The Fifteenth & Sixteenth Kirk Elbod Interviews:


P|       (In late November, Kirk called me at work. He 
Y|  invited me to see an unusual sight, but would not tell me 
R|  what it was. Only that it could be seen fairly late at 
I|  night and then just at certain times. He felt that this 
G|  particular night would be auspicious, so I agreed to meet 
H|  him, around eleven. 
T|       There at his home I found him in his old travel 
||  trailer which I had not seen since our first encounter. 
1|  He motioned for me to climb inside. We drove in silence 
9|  north, out of the city. He seemed in no mod to talk, at 
8|  least until we had arrived at our destination. Finally 
9|  after about an hour he broke the silence.)
||       ELBOD: I am taking you to a place which is ancient 
B|  and undisturbed. Older than Stonehenge, in fact older 
Y|  than the pyramids, or civilization. I am hoping that 
||  there, perhaps, we can gain some perspective.
R|       TALBOT: This must be one of your tricks. I know 
I|  every historic site for miles around, and there is 
C|  nothing like that here. 
H|       ELBOD: (Pulling off the highway now, onto a winding 
A|  dirt road, which lead up a high hill) Perhaps it is a 
R|  trick, but what I am saying is true nonetheless. (And 
D|  with that he reached the top of the hill, turned off the 
||  headlights, and parked the travel trailer so it looked 
d|  out at the night sky. Then again he fell silent, and no 
e|  matter what I asked him he would not respond. Finally in 
G|  desperation I spoke.)
A|       TALBOT: Kirk I don't understand you. It seems that 
R|  you are one of these Lone Ranger types that you malign, 
I|  as you are not attached to a job, or a community, or a 
S|  family. Just what gives?
||       ELBOD: (Now aroused, which I knew he would be.) What 
D|  do you know? You have only seen a small part of my life. 
O|  But even if that were true it would not be unusual. 
B|  Mendel, a monk, discovered the laws for sexual 
L|  inheritance. And Tocqueville, a French man, wrote the 
E|  most enduring study of America.
||       So it is not all that remarkable for a person 
A|  outside a society to be able to see more clearly than a 
L|  person within, since the person outside has the larger 
L|  perspective.
||       TALBOT: Well, you don't have to be so defensive (I 
R|  said turning the knife.) But tell me something else. Why 
I|  do you spend your time thinking about the things you do, 
G|  since it seems to be a thankless task.
H|       ELBOD: Its A dirty, rotten, low paying job with no 
T|  respect. But someone's got to do it. (I couldn't believe 
S|  he said all that with a straight face.)
||       I've tried to steer a middle course, a middle way 
R|  between the extremes of science and the material world on 
E|  the one hand and the subjective, inner world on the other 
S|  hand, since both affect the other. I've attempted to 
E|  describe how they relate, and to discuss their meeting 
R|  places. Someone needed to do this, so why not me?     
V|       But I would really like to get out of this travel 
E|  trailer and see what we came to see. Bundle up, it's 
D|  going to be cold out there. (Now my curiosity was 
||  aroused. What was he up to? We stood outside, looking out 
||  over the hill. There were almost no city lights, except 
C|  far in the distance. The night was clear and crisp. I 
O|  could see more stars than I ever imagined in the Milky 
P|  Way. It stretched from horizon to horizon.)
Y|       This is why I came here. To see the stars.
R|       TALBOT: Another romantic image? (I jabbed.)
I|       ELBOD: It might seem that way to the jaded, but we 
G|  are looking at almost the exact same sky as our nomadic 
H|  ancestors did 20,000 years ago, and it remains untouched 
T|  by human progress. 
||       There on the horizon, that brilliant star is Sirius, 
1|  the brightest star in the sky. And when it rose with the 
9|  sun it determined the beginning of the new year for the 
8|  Egyptians.
9|       The first astronomers were very accurate considering 
||  the tools they had to work with. The Egyptians used 
B|  Sirius to determine the length of the year, which they 
Y|  almost got right, within six hours. 
||       It's believed that some constellations were 
R|  identified by prehistoric humans and then these were 
I|  added onto by the Egyptians. The Greeks came along later 
C|  and probably renamed some of the Egyptian constellations, 
H|  while adding their own. All together about half of the 
A|  current constellations were marked out by the ancient 
R|  world. 
D|       Since most people were not literate I think that the 
||  method of identifying mythical figures with groups of 
d|  stars was in part a system for remembering the placing 
e|  and order of constellations. Much like the memory theater 
G|  I mentioned last time. Such as over there (He pointed to 
A|  a large section of the sky.) The constellations near 
R|  Perseus were all involved in a Greek myth and are 
I|  together in the same section of the sky.
