidly in social structure and in development of the individual mind that we
found increasing difficulty in maintaining contact. At last we lost touch. But later,
when we ourselves had advanced, we were to come upon this world again.
Of the other insectoid worlds, I shall say nothing, for not one of them was
destined to play an important part in the history of the galaxy.
To complete the picture of the races in which the individual mind had not a single,
physically continuous, body, I must refer to a very different and even stranger
kind. In this the individual body is a cloud of ultramicroscopic sub-vital units, organized
in a common radio-system. Of this kind is 'the race which now inhabits
our own planet Mars. As I have already in another book described these beings and
the tragic relations which they will have with our own descendants in the remote
future, I shall say no more of them here; save that we did not make contact with
them till a much later stage of our adventure, when we had acquired the skill to
reach out to beings alien to ourselves in spiritual condition.
7.3 Plant men and others
Before passing on to tell the story of our galaxy as a whole (so far as I can comprehend
it) I must mention another and a very alien kind of world. Of this type
we found few examples, and few of these survived into the time when the galactic
drama was at its height; but one at least had (or will have) a great influence on the
growth of the spirit in that dramatic era.
On certain small planets, drenched with light and heat from a near or a great
sun, evolution took a very different course from that with which we are familiar.
The vegetable and animal functions were not separated into distinct organic types.
Every organism was at once animal and vegetable.
In such worlds the higher organisms were something like gigantic and mobile
herbs; but the violent flood of solar radiation rendered the tempo of their life much
more rapid than that of our plants. To say that they looked like herbs is perhaps misleading,
for they looked equally like animals. They had a definite number of limbs
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and a definite form of body; but all their skin was green, or streaked with green, and
they bore here or there, according to their species, great masses of foliage. Owing
to the slight power of gravitation on these small planets, the plant-animals often
supported vast super-structures on very slender trunks or limbs. In general those
that were mobile were less generously equipped with leaves than those that were
more or less sedentary.
In these small hot worlds the turbulent circulation of water and atmosphere
caused rapid changes in the condition of the ground from day to day. Storm and
flood made it very desirable for the organisms of these worlds to be able to move
from place to place. Consequently the early plants, which owing to the wealth
of solar radiation could easily store themselves with energy for a life of moderate
muscular activity, developed powers of perception and locomotion. Vegetable eyes
and ears, vegetable organs of taste, scent and touch, appeared on their stems or foliage.
For locomotion, some of them simply withdrew their primitive roots from
the ground and crept hither and thither with a kind of caterpillar action. Some
spread their foliage and drifted on the wind. From these in the course of ages arose
true fliers. Meanwhile the pedestrian species turned some of their roots into muscular
legs, four or six, or centipedal. The remaining roots were equipped with boring
instruments, which on a new site could rapidly proliferate into the ground. Yet
another method of combining locomotion and roots was perhaps more remarkable.
The aerial portion of the organism would detach itself from its embedded
roots, and wander off by land or air to strike root afresh in virgin soil. When the
second site was exhausted the creature would either go off in search of a third, and
so on, or return to its original bed, which by now might have recovered fertility.
There, it would attach itself once more to its old dormant roots and wake them into
new activity.
Many species, of course, developed predatory habits, and special organs of
offense, such as muscular boughs as strong as pythons for constriction, or talons,
horns, and formidable serrated pincers. In these "carnivorous" creatures the spread
of foliage was greatly reduced, and all the leaves could be tucked snugly away along
the back. In the most specialized beasts of prey the foliage was atrophied and had
only decorative value. It was surprising to see how the environment imposed on
these alien creatures forms suggestive of our tigers and wolves. And it was interesting,
too, to note bow excessive specialization and excessive adaptation to offense
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or defense ruined species after species; and how, when at length "human" intelligence
appeared, it was achieved by an unimposing and inoffensive creature whose
sole gifts were intelligence and sensibility toward the material world and toward
its fellows. Before describing the efflorescence of "humanity" in this kind of world
I must mention one grave problem which faces the evolving life of all small planets,
often at an early stage. This problem we had already come across on the Other
Earth. Owing to the weakness of gravitation and the disturbing heat of the sun,
the molecules of the atmosphere very easily escape into space. Most small worlds,
of course, lose all their air and water long before life can reach the "human" stage,
sometimes even before it can establish itself at all. Others, less small, may be thoroughly
equipped with atmosphere in their early phases, but at a much later date,
owing to the slow but steady contraction of their orbits, they may become so heated
that they can no longer hold down the furiously agitated molecules of their atmosphere.
On some of these planets a great population of living forms develops in
early aeons only to be parched and suffocated out of existence through the longdrawn
denudation and desiccation of the planet. But in more favorable cases life
is able to adapt itself progressively to the increasingly severe conditions. In some
worlds, for instance, a biological mechanism appeared by which the remaining atmosphere
was imprisoned within a powerful electromagnetic field generated by the
world's living population. In others the need of atmosphere was done away with
altogether; photosynthesis and the whole metabolism of life were carried on by
means of liquids alone. The last dwindling gases were captured in solution, stored
in huge tracts of spongy growths among the crowded roots, and covered with an
impervious membrane.
Both these natural biological methods occurred in one or other of the plantanimal
worlds that reached the "human" level. I have space only to describe a single
example, the most significant of these remarkable worlds. This was one in which
all free atmosphere had been lost long before the appearance of intelligence.
To enter this world and experience it through the alien senses and alien temperament
of its natives was an adventure in some ways more bewildering than any
of our earlier explorations. Owing to the complete absence of atmosphere, the sky,
even in full sunlight, was black with the blackness of interstellar space; and the stars
blazed. Owing to the weakness of gravitation and the absence of the molding action
of air and water and frost on the planet's shrinking and wrinkled surface, the landCHAPTER
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scape was a mass of fold-mountains, primeval and extinct volcanoes, congealed
floods and humps of lava, and craters left by the impact of giant meteors. None
of these features had ever been much smoothed by atmospheric and glacial influences.
Further, the ever-changing stresses of the planet's crust had shattered many
of the mountains into the fantastic forms of ice-bergs. On our own earth, where
gravity, that tireless hound, pulls down its quarry with so much greater strength,
these slender, top-heavy crags and pinnacles could never have stood. Owing to
the absence of atmosphere the exposed surfaces of the rock were blindingly illuminated;
the crevasses and all the shadows were black as night.
Many of the valleys had been turned into reservoirs, seemingly of milk; for the
surfaces of these lakes were covered with a deep layer of a white glutinous substance,
to prevent loss by evaporation. Round about clustered the roots of the
strange people of this world, like tree-stumps where a forest has been felled and
cleared. Each stump was sealed with the white glue. Every stretch of soil was in
use; and we learned that, though some of this soil was the natural result of past
ages of action by air and water, most was artificial. It had been manufactured by
great mining and pulverizing processes. In primitive times, and indeed throughout
all "pre-human" evolution, the competitive struggle for a share of the rare soil
of this world of rock had been one of the main spurs to intelligence.
The mobile plant-men themselves were to be seen by day clustered in the valleys,
their foliage spread to the sun. Only by night did we observe them in action,
moving over the bare rock or busy with machines and other artificial objects, instruments
of their civilization. There were no buildings, no roofed weatherproof
enclosures; for there was no weather. But the plateaux and terraces of the rock were
crowded with all manner of artifacts unintelligible to us.
The typical plant-man was an erect organism, like ourselves. On his head he
bore a vast crest of green plumes, which could be either folded together in the form
of a huge, tight, cos lettuce, or spread out to catch the light. Three many-faceted
eyes looked out from under the crest. Beneath these were three arm-like manipulatory
limbs, green and serpentine, branching at their extremities. The slender trunk,
pliable, encased in hard rings which slid into one another as the body bowed, was
divided into three legs for locomotion. Two of the three feet were also mouths,
which could either draw sap from the root or devour foreign matter. The third
was an organ of excretion. The precious excrement was never wasted, but passed
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through a special junction between the third foot and the root. The feet contained
taste-organs, and also ears. Since there was no air, sound was not propagated above
ground.
By day the life of these strange beings was mainly vegetable, by night animal.
Every morning, after the long and frigid night, the whole population swarmed to
its rooty dormitories. Each individual sought out his own root, fixed himself to it,
and stood throughout the torrid day, with leaves outspread. Till sunset he slept, not
in a dreamless sleep, but in a sort of trance, the meditative and mystical quality of
which was to prove in future ages a well of peace for many worlds. While he slept,
the currents of sap hastened up and down his trunk, carrying chemicals between
roots and leaves, flooding him with a concentrated supply of oxygen, removing the
products of past katabolism. When the sun had disappeared once more behind the
crags, displaying for a moment a wisp of fiery prominences, he would wake, fold up
his leaves, close the passages to his roots, detach himself, and go about the business
of civilized life. Night in this world was brighter than moonlight with us, for the
stars were unobscured, and several great clusters hung in the night sky. Artificial
light, however, was used for delicate operations. Its chief disadvantage was that it
tended to send the worker to sleep.
I must not try even to sketch the rich and alien social life of these beings. I
will only say that here as elsewhere we found all the cultural themes known on
earth, but that in this world of mobile plants all was transposed into a strange key,
a perplexing mode. Here as elsewhere we found a population of individuals deeply
concerned with the task of keeping themselves and their society in being. Here
we found self-regard, hate, love, the passions of the mob, intellectual curiosity, and
so on. And here, as in all the other worlds that we had thus far visited, we found
a race in the throes of the great spiritual crisis which was the crisis familiar to us
in our own worlds, and formed the channel by which we had telepathic access to
other worlds. But here the crisis had assumed a style different from any that we
had yet encountered. We had, in fact, begun to extend our powers of imaginative
exploration.
Leaving all else unnoticed, I must try to describe this crisis, for it is significant
for the understanding of matters which reached far beyond this little world.
We did not begin to have insight into the drama of this race till we had learned
to appreciate the mental aspect of its dual, animal-vegetable nature. Briefly, the
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mentality of the plant-men in every age was an expression of the varying tension
between the two sides of their nature, between the active, assertive, objectively inquisitive,
and morally positive animal nature and the passive, subjectively contemplative,
and devoutly acquiescent vegetable nature. It was of course through animal
prowess and practical human intelligence that the species had long ago come to
dominate its world. But at all times this practical will had been tempered and enriched
by a kind of experience which among men is very rare. Every day, throughout
the ages, these beings had surrendered their feverish animal nature not merely
to unconscious or dream-racked sleep, such as animals know, but to the special
kind of awareness which (we learned) belongs to plants. Spreading their leaves,
they had absorbed directly the essential elixir of life which animals receive only at
second hand in the mangled flesh of their prey. Thus they seemingly maintained
immediate physical contact with the source of all cosmical being. And this state,
though physical, was also in some sense spiritual. It had a far-reaching effect on all
their conduct. If theological language were acceptable, it might well be called a spiritual
contact with God. During the busy night-time they went about their affairs
as insulated individuals, having no present immediate experience of their underlying
unity; but normally they were always preserved from the worst excesses of
individualism by memory of their day-time life.
It took us long to understand that their peculiar day-time state did not consist
simply in being united as a group mind, whether of tribe or race. Theirs was not
the condition of the avian units in the bird-cloud, nor yet of the telepathically constituted
world-minds which, as we were later to discover, had a very great part to
play in galactic history. The plant-man did not in his daytime life come into possession
of the precepts and thoughts of his fellow plant-men, and thereby waken into
a more comprehensive and discriminate awareness of the environment and of the
multiple body of the race. On the contrary, he became completely unresponsive
to all objective conditions save the flood of sunlight drenching his spread leaves.
And this experience afforded him an enduring ecstasy whose quality was almost
sexual, an ecstasy in which subject and object seemed to become identical, an ecstasy
of subjective union with the obscure source of all finite being. In this state
the plant-man could meditate upon his active, night-time life, and could become
aware, far more clearly than by night, of the intricacies of his own motives. In this
day-time mode he passed no moral judgments on himself or others. He mentally
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reviewed every kind of human conduct with detached contemplative joy, as a factor
in the universe. But when night came again, bringing the active nocturnal mood,
the calm, day-time insight into himself and others was lit with a fire of moral praise
and censure.
Now throughout the career of this race there had been a certain tension between
the two basic impulses of its nature. All its finest cultural achievements had
been made in times when both had been vigorous and neither predominant. But,
as in so many other worlds, the development of natural science and the production
of mechanical power from tropical sunlight caused grave mental confusion.
The manufacture of innumerable aids to comfort and luxury, the spread of electric
railways over the whole world, the development of radio communication, the
study of astronomy and mechanistic biochemistry, the urgent demands of war and
social revolution, all these influences strengthened the active mentality and weakened
the contemplative. The climax came when it was found possible to do away
with the day-time sleep altogether. The products of artificial photosynthesis could
be rapidly injected into the living body every morning, so that the plant-man could
spend practically the whole day in active work. Very soon the roots of the peoples
were being dug up and used as raw material in manufacture. They were no longer
needed for their natural purpose.
I must not spend tune in describing the hideous plight into which this world
now fell. Seemingly, artificial photosynthesis, though it could keep the body vigorous,
failed to produce some essential vitamin of the spirit. A disease of robotism, of
purely mechanical living, spread throughout the population. There was of course a
fever of industrial activity. The plant-men careered round their planet in all kinds
of mechanically propelled vehicles, decorated themselves with the latest synthetic
products, tapped the central volcanic heat for power, expended great ingenuity in
destroying one another, and in a thousand other feverish pursuits pushed on in
search of a bliss which ever eluded them.
After untold distresses they began to realize that their whole way of life was
alien to their essential plant nature. Leaders and prophets dared to inveigh against
mechanization and against the prevalent intellectualistic scientific culture, and against
artificial photosynthesis. By now nearly all the roots of the race had been destroyed;
but presently biological science was turned to the task of generating, from the few
remaining specimens, new roots for all. Little by little the whole population was
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able to return to natural photosynthesis. The industrial life of the world vanished
like frost in sunlight. In returning to the old alternating life of animal and vegetable,
the plant-men, jaded and deranged by the long fever of industrialism, found
in their calm day-time experience an overwhelming joy. The misery of their recent
life intensified by contrast the ecstasy of the vegetal experience. The intellectual
acuity that their brightest minds had acquired in scientific analysis combined with
the special quality of their revived plant life to give their whole experience a new
lucidity. For a brief period they reached a plane of spiritual lucidity which was to
be an example and a treasure for the future aeons of the galaxy.
But even the most spiritual life has its temptations. The extravagant fever of
industrialism and intellectualism had so subtly poisoned the plant-men that when
at last they rebelled against it they swung too far, falling into the snare of a vegetal
life as one-sided as the old animal life had been. Little by little they gave less and
less energy and time to "animal" pursuits, until at last their nights as well as their
days were spent wholly as trees, and the active, exploring, manipulating, animal
intelligence died in them forever.
For a while the race lived on in an increasingly vague and confused ecstasy of
passive union with the universal source of being. So well established and automatic
was the age-old biological mechanism for preserving the planet's vital gases
in solution that it continued long to function without attention. But industrialism
had increased the world population beyond the limits within which the small
supply of water and gases could easily fulfill its function. The circulation of material
was dangerously rapid. In time the mechanism was overstrained. Leakages
began to appear, and no one repaired them. Little by little the precious water and
other volatile substances escaped from the planet. Little by little the reservoirs ran
dry, the spongy roots were parched, the leaves withered. One by one the blissful
and no longer human inhabitants of that world passed from ecstasy to sickness,
despondency, uncomprehending bewilderment, and on to death.
But, as I shall tell, their achievement was not without effect on the life of our
galaxy. "Vegetable humanities," if I may so call them, proved to be rather uncommon
occurrences. Some of them inhabited worlds of a very curious kind which
I have not yet mentioned. As is well known, a small planet close to its sun tends,
through the sun's tidal action upon it, to lose its rotation. Its days become longer
and longer, till at last it presents one face constantly toward its luminary. Not a few
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planets of this type, up and down the galaxy, were inhabited; and several of them
by "vegetable humanities."
All these "non-diurnal" worlds were very inhospitable to life, for one hemisphere
was always extravagantly hot, the other extravagantly cold. The illuminated
face might reach the temperature of molten lead; on the dark face, however, no
substances could retain the liquid state, for the temperature would remain but a
degree or two above absolute zero. Between the two hemispheres there would lie
a narrow belt, or rather a mere ribbon, which might be called temperate. Here the
immense and incendiary sun was always partly hidden by the horizon. Along the
cooler side of this ribbon, hidden from the murderous rays of the sun's actual disc,
but illuminated by his corona, and warmed by the conduction of heat from the
sunward ground, life was not invariably impossible.
Inhabited worlds of this kind had always reached a fairly high stage of biological
evolution long before they had lost their diurnal rotation. As the day lengthened,
life was forced to adapt itself to more extreme temperatures of day and night. The
poles of these planets, if not too much inclined toward the ecliptic, remained at a
fairly constant temperature, and were therefore citadels whence the living forms
ventured into less hospitable regions. Many species managed to spread toward the
equator by the simple method of burying themselves and "hibernating" through the
day and the night, emerging only for dawn and sunset to lead a furiously active life.
As the days lengthened into months, some species, adapted for swift locomotion,
simply trekked round the planet, following the sunset and the dawn. Strange it was
to see the equatorial and most agile of these species sweeping over the plains in
the level sunlight. Their legs were often as tall and slender as a ship's masts. Now
and then they would swerve, with long necks extended to snatch some scurrying
creature or pluck some bunch of foliage. Such constant and rapid migration would
have been impossible in worlds less rich in solar energy.
Human intelligence seems never to have been attained in any of these worlds
unless it had been attained already before night and day became excessively long,
and the difference of their temperatures excessively great. In worlds where plantmen
or other creatures had achieved civilization and science before rotation had
become seriously retarded, great efforts were made to cope with the increasing
harshness of the environment. Sometimes civilization merely retreated to the poles,
abandoning the rest of the planet. Sometimes subterranean settlements were estabCHAPTER
7. MORE WORLDS 104
lished in other regions, the inhabitants issuing only at dawn and sunset to cultivate
the land. Sometimes a system of railways along the parallels of latitude carried a
migratory population from one agricultural center to another, following the twilight.
Finally, however, when rotation had been entirely lost, a settled civilization
would be crowded along the whole length of the stationary girdle between night
and day. By this time, if not before, the atmosphere would have been lost also. It
can well be imagined that a race struggling to survive in these literally straightened
circumstances would not be able to maintain any richness and delicacy of mental
life.
 Concerning the explorers
BVALLTU and I, in company with the increasing band of our fellow explorers,
visited many worlds of many strange kinds. In some we spent only a few weeks
of the local time; in others we remained for centuries, or skimmed from point to
point of history as our interest dictated. Like a swarm of locusts we would descend
upon a new-found world, each of us singling out a suitable host. After a period of
observation, long or short, we would leave, to alight again, perhaps, on the same
world in another of its ages; or to distribute our company among many worlds, far
apart in time and in space.
This strange life turned me into a very different being from the Englishman
who had at a certain date of human history walked at night upon a hill. Not only
had my own immediate experience increased far beyond the normal age, but also,
by means of a peculiarly intimate union with my fellows, I myself had been, so to
speak, multiplied. For in a sense I was now as much Bvalltu and each one of my
colleagues as I was that Englishman.
This change that had come over us deserves to be carefully described, not merely
for its intrinsic interest, but also because it afforded us a key for understanding
many cosmical beings whose nature would otherwise have been obscure to us.
In our new condition our community was so perfected that the experiences of
each were available to all. Thus I, the new I, participated in the adventures of that
Englishman and of Bvalltu and the rest with equal ease. And I possessed all their
memories of former, separate existence in their respective native worlds.
Some philosophically minded reader may ask, "Do you mean that the many
105
CHAPTER 8. CONCERNING THE EXPLORERS 106
experiencing individuals became a single individual, having a single stream of experience?
Or do you mean that there remained many experiencing individuals,
having numerically distinct but exactly similar experiences?" The answer is that I
do not know. But this I know. I, the Englishman, and similarly each of my colleagues,
gradually "woke" into possession of each other's experience, and also into
more lucid intelligence. Whether, as experients, we remained many or became one,
I do not know. But I suspect that the question is one of those which can never be
truly answered because in the last analysis it is meaningless.
In the course of my communal observation of the many worlds, and equally
in the course of my introspection of my own communal mental processes, now
one and now another individual explorer, and now perhaps a group of explorers,
would form the main instrument of attention, affording through their particular
nature and experience material for the contemplation of all. Sometimes, when we
were exceptionally alert and eager, each awakened into a mode of perception and
thought and imagination and will more lucid than any experiencing known to any
of us as individuals. Thus, though each of us became in a sense identical with each
of his friends, he also became in a manner a mind of higher order than any of
us in isolation. But in this "waking" there seemed to be nothing more mysterious
in kind than in those many occasions in normal life when the mind delightedly
relates together experiences that have hitherto been insulated from one another, or
discovers in confused objects a pattern or a significance hitherto unnoticed.
It must not be supposed that this strange mental community blotted out the
personalities of the individual explorers. Human speech has no accurate terms to
describe our peculiar relationship. It would be as untrue to say that we had lost
our individuality, or were dissolved in a communal individuality, as to say that we
were all the while distinct individuals. Though the pronoun "I" now applied to us
all collectively, the pronoun "we" also applied to us. In one respect, namely unity
of consciousness, we were indeed a single experiencing individual; yet at the same
time we were in a very important and delightful manner distinct from one another.
Though there was only the single, communal "I," there was also, so to speak, a manifold
and variegated "us," an observed company of very diverse personalities, each
of whom expressed creatively his own unique contribution to the whole enterprise
of cosmical exploration, while all were bound together in a tissue of subtle personal
relationships. I am well aware that this account of the matter must seem to
CHAPTER 8. CONCERNING THE EXPLORERS 107
my readers self-contradictory, as indeed it does to me. But I can find no other way
of expressing the vividly remembered fact that I was at once a particular member
of a community and the possessor of the pooled experience of that community.
To put the matter somewhat differently, though in respect of our identity of
awareness we were a single individual, in respect of our diverse and creative idiosyncrasies
we were distinct persons observable by the common "I." Each one, as
the common "I," experienced the whole company of individuals, including his individual
self, as a group of actual persons, differing in temperament and private
experience. Each one of us experienced all as a real community, bound together
by such relations of affection and mutual criticism as occurred, for instance, between
Bvalltu and myself. Yet on another plane of experience, the plane of creative
thought and imagination, the single communal attention could withdraw from this
tissue of personal relationships. Instead, it concerned itself wholly with the exploration
of the cosmos. With partial truth it might be said that, while for love we were
distinct, for knowledge, for wisdom, and for worship we were identical. In the following
chapters, which deal with the cosmical, experiences of this communal "I,"
it would be logically correct to refer to the exploring mind always in the singular,
using the pronoun "I," and saying simply, "I did so and so, and thought so and so";
nevertheless the pronoun "we" will still be generally employed so as to preserve the
true impression of a communal enterprise, and to avoid the false impression that
the explorer was just the human author of this book.
Each one of us had lived his individual active life in one or other of the many
worlds. And for each one, individually, his own little blundering career in his remote
native world retained a peculiar concreteness and glamour, like the vivid-ness
which mature men find in childhood memories. Not only so, but individually he
imputed to his former private life an urgency and importance which, in his communal
capacity, was overwhelmed by matters of greater cosmical significance. Now
this concreteness and glamour, this urgency and importance of each little private
life, was of great moment to the communal "I" in which each of us participated. It
irradiated the communal experience with its vividness, its pathos. For only in his
own life as a native in some world had each of us actually fought, so to speak, in
life's war as a private soldier at close grips with the enemy. It was the recollection of
this fettered, imprisoned, blindfold, eager, private individuality, that enabled us to
watch the unfolding of cosmical events not merely as a spectacle but with a sense
CHAPTER 8. CONCERNING THE EXPLORERS 108
of the poignancy of every individual life as it flashed and vanished. Thus I, the Englishman,
contributed to the communal mind my persistently vivid recollections
of all my ineffectual conduct in my own troubled world; and the true significance
of that blind human life, redeemed by its little imperfect jewel of community, became
apparent to me, the communal "I," with a lucidity which the Englishman in
his primaeval stupor could never attain and cannot now recapture. All that I can
now remember is that, as the communal "I," I looked on my terrestrial career at
once more critically and with less guilt than I do in the individual state; and on
my partner in that career at once with clearer, colder understanding of our mutual
impact and with more generous affection.
One aspect of the communal experience of the explorers I have still to mention.
Each of us had originally set out upon the great adventure mainly in the hope of
discovering what part was played by community in the cosmos as a whole. This
question had yet to be answered; but meanwhile another question was becoming
increasingly insistent. Our crowded experiences in the many worlds, and our new
lucidity of mind, had bred in each of us a sharp conflict of intellect and feeling.
Intellectually the idea that some "deity," distinct from the cosmos itself, had made
the cosmos now seemed to us less and less credible. Intellectually we had no doubt
that the cosmos was self-sufficient, a system involving no logical ground and no
creator. Yet increasingly, as a man may feel the psychical reality of a physically
perceived beloved or a perceived enemy, we felt in the physical presence of the
cosmos the psychical presence of that which we had named the Star Maker. In spite
of intellect, we knew that the whole cosmos was infinitely less than the whole of
being, and that the whole infinity of being underlay every moment of the cosmos.
And with unreasoning passion we strove constantly to peer behind each minute
particular event in the cosmos to see the very features of that infinity which, for
lack of a truer name, we had called the Star Maker. But, peer as we might, we found
nothing. Though in the whole and in each particular tiling the dread presence
indubitably confronted us, its very infinity prevented us from assigning to it any
features whatever.
