Tom Ilisa leans back in his chair while I read the letter Dennis George wrote to the Provincial Government. It is 16 pages of the most unbelievable lies about me. Most of it centers around me being a spy for the Japanese whose mission is to destroy the pearl culture business of one Mr. George. The lies are so absurd I can't help chuckling as I read. I look up and find Mr. Ilisa, executive secretary for the provincial government, grinning back at me.
"Don't concern yourself with politics," He advises. "Business belong government."
He's saying Sir John Guise's public broadcast about our being Japanese spies was political, based on this ridiculous letter. I have no doubt Sir John was pissed out of his skull when he read my little note in the newspaper. Now I'm getting told to keep away from Sir John Guise, vanish back into the islands and do my surveys. I nod my head wondering if I should try and get a copy of Mr. George's letter but then decide I might as well follow his advice and forget it.
Outside, the sun strikes like a flamethrower. Hot Alatau, sticky, dirty, Alatau, redolent with the heavy odor of newly fallen rain on baked garbage. Neil showed up this morning on one of his little fisheries boats with the urgent message for me to report to Alatau. One of his boys gave me a ride over.
I wilt over to the store, pick up a some bread, onions and potatoes, and slog back to the wharf. My young fisheries man is sound asleep in his little boat. I wake him up and we begin the slow boat ride back to Samarai. Surrounded by the vibratory roar of the engine I perch on the cabin top and read T.H. White's "Book of Merlyn". Merlyn explains every creature must have a predator but since we've exterminated ours, we became our own predators. This is why we have wars.
White has oversimplified things, no doubt, but just now the idea of man the predator of man tickles my fancy. When I was in Port Moresby last month I talked to a Keop, or rather an ex-Keop, about cannibalism. He said, just last year a man was caught and brought to trial for eating another man.
The illegal lunch took place up the Sepic River, where men are men and good vittles to boot. Apparently the accused was paddling down the Sepic one afternoon when he saw something floating near shore. The something turned out to be a dead man. Drowned.
He dragged the body ashore, roasted it over a campfire, and munched it down. He thought there was nobody around. This was pretty stupid. Even I know there is always somebody around. Jungles have eyes, and all that sort of stuff. The witness to the macabre luncheon date trotted off to report the incident to the local Keop (my friend). He paddled out to the site and found the cannibal sound asleep, round of belly, with the remains of the BBQ scattered casually around. At the trial, the judge asked the man why he had done it. Head hanging down, the man mumbled something back. "Speak up, man," said the judge, "Why did you do such a horrible thing?"
"Me one hungry fellow," said the man.
As the boat rounds the corner of Milne Bay and enters China Strait, I think about Keops and the Phantom. The Phantom Comic Book is the most favored reading material in PNG. The image of the mysterious white man bringing justice to the jungle is exactly the image of the Keops. They are the government bush police. Lone agents - many married to local women - living in remote jungle villages, keeping the peace. One white man amid thousands of primitive blacks. He's different, not involved in the traditional vendettas between villages or families. He's an outsider, and thus offers the population the only form of trusted justice available.
All 742 languages of PNG originated because of man's predatory nature upon man. The Keop is a sudden side-step in jungle evolution.
I can see Samarai, now, on the horizon. I'll be home soon. The reverberating fishing boat has nearly put me to sleep. As I semi-doze I get this weird vision of Keops as a kind of multibranched, tentacle of European civilization reaching out into the PNG jungle; like a nerve cell from the global mind with its synapses clinging to the minds of the bushmen. Maybe the bushmen see something like this, too. Keops hold mysterious powers, strong Mana. What Keop says, is law - the new European Law.
Keops were also like referees at a sporting match whenever two villages had a war. I say were because, with independence, the Keop service is being nationalized and the white men - some of whom have given 15 years of service - are being kicked out. Replaced with men with black skins who are not trusted, respected or obeyed.The National Government has simply told many of the old Keops to leave PNG. They usually allow Keops married to local girls to stay in the country but they have to move to other districts and find other jobs.