S|       TALBOT: (Interested, admittedly, but getting a 
||  little cold and restless). Is this an astronomy lecture?
D|       ELBOD: (Annoyed) I'm trying to get a bit of 
O|  perspective here. Trying to see the Big Picture. 
B|       That band of stars is the edge of the Milky Way. In 
L|  the winter we are looking toward the outer edge whereas 
E|  in the summer we are looking toward the center of our 
||  galaxy.
A|       I knew a girl who had lived in the city all her life 
L|  and thought that the phrase Milky Way was just an 
L|  expression, since she could never see it with the ambient 
||  city light.
R|       TALBOT: Kirk I'm getting cold. I'm going to go into 
I|  the travel trailer for a minute. (But quickly Kirk 
G|  grabbed me.)
H|       ELBOD: No, wait I'll get you something else to put 
T|  on, but if you open that door it will turn on a light in 
S|  the trailer and we'll have to wait another ten minutes 
||  for our eyes to adjust. (With that he entered a door that 
R|  didn't turn on any light and brought out a huge blanket 
E|  he had tucked away. He also pulled out a small, cheap 
S|  telescope, that he rapidly proceeded to set up on the 
E|  hill side.)
R|       TALBOT: I can't believe we'll see much with that. (I 
V|  scoffed.)
E|       ELBOD: Judge for yourself (He muttered. He signaled 
D|  me to come over and look.) Quick, before the motion of 
||  the turning Earth moves what I have sighted in the 
||  telescope and I have to find it again. (I squatted down, 
C|  and gave it a look. To my surprise I saw an island galaxy 
O|  floating in majestic, cool splendor, filling the view of 
P|  the telescope. I had to admit that my Earth bound 
Y|  cynicism gave way to a sense of awe when faced with this 
R|  island universe composed of billions of stars.)
I|       ELBOD: (As if to answer what he knew I was feeling.) 
G|  And this is why I brought you here. But yes, even I'm 
H|  getting cold now, so lets go inside. (I sat at the small 
T|  table as he turned on a gas space heater and then warmed 
||  up some water for coffee on the stove.)
1|       You, see (he continued) that galaxy helped create a 
9|  revolution in human thinking that no one noticed.
8|       TALBOT: Please explain what you mean I don't follow 
9|  you.
||       ELBOD: Well, let me back track a bit. When 
B|  Copernicus and Kepler said that the Earth went around the 
Y|  Sun it created a revolution in thought. The Catholic 
||  church was so upset it tried to ban the idea. Humans were 
R|  no longer at the center of the Universe which was very 
I|  damaging to our image of ourselves. But of course we got 
C|  over it.
H|       However, when you give up one old idea you usually 
A|  gain something else. The Copernican revolution lead to a 
R|  better understanding of the motions of the sun, moon, 
D|  planets so that we gained the power to predict exactly 
||  when the sun would rise, the tides would be high, when 
d|  there would be an eclipse. This understanding lead to 
e|  Newton who discovered laws which allowed humans to build 
G|  a powerful technology. So humans in the end had gained 
A|  power by giving up an egocentric idea of the world. 
R|       But to return to the question at hand. In 1923 Edwin 
I|  Hubble discovered that that galaxy you just saw, the 
S|  Andromeda galaxy, lay way outside the Milky Way.
||       Up to that time it was assumed the Milky Way was the 
D|  universe. And that all these strange fuzzy objects seen 
O|  in telescopes were part of the Milky Way. But Hubble 
B|  proved that the Milky Way was just another galaxy among 
L|  galaxies. And the Andromeda galaxy is our closest large 
E|  galaxy, in fact our sister galaxy.
||       But the news got worse, because not only were there 
A|  more galaxies, there were billions of other galaxies, so 
L|  our position in the Universe seemed even more 
L|  insignificant. Our Sun was now one of a hundred billion 
||  stars in a galaxy which was perhaps one of a hundred 
R|  billion galaxies.
I|       But this revolution in thought was never announced 
G|  by anything as dramatic as the church banning the idea. 
H|  It was, in fact, in the beginning just a scientific 
T|  problem.
S|       I remember when I was in my teens and twenties. 
||  Friends of mine would say that there was no point to life 
R|  because we were an infinitesimal part of the universe, 
E|  that the entire solar system was no more than a gnat 
S|  which God could destroy with a brush of his hand.