Sometimes we inclined to conceive it as sheer Power, and symbolized it to ourselves
by means of all the myriad power-deities of our many worlds. Sometimes
we felt assured that it was pure Reason, and that the cosmos was but an exercise
of the divine mathematician. Sometimes Love seemed to us its essential character,
CHAPTER 8. CONCERNING THE EXPLORERS 109
and we imagined it with the forms of all the Christs of all the worlds, the human
Christs, the Echinoderm and Nautiloid Christs, the dual Christ of the Symbiotics,
the swarming Christ of the Insectoids. But equally it appeared to us as unreasoning
Creativity, at once blind and subtle, tender and cruel, caring only to spawn and
spawn the infinite variety of beings, conceiving here and there among a thousand
inanities a fragile loveliness. This it might for a while foster with maternal solicitude,
till in a sudden jealousy of the excellence of its own creature, it would destroy
what it had made.
But we knew well that all these fictions were very false. The felt presence of the
Star Maker remained unintelligible, even though it increasingly illuminated the
cosmos, like the splendor of the unseen sun at dawn.
 The community of worlds
9.1 Busy utopias
THERE came a time when our new-found communal mind attained such a degree
of lucidity that it was able to maintain contact even with worlds that had passed far
beyond the mentality of terrestrial man. Of these lofty experiences I, who am once
more reduced to the state of a mere individual human being, have only the most
confused memory. I am like one who, in the last extremity of mental fatigue, tries to
recapture the more penetrating intuitions that he achieved in his lost freshness. He
can recover only faint echoes and a vague glamour. But even the most fragmentary
recollections of the cosmical experiences which befell me in that lucid State deserve
recording.
The sequence of events in the successfully waking world was generally more
or less as follows. The starting point, it will be remembered, was a plight like that
in which our own Earth now stands. The dialectic of the world's history had confronted
the race with a problem with which the traditional mentality could never
cope. The world-situation had grown too complex for lowly intelligences, and it
demanded a degree of individual integrity in leaders and in led, such as was as yet
possible only to a few minds. Consciousness had already been violently awakened
out of the primitive trance into a state of excruciating individualism, of poignant
but pitifully restricted self-awareness. And individualism, together with the traditional
tribal spirit, now threatened to wreck the world. Only after a long-drawn
agony of economic distress and maniac warfare, haunted by an increasingly clear
110
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 111
vision of a happier world, could the second stage of waking be achieved. In most
cases it was not achieved. "Human nature," or its equivalent in the many worlds,
could not change itself; and the environment could not remake it.
But in a few worlds the spirit reacted to its desperate plight with a miracle. Or,
if the reader prefers, the environment miraculously refashioned the spirit. There
occurred a widespread and almost sudden waking into a new lucidity of consciousness
and a new integrity of will. To call this change miraculous is only to recognize
that it could not have been scientifically predicted even from the fullest possible
knowledge of "human nature" as manifested in the earlier age. To later generations,
however, it appeared as no miracle but as a belated wakening from an almost
miraculous stupor into plain sanity.
This unprecedented access of sanity took at first the form of a wide-spread passion
for a new social order which should be just and should embrace the whole
planet. Such a social fervor was not, of course, entirely new. A small minority had
long ago conceived it, and had haltingly tried to devote themselves to it. But now
at last, through the scourge of circumstance and the potency of the spirit itself, this
social, will became general. And while it was still passionate, and heroic action
was still possible to the precariously awakened beings, the whole social structure
of the world was reorganized, so that within a generation or two every individual
on the planet could count upon the means of life, and the opportunity to exercise
his powers fully, for his own delight and for the service of the world community. It
was now possible to bring up the new generations to a sense that the world-order
was no alien tyranny but an expression of the general will, and that they had indeed
been born into a noble heritage, a thing for which it was good to live and suffer and
die. To readers of this book such a change may well seem miraculous, and such a
state Utopian.
Those of us who had come from less fortunate planets found it at once a heartening
and yet a bitter experience to watch world after world successfully emerge
from a plight which seemed inescapable, to see a world-population of frustrated
and hate-poisoned creatures give place to one in which every individual was generously
and shrewdly nurtured, and therefore not warped by unconscious envy and
hate. Very soon, though no change had occurred in the biological stock, the new
social environment produced a world population which might well have seemed to
belong to a new species. In physique, in intelligence, in mental independence and
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 112
social responsibility, the new individual far outstripped the old, as also in mental
wholesomeness and in integrity of will. And though it was sometimes feared that
the removal of all sources of grave mental conflict might deprive the mind of all
stimulus to creative work, and produce a mediocre population, it was soon found
that, far from stagnating, the spirit of the race now passed on to discover new fields
of struggle and triumph. The world-population of "aristocrats," which flourished
after the great change, looked back with curiosity and incredulity into the preceding
age, and found great difficulty in conceiving the tangled, disreputable and mostly
unwitting motives which were the main-springs of action even in the most fortunate
individuals among their ancestors. It was recognized that the whole prerevolutionary
population was afflicted with serious mental diseases, with endemic
plagues of delusion and obsession, due to mental malnutrition and poisoning. As
psychological insight advanced, the same kind of interest was aroused by the old
psychology as is wakened in modern Europeans by ancient maps which distort the
countries of the world almost beyond recognition. We were inclined to think of
the psychological crisis of the waking worlds as being the difficult passage from
adolescence to maturity; for in essence it was an outgrowing of juvenile interests, a
discarding of toys and childish games, and a discovery of the interests of adult life.
Tribal prestige, individual dominance, military glory, industrial triumphs lost their
obsessive glamour, and instead the happy creatures delighted in civilized social intercourse,
in cultural activities, and in the common enterprise of world-building.
During the phase of history which followed the actual surmounting of the spiritual
crisis in a waking world the attention of the race was of course still chiefly occupied
with social reconstruction. Many heroic tasks had to be undertaken. There
was need not only for a new economic system but for new systems of political organization,
of world-law, of education. In many cases this period of reconstruction
under the guidance of the new mentality was itself a time of serious conflict. For
even beings who are sincerely in accord about the goal of social activity may disagree
violently about the way. But such conflicts as arose, though heated, were of
a very different kind from the earlier conflicts which were inspired by obsessive
individualism and obsessive group-hatreds.
We noted that the new world-orders were very diverse. This was, of course, to
be expected, since biologically, psychologically, culturally, these worlds were very
different. The perfected world-order of an Echinoderm race had of course to be
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 113
different from that of the symbiotic Ichthyoids and Arachnoids; and this from that
of a Nautiloid world, and so on. But we noted also in all these victorious worlds a
remarkable identity. For instance, in the loosest possible sense, all were communistic;
for in all of them the means of production were communally owned, and no
individual could control the labor of others for private profit. Again, in a sense all
these world-orders were democratic, since the final sanction of policy was worldopinion.
But in many cases there was no democratic machinery, no legal channel
for the expression of world-opinion. Instead, a highly specialized bureaucracy, or
even a world-dictator, might carry out the business of organizing the world's activity
with legally absolute power, but under constant supervision by popular will
expressed through the radio. We were amazed to find that in a truly awakened
world even a dictatorship could be in essence democratic. We observed with incredulity
situations in which the "absolute" world-government, faced with some
exceptionally momentous and doubtful matter of policy, had made urgent appeals
for a formal democratic decision, only to receive from all regions the reply, "We
cannot advise. You must decide as your professional experience suggests. We will
abide by your decision."
Law in these worlds was based on a very remarkable kind of sanction which
could not conceivably work successfully on Earth. There was never any attempt
to enforce the law by violence, save against dangerous lunatics, such as sometimes
occurred as throw-backs to an earlier age. In some worlds there was a complex
body of "laws" regulating the economic and social life of groups, and even the private
affairs of individuals. It seemed to us at first that freedom had vanished from
such worlds. But later we discovered that the whole intricate system was regarded
as we should regard the rules of a game or the canons of an art, or the innumerable
extra-legal customs of any long-established society. In the main, everyone kept the
law because he had faith in its social value as a guide to conduct. But if ever the
law seemed inadequate he would without hesitation break it. His conduct might
cause offense or inconvenience or even serious hardship to his neighbors. They
would probably protest vigorously. But there was never question of compulsion.
If those concerned failed to persuade him that his behavior was socially harmful,
his case might be tried by a sort of court of arbitration, backed by the prestige of
the world-government. If the decision went against the defendant, and yet he persisted
in his illegal behavior, none would restrain him. But such was the power of
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 114
public censure and social ostracism that disregard of the court's decision was very
rare. The terrible sense of isolation acted on the law-breaker like an ordeal by fire.
If his motive was at bottom base, he would sooner or later collapse. But if his case
had merely been misjudged, or if his conduct sprang from an intuition of value
beyond the range of his fellows, he might persist in his course till he had won over
the public.
I mention these social curiosities only to give some illustration of the far-reaching
difference between the spirit of these Utopian worlds and the spirit which is familiar
to readers of this book. It may be easily imagined that in our wanderings we
came upon a wonderful diversity of customs and institutions, but I must not pause
to describe even the most remarkable of them. I must be content to outline the
activities of the typical waking worlds, so as to be able to press on to tell a story not
merely of particular worlds but of our galaxy as a whole. When a waking world
had passed through the phase of radical social reconstruction, and had attained a
new equilibrium, it would settle into a period of steady economic and cultural advancement.
Mechanism, formerly a tyrant over body and mind, but now a faithful
servant, would secure for every individual a fullness and diversity of life far beyond
anything known on earth. Radio communication and rocket travel would afford
to each mind intimate knowledge of every people. Labor-saving machinery would
reduce the work of maintaining civilization; all mind-crippling drudgery would
vanish, and the best energy of every one of the world-citizens would be freely devoted
to social service that was not unworthy of a well-grown intelligent being.
And "social service" was apt to be interpreted very broadly. It seemed to permit
many lives to be given over wholly to freakish and irresponsible self-expression.
The community could well afford a vast amount of such wastage for the sake of the
few invaluable jewels of originality which occasionally emerged from it.
This stable and prosperous phase of the waking worlds, which we came to call
the Utopian phase, was probably the happiest of all the ages in the life of any world.
Tragedy of one sort or another there would still be, but never widespread and futile
distress. We remarked, moreover, that, whereas in former ages tragedy had been
commonly thought of in terms of physical pain and premature death, now it was
conceived more readily as resulting from the clash and mutual yearning and mutual
incompatibility of diverse personalities; so rare had the cruder kind of disaster become,
and on the other hand so much more subtle and sensitive were the contacts
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 115
between persons. Widespread physical tragedy, the suffering and annihilation of
whole populations, such as we experience in war and plague, were quite unknown,
save in those rare cases when a whole race was destroyed by astronomical accident,
whether through loss of atmosphere or the bursting of its planet or the plunging of
its solar system into some tract of gas or dust.
In this happy phase, then, which might last for a few centuries or for many
thousands of years, the whole energy of the world would be devoted to perfecting
the world-community and raising the caliber of the race by cultural and by eugenical
means.
Of the eugenical enterprise of these worlds I shall report little, because much
of it would be unintelligible without a minute knowledge of the biological and biochemical
nature of each of these non-human world-populations. It is enough to
say that the first task of the eugenists was to prevent the perpetuation of inheritable
disease and malformation of body and mind. In days before the great psychological
change even this modest work had often led to serious abuses. Governments
would attempt to breed out all those characters, such as independence of mind,
which were distasteful to governments. Ignorant enthusiasts would advocate ruthless
and misguided interference in the choice of mates. But in the more enlightened
age these dangers were recognized and avoided. Even so, the eugenical venture did
often lead to disaster. One splendid race of intelligent avians we saw reduced to
the sub-human level by an attempt to extirpate susceptibility to a virulent mental
disease. The liability to this disease happened to be genetically linked in an indirect
manner with the possibility of normal brain development in the fifth generation.
Of positive eugenical enterprises I need only mention improvements of sensory
range and acuity (chiefly in sight and touch), the invention of new senses, improvements
in memory, in general intelligence, in temporal discrimination. These races
came to distinguish ever more minute periods of duration, and at the same time to
extend their temporal grasp so as to apprehend ever longer periods as "now."
Many of the worlds at first devoted much energy to this kind of eugenical work,
but later decided that, though it might afford them some new richness of experience,
it must be postponed for the sake of more important matters. For instance,
with the increasing complexity of life it soon appeared very necessary to retard the
maturing of the individual mind, so as to enable it to assimilate its early experience'
more thoroughly. "Before life begins," it was said, "there should be a lifetime
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 116
of childhood." At the same time efforts were made to prolong maturity to three or
four times its normal extent, and to reduce senility. In every world that had gained
full eugenical power there arose sooner or later a sharp public discussion as to the
most suitable length of individual life. All were agreed that life must be prolonged;
but, while one party wished to multiply it only three or four times, another insisted
that nothing less than a hundred times the normal life-span could afford the race
that continuity and depth of experience which all saw to be desirable. Another
party even advocated deathlessness, and a permanent race of never-aging immortals.
It was argued that the obvious danger of mental rigidity, and the cessation of
all advancement, might be avoided by contriving that the permanent physiological
state of the deathless population should be one of very early maturity.
Different worlds found different solutions for this problem. Some races assigned
to the individual a period no longer than three hundred of our years. Others
allowed him fifty thousand. One race of Echinoderms decided on potential immortality,
but endowed themselves with an ingenious psychological mechanism by
which, if the ancient began to lose touch with changing conditions, he could not fail
to recognize the fact, and would thereupon crave and practice I euthanasia, gladly
yielding his place to a successor of more modern type.
Many other triumphs of eugenical experiment we observed up and down the
worlds. The general level of individual intelligence was, of course, raised far beyond
the range of Homo sapiens. But also that super-intelligence which can be attained
only by a psychically unified community was greatly developed on the highest practicable
plane, that of the conscious individuality of a whole world. This, of course,
was impossible till the social cohesion of individuals within the world-community
had become as close-knit as the integration of the elements of a nervous system.
It demanded also a very great advance of telepathy. Further, it was not possible
till the great majority of individuals had reached a breadth of knowledge unknown
on earth. The last and most difficult power to be attained by these worlds in the
course of their Utopian phase was psychical freedom of time and space, the limited
power to observe directly, and even contribute to, events remote from the spatiotemporal
location of the observer. Throughout our exploration we had been greatly
perplexed by the fact that we, most of whom were beings of a very humble order,
should have been able to achieve this freedom, which, as we now discovered, these
highly developed worlds found so difficult, to master. The explanation was now
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 117
given us. No such venture as ours could have been undertaken by our unaided
selves. Throughout our exploration we had unwittingly been under the influence
of a system of worlds which had attained this freedom only after aeons of research.
Not one step could we have taken without the constant support of those brilliant
Ichthyoid and Arachnoid Symbiotics who played a leading part in the history of our
galaxy. They it was who controlled our whole adventure, so that we might report
our experiences in our primitive native worlds.
The freedom of space and time, the power of cosmical exploration and of influence
by means of telepathic contact, was at once the most potent and the most
dangerous asset of the fully awakened Utopian worlds. Through the unwise exercise
of it many a glorious and single-minded race came to disaster. Sometimes the
adventuring world-mind failed to maintain its sanity in face of the welter of misery
and despair that now flooded in upon it telepathically from all the regions of the
galaxy. Sometimes the sheer difficulty of comprehending the subtleties that were
revealed to it flung it into a mental breakdown from which there was no recovery.
Sometimes it became so enthralled by its telepathic adventures that it lost touch
with its own life upon its native planet, so that the world-community, deprived of
its guiding communal mind, fell into disorder and decay, and the exploring mind
itself died.
9.2 In mundane strife
Of the busy Utopias which I have been describing, a few were already established
even before the birth of the Other Earth, a larger number flourished before our
own planet was formed, but many of the most important of these worlds are temporally
located in an age far future to us, an age long after the destruction of the
final human race. Casualties among these awakened worlds are of course much
less common than among more lowly and less competent worlds. Consequently,
though fatal accidents occurred in every epoch, the number of awakened worlds
in our galaxy steadily increased as time advanced. The actual births of planets, due
to the chance encounters of mature but not aged stars, reached (or will reach) a
maximum fairly late in the history of our galaxy, and then declined. But since the
fluctuating progress of a world from bare animality to spiritual maturity takes, on
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 118
the average, several thousands of millions of years, the maximum population of
Utopian and fully awakened worlds occurred very late, when physically the galaxy
was already somewhat past its prime. Further, though even in early epochs the
few awakened worlds did sometimes succeed in making contact with one another,
either by interstellar travel or by telepathy, it was not till a fairly late stage of galactic
history that intermundane relations came to occupy the main attention of the
wakened worlds.
Throughout the progress of a waking world there was one grave, subtle, and
easily overlooked danger. Interest might be "fixated" upon some current plane of
endeavor, so that no further advance could occur. It may seem strange that beings
whose psychological knowledge so far surpassed the attainment of man should
have been trapped in this manner. Apparently at every stage of mental development,
save the highest of all, the mind's growing point is tender and easily misdirected.
However this may be, it is a fact that a few rather highly developed worlds,
even with communal mentality, were disastrously perverted in a strange manner,
which I find very difficult to understand. I can only suggest that in them, seemingly,
the hunger for true community and true mental lucidity itself became obsessive
and perverse, so that the behavior of these exalted perverts might deteriorate into
something very like tribalism and religious fanaticism. The disease would soon
lead to the stifling of all elements which seemed recalcitrant to the generally accepted
culture of the world-society. When such worlds mastered interstellar travel,
they might conceive a fanatical desire to impose their own culture throughout the
galaxy. Sometimes their zeal became so violent that they were actually driven to
wage ruthless religious wars on all who resisted them.
Obsessions derived from one stage or another of the progress toward Utopia
and lucid consciousness, even if they did not bring violent disaster, might at any
stage side-track the waking world into futility. Superhuman intelligence, courage,
and constancy on the part of the devoted individuals might be consecrated to misguided
and unworthy world purposes. Thus it was that, in extreme cases, even a
world that remained socially Utopian and mentally a super-individual, might pass
beyond the bounds of sanity. With a gloriously healthy body and an insane mind
it might do terrible harm to its neighbors.
Such tragedy did not become possible till after interplanetary and interstellar
travel had been well established. Long ago, in an early phase of the galaxy,the
number of planetary systems had been very small, and only half a dozen worlds
had attained Utopia. These were scattered up and down the galaxy at immense distances
from one another. Each lived its life in almost complete isolation, relieved
only by precarious telepathic intercourse with its peers. In a somewhat later but
still early period, when these eldest children of the galaxy had perfected their society
and their biological nature, and were on the threshold of super-individuality,
they turned their attention to interplanetary travel. First one and then another
achieved rocket-flight in space, and succeeded in breeding specialized populations
for the colonization of neighboring planets. In a still later epoch, the middle period
of galactic history, there were many more planetary systems than in the earlier
ages, and an increasing number of intelligent worlds were successfully emerging
from the great psychological crisis which so many worlds never surmount. Meanwhile
some of the elder "generation" of awakened worlds were already facing the
immensely difficult problems of travel on the interstellar and not merely the interplanetary
scale. This new power inevitably changed the whole character of galactic
history. Hitherto, in spite of tentative telepathic exploration on the part of the most
awakened worlds, the life of the galaxy had been in the main the life of a number of
isolated worlds which took no effect upon one another. With the advent of interstellar
travel the many distinct themes of the world-biographies gradually became
merged in an all-embracing drama.
Travel within a planetary system was at first carried out by rocket-vessels propelled
by normal fuels. In all the early ventures one great difficulty had been the
danger of collision with meteors. Even the most efficient vessel, most skillfully
navigated and traveling in regions that were relatively free from these invisible and
lethal missiles, might at any moment crash and fuse. The trouble was not overcome
till means had been found to unlock the treasure of sub-atomic energy. It was then
possible to protect the ship by means of a far-flung envelope of power which either
diverted or exploded the meteors at a distance. A rather similar method was with
great difficulty devised to protect the space ships and their crews from the constant
and murderous hail of cosmic radiation.
Interstellar, as opposed to interplanetary, travel was quite impossible until the
advent of sub-atomic power. disasters, however, did occur.
Several worlds were accidentally blown to pieces. In
others civilization was temporarily destroyed. Sooner or later, however, most of
the minded worlds tamed this formidable djin, and set it to work upon a titanic
scale, not only in industry, but in such great enterprises as the alteration of planetary
orbits for the improvement of climate. This dangerous and delicate process
was effected by firing a gigantic sub-atomic rocket-apparatus at such times and
places that the recoil would gradually accumulate to divert the planet's course in
the desired direction.
Actual interstellar voyaging was first effected by detaching a planet from its
natural orbit by a series of well-timed and well-placed rocket impulsions, and thus
projecting it into outer space at a speed far greater than the normal planetary and
stellar speeds. Something more than this was necessary, since life on a sunless
planet would have been impossible. For short interstellar voyages the difficulty
was sometimes overcome by the generation of sub-atomic energy from the planet's
own substance; but for longer voyages, lasting for many thousands of years, the
only method was to form a small artificial sun, and project it into space as a blazing
satellite of the living world. For this purpose an uninhabited planet would be
brought into proximity with the home planet to form a binary system. A mechanism
would then be contrived for the controlled disintegration of the atoms of
the lifeless planet, to provide a constant source of light and heat. The two bodies,
revolving round one another, would be launched among the stars.
This delicate operation may well seem impossible. Had I space to describe the
age-long experiments and world-wrecking accidents which preceded its achievement,
perhaps the reader's incredulity would vanish. But I must dismiss in a few
sentences whole protracted epics of scientific adventure and personal courage. Suffice
it that, before the process was perfected, many a populous world was either cast
adrift to freeze in space, or was roasted by its own artificial sun.
The stars are so remote from one another that we measure their distances in
light years. Had the voyaging worlds traveled only at speeds comparable with those
of the stars themselves, even the shortest of interstellar voyages would have lasted
for many millions of years. But since interstellar space offers almost no resistance
to a traveling body, and therefore momentum is not lost, it was possible for the
voyaging world, by prolonging the original rocket-impulsion for many years, to
increase its speed far beyond that of the fastest star. Indeed, though even the early
voyages by heavy natural planets were by our standards spectacular, I shall have to
tell at a later stage of voyages by small artificial planets traveling at almost half the
speed of light. Owing to certain "relativity effects" it was impossible to accelerate
beyond this point. But even such a rate of travel made voyages to the nearer stars
well worth undertaking if any other planetary system happened to lie within this
range. It must be remembered that a fully awakened world had no need to think
in terms of such short periods as a human lifetime. Though its individuals might
die, the minded world was in a very important sense immortal.
It was accustomed to lay its plans to cover periods of many million years.
In early epochs of the galaxy expeditions from star to star were difficult, and
rarely successful. But at a later stage, when there were already many thousands of
worlds inhabited by intelligent races, and hundreds that had passed the Utopian
stage, a very serious situation arose. Interstellar travel was by now extremely efficient.
Immense exploration vessels many miles in diameter, were constructed out
in space from artificial materials of extreme rigidity and lightness. These could be
projected by rocket action and with cumulative acceleration till their speed was almost
half the speed of light. Even so, the journey from end to end of the galaxy
could not be completed under two hundred thousand years. However, there was
no reason to undertake so long a voyage. Few voyages in search of suitable systems
lasted for more than a tenth of that time. Many were much shorter. Races that had
attained and secured a communal consciousness would not hesitate to send out a
number of such expeditions. Ultimately they might project their planet itself across
the ocean of space to settle in some remote system recommended by the pioneers.
The problem of interstellar travel was so enthralling that it sometimes became
an obsession even to a fairly well-developed Utopian world. This could only occur
if in the constitution of that world there was something unwholesome, some
secret and unfulfilled hunger impelling the beings. The race might then become
travel-mad.
Its social organization would be refashioned and directed with Spartan strictness
to the new communal undertaking. All its members, hypnotized by the common
obsession, would gradually forget the life of intense personal intercourse and
of creative mental activity which had hitherto been their chief concern. The whole
venture of the spirit, exploring the universe and its own nature with critical intelligence
and delicate sensibility, would gradually come to a standstill. The deepest
roots of emotion and will, which in the fully sane awakened world were securely
within the range of introspection, would become increasingly obscured. Less and
less, in such a world, could the unhappy communal mind understand itself. More
and more it pursued its phantom goal. Any attempt to explore the galaxy telepathically
was now abandoned. The passion of physical exploration assumed the guise
of a religion. The communal mind persuaded itself that it must at all costs spread
the gospel of its own culture throughout the galaxy. Though culture itself was vanishing,
the vague idea of culture was cherished as a justification of world-policy.
Here I must check myself, lest I give a false impression. It is necessary to distinguish
sharply between the mad worlds of comparatively low mental development
and those of almost the highest order. The humbler kinds might become crudely
obsessed by sheer mastery or sheer travel, with its scope for courage and discipline.
More tragic was the case of those few very much more awakened worlds whose
obsession was seemingly for community itself and mental lucidity itself, and the
propagation of the kind of community and the special mode of lucidity most admired
by themselves. For then travel was but the means to cultural and religious
empire.
I have spoken as though I were confident that these formidable worlds were indeed
mad, aberrant from the line of mental and spiritual growth. But their tragedy
lay in the fact that, though to their opponents they seemed to be either mad or at
heart wicked, to themselves they appeared superbly sane, practical, and virtuous.
There were times when we ourselves, the bewildered explorers, were almost persuaded
that this was the truth. Our intimate contact with them was such as to give
us insight, so to speak, into the inner sanity of their insanity, or the core of rightness
in their wickedness. This insanity or wickedness I have to describe in terms of
simple human craziness and vice; but in truth it was in a sense superhuman, for it
included the perversion of faculties above the range of human sanity and virtue.
When one of these "mad" worlds encountered a sane world, it would sincerely
express the most reasonable and kindly intentions. It desired only cultural intercourse,
and perhaps economic cooperation. Little by little it would earn the respect
of the other for its sympathy, its splendid social order, and its dynamic purpose.
