I woke up this morning, 8:30 a.m. and those of you who know me... know just how rare that really is. I slept late by about four hours. I fried a mixture of potatoes, peppers, onions, cooked some bacon & eggs, toasted oatmeal bread & a nice glass of orange juice, a huge cup of coffee. Two actually I drank one cup while fixing my meal and then I settled into to my seat to eat it while watching Book C-Span on my little tv. Macio Maku, noted Quantum Physicist was talking about his new book and the various types of civilizations on the planetary level. He is an eloquent speaker and I like to listen to him, though I know nothing of quantum phisics. I even had to check my dictionary to make certain I spelled it right. But he does understand it and was waxing enthusiastic in his dreams of our planet becoming a TYPE ONE civilization... someday.
Now if you are like me, a bonifide quantum physics non-enthusiastic, (I have a huge level of deliberate ignorance on this topic) and you need a reference point, we currently are sitting "as a planet" at the TYPE ZERO civilization level according to Mr Maku. And we remain for the present quite uninteresting to the higher levels of civilizations out there according to Macio. Who sweetly compared us to an ant colony in a remote sunny glen. He talked about our best bet for finding evidence of a TYPE ONE civilization; a bottle left for us to find with a message so to speak, when we colonize the moon. This discovery might happen for us when we begin to establish cities on the moon. Now I was just beginning to form an idea of a question, in my little ant brain. What I wanted to know about was what separates the different types of civilzations? When, lucky me, Macio Maku told me and the rest of his viewing audience how we might distinguish them from one another.
A planet inhabited by a TYPE ZERO civilization is filled with many little tyrants, dictators and self serving politicians. It is covered over with poverty and sickness. There are no unified efforts to remove the planetary threats of disease, war, hunger, oppression and aggression. And many individuals in this type of civilization receive a certain part of their entertainment by the surgical application of verbal or physical pain upon others or by inflicting suffering ad hoc on the different or unusual members of their groups, think pecking order mentality here. This is a planet where the actions of individuals and corporations are only in the interest of their owners and stock holders. Corporations have no conscience and only serve the corporate bottom line, (I have to say that last sentence is entirely mine. The rest is paraphrased from Macio's talk.) He did, however, end his talk with an a confident belief statement that we will, in fact, become a TYPE ONE civilization as a planet... someday. If touching the lunar obelisk in Clark's novel "2001, a Space Oddessey" marked the beginning of planet earth's entry into the birth of TYPE ONE civilization. We are currently in the novel's primival bone throwing stage of civilization development.
TYPE ONE civilizations have overcome their selfishness, their greed to mock and inflict pain, no one is hungry there or lazy. The needs for sustenance, housing, enterprise, the desire to create art and have adventure are met through individual and group efforts to see the civilization florish. He made references to Clark's 2001 and 1984 and to Star Trek. That is about as far I got with him because then he began to talk about things that I frankly cannot conceive, time travel, black hole information retrieval and a place where the individual's character and personality, though unique, contributed more than it takes from society.
What does this have to do with storytelling? Yes, I am on my third cup of coffee. It seems to me that in a lot of our stories, my stories included, we have a tendency to end them... "happily ever after." My friends in England call this the "Americanization of stories." Their charge is simple... we are completely ignoring our TYPE ZERO reality. We tell and act as though there is a TYPE ONE world for ourselves and our characters in the stories where they live. We have Disney-fied, anesthesized our stories to make them politically correct. The Brothers Grimm tales are striped, removing the remotest harsh reality and any prejudicial language as though it didn't exist. We need to find a 12-Step program for our story craft. Step One might be to realize that there is a problem. We should refuse to take out the realities of our story worlds, with their tyrants and not allow ourselves to make the villians into "just snotty people." But rather expose them for the black hearted destructive creatures they are and paint them in their pettiness so tiny that no one would want to live like that.
Jesters held a unique place in the old courts of Kings and Queens. Often they were the only ones who could tell the King the actual truth about himself, his Court, his Dukes and Earls. He was often the most trusted friend of the King. We storytellers, could hold that place in the world that we live in, if we would. We can help by being really truthful, not mean, not snotty, but truthful as we tell, to have controlling idea of where we want our world to go and to teach it without saying "and the moral of this story is... be nice."
We do need to take a dangerous stand. "But there is so much to lose," you say. Yes, we have a lot to lose and there is a lot at stake... ourselves.
I am dreaming this morning of a TYPE ONE storytelling world.