Moira looks delightful in the golden glow of sunset backdropped with the deep green jungle. Freddy and Walter Cat are on deck to welcome me long before the small boat comes alongside and I hop off.
White's war concept haunts me through dinner. I keep visualizing war as a biological tool. An evolutionary tool. I imagine mind, when it was loose, unorganized, scattered over the planet's surface. I see it moving into knots, focal points, communities, peeping out of newly designed social eyes of greater and greater complexity. Eyes with fear in them as predators snap into view. Eyes attached to legs and feet and deep set, genetic directions about using them when confronted with predators.
But the image falls out of focus when Man appears in his magic cloak of civilization and his civilized wars. No, Man's modern wars are not predatory. Inner Voice says so, and I agree. The old head hunting expeditions, where seapeople went out hunting for bushmen for dinner and slaves, those were predatory. But when modern man goes to war it is for different reasons. Sexual reasons. When I visualize eyes of males meeting those of other males on THEIR territory....ahhh, yes. Now I see war in their eyes.
As much as I like White's poetic, "Man is his own Predator," the facts don't support it. Man's wars are biological, all right, but they stem from sexual contests over territory.
Biology has expanded the notion of sex - the original intercommunication between individuals - to include the joining of communication networks to form new and different behavior systems. The sperm and the egg, after all, unite memory systems to make a new being. Sexual competition is to see who's message gets expressed.
Modern wars have expanded the notion of territory to include behavioral territory - from sacred places to sacred customs and political beliefs. Sexual conflicts evolved into wars fought over a single word - like freedom or independence - struggling for expression.
Sexual conflict is, of course, the essence of evolutionary control. The survival of the fittest (strongest, smartest, fastest, most efficient) system (creature, society, idea, message). And how war has helped Mind develop! What wondrous abilities has war brought to Mind. No longer creeping about on the planet surface, Mind now rides ships of titanium into the upper reaches of the atmosphere and snaps off into orbit and soars over the moon. Mind zings round the world on etherial electronic webs and peers through radar eyes far into the nether reaches of the Universe.
At the core of this remarkable spurt of evolution is the greatest whack-off of all time. War. Yes. War is sexual defense and aggression over territory with territory redefined as ideas and concepts captured in words. My mind sizzles with this thought. The nitty gritty of the controlling process of evolution is integral with sexual behavior. Sex and DNA go together. The Moirae can not be far ahead.
"What are you thinking so hard about?" Freddy asks as we finish dinner.
"Sorry, didn't mean to be so distant. I was thinking about sex and war."
"What about it?" she settles down on the settee and Walter the Cat jumps up and flakes out next to her.
"Mind has a bizarre sense of humor about war. I was just thinking about how war has been one of the leading methods Mind used to forge ahead in developing new abilities. Using hominids to develop more and more sophisticated perceptual systems."
"You mean like radar, microscopes, satellites, and all that?" Freddy asks. "What in the world do you find humorous about that?"
"I don't, but Mind does. See, all mental activity is, in the end, a dance of solar energy with the elements of Earth. I am sure Mind recognizes itself as the "star". And every "General" every "Commander" of every "Armed Force" of almost every nation wears a star on his forehead or shoulder. We are given stars for good behavior and stars wave from flag after flag. Mankind follows its star and grows stronger and more perceptive.
"Imbedded in our symbology of war, in our all our myths, is the slightly snide reference to our grand commander in chief, the Sun. But the references always insist the commander is NOT the sun, itself. The sun is a ball of billions of tons of imploding hydrogen atoms. Our commander is the interaction of the energy of our star with the crystallized energy patterns of our planet. This has become a developing, learning Mind. And our language is very soft (on purpose?) when it comes to framing concepts recognizing this interaction." Freddy strokes Walter's fur and says nothing.
"Mind. What is mind? I use the word easily and visualize the grand network of thought weave itself through the folds of our planet. But our language makes it difficult in the extreme to define. Go ahead, give me a definition for this word."