Each world would regard the other as a noble, though perhaps an alien and partly
incomprehensible, instrument of the spirit. But little by little the normal world
would begin to realize that in the culture of the "mad" world there were certain
subtle and far-reaching intuitions that appeared utterly false, ruthless, aggressive,
and hostile to the spirit, and were the dominant motives of its foreign relations. The
"mad" world, meanwhile, would regretfully come to the conclusion that the other
was after all gravely lacking in sensibility, that it was obtuse to the very highest values
and most heroic virtues, in fact that its whole life was subtly corrupt, and must,
for its own sake, be changed, or else destroyed. Thus each world, though with lingering
respect and affection, would sadly condemn the other. But the mad world
would not be content to leave matters thus. It would at length with holy fervor
attack, striving to destroy the other's pernicious culture, and even exterminate its
population. It is easy for me now, after the event, after the final spiritual downfall
of these mad worlds, to condemn them as perverts, but in the early stages of their
drama we were often desperately at a loss to decide on which side sanity lay.
Several of the mad worlds succumbed to their own fool-hardiness in navigation.
Others, under the strain of age-long research, fell into social neurosis and
civil strife. A few, however, succeeded in attaining their end, and after voyages lasting
for thousands of years were able to reach some neighboring planetary system.
The invaders were often in a desperate plight. Generally they had used up most of
the material of their little artificial sun. Economy had forced them to reduce their
ration of heat and light so far that when at last they discovered a suitable planetary
system their native world was almost wholly arctic. On arrival, they would first
take up their position in a suitable orbit and, perhaps spend some centuries in recuperating.
Then they would explore the neighboring worlds, seek out the most
hospitable, and begin to adapt themselves or their descendants to life upon it. If,
as was often the case, any of the planets was already inhabited by intelligent beings,
the invaders would inevitably come sooner or later into conflict with them, either
in a crude manner over the right to exploit a planet's resources, or more probably
over the invaders' obsession for propagating their own culture. For by now the
civilizing mission, which was the ostensible motive of all their heroic adventures,
would have become a rigid obsession. They would be quite incapable of conceiving
that the native civilization, though less developed than their own, might be more
suited to the natives. Nor could they realize that their own culture, formerly the
expression of a gloriously awakened world, might have sunk, in spite of their mechanical
powers and crazy religious fervor, below the simpler culture of the natives
in all the essentials of mental life.
Many a desperate defense did we see, carried out by some world of the lowly
rank of Homo sapiens against a race of mad supermen, armed not only with the
invincible power of sub-atomic energy but with overwhelmingly superior intelligence,
knowledge, and devotion, and moreover with the immense advantage that
all its individuals participated in the unified mind of the race. Though we had come
to cherish above all things the advancement of mentality, and were therefore prejudiced
in favor of the awakened though perverted invaders, our sympathies soon
became divided, and then passed almost wholly to the natives, however barbaric
their culture. For in spite of their stupidity, their ignorance, and superstition, their
endless internecine conflicts, their spiritual obtuseness and grossness, we recognized
in them a power which the others had forfeited, a naive but balanced wisdom,
an animal shrewdness, a spiritual promise. The invaders, on the other hand,
however brilliant, were indeed perverts. Little by little we came to regard the conflict
as one in which an untamed but promising urchin had been set upon by an
armed religious maniac.
When the invaders had exploited every world in the new-found planetary system,
they would again feel the lust of proselytization. Persuading themselves that it
was their duty to advance their religious empire throughout the galaxy, they would
detach a couple of planets and dispatch them into space with a crew of pioneers.
Or they would break up the whole planetary system, and scatter it abroad with
missionary zeal. Occasionally their travel brought them into contact with another
race of mad superiors. Then would follow a war in which one side or the other, or
possibly both, would be exterminated.
Sometimes the adventurers came upon worlds of their own rank which had
not succumbed to the mania of religious empire. Then the natives, though they
would at first meet the invaders with courtesy and reason, would gradually realize
that they were confronted with lunatics. They themselves would hastily convert
their civilization for warfare. The issue would depend on superiority of weapons
and military cunning; but if the contest was long and grim, the natives, even if
victorious, might be so damaged mentally by an age of warfare that they would
never recover their sanity.
Worlds that suffered from the mania of religious imperialism would seek interstellar
travel long before economic necessity forced it upon them. The saner
world-spirits, on the other hand, often discovered sooner or later a point beyond
which increased material development and increased population were unnecessary
for the exercise of their finer capacities. These were content to remain within
their native planetary systems, in a state of economic and social stability. They
were thus able to give most of their practical intelligence to telepathic exploration
of the universe. Telepathic intercourse between worlds was now becoming much
more precise and reliable. The galaxy had emerged from the primitive stage when
any world could remain solitary, and live out its career in splendid isolation. In
fact, just as, in the experience of Homo sapiens, the Earth is now "shrinking" to
the dimensions of a country, so, in this critical period of the life of our galaxy, the
whole galaxy was "shrinking" to the dimensions of a world. Those world spirits that
had been most successful in telepathic exploration had by now constructed a fairly
accurate "mental map" of the whole galaxy, though there still remained a number
of eccentric worlds with which no lasting contact could yet be made. There was
also one very advanced system of worlds, which had mysteriously "faded out" of
telepathic intercourse altogether. Of this I shall tell more in the sequel.
The telepathic ability of the mad worlds and systems was by now greatly reduced.
Though they were often under telepathic observation by the more mature
world spirits, and were even influenced to some extent, they themselves were so
self-complacent that they cared not to explore mental life of the galaxy. Physical
travel and sacred imperial power were for them good enough means of intercourse
with the surrounding universe.
In time there grew up several great rival empires of the mad worlds, each claiming
to be charged with some sort of divine mission for the unifying and awakening
of the whole galaxy. Between the ideologies of these empires there was little to
choose, yet each was opposed to the others with religious fervor. Germinating in
regions far apart, these empires easily mastered any sub-utopian worlds that lay
within reach. Thus they spread from one planetary system to another, till at last
empire made contact with empire.
Then followed wars such as had never before occurred in our galaxy. Fleets of
worlds, natural and artificial, maneuvered among the stars to outwit one another,
and destroyed one another with long-range jets of sub-atomic energy. As the tides
of battle swept hither and thither through space, whole planetary systems were annihilated.
Many a world-spirit found a sudden end. Many a lowly race that had
no part in the strife was slaughtered in the celestial warfare that raged around it.
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 126
Yet so vast is the galaxy that these intermundane wars, terrible as they were, could
at first be regarded as rare accidents, mere unfortunate episodes in the triumphant
march of civilization. But the disease spread. More and more of the sane worlds,
when they were attacked by the mad empires, reorganized themselves for military
defense. They were right in believing that the situation was one with which nonviolence
alone could not cope; for the enemy, unlike any possible group of human
beings, was too thoroughly purged of "humanity" to be susceptible to sympathy.
But they were wrong in hoping that arms could save them. Even though, in the
ensuing war, the defenders might gain victory in the end, the struggle was generally
so long and devastating that the victors themselves were irreparably damaged
in spirit.
In a later and perhaps the most terrible phase of our galaxy's life I was forcibly
reminded of the state of bewilderment and anxiety that I had left behind me on the
Earth. Little by little the whole galaxy, some ninety thousand light-years across,
containing more than thirty thousand million stars, and (by this date) over a hundred
thousand planetary systems, and actually thousands of intelligent races, was
paralyzed by the fear of war, and periodically tortured by its outbreak.
In one respect, however, the state of the galaxy was much more desperate than
the state of our little world to-day. None of our nations is an awakened superindividual.
Even those peoples which are suffering from the mania of herd glory
are composed of individuals who in their private life are sane. A change of fortune
might perhaps drive such a people into a less crazy mood. Or skilful propaganda
for the idea of human unity might turn the scale. But in this grim age of the galaxy
the mad worlds were mad almost down to the very roots of their being. Each was
a super-individual whose whole physical and mental constitution, including the
unit bodies and minds of its private members, was by now organized through and
through for a mad purpose. There seemed to be no more possibility of appealing to
the stunted creatures to rebel against the sacred and crazy purpose of their race than
of persuading the individual brain-cells of a maniac to make a stand for gentleness.
To be alive in those days in one of the worlds that were sane and awakened, though
not of the very highest, most percipient order, was to feel (or will be to feel) that the
plight of the galaxy was desperate. These average sane worlds had organized themselves
into a League to resist aggression; but since they were far less developed in
military organization than the mad worlds, and much less inclined to subject their
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 127
individual members to military despotism, they were at a great disadvantage.
Moreover, the enemy was now united; for one empire had secured complete
mastery over the others, and had inspired all the mad worlds with an identical
passion of religious imperialism. Though the "United Empires" of the mad worlds
included only a minority of the worlds of the galaxy, the sane worlds had no hope
of a speedy victory; for they were disunited, and unskilled in warfare. Meanwhile
war was undermining the mental life of the League's own members. The urgencies
and horrors were beginning to blot out from their minds all the more delicate,
more developed capacities. They were becoming less and less capable of those activities
of personal intercourse and cultural adventure which they still forlornly
recognized as the true way of life. The great majority of the worlds of the League,
finding themselves caught up in a trap from which, seemingly, there was no escape,
came despairingly to feel that the spirit which they had thought divine, the
spirit which seeks true community and true awakening, was after all not destined
to triumph, and therefore not the essential spirit of the cosmos. Blind chance, it
was rumored, ruled all things; or perhaps a diabolic intelligence. Some began to
conceive that the Star Maker had created merely for the lust of destroying. Undermined
by this terrible surmise, they themselves sank far toward madness. With
horror they imagined that the enemy was indeed, as he claimed, the instrument of
divine wrath, punishing them for their own impious will to turn the whole galaxy,
the whole cosmos, into a paradise of generous and fully awakened beings. Under
the influence of this growing sense of ultimate satanic power and the even more
devastating doubt of the rightness of their own ideals, the League members despaired.
Some surrendered to the enemy. Others succumbed to internal discord,
losing their mental unity. The war of the worlds seemed likely to end in the victory
of the insane. And so, indeed, it would have done, but for the interference of that
remote and brilliant system of worlds which, as was mentioned above, had for a
long while withdrawn itself from telepathic intercourse with the rest of our galaxy.
This was the system of worlds which had been founded in the spring-time of the
galaxy by the symbiotic Ichthyoids and Arachnoids.
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 128
9.3 A crisis in galactic history
Throughout this period of imperial expansion a few world-systems of a very high
order, though less awakened than the Symbiotics of the sub-galaxy, had watched
events telepathically from afar. They saw the frontiers of empire advancing steadily
toward them, and knew that they themselves would soon be implicated. They had
the knowledge and power to defeat the enemy in war; they received desperate appeals
for help; yet they did nothing. These were worlds that were organized through
and through for peace and the activities proper to an awakened world. They knew
that, if they chose to remake their whole social structure and reorientate their
minds, they could ensure military victory. They knew also that they would thereby
save many worlds from conquest, from oppression and from the possible destruction
of all that was best in them. But they knew also that in reorganizing themselves
for desperate warfare, in neglecting, for a whole age of struggle, all those activities
which were proper to them, they would destroy the best in themselves more surely
than the enemy would destroy it by oppression; and that in destroying this they
would be murdering what they believed to be the most vital germ in the galaxy.
They therefore forswore military action.
When at last one of these more developed world-systems was itself confronted
by mad religious enthusiasts, the natives welcomed the invaders, readjusted all
their planetary orbits to accommodate the in-coming planets, pressed the foreign
power actually to settle part of its population in such of their own planets as afforded
suitable climatic conditions; and secretly, gradually, subjected the whole mad race
throughout the combined solar system to a course of telepathic hypnotism so potent
that its communal mind was completely disintegrated. The invaders became
mere uncoordinated individuals, such as we know on Earth. Henceforth they were
bewildered, short-sighted, torn by conflicts, ruled by no supreme purpose, obsessed
more by self than by community. It had been hoped that, when the mad
communal mind had been abolished, the individuals of the invading race would
soon be induced to open their eyes and their hearts to a nobler ideal. Unfortunately
the telepathic skill of the superior race was not sufficient to delve down to
the long-buried chrysalis of the spirit in these beings, to give it air and warmth and
light. Since the individual nature of these forlorn individuals was itself the product
of a crazy world, they proved incapable of salvation, incapable of sane community.
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 129
They were therefore segregated to work out their own unlovely destiny in ages of
tribal quarrels and cultural decline, ending in the extinction which inevitably overtakes
creatures that are incapable of adaptation to new circumstances.
When several invading expeditions had been thus circumvented, there arose
among the worlds of the mad United Empires a tradition that certain seemingly
pacific worlds were in fact more dangerous than all other enemies, since plainly
they had a strange power of "poisoning the soul." The imperialists determined to
annihilate these terrible opponents. The attacking forces were instructed to avoid
all telepathic parley and blow the enemy to pieces at long range. This, it was found,
could be most conveniently performed by exploding the sun of the doomed system.
Stimulated by a potent ray, the atoms of the photosphere would start disintegrating,
and the spreading fury would soon fling the star into the "nova" state, roasting all
his planets.
It was our lot to witness the extraordinary calm, nay the exaltation and joy
with which these worlds accepted the prospect of annihilation rather than debase
themselves by resistance. Later we were to watch the strange events which saved
this galaxy of ours from disaster. But first came tragedy.
From our observation points in the minds of the attackers and the attacked,
we observed not once but three times the slaughter of races nobler than any that
we had yet encountered by perverts whose own natural mental rank was almost
as high. Three worlds, or rather systems of worlds, each possessed by a diversity
of specialized races, we saw annihilated. From these doomed planets we actually
observed the sun break out with tumultuous eruption, swelling hourly. We actually
felt, through the bodies of our hosts, the rapidly increasing heat, and through their
eyes the blinding light. We saw the vegetation wither, the seas begin to steam. We
felt and heard the furious hurricanes which wrecked every structure and bowled
the ruins before them. With awe and wonder we experienced something of that
exaltation and inner peace with which the doomed angelic populations met their
end. Indeed, it was this experienced angelic exaltation in the hour of tragedy that
gave us our first clear insight into the most spiritual attitude to fate. The sheer
bodily agony of the disaster soon became intolerable to us, so that we were forced
to withdraw ourselves from those martyred worlds. But we left the doomed populations
themselves accepting not only this torture but the annihilation of their
glorious community with all its infinite hopes, accepting this bitterness as though
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 130
it were not lethal but the elixir of immortality. Not till almost the close of our own
adventure did we grasp for a moment the full meaning of this ecstasy.
It was strange to us that none of these three victims made any attempt to resist
the attack. Indeed, not one inhabitant in any of these worlds considered for a moment
the possibility of resistance. In every case the attitude to disaster seemed to
express itself in such terms as these: "To retaliate would be to wound our communal
spirit beyond cure. We choose rather to die. The theme of spirit that we have
created must inevitably be broken short, whether by the ruthlessness of the invader
or by our own resort to arms. It is better to be destroyed than to triumph in slaying
the spirit. Such as it is, the spirit that we have achieved is fair; and it is indestructibly
woven into the tissue of the cosmos. We die praising the universe in which
at least such an achievement as ours can be. We die knowing that the promise of
further glory outlives us in other galaxies. We die praising the Star Maker, the Star
Destroyer."
9.4 Triumph in a sub-galaxy
It was after the destruction of the third system of worlds, when a fourth was preparing
for its end, that a miracle, or a seeming miracle, changed the whole course of
events in our galaxy. Before telling of this turn of fortune I must double back the
thread of my story and trace the history of the system of worlds which was now to
play the leading part in galactic events.
It will be remembered that in an outlying "island" off the galactic "continent"
there lived the strange symbiotic race of Ichthyoids and Arachnoids. These beings
supported almost the oldest civilization in the galaxy. They had reached the
"human" plane of mental development even before the Other Men; and, in spite of
many vicissitudes, during the thousands of millions of years of their career they had
made great progress. I referred to them last as having occupied all the planets of
their system with specialized races of Arachnoids, all of which were in permanent
telepathic union with the Ichthyoid population in the oceans of the home planet.
As the ages passed, they were several times reduced almost to annihilation, now
by too daring physical experiments, now through too ambitious telepathic exploration;
but in time they won through to a mental development unequaled in our
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 131
galaxy. Their little island universe, their outlying cluster of stars, had come wholly
under their control. It contained many natural planetary systems. Several of these
included worlds which, when the early Arachnoid explorers visited them telepathically,
were found to be inhabited by native races of pre-utopian rank. These were
left to work out their own destiny, save that in certain crises of their history the
Symbiotics secretly brought to bear on them from afar a telepathic influence that
might help them to meet their difficulties with increased vigor. Thus when one of
these worlds reached the crisis in which Homo sapiens now stands, it passed with
seemingly natural ease straight on to the phase of world-unity and the building of
Utopia. Great care was taken by the Symbiotic race to keep its existence hidden
from the primitives, lest they should lose their independence of mind. Thus, even
while the Symbiotics were voyaging among these worlds in rocket vessels and using
the mineral resources of neighboring uninhabited planets, the intelligent worlds of
pre-utopian rank were left unvisited. Not till these worlds had themselves entered
the full Utopian phase and were exploring their neighbor planets were they allowed
to discover the truth. By then they were ready to receive it with exultation, rather
than disheartenment and fear. Thenceforth, by physical and telepathic intercourse
the young-utopia would be speedily brought up to the spiritual rank of the Symbiotics
themselves, and would cooperate on an equal footing in a symbiosis of worlds.
Some of these pre-utopian worlds, not malignant but incapable of further advance,
were left in peace, and preserved, as we preserve wild animals in national
parks, for scientific interest. Aeon after aeon, these beings, tethered by their own
futility, struggled in vain to cope with the crisis which modern Europe knows so
well. In cycle after cycle civilization would emerge from barbarism, mechanization
would bring the peoples into uneasy contact, national wars and class wars would
breed the longing for a better world-order, but breed it in vain. Disaster after disaster
would undermine the fabric of civilization. Gradually barbarism would return.
Aeon after aeon, the process would repeat itself under the calm telepathic
observation of the Symbiotics, whose existence was never suspected by the primitive
creatures under their gaze. So might we ourselves look down into some rockpool
where lowly creatures repeat with naive zest dramas learned by their ancestors
aeons ago.
The Symbiotics could well afford to leave these museum pieces intact, for they
had at their disposal scores of planetary systems. Moreover, armed with their
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 132
highly developed physical sciences and with sub-atomic power, they were able to
construct, out in space, artificial planets for permanent habitation. These great
hollow globes of artificial super-metals, and artificial transparent adamant, ranged
in size from the earliest and smallest structures, which were no bigger than a very
small asteroid, to spheres considerably larger than the Earth. They were without
external atmosphere, since their mass was generally too slight to prevent the escape
of gases. A blanket of repelling force protected them from meteors and cosmic
rays. The planet's external surface, which was wholly transparent, encased
the atmosphere. Immediately beneath it hung the photosynthesis stations and the
machinery for generating power from solar radiation. Part of this outer shell was
occupied by astronomical observatories, machinery for controlling the planet's orbit,
and great "docks" for interplanetary liners. The interior of these worlds was
a system of concentric spheres supported by girders and gigantic arches. Interspersed
between these spheres lay the machinery for atmospheric regulation, the
great water reservoirs, the food factories and commodity-factories, the engineering
shops, the refuse-conversion tracts, residential and recreational areas, and a wealth
of research laboratories, libraries and cultural centers. Since the Symbiotic race
was in origin marine, there was a central ocean where the profoundly modified,
the physically indolent and mentally athletic descendants of the original Ichthyoids
constituted the "highest brain tracts" of the intelligent world. There, as in the
primeval ocean of the home planet, the symbiotic partners sought one another, and
the young of both species were nurtured. Such races of the sub-galaxy as were not
in origin marine constructed, of course, artificial planets which, though of the same
general type, were adapted to their special nature. But all the races found it also
necessary to mold their own nature drastically to suit their new conditions. As the
aeons advanced, hundreds of thousands of worldlets were constructed, all of this
type, but gradually increasing in size and complexity. Many a star without natural
planets came to be surrounded by concentric rings of artificial worlds. In some
cases the inner rings contained scores, the outer rings thousands of globes adapted
to life at some particular distance from the sun. Great diversity, both physical and
mental, would distinguish worlds even of the same ring. Sometimes a comparatively
old world, or even a whole ring of worlds, would feel itself outstripped in
mental excellence by younger worlds and races, whose structure, physical and biological,
embodied increasing skill. Then either the superannuated world would
simply continue its life in a sort of backwater of civilization, tolerated, loved, studied
by the younger worlds; or it would choose to die and surrender the material of
its planet for new ventures.
One very small and rather uncommon kind of artificial world consisted almost
wholly of water. It was like a titanic bowl of gold-fish. Beneath its transparent shell,
studded with rocket-machinery and interplanetary docks, lay a spherical ocean,
crossed by structural girders, and constantly impregnated with oxygen. A small
solid core represented the sea-bottom. The population of Ichthyoids and the visiting
population of Arachnoids swarmed in this huge encrusted drop. Each Ichthyoid
would be visited in turn by perhaps a score of partners whose working life was
spent on other worlds. The life of the Ichthyoids was indeed a strange one, for they
were at once imprisoned and free of all space. An Ichthyoid never left his native
ocean, but he had telepathic intercourse with the whole Symbiotic race throughout
the sub-galaxy. Moreover, the one form of practical activity which the Ichthyoids
performed was astronomy. Immediately beneath the planet's glassy crust hung observatories,
where the swimming astronomers studied the constitution of the stars
and the distribution of the galaxies.
These "gold-fish-bowl" worlds turned out to be transitional. Shortly before the
age of the mad empires the Symbiotics began to experiment for the production of
a world which should consist of a single physical organism. After ages of experiment
they produced a "gold-fish-bowl" type of world in which the whole ocean
was meshed by a fixed network of Ichthyoid individuals in direct neural connection
with one another. This world-wide, living, polyp-like tissue had permanent
attachments to the machinery and observatories of the world. Thus it constituted
a truly organic world-organism, and since the coherent Ichthyoid population supported
together a perfectly unified mentality, each of these worlds was indeed in
the fullest sense a minded organism, like a man. One essential link with the past
was preserved. Arachnoids, specially adapted to the new symbiosis, would visit
from their remote planets and swim along the submarine galleries for union with
their anchored mates.
More and more of the stars of the outlying cluster or sub-galaxy came to be
girdled with rings of worlds, and an increasing number of these worlds were of the
new, organic type. Of the populations of the sub-galaxy most were descendants
of the original Ichthyoids or Arachnoids; but there were also many whose natural
ancestors were humanesque, and not a few that had sprung from avians, insectoids
or plant-men. Between the worlds, between the rings of worlds, and between the
solar systems there was constant intercourse, both telepathic and physical. Small,
rocket-propelled vessels plied regularly within each system of planets. Larger vessels
or high-speed worldlets voyaged from system to system, explored the whole
sub-galaxy, and even ventured across the ocean of emptiness into the main body
of the galaxy, where thousands upon thousands of planetless stars awaited encirclement
by rings of worlds.
Strangely, the triumphant advance of material civilization and colonization
now slowed down and actually came to a standstill. Physical intercourse between
worlds of the sub-galaxy was maintained, but not increased. Physical exploration
of the neighboring fringe of the galactic "continent" was abandoned. Within the
sub-galaxy itself no new worlds were founded. Industrial activities continued, but
at reduced pressure, and no further advance was made in the standard of material
convenience. Indeed, manners and customs began to grow less dependent on
mechanical aids. Among the Symbiotic worlds, the Arachnoid populations were
reduced in number; the Ichthyoids in their cells of ocean lived in a permanent state
of mental concentration and fervor, which of course was telepathically shared by
their partners.
It was at this time that telepathic intercourse between the advanced sub-galaxy
and the few awakened worlds of the continent was entirely abolished. During recent
ages, communication had been very fragmentary. The Sub-Galactics had apparently
so far outstripped their neighbors that their interest in those primitives
had become purely archaeological, and was gradually eclipsed by the enthralling
life of their own community of worlds, and by their telepathic exploration of remote
galaxies. To us, the band of explorers, desperately struggling to maintain contact
between our communal mind and the incomparably more developed minds of
these worlds, the finest activities of the Sub-Galactics were at present inaccessible.
We observed only a stagnation of the more obvious physical and mental activities
of these systems of worlds. It seemed at first that this stagnation must be caused
by some obscure flaw in their nature. Was it, perhaps, the first stage of irrevocable
decline? Later, however, we began to discover that this seeming stagnation was a
symptom not of death but of more vigorous life.
But in time we learned how to let ourselves be gathered up by these
superhuman beings so as to obtain at least an obscure glimpse of the matters which
so enthralled them. They were concerned, it seemed, partly with telepathic exploration
of the great host of ten million galaxies, partly with a technique of spiritual
discipline by which they strove to come to more penetrating insight into the nature
of the cosmos and to a finer creativity. This, we learned, was possible because
their perfect community of worlds was tentatively waking into a higher plane of being,
as a single communal mind whose body was the whole sub-galaxy of worlds.
Though we could not participate in the life of this lofty being, we guessed that its
absorbing passion was not wholly unlike the longing of the noblest of our own human
species to "come face to face with God." This new being desired to have the
percipience and the hardihood to endure direct vision of the source of all light and
life and love. In fact this whole population of worlds was rapt in a prolonged and
mystical adventure.
9.5 The tragedy of the perverts
Such was the state of affairs when, in the main galactic "continent," the mad United
Empires concentrated their power upon the few worlds that were not merely sane
but of superior mental rank. The attention of the Symbiotics and their colleagues in
the supremely civilized sub-galaxy had long been withdrawn from the petty affairs
of the "continent." It was given instead to the cosmos as a whole and to the inner
discipline of the spirit. But the first of the three murders perpetrated by the
United Empires upon a population far more developed than themselves seems to
have caused a penetrating reverberation to echo, so to speak, through all the loftier
spheres of existence. Even in the full flight of their career, the Sub-Galactics took
cognizance. Once more attention was directed telepathically to the neighboring
continent of stars. While the situation was being studied, the second murder was
committed. The Sub-Galactics knew that they had power to prevent any further
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 136
disaster. Yet, to our surprise, our horror and incomprehension, they calmly awaited
the third murder. Still more strange, the doomed worlds themselves, though in
telepathic communication with the Sub-Galaxy, made no appeal for help. Victims
and spectators alike studied the situation with quiet interest, even with a sort of
bright exultation not wholly unlike amusement. From our lowlier plane this detachment,
this seeming levity, at first appeared less angelic than inhuman. Here
was a whole world of sensitive and intelligent beings in the full tide of eager life and
communal activity. Here were lovers newly come together, scientists in the midst
of profound research, artists intent on new delicacies of apprehension, workers in
a thousand practical social undertakings of which man has no conception, here in
fact was all the rich diversity of personal lives that go to make up a highly developed
world in action. And each of these individual minds participated in the communal
mind of all; each experienced not only as a private individual but as the very
spirit of his race. Yet these calm beings faced the destruction of their world with no
more distress seemingly than one of us would feel at the prospect of resigning his
part in some interesting game. And in the minds of the spectators of this impending
tragedy we observed no agony of compassion, but only such commiseration,
tinged with humor, as we might feel for some distinguished tennis-player who was
knocked out in the first round of a tournament by some trivial accident such as a
sprained ankle.