E|       Other friends, who were into science fiction, 
R|  imagined that we would travel all over the universe, even 
V|  though according to Einsten's laws this would be almost 
E|  impossible given the distances and the limiting speed of 
D|  light.
||       (He brought over two cups of coffee and sat down at 
||  the table. He leaned against the window of the trailer 
C|  and looked up at the ceiling.)
O|       Now I am optimistic enough to suggest that if we can 
P|  get over this hump, this transition we are going through 
Y|  now on Earth that we might eventually be able to do such 
R|  wild things as change the atmosphere of Venus and make it 
I|  habitable for man, to "terraform" the planet as Carl 
G|  Sagan has suggested. And given another thousand years, or 
H|  million years, or even a billion years who knows what the 
T|  human race is capable of. And, I might add, it is not 
||  unreasonable to think that we might be around for a 
1|  billion years or more since it seems that the universe 
9|  has a long way to go.
8|       But all these speculations will get us nowhere. 
9|  Because, meanwhile, back on Earth, we have a major 
||  problem which we have to deal with first. In fact these 
B|  speculations are damaging because the perspective is 
Y|  wrong. The perspective is too broad.
||       TALBOT: Now you're being critical of people who have 
R|  a large perspective.
I|       ELBOD: Yes, I am. As I said in the conversation 
C|  about science, perspective is important, but a wrong 
H|  perspective at the wrong time could also be very 
A|  dangerous.
R|       What these speculations leave out is the human 
D|  scale. We need to deal with ourselves and our problems on 
||  the Earth which is hard enough, before we think of things 
d|  which, at best, can only be vague, ill defined notions. 
e|  There are so many things we don't understand. So let's 
G|  just leave the universe for the time being as a mystery 
A|  that we are a part of, but go no further than that.
R|       What we need on Earth, very badly, is thinking on a 
I|  global scale, and this is hard enough, and big enough. 
S|  But this is the task at hand. And if we fail badly in 
||  this task, we may not get to the next step, so any 
D|  speculation about a thousand years from now will be 
O|  academic.
B|       TALBOT: What are you proposing?
L|       ELBOD: A number of things. First we have to face the 
E|  facts. We have reached or will reach limits on the Earth 
||  very soon. Most people now realize that a nuclear war is 
A|  unthinkable, since it would destroy the combatant nations 
L|  and maybe everything else -- so global war is out. We 
L|  will reach the limits of population that the Earth can 
||  support in about fifty years -- so population growth is 
R|  out. We are now reaching the limits of using the oceans, 
I|  land, and air for dumping waste. So a rising standard of 
G|  living seems to be out for the time being, at least until 
H|  we learn how to not generate waste. So we have reached or 
T|  will soon reach a limit to our activities on Earth. And 
S|  if we don't change our style of doing business, we are 
||  going to be history.
R|       Next we have to face a rather strange notion, that 
E|  we have not lived up to yet. The notion is that we are a 
S|  major force on this Earth. We have the power to modify 
E|  it, mold it, trash it, make a garden out of it or blow it 
R|  up. We are a force, but right now this force is untamed, 
V|  uncontrolled and it is running wild.
E|       So this powerful human race is about to hit a brick 
D|  wall, and the question is what do we do?
||       TALBOT: Which is?
||       ELBOD: We have to accept those limits, adopt a 
C|  different way of thinking or perish. 
O|       We must stop thinking in terms of expanding, 
P|  developing, conquering. Instead we need to start thinking 
Y|  in terms of managing, containing, designing, limiting, 
R|  controlling.
I|       TALBOT: This is not going to be easy.
G|       ELBOD: You're telling me. But there is a silver 
H|  lining.
T|       TALBOT: Which is?
||       ELBOD: Let's go back to Copernicus. When an old idea 
1|  died, then new power was gained. The same could happen 
9|  here. I've suggested by the notion of "designing" that we 
8|  could meet the challenges through total design. This is 
9|  why I optimistically have said that the next century 
||  could be the "Age of Design". In other words total design 
B|  could take all these seemingly limiting factors into 
Y|  account and come up with a clever way to satisfy all the 
||  differing, maybe even conflicting needs.
R|       TALBOT: How are you going to convince other people 
I|  to go along.
C|       ELBOD: Well, its going to be rough going for a 
H|  while. And the sooner we start the easier its going to 
A|  be.
R|       Going through this transition will be a bit like 
D|  culture shock. We will have left one way of thinking 
||  which no longer works. Yet at the same time, we will have 
d|  to discover new, unfamiliar ways to solve problems. We 
e|  will have old maps which will no longer apply but no new 
G|  maps which we desperately need.
