We, Created

“XI. … The old and bleeding roads of the earth are emblazoned upon you.  The vast and folded architecture of your brain and nerves are waiting for the world and have a strong presentiment of exactly how the world is going to be – waiting for space, expecting time, ready for language, anticipating movement and other people, prepared for sex and violence, fear and loathing.  As the parks and cities are public records of millennia of problem-solving, of desire facilitated to the point of ease, so you are the repository of millions of years of very hard thinking about this world.  You know the world already as your lungs know air and your kidneys water.  Its weight and shape have determined your height and form, its light has demanded your eyes, its noises called for ears, its food and water shaped your mouth, your teeth and guts, its earth and roots and branches formed your grasping hands.  You, the newest, shortest route between desire and fulfilment, are more intricately traversed by patterns and pathways than the entire world.  Imagine the first attempts at hunger, matter desperately maintaining its structure through stealing other matter, the elemental stirrings, the prehistory of hunger.  Clumsy, primitive molecular structures managing, just, to cannibalize the earth, to maintain and repeat themselves.  Imagine hunger’s first steps, desire’s primal movements, life’s beginning.  Look how good it’s got at it.  Look how good we are at eating now, at maintaining and reproducing the integrity of a staggeringly complex structure, without even thinking about it.  You just know.  You were made for this world, by this world, of this world.  You are the record, the embodiment of life’s ceaseless desiring, written in tiny molecular hand, transcribed and translated into flesh, from dust and water.  Knowledge of a billion years of living in this world is folded up inside you, is you.  You are the latest model, the most recent experiment in living.

XII.  The world runs in our blood.  The hunger within us is a billion years old.  There are glimpses of this ancient in us.  We have little intuitions of it when we hear phrases like the ‘reptilian brain’, or when we read how we are only a vehicle for our genes that have been around for a billion years.  Meaningful parts of us really are millions of years old.  Science tries to point out what is only fact, but must also struggle to make us feel that weight of years that it took to reach a point where a couple of buckets of water and a bag of earth became this you, here now, so blithely reading, turning pages, this earth made flesh, this flesh alive with vision and reason, this reasonable meat conjured from dust.  It took that amount of effort over that amount of time to reach the point where there is some clay that can ‘see’ and ‘feel’ and ‘know’ and ‘think’.  And that it does all this with such a lack of effort.  This ease, the smoothness of the mechanism now, our hands moving to the places we want them to go before we have even thought to ask, they just know how.  It took a long time, a lot of learning, more than just one lifetime, to get that good.  How old is life?  That’s how long it took for you too learn how to read and turn this page.”

∼  Vincent Deary, “How to Live. 1. How We Are”, Chapter 1 The Beaten Path

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