With difficulty we came to understand the source of this strange equanimity.
Spectators and victims alike were so absorbed in cosmological research, so conscious
of the richness and potentiality of the cosmos, and above all so possessed by
spiritual contemplation, that the destruction was seen, even by the victims themselves,
from the point of view which men would call divine. Their gay exaltation
and their seeming frivolity were rooted in the fact that to them the personal life,
and even the life and death of individual worlds, appeared chiefly as vital themes
contributing to the life of the cosmos. From the cosmical point of view the disaster
was after all a very small though poignant matter. Moreover, if by the sacrifice of
another group of worlds, even of splendidly awakened worlds, greater insight could
be attained into the insanity of the Mad Empires, the sacrifice was well worth while.
So the third murder was committed. Then came the miracle. The telepathic
skill of the Sub-Galaxy was far more developed than that of the scattered superior
worlds on the galactic "continent." It could dispense with the aid of normal interCHAPTER
9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 137
course, and it could overcome every resistance. It could reach right down to the
buried chrysalis of the spirit even in the most perverted individual. This was not
a merely destructive power, blotting out the communal mind hypnotically; it was
a kindling, an awakening power, brought to bear on the sane but dormant core
of each individual. This skill was now exercised upon the galactic continent with
triumphant but also tragic effect; for even this skill was not omnipotent. There
appeared here and there among the mad worlds a strange and spreading "disease"
of the mind. To the orthodox imperialists in those worlds themselves it seemed a
madness; but it was in fact a late and ineffectual waking into sanity on the part of
beings whose nature had been molded through and through for madness in a mad
environment.
The course of this "disease" of sanity in a mad world ran generally as follows.
Individuals here and there, while still playing their part in the well-disciplined action
and communal thought of the world, would find themselves teased by private
doubts and disgusts opposed to the dearest assumptions of the world in which they
lived, doubts of the worth of record-breaking travel and record-breaking empire,
and disgust with the cult of mechanical triumph and intellectual servility and the
divinity of the race. As these disturbing thoughts increased, the bewildered individuals
would begin to fear for their own "sanity." Presently they would cautiously
sound their neighbors. Little by little, doubt would become more widespread and
more vocal, until at last considerable minorities in each world, though still playing
their official part, would lose contact with the communal mind, and become mere
isolated individuals; but individuals at heart more sane than the lofty communal
mind from which they had fallen. The orthodox majority, horrified at this mental
disintegration, would then apply the familiar ruthless methods that had been used
so successfully in the uncivilized outposts of empire. The dissentients would be arrested,
and either destroyed outright or concentrated upon the most inhospitable
planet, in the hope that their torture might prove an effective warning to others.
This policy failed. The strange mental disease spread more and more rapidly, till
the "lunatics" outnumbered the "sane." There followed civil wars, mass-martyrdom
of devoted pacifists, dissension among the imperialists, a steady increase of "lunacy"
in every world of the empire. The whole imperial organization fell to pieces;
and since the aristocratic worlds that formed the backbone of empire were as impotent
as soldier-ants to maintain themselves without the service and tribute of the
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 138
subject worlds, the loss of empire doomed them to death. When almost the whole
population of such a world had gone sane, great efforts would be made to reorganize
its life for self-sufficiency and peace. It might have been expected that this
task, though difficult, would not have defeated a population of beings whose sheer
intelligence and social loyalty were incomparably greater than anything known
on earth. But there were unexpected difficulties, not economic but psychological.
These beings had been fashioned for war, tyranny and empire. Though telepathic
stimulation from superior minds could touch into life the slumbering germ of the
spirit in them, and help them to realize the triviality of their world's whole purpose,
telepathic influence could not refashion their nature to such an extent that
they could henceforth actually live for the spirit and renounce the old life. In spite
of heroic self-discipline, they tended to sink into inertia, like wild beasts domesticated;
or to run amok, and exercise against one another those impulses of domination
which hitherto had been directed upon subject worlds. And all this they did
with profound consciousness of guilt.
For us it was heartrending to watch the agony of these worlds. Never did the
newly enlightened beings lose their vision of true community and of the spiritual
life; but though the vision haunted them, the power to realize it in the detail of action
was lost. Moreover, there were times when the change of heart that they had
suffered seemed to them actually a change for the worse. Formerly all individuals
had been perfectly disciplined to the common will, and perfectly happy in executing
that will without the heart-searchings of individual responsibility. But now
individuals were mere individuals; and all were tormented by mutual suspicion and
by violent propensities for self-seeking.
The issue of this appalling struggle in the minds of these former imperialists
depended on the extent to which specialization for empire had affected them. In
a few young worlds, in which specialization had not gone deep, a period of chaos
was followed by a period of reorientation and world-planning, and in due season by
sane Utopia. But in most of these worlds no such escape was possible. Either chaos
persisted till racial decline set in, and the world sank to the human, the sub-human,
the merely animal states; or else, in a few cases only, the discrepancy between the
ideal and the actual was so distressing that the whole race committed suicide.
We could not long endure the spectacle of scores of worlds falling into psychological
ruin. Yet the Sub-Galactics who had caused these strange events,
continued to use their power to clarify and so destroy these minds, watched their
handiwork unflinchingly. Pity they felt, pity such as we feel for a child that has
broken its toy; but no indignation against fate.
Within a few thousand years every one of the imperial worlds had either transformed
itself or fallen into barbarism or committed suicide.
9.6 A galactic utopia
The events that I have been describing took place, or from the human point of view
will take place, at a date as far future to us as we are from the condensation of the
earliest stars. The next period of galactic history covers the period from the fall
of the mad empires to the achievement of Utopia in the whole galactic community
of worlds. This transitional period was in itself in a manner Utopian; for it
was an age of triumphant progress carried out by beings whose nature was rich
and harmonious, whose nurture was entirely favorable, and their ever-widening
galactic community a wholly satisfying object of loyalty. It was only not Utopian
in the sense that the galactic society was still expanding and constantly changing
its structure to meet new needs, economic and spiritual. At the close of this phase
there came a period of full Utopia in which the attention of the perfected galactic
community was directed mainly beyond itself toward other galaxies. Of this I shall
tell in due course; and of the unforeseen and stormy events which shattered this
beatitude.
Meanwhile we must glance at the age of expansion. The worlds of the Sub-
Galaxy, recognizing that no further great advance in culture was possible unless
the population of awakened worlds was immensely increased and diversified, now
began to play an active part in the work of reorganizing the whole galactic continent.
By telepathic communication they gave to all awakened worlds throughout
the galaxy knowledge of the triumphant society which they themselves had created;
and they called upon all to join them in the founding of the galactic Utopia.
Every world throughout the galaxy, they said, must be an intensely conscious individual;
and each must contribute its personal idiosyncrasy and all the wealth of its
experience to the pooled experience of all. When at last the community was completed,
they said, it must go on to fulfil its function in the far greater community of
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 140
all galaxies, there to participate in spiritual activities as yet but dimly guessed.
In their earlier age of meditation the Sub-Galactic worlds, or rather the single
intermittently awakening mind of the Sub-Galaxy, had evidently made discoveries
which had very precise bearing on the founding of the galactic society; for they now
put forward the demand that the number of minded worlds in the Galaxy must be
increased to at least ten thousand times its present extent. In order that all the
potentialities of the spirit should be fulfilled, they said there must be a far greater
diversity of world-types, and thousands of worlds of each type. They themselves,
in their small Sub-Galactic community, had learned enough to realize that only a
very much greater community could explore all the regions of being, some few of
which they themselves had glimpsed, but only from afar.
The natural worlds of the galactic continent were bewildered and alarmed by
the magnitude of this scheme. They were content with the extant scale of life. The
spirit, they affirmed, had no concern for magnitude and multiplicity. To this the
reply was made that such a protest came ill from worlds whose own achievement
depended on the splendid diversity of their members. Diversity and multiplicity
of worlds was as necessary on the galactic plane as diversity and multiplicity of individuals
on the world plane and diversity and multiplicity of nerve-cells on the
individual plane. In the upshot the natural worlds of the "continent" played a decreasing
part in the advancing life of the galaxy. Some merely remained at the level
of their own unaided achievement. Some joined in the great cooperative work, but
without fervor and without genius. A few joined heartily and usefully in the enterprise.
One, indeed, was able to contribute greatly. This was a symbiotic race,
but of a very different kind from that which had founded the community of the
Sub-Galaxy. The symbiosis consisted of two races which had originally inhabited
separate planets of the same system. An intelligent avian species, driven to desperation
by the desiccation of its native planet, had contrived to invade a neighboring
world inhabited by a manlike species. Here I must not tell how, after ages of alternating
strife and cooperation, a thorough economic and psychological symbiosis
was established.
The building of the galactic community of worlds lies far beyond the comprehension
of the writer of this book. I cannot now remember at all clearly what I experienced
of these obscure matters in the state of heightened lucidity which came
to me through participation in the communal mind of the explorers. And even in
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 141
that state I was bewildered by the effort to comprehend the aims of that close-knit
community of worlds.
If my memory is to be trusted at all, three kinds of activity occupied the minded
worlds in tills phase of galactic history. The main practical work was to enrich and
harmonize the life of the galaxy itself, to increase the number and diversity and
mental unity of the fully awakened worlds up to the point which, it was believed,
was demanded for the emergence of a mode of experience more awakened than any
hitherto attained. The second kind of activity was that which sought to make closer
contact with the other galaxies by physical and telepathic study. The third was the
spiritual exercise appropriate to beings of the rank of the world-minds. This last
seems to have been concerned (or will be concerned) at once with the deepening
of the self-awareness of each individual world-spirit and the detachment of its will
from merely private fulfilment. But this was not all. For on this relatively high level
of the spirit's ascent, as on our own lowliest of all spiritual planes, there had also
to be a more radical detachment from the whole adventure of life and mind in the
cosmos. For, as the spirit wakens, it craves more and more to regard all existence
not merely with a creature's eyes, but in the universal view, as though through the
eyes of the creator.
At first the task of establishing the galactic Utopia occupied almost the whole
energy of the awakened worlds. More and more of the stars were encircled with
concentric hoops of pearls, perfect though artificial. And each pearl was a unique
world, occupied by a unique race. Henceforth the highest level of persistent individuality
was not a world but a system of scores of hundreds of worlds. And
between the systems there was as easy and delightful converse as between human
individuals.
In these conditions, to be a conscious individual was to enjoy immediately the
united sensory impressions of all the races inhabiting a system of worlds. And as
the sense-organs of the worlds apprehended not only "nakedly" but also through artificial
instruments of great range and subtlety, the conscious individual perceived
not only the structure of hundreds of planets, but also the configuration of the
whole system of planets clustered about its sun. Other systems also it perceived, as
men perceive one another; for in the distance the glittering bodies of other "multimundane"
persons like itself gyrated and drifted.
Between the minded planetary systems occurred infinite variations of personal
CHAPTER 9. THE COMMUNITY OF WORLDS 142
intercourse. As between human individuals, there were loves and hates, temperamental
sympathies and antipathies, joyful and distressful intimacies, cooperations
and thwartings in personal ventures and in the great common venture of building
the galactic Utopia.
Between individual systems of the worlds, as between symbiotic partners, there
sometimes occurred relationships with an almost sexual flavor, though actual sex
played no part in them. Neighboring systems would project traveling worldlets,
or greater worlds, or trains of worlds, across the ocean of space to take up orbits
round each other's suns and play intimate parts in symbiotic, or rather "sympsychic"
relationships in one another's private life. Occasionally a whole system would
migrate to another system, and settle its worlds in rings between the rings of the
other system.
Telepathic intercourse united the whole galaxy; but telepathy, though it had
the great advantage that it was not affected by distance, was seemingly imperfect in
other ways. So far as possible it was supplemented by physical travel. A constant
stream of touring worldlets percolated through the whole galaxy in every direction.
The task of establishing Utopia in the galaxy was not pursued without friction.
Different kinds of races were apt to have different policies for the galaxy. Though
war was by now unthinkable, the sort of strife which we know between individuals
or associations within the same state was common. There was, for instance,
a constant struggle between the planetary systems that were chiefly interested in
the building of Utopia, those that were most concerned to make contact with other
galaxies, and those whose main preoccupation was spiritual. Besides these great
parties, there were groups of planetary systems which were prone to put the wellbeing
of individual world-systems above the advancement of galactic enterprise.
They cared more for the drama of personal intercourse and the fulfilment of the
personal capacity of worlds and systems than for organization or exploration of
spiritual purification. Though their presence was often exasperating to the enthusiasts,
it was salutary, for it was a guarantee against extravagance and against
tyranny.
It was during the age of the galactic Utopia that another salutary influence began
to take full effect on the busy worlds. Telepathic research had made contact
with the long-extinct Plant Men, who had been undone by the extravagance of
their own mystical quietism. The Utopian worlds now learned much from these
archaic but uniquely sensitive beings. Henceforth the vegetal mode of experience
was thoroughly, but not dangerously, knit into the texture of the galactic mind.The cosmos
we conceived to be that creature We had shared all kinds of sufferings,
all kinds of glories and shames. And now that the cosmical ideal, the full awakening
of the spirit, seemed on the point of attainment, we found ourselves a little
tired of it. What matter whether the whole huge drama of existence should be intricately
known and relished by the perfected spirit or not? What matter whether
we ourselves should complete our pilgrimage or not?
During so many aeons our company, distributed throughout the galaxy, had
with difficulty maintained its single communal mentality.
"When the cosmos wakes, if ever she does, she will find herself not
the single beloved of her maker, but merely a little bubble adrift on the boundless
and bottomless ocean of being."The great advance in mental
caliber, and the attainment of communal mentality throughout the cosmos, had
brought a change in the experience of time. The temporal reach of the mind had
been very greatly extended. The awakened worlds experienced an aeon as a mere
crowded day. They were aware of time's passage as a man in a canoe might have
cognizance of a river which in its upper reaches is sluggish but subsequently breaks
into rapids and becomes swifter and swifter, till, at no great distance ahead, it must
plunge in a final cataract down to the sea, namely to the eternal end of life, the
extinction of the stars. Comparing the little respite that remained with the great
work which they passionately desired to accomplish, namely the full awakening
of the cosmical spirit, they saw that at best there was no time to spare, and that,
more probably, it was already too late to accomplish the task. They had a strange
foreboding that unforeseen disaster lay in store for them. It was sometimes said,
"We know not what the stars, even, have in store for us, still less what the Star
Maker." And it was sometimes said, "We should not for a moment consider even
our best-established knowledge of existence as true. It is awareness only of the
colors that our own vision paints on the film of one bubble in one strand of foam
on the ocean of being." The sense of the fated incompleteness of all creatures and
of all their achievements gave to the Galactic Society of Worlds a charm, a sanctity,
as of some short-lived and delicate flower. And it was with an increasing sense
of precarious beauty that we ourselves were now learning to regard the far-flung
Utopia. In this mood we had a remarkable experience.
We had embarked upon a sort of holiday from exploration, seeking the refreshment
of disembodied flight in space. Gathering our whole company together out of
all the worlds, we centered ourselves into a single mobile view-point; and then, as
one being, we glided and circled among the stars and nebulae. Presently the whim
took us to plunge into outer space. We hastened till the forward stars turned violet,
the hinder red; till both forward and hinder vanished; till all visible features were
extinguished by the wild speed of our flight. In absolute darkness we brooded on
the origin and the destiny of the galaxies, and on the appalling contrast between
the cosmos and our minute home-lives to which we longed to return.
Presently we came to rest. In doing so we discovered that our situation was
not such as we expected. The galaxy whence we had emerged did indeed lie far
behind us, no bigger than a great cloud; but it was not the featured spiral that it
should have been. After some confusion of mind we realized that we were looking
at the galaxy in an early stage of its existence, in fact at a time before it was
really a galaxy at all. For the cloud was no cloud of stars, but a continuous mist
of light. At its heart was a vague brilliance, which faded softly into the dim outer
regions and merged without perceptible boundary into the black sky. Even the sky
itself was quite unfamiliar. Though empty of stars, it was densely peopled with a
great number of pale clouds. All seemingly were farther from us than that from
which we had come, but several bulked as largely as Orion in the Earth's sky. So
congested was the heaven that many of the great objects were continuous with one
another in their filmy extremities, and many were separated only by mere channels
of emptiness, through which loomed vistas of more remote nebulae, some of them
so distant as to be mere spots of light.
It was clear that we had traveled back through time to a date when the great
nebulae were still near neighbors to one another, before the explosive nature of the
cosmos had done more than separate them out from the continuous and congested
primal substance.
As we watched, it became obvious that events were unfolding before us with
fantastic speed. Each cloud visibly shrank, withdrawing into the distance. It also
changed its shape. Each vague orb flattened somewhat, and became more definite.
Receding and therefore diminishing, the nebulae now appeared as lens-shaped
mists, tilted at all angles. But, even as we watched, they withdrew themselves so
far into the depth of space that it became difficult to observe their changes. Only
our own native nebula remained beside us, a huge oval stretching across half the
sky. On this we now concentrated our attention.
Differences began to appear within it, regions of brighter and of less bright mist,
faint streaks and swirls, like the foam on the sea's waves. These shadowy features
slowly moved, as wisps of cloud move on the hills. Presently it was clear that the
internal currents of the nebula were on the whole set in a common pattern. The
great world of gas was in fact slowly rotating, almost as a tornado. As it rotated it
continued to flatten. It was now like some blurred image of a streaked and flattish
pebble, handy for "ducks and drakes," held too near the eye to be focused. Presently
we noticed, with our novel and miraculous vision, that microscopic points of intenser
light were appearing here and there throughout the cloud, but mainly in its
outer regions. As we watched, their number grew, and the spaces between them
grew dark. Thus were the stars born.
The great cloud still span and flattened. It was soon a disc of whirling starstreams
and strands of uncondensed gas, the last disintegrating tissues of the primal
nebula. These continued to move within the whole by their own semi-independent
activity, changing their shapes, creeping like living things, extending pseudopodia,
and visibly fading as clouds fade; but giving place to new generations of stars. The
heart of the nebula was now condensing into a smaller bulk, more clearly defined.
It was a huge, congested globe of brilliance. Here and there throughout the disc
knots and lumps of light were the embryonic star-clusters. The whole nebula was
strewn with these balls of thistledown, these feathery, sparkling, fairy decorations,
each one in fact pregnant with a small universe of stars.
The galaxy, for such it could now be named, continued visibly to whirl with
hypnotic constancy. Its tangled tresses of star-streams were spread abroad on the
darkness. Now it was like a huge broad-brimmed white sombrero, the crown a
glowing mass, the brim a filmy expanse of stars. It was a cardinal's hat, spinning.
The two long whirling tassels on the brim were two long spiraling starstreams.
Their frayed extremities had broken away and become sub-galaxies, revolving
about the main galactic system. The whole, like a spinning top, swayed;
and, as it tilted before us, the brim appeared as an ever narrower ellipse, till presently
it was edge-on, and the outermost fringe of it, composed of non-luminous matter,
formed a thin, dark, knotted line across the glowing inner substance of nebula and
stars-Peering, straining to see more precisely the texture of this shimmering and
nacrous wonder, this largest of all the kinds of objects in the cosmos, we found that
our new vision, even while embracing the whole galaxy and the distant galaxies,
apprehended each single star as a tiny disc separated from its nearest neighbors
much as a cork on the Arctic Ocean would be separated from another cork on the
Antarctic. Thus, in spite of the nebulous and opalescent beauty of its general form,
the galaxy also appeared to us as a void sprinkled with very sparse scintillations.
Observing the stars more closely, we saw that while they streamed along in
companies like shoals of fishes, their currents sometimes interpenetrated. Then
seemingly the stars of the different streams, crossing one another's paths, pulled
at one another, moving in great sweeping curves as they passed from one neighbor's
influence to another. Thus, in spite of their remoteness each from each, the
stars often looked curiously like minute living creatures taking cognizance of one
another from afar. Sometimes they swung hyperbolically round one another and
away, or, more rarely, united to form binaries.
So rapidly did time pass before us that aeons were packed into moments. We
had seen the first stars condense from the nebular tissue as ruddy giants, though
in the remote view inconceivably minute. A surprising number of these, perhaps
through the centrifugal force of their rotation, were burst asunder to form binaries
so that, increasingly, the heaven was peopled by these waltzing pairs. Meanwhile,
the giant stars slowly shrank and gathered brightness. They passed from red to
yellow, and on to dazzling white and blue. While other young giants condensed
around them, they shrank still further, and their color changed once more to yellow
and to smoldering red. Presently we saw the eldest of the stars one by one extinguished
like sparks from a fire. The incidence of this mortality increased, slowly
but steadily. Sometimes a "nova" flashed out and faded, outshining for a moment
all its myriad neighbors. Here and there a "variable" pulsated with inconceivable
rapidity. Now and again we saw a binary and a third star approach one another so
closely that one or other of the group reached out a filament of its substance toward
its partner. Straining our supernatural vision, we saw these filaments break
and condense into planets. And we were awed by the infinitesimal size and the
rarity of these seeds of life among the lifeless host of the stars.
But the stars themselves gave an irresistible impression of vitality. Strange that
the movements of these merely physical things, these mere fire-balls, whirling and
traveling according to the geometrical laws of their minutest particles, should seem
so vital, so questing. But then the whole galaxy was itself so vital, so like an organism,
with its delicate tracery of star-streams, like the streams within a living cell;
and its extended wreaths, almost like feelers; and its nucleus of light. Surely this
great and lovely creature must be alive, must have intelligent experience of itself
and of things other than it.
In the tide of these wild thoughts we checked our fancy, remembering that only
on the rare grains called planets can life gain foothold, and that all this wealth of
restless jewels was but a waste of fire.
With rising affection and longing we directed our attention more minutely toward
the earliest planetary grains as they condensed out of the whirling filaments
of flame, to become at first molten drops that span and pulsated, then grew rockencrusted,
ocean-filmed, and swathed in atmosphere. Our piercing sight observed
their shallow waters ferment with life We saw the
many other humanesque worlds, Echinoderm, Centaurian, and so on. We saw Man
on his little Earth blunder through many alternating phases of dullness and lucidity,
and again abject dullness. From epoch to epoch his bodily shape changed as a cloud
changes. We watched him in his desperate struggle with Martian invaders; and
then, after a moment that included further ages of darkness and of light, we saw
him driven, by dread of the moon's downfall, away to inhospitable Venus. Later
still, after an aeon that was a mere sigh in the lifetime of the cosmos, he fled before
the exploding sun to Neptune, there to sink back into mere animality for further
aeons again. But then he climbed once more and reached his finest intelligence,
only to be burnt up like a moth in a flame by irresistible catastrophe.
All this long human story, most passionate and tragic in the living, was but an
unimportant, a seemingly barren and negligible effort, lasting only for a few moments
in the life of the galaxy. When it was over, the host of the planetary systems
still lived on, with here and there a casualty, and here and there among the stars a
new planetary birth, and here and there a fresh disaster.
Before and after man's troubled life we saw other humanesque races rise in
scores and hundreds, of which a mere handful was destined to waken beyond man's
highest spiritual range, to play a part in the galactic community of worlds. These we
now saw from afar on their little Earth-like planets, scattered among the huge drift
of the star-streams, struggling to master all those world-problems, social and spiritual,
which man in our "modern" era is for the first time confronting. Similarly, we
saw again the many other kinds of races, nautiloid, submarine, avian, composite,
and the rare symbiotics, and still rarer plant-like beings.
The rest fell by the way.
From our remote look-out we now saw in one of the islanded sub-galaxies the
triumph of the Symbiotics. Here at last was the germ of a true community of worlds.
Presently the stars of this islet-universe began to be girdled with living pearls, till
the whole sub-galaxy was alive with worlds. Meanwhile in the main system arose
that flagrant and contagious insanity of empire, which we had already watched in
detail. But what had before appeared as a war of titans, in which great worlds maneuvered
in space with inconceivable speed, and destroyed one another's populations
in holocausts, was now seen as the jerky motion of a few microscopic sparks,
a few luminous animalcules, surrounded by the indifferent stellar hosts.
Presently, however, we saw a star blaze up and destroy its planets. The Empires
had murdered something nobler than themselves. There was a second murder, and
a third. Then, under the influence of the sub-galaxy, the imperial madness faded,
and empire crumbled. And soon our fatigued attention was held by the irresistible
coming of Utopia throughout the galaxy. This was visible to us chiefly as a steady
increase of artificial planets. Star after star blossomed with orbit after crowded orbit
of these vital jewels, these blooms pregnant with the spirit. Constellation after
constellation, the whole galaxy Became visibly alive with myriads of worlds. Each
world, peopled with its unique, multitudinous race of sensitive individual intelligences
united in true community, was itself a living thing, possessed of a common
spirit. And each system of many populous orbits was itself a communal being. And
the whole galaxy, knit in a single telepathic mesh, was a single intelligent and ardent
being, the common spirit, the "I," of all its countless, diverse, and ephemeral
individuals. This whole vast community looked now beyond itself toward its fellow
galaxies. Resolved to pursue the adventure of life and of spirit in the cosmical, the
widest of all spheres, it was in constant telepathic communication with its fellows;
and at the same time, conceiving all kinds of strange practical ambitions, it began
to avail itself of the energies of its stars upon a scale hitherto unimagined. Not only
was every solar system now surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused
the escaping solar energy for intelligent use, so that the whole galaxy was dimmed,
but many stars that were not suited to be suns were disintegrated, and rifled of their
prodigious stores of sub-atomic energy.