Freddy glances up from Walter and shrugs; a delicious little French shug. My own Inner Voice is right there with a definition. "Mind is what awareness does," it says. "Mind is Perception - Memory - Reaction," Voice expands.
Then I am using the word wrong. Mind is a verb, an action. But what is the right word for what I mean?
"Awareness," It says.
"Awareness," I repeat out loud to Freddy. But I'm not sure what this means, either. So, I get up and haul out the dictionary. I look up awareness and find it comes from an ancient word meaning To Awaken. Another verb. I think of Bucky Fuller's remark, "There is no such thing as a thing." All nouns refer to things and are misleading. Every event is behavior and therefore a verb.
"To awaken. Sure, that fits. Awareness, then. Awareness is what is developing. Mind is perception, memory and reaction. Evolution is the improvement of the ability to perceive, remember, react. This is what evolution is. Right?"
Freddy says nothing. Voice says nothing. Perhaps I didn't ask correctly.
I have a vision of stars leading masses of humans - Pop singers (stars), movie stars - stars on generals and on flags. The vision reminds me the drive to improve mind, or awareness, isn't always pleasant. And this image merges with Port Moresby - the image of all those thousands of people out on the flats at low tide looking for anything to eat.
Development, as an uplifting of one culture by another. Atoms flowing in layers of movement through corals. Keops like extensions of Earth Nerves extending into the jungle to control the reflexes of the men of the forest. Massive numbers of people being " lead" by men wearing stars on their shoulders, following flags with stars on the cloth. What do all these things have to do with each other? It's like Inner Voice keeps showing me these images and expecting me to understand something connecting them all together.
About 10 we go to bed. I lay there, looking up through the hatch at the stars above Moira. I close my eyes and take three deep breaths and then count backwards from five to one. On the count of one I reach a deep, relaxed state, neither sleep nor awake, neither vision nor dream. I wrap this layer of awareness around itself and seek its origins, following it down, down, down inside, peeling away layer after layer, retreating from the infinity of stars without towards an infinity of memory within. Down here, in the basement of my being, all visions come together. I drift down until I reach the beginning of memory.
I find a time, long ago, when mind was born upon Planet Earth.
It is like a loose web of sparkles bursting in the night, like phosphorescence in the deep sea. Like stars in this magic sea around us. It does not know itself. It is aware, but not of itself. Awareness spins and swirls and threads into long strands. These intertwine into spiral knots of perception, become Protozoan hunters tunneling through the ages. They merge into motile tendons of fear and hunger. The phosphorescence of awareness ribbons into larger and larger focal points - into great prowling centers of predatory seeking. The skeins of awareness ravel and unravel and become more and more organized, forming larger and larger webs until the webs themselves become vast centers of awareness transmitting new threads of concepts forming massive tunnels expanding in my inner vision.
The vortex of awareness knows it is a focal point of the mind of Sea. But the awareness is not from the whale or from me. It whirls into being from the dance of a billion trillion individual centers of awareness, a singing intercommunication of the multitude of tiny protozoans forming the whale and me and our shared thoughts. And each of these tiny creatures spin into being from the vast expanse of the whole sea. This Magic Sea of communications enveloping the planet.
The tapestry of thought laces outward, woven with countless other focal points of awareness, to become the awareness of the biosphere. In my perception, in my memories, the planet kaleidoscopes into a living awareness, spinning luminescent fibers of thought in Sun's light.
And it sees me seeing it.
For an instant, I am a tiny portion of the scintillating awareness of the Sun/Planet being and in its interwoven threads, I sense an awesome power. An aware pulse rhythms, "Make better, Survive" drumming throughout all living tissues. I hear overtones and harmonic refrains woven into the song the planet sings. Refrains of words and music and the metallic taste of elements chanting the song of life.
Fear, hate, aggression hunger-tug at the bass notes while roars of success and screams of joy passion-out the high notes. The beast IS awake. It surges upward, struggling in the sun, uplifting itself within the scintillating pulse of starlight in Earth atoms.