There’s a man in New Mexico who takes very seriously the rising tide of global threats, and he is actively taking precautions. He is constructing a gigantic helium dirigible which he plans to launch from White Sands in southern New Mexico when the Cascadia Fault adjusts (an overdue threat according to a New Yorker Magazine article) and precipitates a 9.2 earthquake that will drop the Northern Pacific coastline into the molten belly of Gaia and launch a Tsunami to sweep the remnants away.
As a minor codicil to these preparations, I’ve been invited to present the Time, Space, Knowledge vision to a group who will lift into the stormy skies when global devastation races toward my part of the world
Since I believe that the TSK vision would be especially powerful for intelligent, concerned people who are attempting to found a new community in a shattered world (and a broken flow of time), I agreed to say something.
The prospect of speaking to a group of people about the TSK vision brings back an awkward incident from years ago (one I wrote about in my memoir “The Flying Caterpillar”, on page 278): A high school public speaking assignment required me to convince my English class that ‘my’ profession would be crucial in a new community to replace the old one that was about to be destroyed. I was one of the last to choose from the teacher’s list of professions and I ended up arguing—with painful ineptitude—that an “economist” should be given a berth on the rescue baloon. Suffice it to say that—just as today, there would not be many hedge-fund managers waiving over the transom to the unhoused masses below—I was not chosen to set up good economic practices in a new community.
The modern-day Noah in New Mexico is gathering skilled young men and women and assembling a granary of non-GMO seeds and a digitized library, all to lift into the skies as soon as seismic monitors signal the aftermath of an event that has deep-sixed everything west of the Rockies and erased communities all around the Pacific basin.
The opportunity to argue that the Time, Space, Knowledge vision could guide and illuminate the fledgling efforts of a new community is both intimidating and enticing. I remind myself that TSK offers no conflict or competition with the world’s religions–which will be represented by their root texts and, as always, best exemplified through the character of their adherents.
The Time, Space, and Knowledge vision strikes deeper than any dialogue among different viewpoints or diverse religious affiliations. It embodies a respect for the understanding that resides deep within the wisdom of faith and that shines in the accomplishments of science.
However science and technology will be liable to suffer setbacks as climate change and social unrest topple the stability needed for research to accumulate results and for technical education to teach a new generation.
Religion can inspire the courage needed to live with personal adversity and loss, but a more open kind of knowledge will be needed to exploit opportunities in a world transformed through breakdown.
Knowledge that animates and informs how we look (inward, outward and in between) will be essential as the tatters of data bases are swept beneath a rising sea.
A sense that time is greater and more abundant than the race track on which our society skims over its fleeting moments may arise before us as our way of life disintegrates. We may glimpse the pathological patterns in which old solutions chase the tail of recurring problems, thereby causing yet more intractable problems. When we have finally chewed our tail off, perhaps then we will slow down. In the face of social or geologic collapse, humanity may be once more able to hear the song of time that is ringing down the centuries, and finally notice that, all along, time has been filling each rain drop with the light of tomorrow.
Space may come into view as the essential ingredient in the composition of a new community—just as space must leap forth for someone watching a mile-high wall of water as it lifts out of the Pacific sea-bed. (A sense of space arises whenever we realize that there is nowhere left to run.) While there is nothing to prevent us from appreciating the space that permeates and surrounds every thought and every object in our busy lives, it may be that the disintegrating constructs of our modern world—already so well underway—can allow us to see the openness through growing holes in our social fabric.
Perhaps knowledge strikes new roots in time and space when we look around with new eyes. Or as Franz Kafka put it: “Be still. Sit very quietly. And the world will roll at your feet. It has no choice.”
There remain sonatas of space to compose, playdates in time to plan, and dirigibles of knowing to loose upon the winds of time. And if the world as we know it keeps rolling, perhaps we can pay attention to the time that is washing over the shoals of our present lives; and while peering into the space that accommodates each thought and every insight, celebrate the spring rains of knowing that touch every leaf and fill the rain barrels of our being.