Suddenly our attention was held by an event which even at a distance was visibly
incompatible with Utopia. A star encircled by planets exploded, destroying
all its rings of worlds, and sinking afterwards into wan exhaustion. Another and
another, and yet others in different regions of the galaxy, did likewise.
To inquire into the cause of these startling disasters we once more, by an act of
volition, dispersed ourselves to our stations among the many worlds.
 Stars and vermin
11.1 The many galaxies
THE Galactic Society of Worlds had sought to perfect its communication with
other galaxies. The simpler medium of contact was telepathic; but it seemed desirable
to reach out physically also across the huge void between this galaxy and
the next. It was in the attempt to send envoys on such voyages that the Society of
Worlds brought upon itself the epidemic of exploding stars.
Before describing this series of disasters I shall say something of the conditions
of other galaxies as they were known to us through our participation in the experience
of our own galaxy.
Telepathic exploration had long ago revealed that at least in some other galaxies
there existed minded worlds. And now, after long experiment, the worlds of
our galaxy, working for this purpose as a single galactic mind, had attained much
more detailed knowledge of the cosmos as a whole. This had proved difficult because
of an unsuspected parochialism in the mental attitude of the worlds of each
galaxy. In the basic physical and biological constitutions of the galaxies there was
no far-reaching difference. In each there was a diversity of races of the same general
types as those of our own galaxy. But upon the cultural plane the trend of development
in each galactic society had produced important mental idiosyncrasies, often
so deep-seated as to be unwitting. Thus it was very difficult at first for the developed
galaxies to make contact with one another. Our own galactic culture had been
dominated by the culture of the Symbiotics, which had developed in the exception-
ally happy sub-galaxy. In spite of the horrors of the imperial age, ours was therefore
a culture having a certain blandness which made telepathic intercourse with more
tragic galaxies difficult to establish. Further, the detail of basic concepts and values
accepted by our own galactic society was also largely a development of the marine
culture that had dominated the sub-galaxy. Though the "continental" population
of worlds was mainly humanesque, its native cultures had been profoundly influenced
by the oceanic mentality. And since this oceanic mental texture was rare
amongst galactic societies, our galaxy was rather more isolated than most.
After long and patient work, however, our galactic society succeeded in forming
a fairly complete survey of the cosmical population of galaxies. It was discovered
that at this time the many galaxies were in many stages of mental, as of
physical, development. Many very young systems, in which nebular matter still
predominated over stars, contained as yet no planets. In others, though already
there was a sprinkling of the vital grains, life had nowhere reached the human level.
Some galaxies, though physically mature, were wholly barren of planetary systems,
either through sheer accident or by reason of the exceptionally sparse distribution
of their stars. In several, out of the millions of galaxies, a single intelligent world
had spread its race and its culture throughout the galaxy, organizing the whole as
an egg's germ organizes into itself the whole substance of the egg. In these galaxies,
very naturally, the galactic culture had been based on the assumption that from the
one single germ the whole cosmos was to be peopled. When telepathic intercourse
with other galaxies was at last stumbled upon, its effect was at first utterly bewildering.
There were not a few galaxies in which two or more such germs had developed
independently and finally come into contact. Sometimes the result was symbiosis,
sometimes endless strife or even mutual destruction. By far the commonest
type of of galactic society was that in which many systems of worlds had developed
independently, come into conflict, slaughtered one another, produced vast
federations and empires, plunged again and again into social chaos, and struggled
between whiles haltingly toward galactic Utopia. A few had already attained that
goal, though seared with bitterness. More were still floundering. Many were so
undermined by war that there seemed little prospect of recovery. To such a type
our own galaxy would have belonged had it not been for the good fortune of the
Symbiotics.
To this account of the galactic survey two points should be added. First, there
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were certain very advanced galactic societies which had been telepathic spectators
of all history in our own and all other galaxies. Secondly, in not a few galaxies the
stars had recently begun unexpectedly exploding and destroying their girdles of
worlds.
11.2 Disaster in our galaxy
While our Galactic Society of Worlds was perfecting its telepathic vision, and at
the same time improving its own social and material structure, the unexpected
disasters which we had already observed from afar forced it to attend strictly to the
task of preserving the lives of its constituent worlds.
The occasion of the first accident was an attempt to detach a star from its natural
course and direct it upon an inter-galactic voyage. Telepathic intercourse with
the nearest of the foreign galaxies was fairly reliable, but, as I have said, it had been
decided that a physical exchange of worlds would be invaluable for mutual understanding
and cooperation. Plans were therefore made for projecting several stars
with their attendant systems of worlds across the vast ocean of space that separated
the two floating islets of civilization. The voyage would of course be thousands of
times longer than anything hitherto attempted. At its completion many more of
the stars in each galaxy would already have ceased to shine, and the end of all life
in the cosmos would already be in sight. Yet it was felt that the enterprise of linking
galaxy with galaxy throughout the cosmos in this manner would be well justified
by the great increase of mutual insight which it would produce in the galaxies in
the last and most difficult phase of cosmical life.
After prodigies of experiment and calculation the first attempt at intergalactic
voyaging was undertaken. A certain star, barren of planets, was used as a reservoir
of energy, both normal and sub-atomic. By cunning devices far beyond my
comprehension this fund of power was directed upon a chosen star with planetary
girdles in such a way as to sway it gradually in the direction of the foreign galaxy.
The task of securing that its planets should remain in their true orbits during this
operation, and during the subsequent acceleration of their sun, was very delicate,
but was accomplished without the destruction of more than a dozen worlds. Unfortunately,
just as the star was correctly aimed and was beginning to gather speed,
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it exploded. A sphere of incandescent material, expanding from the sun with incredible
speed, swallowed up and destroyed every girdle of planets. The star then
subsided.
Throughout the history of the galaxy such sudden effulgence and quiescence of
a star had been a very common occurrence. It was known to consist of an explosion
of subatomic energy from the star's superficial layers. This was caused sometimes
by the impact of some small wandering body, often no bigger than an asteroid;
sometimes by factors in the star's own physical evolution. In either case the Galactic
Society of Worlds could predict the event with great accuracy and take steps
either to divert the intruding body or to remove the threatened world-system out
of harm's way. But this particular disaster was entirely unforeseen. No cause could
be assigned to it. It infringed the established laws of physics.
While the Society of Worlds was trying to understand what had happened, another
star exploded. This was the sun of one of the leading world-systems. Attempts
had recently been made to increase this star's output of radiation, and it
was thought that the disaster must have been due to these experiments. After a
while another and yet other stars exploded, destroying all their worlds. In several
cases attempts had recently been made either to alter the star's course or tap its
stored energy.
The trouble spread. System after system of worlds was destroyed. All tampering
with stars had now been abandoned, yet the epidemic of "novae" continued, even
increased. In every case the exploding star was a sun with a planetary system.
The normal "nova" phase, the explosion caused not by collision but by internal
forces, was known to occur only in a star's youth or early maturity, and seldom,
if ever, more often than once in each star's career. In this late phase of the galaxy
far more stars had passed the natural "nova" stage than not. It would be possible,
therefore, to move whole systems of worlds from the dangerous younger stars and
settle them in close orbits round the older luminaries. With immense expense of
energy this operation was several times performed. Heroic plans were made for
the transformation of the whole galactic society by migration to the safe stars, and
the euthanasia of the excess population of worlds that could not be thus accommodated.
While this plan was being carried out it was defeated by a new series of disasters.
Stars that had already exploded developed a power of exploding again and again
CHAPTER 11. STARS AND VERMIN 156
whenever they were girdled with planets. Moreover, yet another kind of disaster
now began to occur. Very aged stars, which had long since passed the period when
explosion was possible, began to behave in an astounding manner. A plume of
incandescent substance would issue from the photosphere, and this, as the star
revolved, would sweep outwards as a trailing whirl. Sometimes this fiery proboscis
calcined the surface of every planet in every orbit, killing all its life. Sometimes,
if the sweep of the proboscis was not quite in the plane of the planetary orbits, a
number of planets escaped. But in many cases in which the destruction was not
at first complete the proboscis gradually brought itself more accurately into the
planetary plane and destroyed the remaining worlds.
It soon became clear that, if the two kinds of stellar activity remained unchecked,
civilization would be undermined and perhaps life exterminated throughout the
galaxy. Astronomical knowledge provided no clue whatever to the problem. The
theory of stellar evolutions had seemed perfect, but it had no place for these singular
events. Meanwhile the Society of Worlds had set about the task of artificially
exploding all stars that had not yet spontaneously passed through the "nova" phase.
It was hoped thus to render them comparatively safe, and then to use them once
more as suns. But now that all kinds of stars had become equally dangerous, this
work was abandoned. Instead, arrangements were made to procure the radiation
necessary to life from the stars that had ceased to shine. Controlled disintegration
of their atoms would turn them into satisfactory suns, at least for a while. Unfortunately
the epidemic of fiery plumes was increasing rapidly. System by system, the
living worlds were being swept out of existence. Desperate research hit at last on
a method of diverting the fiery tentacle away from the plane of the ecliptic. This
process was far from reliable. Moreover, if it succeeded, the sun would sooner or
later project another filament.
The state of the galaxy was being very rapidly changed. Hitherto there had been
an incalculable wealth of stellar energy, but this energy was now being shed like
rain from a thunder-cloud. Though a single explosion did not seriously affect the
vigor of a star, repetitions became more exhausting as they increased in number.
Many young stars had been reduced to decrepitude. The great majority of the stellar
population had now passed their prime; multitudes were mere glowing coals or
lightless ash. The minded worlds, also, were much reduced in number, for in spite
of all ingenious measures of defense, casualties were still heavy. This reduction of
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the population of the worlds was the more serious because in its prime the Galactic
Society of Worlds had been so highly organized. In some ways it was less like a society
than a brain. The disaster had almost blotted out certain higher "brain-centers"
and greatly reduced the vitality of all. It had also seriously impaired telepathic intercourse
between the systems of worlds by forcing each system to concentrate on
its own urgent physical problem of defense against the attacks of its own sun. The
communal mind of the Society of Worlds now ceased to operate.
The emotional attitude of the worlds had also changed. The fervor for the establishment
of cosmical Utopia had vanished, and with it the fervor for the completion
of the spirit's adventure by the fulfilment of knowledge and creative capacity. Now
that extermination seemed inevitable within a comparatively short time, there was
an increasing will to meet fate with religious peace. The desire to realize the far cosmical
goal, formerly the supreme motive of all awakened worlds, now seemed to be
extravagant, even impious. How should the little creatures, the awakened worlds,
reach out to knowledge of the whole cosmos, and of the divine. Instead they must
play their own part in the drama, and appreciate their own tragic end with godlike
detachment and relish.
This mood of exultant resignation, appropriate to unavoidable disaster, quickly
changed under the influence of a new discovery. In certain quarters there had long
been a suspicion that the irregular activity of the stars was not merely automatic but
purposeful, in fact that the stars were alive, and were striving to rid themselves of
the pest of planets. This possibility had at first seemed too fantastic; but it gradually
became obvious that the destruction of a star's planetary system was the end which
determined the duration of the irregular action. Of course it was possible that in
some unexplained but purely mechanical way the presence of many planetary girdles
created the explosion, or the fiery limb. Astronomical physics could suggest
no mechanism whatever which could have this result. Telepathic research was now
undertaken in order to test the theory of stellar consciousness, and if possible to set
up communication with the minded stars. This venture was at first completely barren.
The worlds had not the slightest knowledge of the right method of approach to
minds which, if they existed at all, must be inconceivably different from their own.
It seemed all too probable that no factors in the mentality of the minded worlds
were sufficiently akin to the stellar mentality to form a means of contact. Though
the worlds used their imaginative powers as best they might, though they explored,
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so to speak, every subterranean passage and gallery of their own mentality, tapping
everywhere in the hope of answer, they received none. The theory of stellar purposefulness
began to seem incredible. Once more the worlds began to turn to the
consolation, nay the joy, of acceptance. Nevertheless, a few world-systems that had
specialized in psychological technique persisted in their researches, confident that,
if only they could communicate with the stars, some kind of mutual understanding
and concord could be brought about between the two great orders of minds
in the galaxy. At long last the desired contact with the stellar minds was effected.
It came not through the unaided efforts of the minded worlds of our galaxy but
partly through the mediation of another galaxy where already the worlds and the
stars had begun to realize one another.
Even to the minds of fully awakened worlds the stellar mentality was almost
too alien to be conceived at all. To me, the little human individual, all that is most
distinctive in it is now quite incomprehensible. Nevertheless, its simpler aspect I
must now try to summarize as best I may, since it is essential to my story. The
minded worlds made their first contact with the stars on the higher planes of stellar
experience, but I shall not follow the chronological order of their discoveries.
Instead I shall begin with aspects of the stellar nature which were haltingly inferred
only after intercourse of a sort had become fairly well established. It is in terms of
stellar biology and physiology that the reader may most easily conceive something
of the mental life of stars.
11.3 Stars
Stars are best regarded as living organisms, but organisms which are physiologically
and psychologically of a very peculiar kind. The outer and middle layers of a mature
star apparently consist of "tissues" woven of currents of incandescent gases.
These gaseous tissues live and maintain the stellar consciousness by intercepting
part of the immense flood of energy that wells from the congested and furiously
active interior of the star. The innermost of the vital layers must be a kind of digestive
apparatus which transmutes the crude radiation into forms required for the
maintenance of the star's life. Outside this digestive area lies some sort of coordinating
layer, which may be thought of as the star's brain. The outermost layers,
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including the corona, respond to the excessively faint stimuli of the star's cosmical
environment, to light from neighboring stars, to cosmic rays, to the impact of meteors,
to tidal stresses caused by the gravitational influence of planets or of other
stars. These influences could not, of course, produce any clear impression but for a
strange tissue of gaseous sense organs, which discriminate between them in respect
of quality and direction, and transmit information to the correlating "brain" layer.
The sense experience of a star, though so foreign to us, proved after all fairly
intelligible. It was not excessively difficult for us to enter telepathically into the
star's perception of the gentle titillations, strokings, pluckings, and scintillations
that came to it from the galactic environment. It was strange that, though the star's
own body was actually in a state of extreme brilliance, none of this outward-flowing
light took effect upon its sense organs. Only the faint in-coming light of other stars
was seen. This afforded the perception of a surrounding heaven of flashing constellations,
which were set not in blackness but in blackness tinged with the humanly
inconceivable color of the cosmic rays. The stars themselves were seen colored according
to their style and age. But though the sense perception of the stars was
fairly intelligible to us, the motor side of stellar life was at first quite incomprehensible.
We had to accustom ourselves to an entirely new way of regarding physical
events. For the normal voluntary motor activity of a star appears to be no other
than the star's normal physical movement studied by our science, movement in relation
to other stars and the galaxy as a whole. A star must be thought of as vaguely
aware of the gravitational influence of the whole galaxy, and more precisely aware
of the "pull" of its near neighbors; though of course their influence would generally
be far too slight to be detected by human instruments. To these influences
the star responds by voluntary movement, which to the astronomers of the little
minded worlds seems purely mechanical; but the star itself unquestioningly and
rightly feels this movement to be the freely willed expression of its own psychological
nature. Such at least was the almost incredible conclusion forced on us by the
research carried out by the Galactic Society of Worlds.
Thus the normal experience of a star appears to consist in perception of its cosmical
environment, along with continuous voluntary changes within its own body
and in its position in relation to other stars. This change of position consists, of
course, in rotation and passage. The star's motor life is thus to be thought of almost
as a life of dance, or of figure-skating, executed with perfect skill according to
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an ideal principle which emerges into consciousness from the depths of the stellar
nature and becomes clearer as the star's mind matures.
This ideal principle cannot be conceived by men save as it is manifested in practice
as the well-known physical principle of "least action," or the pursuit of that
course which in all the gravitational and other conditions is the least extravagant.
The star itself, by means of its purchase on the electromagnetic field of the cosmos,
apparently wills and executes this ideal course with all the attention and delicacy of
response which a motorist exercises in threading his way through traffic on a winding
road, or a ballet-dancer in performing the most intricate movements with the
greatest economy of effort. Almost certainly, the star's whole physical behavior is
normally experienced as a blissful, an ecstatic, an ever successful pursuit of formal
beauty. This the minded worlds were able to discover through their own most formalistic
aesthetic experience. In fact it was through this experience that they first
made contact with stellar minds. But the actual perception of the aesthetic (or religious?)
rightness of the mysterious canon, which the stars so earnestly accepted,
remained far beyond the mental range of the minded worlds. They had to take it,
so to speak, on trust. Clearly this aesthetic canon was in some way symbolical of
some spiritual intuition that remained occult to the minded worlds.
The life of the individual star is not only a life of physical movement. It is also
undoubtedly in some sense a cultural and a spiritual life. In some manner each star
is aware of its fellow stars as conscious beings. This mutual awareness is probably
intuitive and telepathic, though presumably it is also constantly supported by inference
from observation of the behavior of others. From the psychological relations
of star with star sprang a whole world of social experiences which were so alien to
the minded worlds that almost nothing can be said of them.
There is perhaps some reason for believing that the free behavior of the individual
star is determined not only by the austere canons of the dance but also by the
social will to cooperate with others. Certainly the relation between stars is perfectly
social. It reminded me of the relation between the performers in an orchestra, but
an orchestra composed of persons wholly intent on the common task. Possibly,
but not certainly, each star, executing its particular theme, is moved not only by
the pure aesthetic or religious motive but also by a will to afford its partners every
legitimate opportunity for self-expression. If so, the life of each star is experienced
not only as the perfect execution of formal beauty but also as the perfect expresCHAPTER
11. STARS AND VERMIN 161
sion of love. It would, however, be unwise to attribute affection and comradeship
to the stars in any human sense. The most that can safely be said, is that it would
probably be more false to deny them affection for one another than to assert that
they were, indeed, capable of love. Telepathic research suggested that the experience
of the stars was through and through of a different texture from that of the
minded worlds. Even to attribute to them thought or desire of any kind is probably
grossly anthropomorphic, but it is impossible to speak of their experience in any
other terms.
The mental life of a star is almost certainly a progress from an obscure infantile
mentality to the discriminate consciousness of maturity. All stars, young and old,
are mentally "angelic," in that they all freely and joyfully will the "good will," the
pattern of right action so far as it is revealed to them; but the great tenuous young
stars, though they perfectly execute their part in the galactic dance, would seem
to be in some manner spiritually naive or childlike in comparison with their more
experienced elders. Thus, though there is normally no such thing as sin among the
stars, no deliberate choice of the course known to be wrong for the sake of some
end known to be irrelevant, there is ignorance, and consequent aberration from
the pattern of the ideal as revealed to stars of somewhat maturer mentality. But
this aberration on the part of the young is itself apparently accepted by the most
awakened class of the stars as itself a desirable factor in the dance pattern of the
galaxy. From the point of view of natural science, as known to the minded worlds,
the behavior of young stars is of course always an exact expression of their youthful
nature; and the behavior of the elder stars an expression of their nature. But,
most surprisingly, the physical nature of a star at any stage of its growth is in part
an expression of the telepathic influence of other stars. This fact can never be detected
by the pure physics of any epoch. Unwittingly scientists derive the inductive
physical laws of stellar evolution from data which are themselves an expression not
only of normal physical influences but also of the unsuspected psychical influence
of star on star.
In early ages of the cosmos the first "generation" of stars had been obliged to
find their way unhelped from infancy to maturity; but later "generations" were in
some manner guided by the experience of their elders so that they should pass more
quickly and more thoroughly from the obscure to the fully lucid consciousness of
themselves as spirits, and of the spiritual universe in which they dwelt. Almost
CHAPTER 11. STARS AND VERMIN 162
certainly, the latest stars to condense out of the primeval nebula advanced (or will
advance) more rapidly than their elders had done; and throughout the stellar host
it was believed that in due season the youngest stars, when they had attained maturity,
would pass far beyond the loftiest spirit insight of their seniors. There is good
reason to say that the two over-mastering desires of all stars are the desire to execute
perfectly their part in the communal dance, and the desire to press forward
to the attainment of full insight into the nature of the cosmos. The latter desire
was the factor in stellar mentality which was most comprehensible to the minded
worlds. The climax of a star's life occurs when it has passed through the long period
of its youth, during which it is what human astronomers call a "red giant." At the
close of this period it shrinks rapidly into the dwarf state in which our sun now is.
This physical cataclysm seems to be accompanied by far-reaching mental changes.
Henceforth, though the star plays a less dashing part in the dance-rhythms of the
galaxy, it is perhaps more clearly and penetratingly conscious. It is interested less in
the ritual of the stellar dance, more in its supposed spiritual significance. After this
very long phase of physical maturity there comes another crisis. The star shrinks
into the minute and the inconceivably dense condition in which our astronomers
call it a "white dwarf." Its mentality in the actual crisis proved almost impervious
to the research of the minded worlds. It appeared to be a crisis of despair and of
reorientated hope. Henceforth the stellar mind presents increasingly a strain of
baffling and even terrifying negativity, an icy, an almost cynical aloofness, which,
we suspected, was but the obverse of some dread rapture hidden from us. However
that may be, the aged star still continues meticulously to fulfil its part in the dance,
but its mood is deeply changed. The aesthetic fervors of youth, the more serene but
earnest will of maturity, all maturity's devotion to the active pursuit of wisdom, now
fall away. Perhaps the star is henceforth content with its achievement, such as it is,
and pleased simply to enjoy the surrounding universe with such detachment and
insight as it has attained. Perhaps; but the minded worlds were never able to ascertain
whether the aged stellar minded eluded their comprehension through sheer
superiority of achievement or through some obscure disorder of the spirit. In this
state of old age a star remains for a very long period, gradually losing energy, and
mentally withdrawing into itself, until it sinks into an impenetrable trance of senility.
Finally its light is extinguished and its tissues disintegrate in death. Henceforth
it continues to sweep through space, but it does so unconsciously, and in a manner
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repugnant to its still conscious fellows.
Such, very roughly stated, would seem to be the normal life of the average star.
But there are many varieties within the general type. For stars vary in original size
and in composition, and probably in psychological impact upon their neighbors.
One of the commonest of the eccentric types is the double star, two mighty globes
of fire waltzing through space together, in some cases almost in contact. Like all
stellar relations, these partnerships are perfect, are angelic. Yet it is impossible to be
certain whether the members experience anything which could properly be called
a sentiment of personal love, or whether they regard one another solely as partners
in a common task. Research undoubtedly suggested that the two beings did indeed
move on their winding courses in some kind of mutual delight, and delight of close
cooperation in the measures of the galaxy. But love? It is impossible to say. In
due season, with the loss of momentum, the two stars come into actual contact.
Then, seemingly in an agonizing blaze of joy and pain, they merge. After a period
of unconsciousness, the great new star generates new living tissues, and takes its
place among the angelic company. The strange Cepheid variables proved the most
baffling of all the stellar kinds. It seems that these and other variables of much
longer period alternate mentally between fervor and quietism, in harmony with
their physical rhythm. More than this it is impossible to say.
One event, which happens only to a small minority of the stars in the course of
their dance-life, is apparently of great psychological importance. This is the close
approach of two or perhaps three stars to one another, and the consequent projection
of a filament from one toward another. In the moment of this "moth kiss,"
before the disintegration of the filament and the birth of planets, each star probably
experiences an intense but humanly unintelligible physical ecstasy. Apparently
the stars which have been through this experience are supposed to have acquired
a peculiarly vivid apprehension of the unity of body and spirit. The "virgin" stars,
however, though unblessed by this wonderful adventure, seem to have no desire to
infringe the sacred canons of the dance in order to contrive opportunities for such
encounters. Each one of them is angelically content to play its allotted part, and
to observe the ecstasy of those that fate has favored. To describe the mentality of
stars is of course to describe the unintelligible by means of intelligible but falsifying
human metaphors. This tendency is particularly serious in telling of the dramatic
relations between the stars and the minded worlds, for under the stress of these reCHAPTER
11. STARS AND VERMIN 164
lations the stars seem to have experienced for the first time emotions superficially
like human emotions. So long as the stellar community was immune from interference
by the minded worlds, every member of it behaved with perfect rectitude
and had perfect bliss in the perfect expression of its own nature and of the common
spirit. Even senility and death were accepted with calm, for they were universally
seen to be involved in the pattern of existence; and what every star desired was
not immortality, whether for itself or for the community, but the perfect fruition
of stellar nature. But when at last the minded worlds, the planets, began to interfere
appreciably with stellar energy and motion, a new and terrible and incomprehensible
thing presumably entered into the experiences of the stars. The stricken
ones found themselves caught in a distracting mental conflict. Through some cause
which they themselves could not detect, they not merely erred but willed to err. In
fact, they sinned. Even while they still adored the right, they chose the wrong.
I said that the trouble was unprecedented. This is not strictly true. Something
not wholly unlike this public shame seems to have occurred in the private experience
of nearly every star. But each sufferer succeeded in keeping his shame secret
until either with familiarity it became tolerable or else its source was overcome.
It was indeed surprising that beings whose nature was in many ways so alien and
unintelligible should be in this one respect at least so startlingly "human."
In the outer layers of young stars life nearly always appears not only in the
normal manner but also in the form of parasites, minute independent organisms
of fire, often no bigger than a cloud in the terrestrial air, but sometimes as large as
the Earth itself. These "salamanders" either feed upon the welling energies of the
star in the same manner as the star's own organic tissues feed, or simply prey upon
those tissues themselves. Here as elsewhere the laws of biological evolution come
into force, and in time there may appear races of intelligent flame-like beings. Even
when the salamandrian life does not reach this level, its effect on the star's tissues
may become evident to the star as a disease of its skin and sense organs, or even
of its deeper tissues. It then experiences emotions not wholly unlike human fright
and shame, and anxiously and most humanly guards its secret from the telepathic
reach of its fellows.
The salamandrian races have never been able to gain mastery over their fiery
worlds. Many of them succumb, soon or late, either to some natural disaster or
to internecine strife or to the self-cleansing activities of their mighty host. Many
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others survive, but in a relatively harmless state, troubling their stars only with a
mild irritation, and a faint shade of insincerity in all their dealings with one another.
In the public culture of the stars the salamandrian pest was completely ignored.
Each star believed itself to be the only sufferer and the only sinner in the galaxy.
One indirect effect the pest did have on stellar thought. It introduced the idea of
purity. Each star prized the perfection of the stellar community all the more by
reason of its own secret experience of impurity.
When the minded planets began to tamper seriously with stellar energy and
stellar orbits, the effect was not a private shame but a public scandal. It was patent
to all observers that the culprit had violated the canons of the dance. The first
aberrations were greeted with bewilderment and horror. Amongst the hosts of
the virgin stars it was whispered that if the result of the much prized interstellar
contacts, whence the natural planets had sprung, was in the end this shameful irregularity,
probably the original experience itself had also been sinful. The erring
stars protested that they were not sinners, but victims of some unknown influence
from the grains which revolved about them. Yet secretly they doubted themselves.
Had they long ago, in the ecstatic sweep of star to star, after all infringed the canon
of the dance? They suspected, moreover, that in respect of the irregularities which
were now creating this public scandal, they could, if they had willed firmly enough,
have contained themselves, and preserved their true courses in spite of the irritants
that had affected them.
Meanwhile the power of the minded planets increased. Suns were boldly steered
to suit the purposes of their parasites. To the stellar population it seemed, of course,
that these erring stars were dangerous lunatics. The crisis came, as I have already
said, when the worlds projected their first messenger toward the neighboring galaxy.
The hurtling star, terrified at its own maniac behavior, took the only retaliation that
was known to it. It exploded into the "nova" state, and successfully destroyed its
planets. From the orthodox stellar point of view this act was a deadly sin; for it
was an impious interference with the divinely appointed order of a star's life. But
it secured the desired end, and was soon copied by other desperate stars. Then followed
that age of horror which I have already described from the point of view of
the Society of Worlds. From the stellar point of view it was no less terrible, for the
condition of the stellar society soon became desperate. Gone was the perfection
and beatitude of former days. "The City of God" had degenerated into a place of
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hatred, recrimination and despair. Hosts of the younger stars had become premature
and embittered dwarfs, while the elders had mostly grown senile. The dance
pattern had fallen into chaos. The old passion for the canons of the dance remained,
but the conception of the canons was obscured. Spiritual life had succumbed to the
necessity of urgent action. The passion for the progress of insight into the nature
of the cosmos also remained, but insight itself was obscured. Moreover, the former
naive confidence, common to young and mature alike, the certainty that the
cosmos was perfect and that the power behind it was righteous, had given place to
blank despair.
11.4 Galactic symbiosis
Such was the state of affairs when the minded worlds first attempted to make telepathic
contact with the minded stars. I need not tell the stages by which mere contact
was developed into a clumsy and precarious kind of communication. In time
the stars must have begun to realize that they were at grips, not with mere physical
forces, nor yet with fiends, but with beings whose nature, though so profoundly
alien, was at bottom identical with their own. Our telepathic research obscurely
sensed the amazement which spread throughout the stellar population. Two opinions,
two policies, two parties seem to have gradually emerged.
One of these parties was convinced that the pretensions of the minded planets
must be false, that beings whose history was compact of sin and strife and slaughter
must be essentially diabolic, and that to parley with them was to court disaster. This
party, at first in a majority, urged that the war should be continued till every planet
had been destroyed.
The minority party clamored for peace. The planets, they affirmed, were seeking
in their own way the very same goal as the stars. It was even suggested that these
minute beings, with their more varied experience and their long acquaintance with
evil, might have certain kinds of insight which the stars, those fallen angels, lacked.
Might not the two sorts of being create together a glorious symbiotic society, and
achieve together the end that was most dear to both, namely the full awakening
of the spirit? It was a long while before the majority would listen to this counsel.
Destruction continued. The precious energies of the galaxy were squandered.
CHAPTER 11. STARS AND VERMIN 167
System after system of worlds was destroyed. Star after star sank into exhaustion
and stupor. Meanwhile the Society of Worlds maintained a pacific attitude. No
more stellar energy was tapped. No more stellar orbits were altered. No stars were
artificially exploded.
Stellar opinion began to change. The crusade of extermination relaxed, and
was abandoned. There followed a period of "isolationism" in which the stars, intent
on repairing their shattered society, left their former enemies alone. Gradually a
fumbling attempt at fraternizing began between the planets and their suns. The
two kinds of beings, though so alien that they could not at all comprehend each
other's idiosyncrasies, were too lucid for mere tribal passions. They resolved to
overcome all obstacles and enter into some kind of community. Soon it was the
desire of every star to be girdled with artificial planets and enter into some sort of
"sympsychic" partnership with its encircling companions. For it was by now clear
to the stars that the "vermin" had much to give them. The experience of the two
orders of beings was in many ways complementary. The stars retained still the tenor
of the angelic wisdom of their golden age. The planets excelled in the analytic, the
microscopic, and in that charity which was bred in them by knowledge of their
own weak and suffering forbears. To the stars, moreover, it was perplexing that
their minute companions could accept not merely with resignation but with joy a
cosmos which evidently was seamed with evil.
In due season a symbiotic society of stars and planetary systems embraced the
whole galaxy. But it was at first a wounded society, and ever after an impoverished
galaxy. Few only of its million million stars were still in their prime. Every possible
sun was now girdled with planets. Many dead stars were stimulated to disintegrate
their atoms so as to provide artificial suns. Others were used in a more economical
manner. Special races of intelligent organisms were bred or synthesized to inhabit
the surfaces of these great worlds. Very soon, upon a thousand stars that once had
blazed, teeming populations of innumerable types maintained an austere civilization.
These subsisted on the volcanic energies of their huge worlds. Minute, artificially
contrived worm-like creatures, they crept laboriously over the plains where
oppressive gravitation allowed not so much as a stone to project above the general
level. So violent, indeed, was gravitation, that even the little bodies of these worms
might be shattered by a fall of half an inch. Save for artificial lighting, the inhabitants
of the stellar worlds lived in eternal darkness, mitigated only by the starlight,
CHAPTER 11. STARS AND VERMIN 168
the glow of volcanic eruption, and the phosphorescence of their own bodies. Their
subterranean borings led down to the vast photosynthesis stations which converted
the star's imprisoned energy for the uses of life and of mind. Intelligence in these
gigantic worlds was of course a function not of the separate individual but of the
minded swarm. Like the insectoids, these little creatures, when isolated from the
swarm, were mere instinctive animals, actuated wholly by the gregarious craving
to return to the swarm.
The need to people the dead stars would not have arisen had not the war reduced
the number of minded planets and the number of suns available for new
planetary systems dangerously near the minimum required to maintain the communal
life in full diversity. The Society of Worlds had been a delicately organized
unity in which each element had a special function. It was therefore necessary,
since the lost members could not be repeated, to produce new worlds to function
in their places at least approximately.
Gradually the symbiotic society overcame the immense difficulties of reorganization,
and began to turn its attention to the pursuit of that purpose which is the
ultimate purpose of all awakened minds, the aim which they inevitably and gladly
espouse because it is involved in their deepest nature. Henceforth the symbiotic
society gave all its best attention to the further awakening of the spirit.
But this purpose, which formerly the angelic company of the stars and the ambitious
Society of Worlds had each hoped to accomplish in relation not merely to
the galaxy but to the cosmos, was now regarded more humbly. Both stars and
worlds recognized that not merely the home galaxy but the cosmical swarm of
galaxies was nearing its end. Physical energy, once a seemingly inexhaustible fund,
was becoming less and less available for the maintenance of life. It was spreading
itself more and more evenly over the whole cosmos. Only here and there and with
difficulty could the minded organisms intercept it in its collapse from high to low
potential. Very soon the universe would be physically senile. All ambitious plans
had therefore to be abandoned. No longer was there any question of physical travel
between the galaxies. Such enterprises would use up too many of the pence out of
the few pounds of wealth that survived after the extravagance of former aeons. No
longer was there any unnecessary coming and going, even within the galaxy itself.
The worlds clung to their suns. The suns steadily cooled. And as they cooled, the
encircling worlds contracted their orbits for warmth's sake.
But though the galaxy was physically impoverished, it was in many ways Utopian.
The symbiotic society of stars and worlds was perfectly harmonious. Strife between
the two kinds was a memory of the remote past. Both were wholly loyal to the
common purpose. They lived their personal lives in zestful cooperation, friendly
conflict, and mutual interest. Each took part according to its capacity in the common
task of cosmical exploration and appreciation. The stars were now dying off
more rapidly than before, for the great host of the mature had become a great host
of aged white dwarfs. As they died, they bequeathed their bodies to the service of
the society, to be used either as reservoirs of sub-atomic energy, or as artificial suns,
or as worlds to be peopled by intelligent populations of worms. Many a planetary
system was now centered around an artificial sun. Physically the substitution was
tolerable; but beings that had become mentally dependent on partnership with a
living star regarded a mere furnace with despondency. Foreseeing the inevitable
dissolution of the symbiosis throughout the galaxy, the planets were now doing all
in their power to absorb the angelic wisdom of the stars. But after very few aeons
the planets themselves had to begin reducing their number. The myriad worlds
could no longer all crowd closely enough around their cooling suns. Soon the mental
power of the galaxy, which had hitherto been with difficulty maintained at its
highest pitch, must inevitably begin to wane.
Yet the temper of the galaxy was not sad but joyful. The symbiosis had greatly
improved the art of telepathic communion; and now at last the many kinds of spirit
which composed the galactic society were bound so closely in mutual insight that
there had emerged out of their harmonious diversity a true galactic mind, whose
mental reach surpassed that of the stars and the worlds as far as these surpassed
their own individuals.
The galactic mind, which was but the mind of each individual star and world
and minute organism in the worlds, enriched by all its fellows and awakened to
finer percipience, saw that it had but a short time to live. Looking back through the
ages of galactic history, down temporal vistas crowded with teeming and diversified
populations, the mind of our galaxy saw that itself was the issue of untold strife
and grief and hope frustrated. It confronted all the tortured spirits of the past not
with pity or regret but with smiling content, such as a man may feel toward his
own childhood's tribulations. And it said, within the mind of each one of all its
members, "Their suffering, which to them seemed barren evil, was the little price to
be paid for my future coming. Right and sweet and beautiful is the whole in which
these things happen. For I, I am the heaven in which all my myriad progenitors
find recompense, finding their heart's desire. For in the little time that is left me I
shall press on, with all my peers throughout the cosmos, to crown the cosmos with
perfect and joyful insight, and to salute the Maker of Galaxies and Stars and Worlds
with fitting praise."
 A stunted cosmical spirit
WHEN at last our galaxy was able to make a full telepathic exploration of the cosmos
of galaxies it discovered that the state of life in the cosmos was precarious.
Very few of the galaxies were now in their youth; most were already far past their
prime. Throughout the cosmos the dead and lightless stars far outnumbered the
living and luminous. In many galaxies the strife of stars and worlds had been even
more disastrous than in our own. Peace had been secured only after both sides
had degenerated past hope of recovery. In most of the younger galaxies, however,
this strife had not yet appeared; and efforts were already being made by the most
awakened galactic spirits to enlighten the ignorant stellar and planetary societies
about one another before they should blunder into conflict.
The communal spirit of our galaxy now joined the little company of the most
awakened beings of the cosmos, the scattered band of advanced galactic spirits,
whose aim it was to create a real cosmical community, with a single mind, the communal
spirit of its myriad and diverse worlds and individual intelligences. Thus it
was hoped to acquire powers of insight and of creativity impossible on the merely
galactic plane.
With grave joy we, the cosmical explorers, who were already gathered up into
the communal mind of our own galaxy, now found ourselves in intimate union
with a score of other galactic minds. We, or rather I, now experienced the slow
drift of the galaxies much as a man feels the swing of his own limbs. From my
score of view-points I observed the great snow-storm of many million galaxies,
streaming and circling, and ever withdrawing farther apart from one another with
the relentless "expansion" of space. But though the vastness of space was increasing
in relation to the size of galaxies and stars and worlds, to me, with my composite,
scattered body, space seemed no bigger than a great vaulted hall.
My experience of time also had changed; for now, as on an earlier occasion,
the aeons had become for me as brief as minutes. I conceived the whole life of
the cosmos not as an immensely protracted and leisurely passage from a remote
and shadowy source to a glorious and a still more remote eternity, but as a brief, a
headlong and forlorn, race against galloping time.
Confronted by the many backward galaxies, I seemed to myself to be a lonely
intelligence in a wilderness of barbarians and beasts. The mystery, the futility, the
horror of existence now bore down upon me most cruelly. For to me, to the spirit
of that little band of awakened galaxies, surrounded by unawakened and doomed
hordes in the last day of the cosmos, there appeared no hope of any triumph elsewhere.
For to me the whole extent, seemingly, of existence was revealed. There
could be no "elsewhere." I knew with exactness the sum of cosmical matter. And
though the "expansion" of space was already sweeping most of the galaxies apart
more swiftly than light could bridge the gulf, telepathic exploration still kept me in
touch with the whole extent of the cosmos. Many of my own members were physically
divided from one another by the insurmountable gulf created by the ceaseless
"expansion"; but telepathically they were still united.
I, the communal mind of a score of galaxies, seemed now to myself to be the
abortive and crippled mind of the cosmos itself. The myriad-fold community that
supported me ought surely to have expanded to embrace the whole of existence. In
the climax of cosmical history the fully awakened mind of the cosmos ought surely
to have won through to the fullness of knowledge and of worship. But this was not
to be. For even now, in the late phase of the cosmos, when the physical potency
was almost all exhausted, I had reached only to a lowly state of spiritual growth. I
was mentally still adolescent, yet my cosmical body was already in decay. I was the
struggling embryo in the cosmical egg, and the yolk was already in decay.
Looking back along the vistas of the aeons, I was impressed less by the length of
the journey that had led me to my present state than by its haste and confusion, and
even its brevity. Peering into the very earliest of the ages, before the stars were born,
before the nebulae were formed from chaos
Equally, when I tried to probe the depths of my own being, I found impenetrable
mystery. Though my self-consciousness was awakened to a degree thrice
removed beyond the self-consciousness of human beings, namely from the simple
individual to the world-mind, and from the world-mind to the galactic mind, and
thence to the abortively cosmical, yet the depth of my nature was obscure.
Although my mind now gathered into itself all the wisdom of all worlds in
all ages, and though the life of my cosmical body was itself the life of myriads of
infinitely diverse worlds and myriads of infinitely diverse individual creatures, and
though the texture of my daily life was one of joyful and creative enterprise, yet
all this was as nothing. For around lay the host of the unfulfilled galaxies; and my
own flesh was already grievously impoverished by the death of my stars; and the
aeons were slipping past with fatal speed. Soon the texture of my cosmical brain
must disintegrate. And then inevitably I must fall away from my prized though
imperfect state of lucidity, and descend, through all the stages of the mind's second
childhood, down to the cosmical death.
It was very strange that I, who knew the whole extent of pace and time, and
counted the wandering stars like sheep, overlooking none, but I who was the most
awakened of all beings, I, the glory which myriads in all ages had given their lives
to establish, and myriads had worshipped, should now look about me with the
same overpowering awe, the same abashed and tongue-tied worship as that which
human travelers in the desert feel under the stars.
 The beginning and the end
13.1 Back to the nebulae
WHILE the awakened galaxies were striving to make full use of the last phase of
their lucid consciousness, while I, the imperfect cosmical mind, was thus striving,
I began to have a strange new experience. I seemed to be telepathically stumbling
upon some being or beings of an order that was at first quite incomprehensible to
me.
At first I supposed that I had inadvertently come into touch with subhuman
beings in the primitive age of some natural planet, perhaps with some very lowly
amoeboid micro-organisms, floating in a primeval sea. I was aware only of crude
hungers of the body, such as the lust to assimilate physical energy for the maintenance
of life, the lust of movement and of contact, the lust of light and warmth.
Impatiently I tried to dismiss this trivial irrelevance. But it continued to haunt
me, becoming more intrusive and more lucid. Gradually it took on such an intensity
of physical vigor and well-being, and such a divine confidence, as was manifested
by no spirits up and down the ages since the stars began.
I need not tell of the stages by which I learned at last the meaning of this experience.
Gradually I discovered that I had made contact not with micro-organisms,
nor yet with worlds or stars or galactic minds, but with the minds of the great nebulae
before their substance had disintegrated into stars to form the galaxies.
Presently I was able to follow their history from the time when they first wakened,
when they first existed as discrete clouds of gas, flying apart after the explosive
act of creation, even to the time when, with the birth of the stellar hosts out of their
substance, they sank into senility and death.
In their earliest phase, when physically they were the most tenuous clouds, their
mentality was no more than a formless craving for action and a sleepy perception
of the infinitely slight congestion of their own vacuous substance. I watched them
condense into close-knit balls with sharper contours, then into lentoid discs, featured
with brighter streams and darker chasms. As they condensed, each gained
more unity, became more organic in structure. Congestion, though so slight, brought
greater mutual influence to their atoms, which still were no more closely packed, in
relation to their size, than stars in space. Each nebula was now a single great pool
of faint radiation, a single system of all-pervasive waves, spreading from atom to
atom.
And now mentally these greatest of all megatheria, these amoeboid titans, began
to waken into a vague unity of experience. By human standards, and even
by the standards of the minded worlds and the stars, the experience of the nebulae
was incredibly slow-moving. For owing to their prodigious size and the slow
passage of the undulations to which their consciousness was physically related, a
thousand years was for them an imperceptible instant. Periods such as men call
geological, containing the rise and fall of species after species, they experienced as
we experience the hours.
Each of the great nebulae was aware of its own lentoid body as a single volume
compact of tingling currents. Each craved fulfilment of its organic potency, craved
easement from the pressure of physical energy welling softly within it, craved at the
same time free expression of all its powers of movement, craved also something
more.
For though, both in physique and in mentality, these primordial beings were
strangely like the primeval micro-organisms of planetary life, they were also remarkably
different; or at least they manifested a character which even I, the rudimentary
cosmical mind, had overlooked in microorganisms. This was a will or
predilection that I can only by halting metaphor suggest.
Though even at their best these creatures were physically and intellectually very
simple, they were gifted with something which I am forced to describe as a primitive
but intense religious consciousness. For they were ruled by two longings, both
of which were essentially religious. They desired, or rather they had a blind urge toCHAPTER
13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 176
ward, union with one another, and they had a blind passionate urge to be gathered
up once more into the source whence they had come.
The universe that they inhabited was of course a very simple, even a povertystricken
universe. It was also to them quite small. For each of them the cosmos
consisted of two things, the nebula's own almost featureless body and the bodies
of the other nebulae. In this early age of the cosmos the nebulae were very close
to one another, for the volume of the cosmos was at this time small in relation to
its parts, whether nebulae or electrons. In that age the nebulae, which in man's
day are like birds at large in the sky, were confined, as it were, within a narrow
aviary. Thus each exercised an appreciable influence on its fellows. And as each
became more organized, more of a coherent physical unity, it distinguished more
readily between its native wave-pattern and the irregularities which its neighbors'
influence imposed upon that pattern. And by a native propensity implanted in it
at the time of its emergence from the common ancestral cloud, it interpreted this
influence to mean the presence of other minded nebulae.
Thus the nebulae in their prime were vaguely but intensely aware of one another
as distinct beings. They were aware of one another; but their communication with
each other was very meager and very slow. As prisoners confined in separate cells
give one another a sense of companionship by tapping on their cell walls, and may
even in time work out a crude system of signals, so the nebulae revealed to one
another their kinship by exercising gravitational stress upon one another, and by
long-drawn-out pulsations of their light. Even in the early phase of their existence,
when the nebulae were very close to one another, a message would take many thousands
of years to spell itself out from beginning to end, and many millions of years
to reach its destination. When the nebulae were at their prime, the whole cosmos
reverberated with their talk.
In the earliest phase of all, when these huge creatures were still very close to one
another and also immature, their parleying was concerned wholly with the effort
to reveal themselves to one another. With child-like glee they laboriously communicated
their joy in life, their hungers and pains, their whims, their idiosyncrasies,
their common passion to be once more united, and to be, as men have sometimes
said, at one in God.
But even in early days, when few nebulae were yet mature, and most were still
very unclear in their minds, it became evident to the more awakened that, far from
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 177
unity, they were steadily drifting apart. As the physical influence of one on another
diminished, each nebula perceived its companions shrinking into the distance.
Messages took longer and longer to elicit answers.
Had the nebulae been able to communicate telepathically, the "expansion" of
the universe might have been faced without despair. But these beings were apparently
too simple to make direct and lucid mental contact with one another. Thus
they found themselves doomed to separation. And since their life-tempo was so
slow, they seemed to themselves to have scarcely found one another before they
must be parted. Bitterly they regretted the blindness of their infancy. For as they
reached maturity they conceived, one and all, not merely the passion of mutual
delight which we call love, but also the conviction that through mental union with
one another lay the way to union with the source whence they had come.
When it had become clear that separation was inevitable, when indeed the
hard-won community of these naive beings was already failing through the increased
difficulty of communication, and the most remote nebulae were already
receding from one another at high speed, each perforce made ready to face the
mystery of existence in absolute solitude.
There followed an aeon, or rather for the slow-living creatures themselves a
brief spell, in which they sought, by self-mastery of their own flesh and by spiritual
discipline, to find the supreme illumination which all awakened beings must, in
their very nature, seek.
But now there appeared a new trouble. Some of the eldest of the nebulae complained
of a strange sickness which greatly hampered their meditations. The outer
fringes of their tenuous flesh began to concentrate into little knots. These became
in time grains of intense, congested fire. In the void between, there was nothing left
but a few stray atoms. At first the complaint was no more serious than some trivial
rash on a man's skin; but later it spread into the deeper tissues of the nebula, and
was accompanied by grave mental troubles. In vain the doomed creatures resolved
to turn the plague to an advantage by treating it as a heaven-sent test of the spirit.
Though for a while they might master the plague simply by heroic contempt of it,
its ravages eventually broke down their will. It now seemed clear to them that the
cosmos was a place of futility and horror.
Presently the younger nebulae observed that their seniors, one by one, were
falling into a state of sluggishness and confusion which ended invariably in the
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 178
sleep that men call death. Soon it became evident even to the most buoyant spirit
that this disease was no casual accident but a fate inherent in the nebular nature.
One by one the celestial megatheria were annihilated, giving place to stars.
Looking back on these events from my post in the far future, I, the rudimentary
cosmical mind, tried to make known to the dying nebulae in the remote past that
their death, far from being the end, was but an early stage in the life of the cosmos. It
was my hope that I might give them consolation by imparting some idea of the vast
and intricate future, and of my own final awakening. But it proved impossible to
communicate with them. Though within the sphere of their ordinary experience
they were capable of a sort of intellection, beyond that sphere they were almost
imbecile. As well might a man seek to comfort the disintegrating germ-cell from
which he himself sprang by telling it about his own successful career in human
society.
Since this attempt to comfort was vain, I put aside compassion, and was content
merely to follow to its conclusion the collapse of the nebular community. Judged
by human standards the agony was immensely prolonged. It began with the disintegration
of the eldest nebulae into stars, and it lasted (or will last) long after the
destruction of the final human race on Neptune. Indeed, the last of the nebulae
did not sink into complete unconsciousness till many of the corpses of its neighbors
had already been transformed into symbiotic societies of stars and minded
worlds. But to the slow-living nebulae themselves the plague seemed a galloping
disease. One after the other, each great religous beast found itself at grips with the
subtle enemy, and fought a gallant losing fight until stupor overwhelmed it. None
ever knew that its crumbling flesh teemed with the young and swifter lives of stars,
or that it was already sprinkled here and there with the incomparably smaller, incomparably
swifter, and incomparably richer lives of creatures such as men, whose
crowded ages of history were all compressed within the last few distressful moments
of the primeval monsters.
13.2 The supreme moment nears
The discovery of nebular life deeply moved the incipient cosmical mind that I had
become. Patiently I studied those almost formless megatheria, absorbing into my
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 179
own composite being the fervor of their simple but deep-running nature. For these
simple creatures sought their goal with a single-mindedness and passion eclipsing
all the worlds and stars. With such earnest imagination did I enter into their history
that I myself, the cosmical mind, was in a manner remade by contemplation of
these beings. Considering from the nebular point of view the vast complexity and
subtlety of the living worlds, I began to wonder whether the endless divagations of
the worlds were really due so much to richness of being as to weakness of spiritual
perception, so much to the immensely varied potentiality of their nature as to sheer
lack of any intense controlling experience. A compass needle that is but feebly
magnetized swings again and again to west and east, and takes long to discover
its proper direction. One that is more sensitive will settle immediately toward the
north. Had the sheer complexity of every world, with its host of minute yet complex
members, merely confused its sense of the proper direction of all spirit? Had the
simplicity and spiritual vigor of the earliest, hugest beings achieved something of
highest value that the complexity and subtlety of the worlds could never achieve?
But no! Excellent as the nebular mentality was, in its own strange way, the
stellar and the planetary mentalities had also their special virtues. And of all three
the planetary must be most prized, since it could best comprehend all three.
I now allowed myself to believe that I, since I did at last include in my own
being an intimate awareness not only of many galaxies but also of the first phase of
cosmical life, might now with some justice regard myself as the incipient mind of
the cosmos as a whole.
But the awakened galaxies that supported me were still only a small minority
of the total population of galaxies. By telepathic influence I continued to help on
those many galaxies that were upon the threshold of mental maturity. If I could
include within the cosmical community of awakened galaxies some hundreds instead
of a mere score of members, perhaps I myself, the communal mind, might
be so strengthened as to rise from my present state of arrested mental infancy to
something more like maturity. It was clear to me that even now, in my embryonic
state, I was ripening for some new elucidation; and that with good fortune I might
yet find myself in the presence of that which, in the human language of this book,
has been called the Star Maker.
At this time my longing for that presence had become an overmastering passion.
It seemed to me that the veil which still hid the source and goal of all nebulae
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 180
and stars and worlds was already dissolving. That which had kindled so many myriad
beings to worship, yet had clearly revealed itself to none, that toward which all
beings had blindly striven, representing it to themselves by the images of a myriad
divinities, was now, I felt, on the point of revelation to me, the marred but still
growing spirit of the cosmos.
I who had myself been worshipped by hosts of my little members, I whose
achievement reached far beyond their dreams, was now oppressed, overwhelmed,
by the sense of my own littleness and imperfection. For the veiled presence of the
Star Maker already overmastered me with dreadful power. The further I ascended
along the path of the spirit, the loftier appeared the heights that lay before me. For
what I had once thought to be the summit fully revealed was now seen to be a
mere foot-hill. Beyond lay the real ascent, steep, cragged, glacial, rising into the
dark mist. Never, never should I climb that precipice. And yet I must go forward.
Dread was overcome by irresistible craving.
Meanwhile under my influence the immature galaxies one by one attained that
pitch of lucidity which enabled them to join the cosmical community and enrich
me with their special experience. But physically the enfeeblement of the cosmos
continued. By the time that half the total population of galaxies had reached maturity
it became clear that few more would succeed.
Of living stars, very few were left in any galaxy. Of the host of dead stars, some,
subjected to atomic disintegration, were being used as artificial suns, and were surrounded
by many thousands of artificial planets. But the great majority of the stars
were now encrusted, and themselves peopled. After a while it became necessary
to evacuate all planets, since the artificial suns were too extravagant of energy. The
planet-dwelling races therefore one by one destroyed themselves, bequeathing the
material of their worlds and all their wisdom to the inhabitants of the extinguished
stars. Henceforth the cosmos, once a swarm of blazing galaxies, each a swarm of
stars, was composed wholly of star-corpses. These dark grains drifted through the
dark void, like an infinitely tenuous smoke rising from an extinguished fire. Upon
these motes, these gigantic worlds, the ultimate populations had created here and
there with their artificial lighting a pale glow, invisible even from the innermost
ring of lifeless planets.
By far the commonest type of being in these stellar worlds was the intelligent
swarm of minute worms or insectoids. But there were also many races of larger
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 181
creatures of a very curious kind adapted to the prodigious gravitation of their giant
worlds. Each of these creatures was a sort of living blanket. Its under surface
bore a host of tiny legs that were also mouths. These supported a body that was
never more than an inch thick, though it might be as much as a couple of yards
wide and ten yards long. At the forward end the manipulatory "arms" traveled
on their own battalions of legs. The upper surface of the body contained a honeycomb
of breathing-pores and a great variety of sense organs. Between the two
surfaces spread the organs of metabolism and the vast area of brain. Compared
with the worm-swarms and insect-swarms, these tripe-like beings had the advantage
of more secure mental unity and greater specialization of organs; but they were
more cumbersome, and less adapted to the subterranean life which was later to be
forced on all populations.
The huge dark worlds with their immense weight of atmosphere and their incredible
breadths of ocean, where the waves even in the most furious storms were
never more than ripples such as we know on quicksilver, were soon congested with
the honeycomb civilizations of worms and insectoids of many species, and the
more precarious shelters of the tripe-like creatures. Life on these worlds was almost
like life in a two-dimensional "flat-land." Even the most rigid of the artificial
elements was too weak to allow of lofty structures.
As time advanced, the internal heat of the encrusted stars was used up, and
it became necessary to support civilization by atomic disintegration of the star's
rocky core. Thus in time each stellar world became an increasingly hollow sphere
supported by a system of great internal buttresses. One by one the populations,
or rather the new and specially adapted descendants of the former populations,
retired into the interiors of the burnt-out stars.
Each imprisoned in its hollow world, and physically isolated from the rest of
the cosmos, these populations telepathically supported the cosmical mind. These
were my flesh. In the inevitable "expansion" of the universe, the dark galaxies had
already for aeons been flying apart so rapidly that light itself could not have bridged
the gulf between them. But this prodigious disintegration of the cosmos was of less
account to the ultimate populations than the physical insulation of star from star
through the cessation of all stellar radiation and all interstellar travel. The many
populations, teeming in the galleries of the many worlds, maintained their telepathic
union. Intimately they knew one another in all their diversity. Together
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 182
they supported the communal mind, with all its awareness of the whole vivid, intricate
past of the cosmos, and its tireless effort to achieve its spiritual goal before
increase of entropy should destroy the tissue of civilizations in which it inhered.
Such was the condition of the cosmos when it approached the supreme moment
of its career, and the illumination toward which all beings in all ages had
been obscurely striving. Strange it was that these latter-day populations, cramped
and impoverished, counting their past pence of energy, should achieve the task
that had defeated the brilliant hosts of earlier epochs. Theirs was indeed the case
of the wren that outsoared the eagle. In spite of their straitened circumstances they
were still able to maintain the essential structure of a cosmical community, and
a cosmical mentality. And with native insight they could use the past to deepen
their wisdom far beyond the range of any past wisdom. The supreme moment of
the cosmos was not (or will not be) a moment by human standards; but by cosmical
standards it was indeed a brief instant. When little more than half the total
population of many million galaxies had entered fully into the cosmical community,
and it was clear that no more were to be expected, there followed a period of
universal meditation. The populations maintained their straitened Utopian civilizations,
lived their personal lives of work and social intercourse, and at the same
time, upon the communal plane, refashioned the whole structure of cosmical culture.
Of this phase I shall say nothing. Suffice it that to each galaxy and to each
world was assigned a special creative mental function, and that all assimilated the
work of all. At the close of this period I, the communal mind, emerged re-made, as
from a chrysalis; and for a brief moment, which was indeed the supreme moment
of the cosmos, I faced the Star Maker.
For the human author of this book there is now nothing left of that age-long,
that eternal moment which I experienced as the cosmical mind, save the recollection
of a bitter beatitude, together with a few incoherent memories of the experience
itself which fired me with that beatitude.
Somehow I must tell something of that experience. Inevitably I face the task
with a sense of abysmal incompetence. The greatest minds of the human race
through all the ages of human history have failed to describe their moments of
deepest insight. Then how dare I attempt this task? And yet I must. Even at the
risk of well-merited ridicule and contempt and moral censure, I must stammer out
what I have seen. If a shipwrecked seaman on his raft is swept helplessly past marCHAPTER
13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 183
velous coasts and then home again, he cannot hold his peace. The cultivated may
turn away in disgust at his rude accent and clumsy diction. The knowing may laugh
at his failure to distinguish between fact and illusion. But speak he must.
13.3 The supreme moment and after
In the supreme moment of the cosmos I, as the cosmical mind, seemed to myself
to be confronted with the source and the goal of all finite things.
I did not, of course, in that moment sensuously perceive the infinite spirit, the
Star Maker. Sensuously I perceived nothing but what I had perceived before, the
populous interiors of many dying stellar worlds. But through the medium which
in this book is called telepathic I was now given a more inward perception. I felt
the immediate presence of the Star Maker. Latterly, as I have said, I had already
been powerfully seized by a sense of the veiled presence of some being other than
myself, other than my cosmical body and conscious mind, other than my living
members and the swarms of the burnt-out stars. But now the veil trembled and
grew half-transparent to the mental vision. The source and goal of all, the Star
Maker, was obscurely revealed to me as a being indeed other than my conscious
self, objective to my vision, yet as in the depth of my own nature; as, indeed, myself,
though infinitely more than myself.
It seemed to me that I now saw the Star Maker in two aspects: as the spirit's
particular creative mode that had given rise to me, the cosmos; and also, most
dreadfully, as something incomparably greater than creativity, namely as the eternally
achieved perfection of the absolute spirit.
Barren, barren and trivial are these words. But not barren the experience.
Confronted with this infinity that lay deeper than my deepest roots and higher
than my topmost reach, I, the cosmical mind, the flower of all the stars and worlds,
was appalled, as any savage is appalled by the lightning and the thunder. And as
I fell abject before the Star Maker, my mind was flooded with a spate of images.
The fictitious deities of all races in all worlds once more crowded themselves upon
me, symbols of majesty and tenderness, of ruthless power, of blind creativity, and
of all-seeing wisdom. And though these images were but the fantasies of created
minds, it seemed to me that one and all did indeed embody some true feature of
CHAPTER 13. THE BEGINNING AND THE END 184
the Star Maker's impact upon the creatures.
As I contemplated the host of deities that rose to me like a smoke cloud from
the many worlds, a new image, a new symbol of the infinite spirit, took shape in
my mind. Though born of my own cosmical imagination, it was begotten by a
greater than I. To the human writer of this book little remains of that vision which
so abashed and exalted me as the cosmical mind. But I must strive to recapture it
in a feeble net of words as best I may.
It seemed to me that I had reached back through time to the moment of creation.
I watched the birth of the cosmos.
The spirit brooded. Though infinite and eternal, it had limited itself with finite
and temporal being, and it brooded on a past that pleased it not. It was dissatisfied
with some past creation, hidden from me; and it was dissatisfied also with its own
passing nature. Discontent goaded the spirit into fresh creation.
But now, according to the fantasy that my cosmical mind conceived, the absolute
spirit, self-limited for creativity, objectified from itself an atom of its infinite
potentiality. This microcosm was pregnant with the germ of a proper time and
space, and all the kinds of cosmical beings. Within this punctual cosmos the myriad
but not unnumbered physical centers of power, which men conceive vaguely
as electrons, protons, and the rest, were at first coincident with one another. And
they were dormant. The matter of ten million galaxies lay dormant in a point.
Then the Star Maker said, "Let there be light." And there was light. From all
the coincident and punctual centers of power, light leapt and blazed. The cosmos
exploded, actualizing its potentiality of space and time. The centers of power, like
fragments of a bursting bomb, were hurled apart. But each one retained in itself, as
a memory and a longing, the single spirit of the whole; and each mirrored in itself
aspects of all others throughout all the cosmical space and time.
No longer punctual, the cosmos was now a volume of inconceivably dense matter
and inconceivably violent radiation, constantly expanding. And it was a sleeping
and infi-nitely dissociated spirit.
But to say that the cosmos was expanding is equally to say that its members
were contracting. The ultimate centers of power, each at first coincident with the
punctual cosmos, themselves generated the cosmical space by their disengagement
from each other. The expansion of the whole cosmos was but the shrinkage of
all its physical units and of the wave-lengths of its light. Though the cosmos was
ever of finite bulk, in relation to its minutiae of light-waves, it was boundless and
center-less. As the surface of a swelling sphere lacks boundary and center, so the
swelling volume of the cosmos was boundless and center-less. But as the spherical
surface is centered on a point foreign to it, in a "third dimension," so the volume of
the cosmos was centered in a point foreign to it, in a "fourth dimension."
The congested and exploding cloud of fire swelled till it was of a planet's size,
a star's size, the size of a whole galaxy, and of ten million galaxies. And in swelling
it became more tenuous, less brilliant, less turbulent. Presently the cosmical cloud
was disrupted by the stress of its expansion in conflict with the mutual clinging of
its parts, disrupted into many million cloudlets, the swarm of the great nebulae.
For a while these were as close to one another in relation to their bulk as the
flocculations of a mottled sky. But the channels between them widened, till they
were separated as flowers on a bush, as bees in a flying swarm, as birds migrating,
as ships on the sea. More and more rapidly they retreated from one another; and
at the same time each cloud contracted, becoming first a ball of down and then a
spinning lens and then a featured whirl of star-streams.
Still the cosmos expanded, till the galaxies that were most remote from one
another were flying apart so swiftly that the creeping light of the cosmos could no
longer bridge the gulf between them.
But I, with imaginative vision, retained sight of them all. It was as though some
other, some hypercosmical and instantaneous light, issuing from nowhere in the
cosmical space, illuminated all things inwardly.
Once more, but in a new and cold and penetrating light, I watched all the lives of
stars and worlds, and of the galactic communities, and of myself, up to the moment
wherein now I stood, confronted by the infinity that men call God, and conceive
according to their human cravings.
I, too, now sought to capture the infinite spirit, the Star Maker, in an image spun
by my own finite though cosmical nature. For now it seemed to me, it seemed, that
I suddenly outgrew the three-dimensional vision proper to all creatures, and that I
saw with physical sight the Star Maker. I saw, though nowhere in cosmical space,
the blazing source of the hypercosmical light, as though it were an overwhelmingly
brilliant point, a star, a sun more powerful than all suns together. It seemed to me
that this effulgent star was the center of a four-dimensional sphere whose curved
surface was the three-dimensional cosmos. This star of stars, this star that was

as nobler than the creator; for the creature loved and craved love,
but the creator, the Star Maker, neither loved nor had need of love.
But no sooner had I, in my blinded misery, cried out, than I was struck dumb
with shame. For suddenly it was clear to me that virtue in the creator is not the same
as virtue in the creature. For the creator, if he should love his creature, would be
loving only a part of himself; but the creature, praising the creator, praises an infinity
beyond himself. I saw that the virtue of the creature was to love and to worship,
but the virtue of the creator was to create, and to be the infinite, the unrealizable
and incomprehensible goal of worshipping creatures.
Once more, but in shame and adoration, I cried out to my maker. I said, "It
is enough, and far more than enough, to be the creature of so dread and lovely a
spirit, whose potency is infinite, whose nature passes the comprehension even of a
minded cosmos. It is enough to have been created, to have embodied for a moment
the infinite and tumultuously creative spirit. It is infinitely more than enough to
have been used, to have been the rough sketch for some perfected creation."
And so there came upon me a strange peace and a strange joy.
Looking into the future, I saw without sorrow, rather with quiet interest, my
own decline and fall. I saw the populations of the stellar worlds use up more and
more of their resources for the maintenance of their frugal civilizations. So much
of the interior matter of the stars did they disintegrate, that their worlds were in
danger of collapse. Some worlds did indeed crash in fragments upon their hollow
centers, destroying the indwelling peoples. Most, before the critical point was
reached, were remade, patiently taken to pieces and rebuilt upon a smaller scale.
One by one, each star was turned into a world of merely planetary size. Some were
no bigger than the moon. The populations themselves were reduced to a mere millionth
of their original numbers, maintaining within each little hollow grain a mere
skeleton civilization in conditions that became increasingly penurious.
Looking into the future aeons from the supreme moment of the cosmos, I saw
the populations still with all their strength maintaining the essentials of their ancient
culture, still living their personal lives in zest and endless novelty of action,
drowsiness and senility, no longer in the hope of winning through to any more
glorious state than that which I had already known, or of laying a less inadequate
jewel of worship before the Star Maker, but simply out of sheer hunger for experience,
and out of loyalty to the spirit.
But inevitably decay overtook me. World after world, battling with increasing
economic difficulties, was forced to reduce its population below the numbers
needed for the functioning of its own communal mentality. Then, like a degenerating
brain-center, it could no longer fulfil its part in the cosmical experience.
Looking forward from my station in the supreme moment of the cosmos, I saw
myself, the cosmical mind, sink steadily toward death. But in this my last aeon,
when all my powers were waning, and the burden of my decaying body pressed
heavily on my enfeebled courage, an obscure memory of past lucidity still consoled
me. For confusedly I knew that even in this my last, most piteous age I was still
under the zestful though remote gaze of the Star Maker.
Still probing the future, from the moment of my supreme unwithered maturity,
I saw my death, the final breaking of those telepathic contacts on which my
being depended. Thereafter the few surviving worlds lived on in absolute isolation,
and in that barbarian condition which men call civilized. Then in world after
world the basic skills of material civilization began to fail; and in particular the
techniques of atomic disintegration and photosynthesis. World after world either
accidentally exploded its little remaining store of matter, and was turned into a
spreading, fading sphere of lightwaves in the immense darkness; or else died miserably
of starvation and cold. Presently nothing was left in the whole cosmos but
darkness and the dark whiffs of dust that once were galaxies. Aeons incalculable
passed. Little by little each whiff of dust-grains contracted upon itself through the
gravitational influence of its parts; till at last, not without fiery collisions between
wandering grains, all the matter in each whiff was concentrated to become a single
lump. The pressure of the huge outer regions heated the center of each lump to
incandescence and even to explosive activity. But little by little the last resources
of the cosmos were radiated away from the cooling lumps, and nothing was left
but rock and the inconceivably faint ripples of radiation that crept in all directions
throughout the ever "expanding" cosmos, far too slowly to bridge the increasing
gulfs between the islanded grains of rock.
Meanwhile, since each rocky sphere that had once been a galaxy had been
borne beyond every possible physical influence of its fellows, and there were no
minds to maintain telepathic contact between them, each was in effect a wholly
distinct universe. And since all change had ceased, the proper time of each barren
universe had also ceased.
For in that instant when I had seen the blazing star that was the
Star Maker, I had glimpsed, in the very eye of that splendor, strange vistas of being;
as though in the depths of the hypercosmical past and the hypercosmical future
also, yet coexistent in eternity, lay cosmos beyond cosmos.
 The myth of creation
A WALKER in mountainous country, lost in mist, and groping from rock to rock,
may come suddenly out of the cloud to find himself on the very brink of a precipice.
Below he sees valleys and hills, plains, rivers, and intricate cities, the sea with all
its islands, and overhead the sun. So I, in the supreme moment of my cosmical
experience, emerged from the mist of my finitude to be confronted by cosmos upon
cosmos, and by the light itself that not only illumines but gives life to all.

Eternally, so my dream declared to me, the Star Maker is perfect and absolute;
yet in the beginning of the time proper to his creative mode he was an infant deity,
restless, eager, mighty, but without clear will. He was equipped with all creative
power. He could make universes with all kinds of physical and mental attributes.
He was limited only by logic.
Thus again and again he fashioned toy cosmos after toy cosmos.
 Again and again, according to my myth, the Star Maker learned from his creature,
and thereby outgrew his creature, and craved to work upon an ampler plan.
my mind represented the eternal spirit as being at once the cause and the result of
the infinite host of finite existents.
15.1 Immature creating
ACCORDING to the fantastic myth or dream that was evoked from my mind after
the supreme moment of experience, the particular cosmos which I had come to
regard as "myself " falls somewhere neither early nor late in the vast series of creations.
It appeared to be in some respects the Star Maker's first mature work; but
in comparison with later creations it was in many ways juvenile in spirit.
Though the early creations express the nature of the Star Maker merely in his
immature phase, for the most part they fall in important respects aside from the
direction of human thought, and therefore I cannot now recapture them. They
have left me with little more than a vague sense of the multiplicity and diversity of
the Star Maker's works. Nevertheless a few humanly intelligible traces remain and
must be recorded.
In the crude medium of my dream the first cosmos of all appeared as a surprisingly
simple thing. The infant Star Maker, teased, as it seemed to me, by his
unexpressed potency, conceived and objectified from himself two qualities. With
these alone he made his first toy cosmos, a temporal rhythm, as it were of sound and
silence. From this first simple drum-beat, premonitory of a thousand creations, he
developed with infantile but god-like zest a flickering tattoo, a changeful complexity
of rhythm. .
Thereafter, cosmos upon cosmos, each more rich and subtle than the last LEAP FORWARD 
But before he had worked out all the subtleties of pattern implied
in this little world of cold, mathematical music, before he had created more than a
few kinds of lifeless, musical creatures, it became evident that some of his creatures
were manifesting traces of a life of their own, recalcitrant to the S-MAKER
 Therefore he brought this cosmos
to completion; and in a novel manner. He contrived that the last state of the
cosmos should lead immediately back to the first. He knotted the final event temporally
to the beginning, so that the cosmical time formed an endless circlet. A
For the next cosmos he consciously projected something of his own percipience
and will, ordaining that certain patterns and rhythms of quality should be the
perceivable bodies of perceiving minds. Seemingly these creatures were intended
to work together to produce the harmony which he had conceived for this cosmos;
but instead, each sought to mold the whole cosmos in accordance with its own
form. The creatures fought desperately, and with self-righteous conviction. When
they were damaged, they suffered pain.
With rapt, surprised interest,
and (as it seemed to me) with almost diabolical glee, he watched the antics and
the sufferings of his first living creatures, till by their mutual strife and slaughter
they had reduced this cosmos to chaos.
Thenceforth the Star Maker never for long ignored his creatures' potentiality
for intrinsic life. It seemed to me, however, that many of his early experiments in
vital creation went strangely awry, and that sometimes, seemingly in disgust with
the biological, he would revert for a while to purely physical fantasies.
I can only briefly describe the host of the early creations. Suffice it that they
issued from the divine though still infantile imagination one after the other like
bright but trivial bubbles, gaudy with color, rich with all manner of physical subtleties,
lyrical and often tragic with the loves and hates, the lusts and aspirations and
communal enterprises of the Star Maker's early experimental conscious beings.
Many of these early universes were non-spatial, though none the less physical.
And of these non-spatial universes not a few were of the "musical" type, in which
space was strangely represented by a dimension corresponding to musical pitch,
and capacious with myriads of tonal differences. The creatures appeared to one
another as complex patterns and rhythms of tonal characters. They could move
their tonal bodies in the dimension of pitch, and sometimes in other dimensions,
humanly inconceivable.
A creature's body was a more or less constant tonal pattern,
with much the same degree of flexibility and minor changefulness as a human
body. Also, it could traverse other living bodies in the pitch dimension much as
wave-trains on a pond may cross one another.
But though these beings could glide
through one another, they could also grapple, and damage one another's tonal tissues.
Some, indeed, lived by devouring others; for the more complex needed to integrate
into their own vital patterns the simpler patterns that exfoliated throughout
the cosmos directly from the creative power of the Star Maker.
The intelligent creatures
could manipulate for their own ends elements wrenched from the fixed tonal
environment, thus constructing artifacts of tonal pattern.
 Some of these served as tools for the more efficient pursuit of "agricultural" activities, by which they enhanced the abundance of their natural food. Universes of this non-spatial kind,
though incomparably simpler and more meager than our own cosmos, were rich
enough to produce societies capable not only of "agriculture" but of "handicrafts,"
and even a kind of pure art VERSE+SONG+DANCE
Philosophy, generally rather Pythagorean, appeared for the first time in
a cosmos of this "musical" kind. In nearly all the Star Maker's works, as revealed in
my dream, time was a more fundamental attribute than space. Though in some of
his earliest creations he excluded time, embodying merely a static design, this plan
was soon abandoned. It gave little scope to his skill. Moreover, since it excluded
the possibility of life and mind, it was incompatible with all but the earliest phase
of his interest.
Space, my dream declared, appeared first as a development of a non-spatial dimension
in a "musical" cosmos.
The tonal creatures in this cosmos could move not
merely "up" and "down" the scale but "sideways." In human music particular themes
may seem to approach or retreat, owing to variations of loudness and timbre. In a
rather similar manner the creatures in this "musical" cosmos could approach one
another or retreat and finally vanish out of earshot.
In passing "sideways" they traveled
through continuously changing tonal environments. In a subsequent cosmos
this "sideways" motion of the creatures was enriched with true spatial experience.

THE MULTIVERSE TEORIA RIA RIA
There followed creations with spatial characters of several dimensions, creations
Euclidean and non-Euclidean, creations exemplifying a great diversity of
geometrical and physical principles.
Sometimes time, or space-time, was the fundamental
reality of the cosmos, and the entities were but fleeting modifications of
it; but more often, qualitative events were fundamental, and these were related in
spatio-temporal manners. In some cases the system of spatial relations was infinite,
in others finite though boundless. In some the finite extent of space was of
constant magnitude in relation to the atomic material constituents of the cosmos;
in some, as in our own cosmos, it was manifested as in many respects "expanding."
In others again space "contracted"; so that the end of such a cosmos, rich perhaps in
intelligent communities, was the collision and congestion of all its parts, and their
final coincidence and vanishing into a dimensionless point.
In some creations expansion and ultimate quiescence were followed by contraction
and entirely new kinds of physical activity.
Sometimes, for example, gravity
was replaced by anti-gravity.
All large lumps of matter tended to burst asunder,
and all small ones to fly apart from each other. In one such cosmos the law
of entropy also was reversed. Energy, instead of gradually spreading itself evenly
throughout the cosmos, gradually piled itself upon the ultimate material units. I
came in time to suspect that my own cosmos was followed by a reversed cosmos
. But this is a digression, for I am at present
describing much earlier and simpler universes. Many a universe was physically a
continuous fluid in which the solid creatures swam. Others were constructed as
series of concentric spheres, peopled by diverse orders of creatures. Some quite
early universes were quasi-astronomical, consisting of a void sprinkled with rare
and minute centers of power.
Sometimes the Star Maker fashioned a cosmos which was without any single,
objective, physical nature. Its creatures were wholly without influence on one another;
but under the direct stimulation of the Star Maker each creature conceived
an illusory but reliable and useful physical world of its own, and peopled it with
figments of its imagination. These subjective worlds the mathematical genius of
the Star Maker correlated in a manner that was perfectly systematic.
I must not say more of the immense diversity of physical form which, according
to my dream, the early creations assumed. It is enough to mention that, in general,
each cosmos was more complex, and in a sense more voluminous than the last;
for in each the ultimate physical units were smaller in relation to the whole, and
more multitudinous. Also, in each the individual conscious creatures were generally
more in number, and more diverse in type; and the most awakened in each
cosmos reached a more lucid mentality than any creatures in the previous cosmos.
Biologically and psychologically the early creations were very diverse. In some
cases there was a biological evolution such as we know. A small minority of species
would precariously ascend toward greater individuation and mental clarity. In
other creations the species were biologically fixed, and progress, if it occurred, was
wholly cultural. In a few most perplexing creations the most awakened state of
the cosmos was at the beginning, and the Star Maker calmly watched this lucid
consciousness decay.
Sometimes a cosmos started as a single lowly organism with an internal, nonorganic
environment. It then propagated by fission into an increasing host of increasingly
small and increasingly individuated and awakened creatures. In some of
these universes evolution would continue till the creatures became too minute to
accommodate the complexity of organic structure necessary for intelligent minds.
The Star Maker would then watch the cosmical societies desperately striving to circumvent
the fated degeneration of their race.
In some creations the crowning achievement of the cosmos was a chaos of mutually
unintelligible societies, each devoted to the service of some one mode of the
spirit, and hostile to all others. In some the climax was a single Utopian society of
distinct minds; in others a single composite cosmical mind.
Sometimes it pleased the Star Maker to ordain that each creature in a cosmos
should be an inevitable, determinate expression of the environment's impact on its
ancestors and itself. In other creations each creature had some power of arbitrary
choice, and some modicum of the Star Maker's own creativity. So it seemed to me
in my dream; but even in my dream I suspected that to a more subtle observer
both kinds would have appeared as in fact determinate, and yet both of them also
spontaneous and creative.
In general the Star Maker, once he had ordained the basic principles of a cosmos
and created its initial state, was content to watch the issue; but sometimes
he chose to interfere, either by infringing the natural laws that he himself had ordained,
or by introducing new emergent formative principles, or by influencing
the minds of the creatures by direct revelation. This according to my dream, was
sometimes done to improve a cosmical design; but, more often, interference was
included in his original plan. Sometimes the Star Maker flung off creations which
were in effect groups of many linked universes, wholly distinct physical systems of
very different kinds, yet related by the fact that the creatures lived their lives successively
in universe after universe, assuming in each habitat an indigenous physical
form, but bearing with them in their transmigration faint and easily misinterpreted
memories of earlier existences. In another way also, this principle of transmigration
was some-times used. Even creations that were not thus systematically linked
might contain creatures that mentally echoed in some vague but haunting manner
the experience or the temperament of their counterparts in some other cosmos.
One very dramatic device was used in cosmos after cosmos. I mentioned earlier
that in my dream the immature Star Maker had seemed to regard the tragic
failure of his first biological experiment with a kind of diabolical glee.
At death the creatures passed into one or other of the two
secondary universes, which constituted a timeless heaven and a timeless hell.
Did barbarity perhaps belong to the Star Maker only in his immaturity?
in all creation by certain absolute logical principles, and that one of these was the
indissoluble bond between betrayal and remorse in half-awakened spirits?.
Since its denizens had mostly a very low degree of intelligence and moral integrity,
the hell was soon overcrowded, while the heaven
 both the "good" and the "evil," both the mild
and the terrible, both the humanly ideal and the incomprehensibly inhuman. Like
an infatuated lover who denies or excuses the flagrant faults of the beloved, I strove
to palliate the inhumanity of the Star Maker, nay positively I gloried in it. Was there
then something cruel in my own nature?
This dire and insoluble problem confronted me again and again in the course of
my dream..... In its early phase this cosmos
manifested only physical characters; but the Star Maker provided that its vital potentiality
should gradually express itself in certain kinds of living creatures which,
generation by generation, should emerge from the purely physical and evolve toward
intelligence and spiritual lucidity. In this cosmos he permitted the two spirits,
the "good" and the "evil," to compete even in the very making of the creatures.
In the long early ages the spirits struggled over the evolution of the innumerable
species.
The organs and tissues of every species manifested throughout their structure
the conflict of the two spirits. Sometimes the "evil" spirit contrived seemingly
unimportant but insidious and lethal features for a creature's undoing. Its nature
would include some special liability to harbor parasites, some weakness of digestive
machinery, some instability of nervous organization. In other cases the "evil"
spirit would equip some lower species with special weapons for the destruction of
the pioneers of evolution, so that they should succumb, either to some new disease,
or to plagues of the vermin of this particular cosmos, or to the more bruitsh of their
own kind.
A still more ingenious plan the evil spirit sometimes used with great effect.
When the "good" spirit had hit upon some promising device, and from small beginnings
had worked up in its favoured species some new organic structure or mode
of behavior, the evil spirit would contrive that the process of evolution should continue
long after it had reached perfect adjustment to the creature's needs. Teeth
would grow so large that eating became excessively difficult, protective shells so
heavy that they hampered locomotion, horns so curved that they pressed upon the
brain, the impulse to individuality so imperious that it destroyed society, or the
social impulse so obsessive that individuality was crushed.
Thus in world after world of this cosmos, which greatly surpassed all earlier
creations in complexity, almost every species came sooner or later to grief. But in
some worlds a single species reached the "human" level of intelligence and I of spiritual
sensibility. Such a combination of powers ought to have secured it from all
possible attack. But both intelligence and spiritual sensibility were most skilfully
perverted by the "evil" spirit. For though by nature they were complementary, they
could be brought into conflict; or else one or both could be exaggerated so as to
become as lethal as the extravagant horns and teeth of earlier kinds. Thus intelligence,
which led on the one hand to the mastery of physical force and on the other
to intellectual subtlety, might, if divorced from spiritual sensibility, cause disaster.
The mastery of physical force often produced a mania for power, and the dissection
of society into two alien classes, the powerful and the enslaved. Intellectual
subtlety might produce a mania for analysis and abstraction, with blindness to all
that intellect could not expound. Yet sensibility itself, when it rejected intellectual
criticism and the claims of daily life, would be smothered in dreams.
CHAPTER 15. Mature creating
According to the myth that my mind conceived when the supreme moment of my
cosmical experience had passed, the Star Maker at length entered into a state of
rapt meditation in which his own nature suffered a revolutionary change. So at
least I judged from the great change that now came over his creative activity.
After he had reviewed with new eyes all his earlier works, dismissing each, as
it seemed to me, with mingled respect and impatience, he discovered in himself a
new and pregnant conception.
The cosmos which he now created was that which contains the readers and the
writer of this book. In its making he used, but with more cunning art, many of the
principles which had already served him in earlier creations; and he wove them
together to form a more subtle and more capacious unity than ever before.
It seemed to me, in my fantasy, that he approached this new enterprise in a new
mood. Each earlier cosmos appeared to have been fashioned with conscious will
to embody certain principles, physical, biological, psychological. As has already
been reported, there often appeared a conflct between his intellectual purpose and
the raw nature which he had evoked for his creature out of the depth of his own
obscure being. This time, however, he dealt more sensitively with the medium
of his creation. The crude spiritual "material" which he objectified from his own
hidden depth for the formation of his new creature was molded to his still tentative
purpose with more sympathetic intelligence, with more respect for its nature and
its potentiality, though with detachment from its more extravagant demands.
To speak thus of the universal creative spirit is almost childishly anthropomorphic.
For the life of such a spirit, if it exists at all, must be utterly different from
human mentality, and utterly inconceivable to man. Nevertheless, since this childish
symbolism did force itself upon me, I record it. In spite of its crudity, perhaps
it does contain some genuine reflection of the truth, however distorted.
In the new creation there occurred a strange kind of discrepancy between the
Star Maker's own time and the time proper to the cosmos itself. Hitherto, though
he could detach himself from the cosmical time when the cosmical history had
completed itself, and observe all the cosmical ages as present, he could not actually
create the later phases of a cosmos before he had created the earlier. In his new
creation he was not thus limited.
Thus although this new cosmos was my own cosmos, I regarded it from a surprising
angle of vision. No longer did it appear as a familiar sequence of historical
events beginning with the initial physical explosion and advancing to the final
death. I saw it now not from within the flux of the cosmical time but quite otherwise.
I watched the fashioning of the cosmos in the time proper to the Star Maker;
and the sequence of the Star Maker's creative acts was very different from the sequence
of historical events.
First he conceived from the depth of his own being a something, neither mind
nor matter, but rich in potentiality, and in suggestive traits, gleams, hints for his
creative imagination. Over this fine substance for a long while he pondered. It
was a medium in which the one and the many demanded to be most subtly dependent
upon one another; in which all parts and all characters must pervade and
be pervaded by all other parts and all other characters; in which each thing must
seemingly be but an influence in all other things; and yet the whole must be no
other than the sum of all its parts, and each part an all-pervading determination
of the whole. It was a cosmical substance in which any individual spirit must be,
mysteriously, at once an absolute self and a mere figment of the whole.
This most subtle medium the Star Maker now rough-hewed into the general
form of a cosmos. Thus he fashioned a still indeterminate space-time, as yet quite
ungeometrized; an amorphous physicality with no clear quality or direction, no intricacy
of physical laws; a more distinctly conceived vital trend and epic adventure
of mentality; and a surprisingly definite climax and crown of spiritual lucidity. This
last, though its situation in the cosmical time was for the most part late, was given a
certain precision of outline earlier in the sequence of creative work than any other
factor in the cosmos. And it seemed to me that this was so because the initial substance
itself so clearly exposed its own potentiality for some such spiritual form.
Thus it was that the Star Maker at first almost neglected the physical minutiae of
his work, neglected also the earlier ages of cosmical history, and devoted his skill
at first almost entirely to shaping the spiritual climax of the whole creature. Not
till he had blocked in unmistakably the most awakened phase of the cosmical spirit
did he trace any of the variegated psychological trends which, in the cosmical time,
should lead up to it. Not till he had given outline to the incredibly diverse themes of
mental growth did he give attention fully to constructing the biological evolutions
and the physical and geometrical intricacy which could best evoke the more subtle
potentialities of his still rough-hewn cosmical spirit. But, as he geometrized, he
also intermittently turned again to modify and elucidate the spiritual climax itself.
Not till the physical and geometrical form of the cosmos was almost completely
fashioned could he endow the spiritual climax with fully concrete individuality.
While he was still working upon the detail of the countless, poignant individual
lives, upon the fortunes of men, of ichthyoids, of nautiloids, and the rest, I
became convinced that his attitude to his creatures was very different from what
it had been for any other cosmos. For he was neither cold to them nor yet simply
in love with them. In love with them, indeed, he still was; but he had seemingly
outgrown all desire to save them from the consequences of their finitude and from
the cruel impact of the environment. He loved them without pity. For he saw that
their distinctive virtue lay in their finitude, their minute particularity, their tortured
balance between dullness and lucidity; and that to save them from these would be
to annihilate them.
When he had given the last touches to all the cosmical ages from the supreme
moment back to the initial explosion and on to the final death, the Star Maker
contemplated his work. And he saw that it was good.
As he lovingly, though critically, reviewed our cosmos in all its infinite diversity
and in its brief moment of lucidity, I felt that he was suddenly filled with reverence
for the creature that he had made, or that he had ushered out of his own secret depth
by a kind of divine self-midwifery. He knew that this creature, though imperfect,
though a mere creature, a mere figment of his own creative power, was yet in a
manner more real than himself. For beside this concrete splendor what was he
but a mere abstract potency of creation? Moreover in another respect the thing
that he had made was his superior, and his teacher. For as he contemplated this
the loveliest and subtlest of all his works with exultation, even with awe, its impact
upon him changed him, clarifying and deepening his will. As he discriminated its
virtue and its weakness, his own perception and his own skill matured. So at least
it seemed to my bewildered, awe-stricken mind.
Thus, little by little, it came about, as so often before, that the Star Maker outgrew
his creature.
Of the many creations which followed I must perforce say almost nothing, for
in most respects they lay beyond my mental reach. I could not have any cognizance
of them save in so far as they contained, along with much that was inconceivable,
some features that were but fantastic embodiments of principles which I had already
encountered. Thus all their most vital novelty escaped me.
I can, indeed, say of all these creations that, like our own cosmos, they were immensely
capacious, immensely subtle; and that, in some alien manner or other, every
one of them had both a physical and a mental aspect; though in many the physical,
however crucial to the spirit's growth, was more transparent, more patently
phantasmal than in our own cosmos. In some cases this was true equally of the
mental, for the beings were often far less deceived by the opacity of their individual
mental processes, and more sensitive to then-underlying unity.
I can say too that in all these creations the goal which, as it seemed to me, the
Star Maker sought to realize was richness, delicacy, depth and harmoniousness of
being. But what these words in detail mean I should find it hard to say. It seemed
to me that in some cases, as in our own cosmos, he pursued this end by means of
an evolutionary process crowned by an awakened cosmical mind, which strove to
gather into its own awareness the whole wealth of the cosmical existence, and by
creative action to increase it. But in many cases this goal was achieved with incomparably
greater economy of effort and suffering on the part of the creatures, and
without the huge dead loss of utterly wasted, ineffective lives which is to us so heartrending.
Yet in other creations suffering seemed at least as grave and widespread
as in our own cosmos.
In his maturity the Star Maker conceived many strange forms of time. For
instance, some of the later creations were designed with two or more temporal dimensions,
and the lives of the creatures were temporal sequences in one or other
dimension of the temporal "area" or "volume." These beings experienced their cosmos
in a very odd manner. Living for a brief period along one dimension, each
perceived at every moment of its life a simultaneous vista which, though of course
fragmentary and obscure, was actually a view of a whole unique "transverse" cosmical
evolution in the other dimension. In some cases a creature had an active
life in every temporal dimension of the cosmos. The divine skill which arranged
the whole temporal "volume" in such a manner that all the infinite spontaneous
acts of all the creatures should fit together to produce a coherent system of transverse
evolutions far surpassed even the ingenuity of the earlier experiment in "preestablished
harmony."
In other creations a creature was given only one life, but this was a "zig-zag
line," alternating from one temporal dimension to another according to the quality
of the choices that the creature made. Strong or moral choices led in one temporal
direction, weak or immoral choices in another.
In one inconceivably complex cosmos, whenever a creature was faced with several
possible courses of action, it took them all, thereby creating many distinct temporal
dimensions and distinct histories of the cosmos. Since in every evolutionary
sequence of the cosmos there were very many creatures, and each was constantly
faced with many possible courses, and the combinations of all their courses were
innumerable, an infinity of distinct universes exfoliated from every moment of every
temporal sequence in this cosmos.
In some creations each being had sensory perception of the whole physical cosmos
from many spatial points of view, or even from every possible point of view.
In the latter case, of course, the perception of every mind was identical in spatial
range, but it varied from mind to mind in respect of penetration or insight. This
depended on the mental caliber and disposition of particular minds. Sometimes
these beings had not only omnipresent perception but omnipresent volition. They
could take action in every region of space, though with varying precision and vigor
according to their mental caliber.
In a manner they were disembodied spirits, striving over the physical cosmos
 like chess-players, or like Greek gods over the Trojan Plain.
In other creations, though there was indeed a physical aspect, there was nothing
corresponding to the familiar systematic physical universe. The physical experience
of the beings was wholly determined by their mutual impact on one another.
Each flooded its fellows with sensory "images," the quality and sequence of which
were determined according to psychological laws of the impact of mind on mind.
In other creations the processes of perception, memory, intellection, and even
Cosmos after cosmos issued from his fervent imagination, each one with a distinctive spirit
infinitely diversified, each in its fullest attainment more awakened than the last; but
 the Star Maker created his ultimate
and most subtle cosmos, for which all others were but tentative preparations.
Of this final creature I can say only that it embraced within its own organic texture the
essences of all its predecessors;
 as the communal mind of a lowly cosmos
He now appeared as the eternal and perfect spirit which
comprises all things and all times, and contemplates timelessly the infinitely diverse
host which it comprises. The illumination which flooded in on me and struck me
down to blind worship was a glimmer, so it seemed to me, of the eternal spirit's
own all-penetrating experience.
It was with anguish and horror, and yet with acquiescence, even with praise,
that I felt or seemed to feel something of the eternal spirit's temper as it apprehended
in one intuitive and timeless vision all our lives. Here was no pity, no
proffer of salvation, no kindly aid. Or here were all pity and all love, but mastered
by a frosty ecstasy. Our broken lives, our loves, our follies, our betrayals, our
forlorn and gallant defenses, were one and all calmly anatomized, assessed, and
placed.
the spirit's temper, for there was cruel delight in the contemplation of every horror,
and glee in the downfall of the virtuous. All passions, it seemed, were comprised
within the spirit's temper; but mastered, icily gripped within the cold, clear, crystal
ecstasy of contemplation.
That this should be the upshot of all our lives, this scientist's, no, artist's, keen
appraisal! And yet I worshipped!
But this was not the worst. For in saying that the spirit's temper was contemplation,
I imputed to it a finite human experience, and an emotion; thereby comforting
myself, even though with cold comfort. But in truth the eternal spirit was ineffable.
Nothing whatever could be truly said about it. Even to name it "spirit" was perhaps
to say more than was justified. Yet to deny it that name would be no less mistaken;
for whatever it was, it was more, not less, than spirit, more, not less, than any possible
human meaning of that word. And from the human level, even from the level
of a cosmical mind, this "more," obscurely and agonizingly glimpsed, was a dread
mystery, compelling adoration.
I WOKE on the hill. The street lamps of our suburb outshone the stars. The reverberation
of the clock's stroke was followed by eleven strokes more. I singled out
our window. A surge of joy, of wild joy, swept me like a wave. Then peace.
The littleness, but the intensity, of earthly events! Gone, abolished in an instant,
was the hypercosmical reality, the wild fountain of creations, and all the spray of
worlds. Vanished, transmuted into fantasy, and into sublime irrelevance.
The littleness, but the intensity, of this whole grain of rock, with its film of ocean
and of air, and its discontinuous, variegated, tremulous film of life; of the shadowy
hills, of the sea, vague, horizonless; of the pulsating, cepheid, lighthouse; of the
clanking railway trucks. My hand caressed the pleasant harshness of the heather.
Vanished, the hypercosmical apparition. Not such as I had dreamed must
the real be, but infinitely more subtle, more dread, more excellent. And infinitely
nearer home.
Yet, however false the vision in detail of structure, even perhaps in its whole
form, in temper surely it was relevant; in temper perhaps it was even true. The
real itself, surely, had impelled me to conceive that image, false in every theme and
facet, yet in spirit true.
The stars wanly trembled above the street lamps. Great suns? Or feeble sparks
in the night sky? Suns, it was vaguely rumored. Lights at least to steer by, and to
beckon the mind from the terrestrial flurry; but piercing the heart with their cold
spears.
Sitting there on the heather, on our planetary grain, I shrank from the abysse
that opened up on every side, and in the future. The silent darkness, the featureless
unknown, were more dread than all the terrors that imagination had mustered.
Peering, the mind could see nothing sure, nothing in all human experience to be
grasped as certain, except uncertainty itself; nothing but obscurity gendered by a
thick haze of theories. Man's science was a mere mist of numbers; his philosophy
but a fog of words. His very perception of this rocky grain and all its wonders
was but a shifting and a lying apparition. Even oneself, that seeming-central fact,
was a mere phantom, so deceptive, that the most honest of men must question his
own honesty, so insubstantial that he must even doubt his very existence. And
our loyalties! so self-deceiving, so mis-informed and mis-conceived. So savagely
pursued and hate-warped I Our very loves, and these in full and generous intimacy,
must be condemned as unseeing, self-regarding, and self-gratulatory. And yet? I
singled out our window. We had been happy together! We had found, or we had
created, our little treasure of community. This was the one rock in all the welter
of experience. This, not the astronomical and hypercosmical immensity, nor even
the planetary grain, this, this alone, was the solid ground of existence. On every
side was confusion, a rising storm, great waves already drenching our rock. And
all around, in the dark welter, faces and appealing hands, half-seen and vanishing.
And the future? Black with the rising storm of this world's madness, though
shot through with flashes of a new and violent hope, the hope of a sane, a reasonable,
a happier world. Between our time and that future, what horror lay in store?
Oppressors would not meekly give way. And we two, accustomed only to security
and mildness, were fit only for a kindly world; wherein, none being tormented,
none turns desperate. We were adapted only to fair weather, for the practice of the
friendly but not too difficult, not heroical virtues, in a society both secure and just.
Instead, we found ourselves in an age of titanic conflict, when the relentless powers
of darkness and the ruthless because desperate powers of light were coming to grips
for a death struggle in the world's torn heart, when grave choices must be made in
crisis after crisis, and no simple or familiar principles were adequate.
Beyond our estuary a red growth of fire sprang from a foundry. At hand, the
dark forms of the gorse lent mystery to the suburb's foot-worn moor.
In imagination I saw, behind our own hill's top, the further and unseen hills.
I saw the plains and woods and all the fields, each with its myriads of particular
blades. I saw the whole land curving down from me, over the planet's shoulder. ThE
villages were strung together on a mesh of roads, steel lines, and humming wires.
Mist-drops on a cobweb. Here and there a town displayed itself as an expanse of
light, a nebulous luminosity, sprinkled with stars.
Beyond the plains, London, neon-lit, seething, was a microscope-slide drawn
from foul water, and crowded with nosing animalcules. Animalcules! In the stars'
view, no doubt, these creatures were mere vermin; yet each to itself, and sometimes
one to another, was more real than all the stars.
Gazing beyond London, imagination detected the dim stretch of the Channel,
and then the whole of Europe, a patch-work of tillage and sleeping industrialism.
Beyond poplared Normandy spread Paris, with the towers of Notre-Dame tipped
slightly, by reason of Earth's curvature. Further on, the Spanish night was ablaze
with the murder of cities. Away to the left lay Germany, with its forests and factories,
its music, its steel helmets. In cathedral squares I seemed to see the young men
ranked together in thousands, exalted, possessed, saluting the flood-lit Führer. In
Italy too, land of memories and illusions, the mob's idol spell-bound the young.
Far left-wards again, Russia, an appreciably convex segment of our globe, snowpale
in the darkness, spread out under the stars and cloud tracts. Inevitably I saw
the spires of the Kremlin, confronting the Red Square. There Lenin lay, victorious.
Far off, at the foot of the Urals, imagination detected the ruddy plumes and
smoke-pall of Magnetostroy. Beyond the hills there gleamed a hint of dawn; for
day, at my midnight, was already pouring westward across Asia, overtaking with
its advancing front of gold and rose the tiny smoke-caterpillar of the Trans-Siberian
Express. To the north, the iron-hard Arctic oppressed the exiles in their camps. Far
southward lay the rich valleys and plains that once cradled our species.
But there I now saw railway lines ruled across the snow. In every village Asiatic children
were waking to another schoolday, and to the legend of Lenin.
South again the Himalayas, snow-clad from waist to crest,
looked over the rabble of their foot-hills into crowded India.
I saw the dancing cotton plants, and the wheat, and the sacred river that bore the waters
of Kamet past  rice fields and crocodile-shallows, past Calcutta
with its shipping and its offices, down to the sea.
 From my midnight I looked into China.
The morning sun glanced from the flooded fields and gilded the ancestral graves.
The Yang Tse, a gleaming, crumpled thread, rushed through its gorge.
Beyond the Korean ranges, and across the sea, stood Fujiyama, extinct and formal.
Around it a volcanic population welled and seethed in that narrow land, like lava in a crater.
Already it spilled over Asia a flood of armies and of trade. Imagination
withdrew and turned to Africa. I saw the man-made thread of water that joins West
to East; then minarets, pyramids, the ever-waiting Sphinx.
Ancient Memphis itself
now echoed with the rumor of Magnetostroy. Far southward, black men slept beside
the great lakes. Elephants trampled the crops. Further still, where Dutch and
English profit by the Negro millions, those hosts were stirred by vague dreams of
freedom. Peering beyond the whole bulge of Africa, beyond cloud-spread Table
Mountain, I saw the Southern Ocean, black with storms, and then the ice-cliffs
with their seals and penguins, and the high snow-fields of the one unpeopled continent.
Imagination faced the midnight sun, crossed the Pole, and passed Erebus,
vomiting hot lava down his ermine. Northward it sped over the summer sea, past
New Zealand, that freer but less conscious Britain, to Australia, where clear-eyed
horsemen collect their flocks.
Still peering eastward from my hill, I saw the Pacific, strewn with islands; and
then the Americas, where the descendants of Europe long ago mastered the descendants
of Asia, through priority in the use of guns, and the arrogance that guns
breed. Beside the further ocean, north and south, lay the old New World; the River
Plate and Rio, the New England cities, radiating center of the old new style of life
and thought. New York, dark against the afternoon sun, was a cluster of tall crystals,
a Stonehenge of modern megaliths. Round these, like fishes nibbling at the
feet of waders, the great liners crowded.
Out at sea also I saw them, and the plunging
freighters, forging through the sunset, port holes and decks aglow. Stokers
sweated at furnaces, look-out men in crow's-nests shivered, dance music, issuing
from opened doors, was drowned by the wind.

The whole planet, the whole rock-grain, with its busy swarms, I now saw as
an arena where two cosmical antagonists, two spirits, were already preparing for a
critical struggle, already assuming terrestrial and local guise, and coming to grips
in our half-awakened minds.
In city upon city, in village after village, and in innumerable
lonely farmsteads, cottages, hovels, shacks, huts, in all the crevices where
human creatures were intent on their little comforts and triumphs and escapes, the
great struggle of our age was brewing.
One antagonist appeared as the will to dare for the sake of the new, the longed
for, the reasonable and joyful, world, in which every man and woman may have
scope to live fully, and live in service of mankind. The other seemed essentially the
myopic fear of the unknown; or was it more sinister? Was it the cunning will for
private mastery, which fomented for its own ends the archaic, reason-hating, and
vindictive, passion of the tribe.
It seemed that in the coming storm all the dearest things must be destroyed.
All private happiness, all loving, all creative work in art, science, and philosophy, all
intellectual scrutiny and speculative imagination, and all creative social building;
all, indeed, that man should normally live for, seemed folly and mockery and mere
self-indulgence in the presence of public calamity.
But if we failed to preserve them,when would they live again?
How to face such an age?
How to muster courage, being capable only of homely virtues?
 How to do this, yet preserve the mind's integrity, never to let the struggle
destroy in one's own heart what one tried to serve in the world, the spirit's integrity?
Two lights for guidance.
The first, our little glowing atom of community, with all that it signifies.
The second, the cold light of the stars, symbol of the hypercosmical
reality, with its crystal ecstasy.
Strange that in this light, in which even
the dearest love is frostily assessed, and even the possible defeat of our half-waking
world is contemplated without remission of praise, the human crisis does not lose
but gains significance.
Strange that it seems more, not less, urgent to play some
part in this struggle, this brief effort of animalcules striving to win for their race
some increase of lucidity before the ultimate darkness.