A|       So what we need right now are a set of images which 
R|  will guide us though this transition, symbols which will 
I|  help create a new sense of connection to the Earth. Maybe 
S|  even new stories to help "re form" (he said like two 
||  words) our view of the world. The old idea of "Mother 
D|  Earth" or "Mother Nature" comes close, for example.      
O|  TALBOT: Kirk this has been very interesting but it's 
B|  getting late and I need to get home.
L|       ELBOD: Home, home. I'm glad you brought up that 
E|  word. "Home" is an English word which cannot be 
||  translated into any other language. It contains ideas of 
A|  your own private space, safety, peace, contentment. 
L|  English law reflected the country's unique concept. I 
L|  think it's no accident that English law went to 
||  extraordinary lengths to protect the sanctity of the 
R|  home, by not allowing police to enter without a search 
I|  warrant, for example.
G|       TALBOT: I still want to go home.
H|       ELBOD: Yes, but you have given me an idea for a new 
T|  image of the Earth, a new way of expressing our relation 
S|  to the Earth.
||       TALBOT: Which is?
R|       ELBOD: " Mother Earth is our home. " So we need to 
E|  treat her with sanctity and respect.
S|       (He gathered up the cups. We settled into the front 
E|  seats, and left this ancient temple for the modern 
R|  world.)
P|       (It was an incredibly warm but overcast day in late 
Y|  December when Kirk called me again. This time it was for 
R|  a meeting late that night, as usual, he had something to 
I|  show me, but would not say.
G|       So at twelve midnight, of all hours, I met him in a 
H|  parking lot of a professional building, close to an older 
T|  Victorian residential neighborhood.) 
||       TALBOT: 12 midnight, Kirk! Don't you think it's a 
1|  bit late? 
9|       ELBOD: Don't you realize what today is, now that the 
8|  clock has struck?
9|       TALBOT: (I thought for a while, but couldn't bring 
||  anything to mind.) Christmas is just a few days away, but 
B|  I don't know what today is.
Y|       ELBOD: It's the winter solstice. The shortest day of 
||  the year. The longest night of the year. And the start of 
R|  winter.
I|       TALBOT: And I'm supposed to know that?
C|       ELBOD: I don't know. I just thought you might. But 
H|  let's go for a walk I want you to see something.
A|       (I must admit I required some persuading, but as was 
R|  my manner I acquiesced and we walked down the street on 
D|  this unusually warm early winter night. Suddenly, when we 
||  turned a corner, I saw why he had brought me here. 
d|  Residents of the neighborhood had put small white paper 
e|  bags weighted down with sand in front of each of their 
G|  houses. Every bag was illuminated from within by a 
A|  candle. And these "bag lanterns" with their flickering 
R|  lights stretched as far as the eye could see. In the 
I|  darkness of the night and with few house lights on, they 
S|  made a striking pattern, which receded into the 
||  distance.)
D|       TALBOT: Yes, I have to admit this is impressive. And 
O|  it's a very simple idea.
B|       ELBOD: (Walking down the street, faint candle light 
L|  occasionally spilling onto his face as we strolled by 
E|  this spontaneous display.)
||       Let me tell you about a powerful experience that 
A|  happened to me.
L|       I was in Granada, Spain. I had seen a lot of Moorish 
L|  buildings and Spanish cathedrals. Toward the end of my 
||  trip I walked into an out of the way church. Over the 
R|  church was a dome; above that dome was a smaller one, and 
I|  above that another still smaller. Between each of these 
G|  was glass, which let in light. In the top-most dome was a 
H|  painting of a white dove against a blue sky.
T|       Now I didn't know that this series of receding domes 
S|  was there. I looked up and suddenly it was as though the 
||  top dome merged with the blue sky of the day and the dove 
R|  was actually in the sky, flying overhead. I was 
E|  immediately filled with the most unusual feeling, as 
S|  though the entire church were floating, or I was 
E|  floating. I have had dreams about this, ever since.
R|       The point was not that the experience happened in a 
V|  church, but rather that the sense of space created was so 
E|  intense. Many of the Moorish buildings in Spain and in 
D|  Granada, such as the Alhambra palace, created a feeling 
||  similar to this.
||       I decided that the feeling was related to a sense of 
C|  infinity. There was a set of earth bound points which 
O|  lead out to a space beyond my comprehension, a sense of 
P|  connection to what I could not understand, a thread that 
Y|  lead further than I could know. It was restful and 
R|  exhilarating all at the same time. And what we are 
I|  experiencing here, with these candles lit as far as we 
G|  can see, is the same feeling. It's very potent.
H|       I think it's the same reason people go to the beach 
T|  for their vacations: so that they can rest their eyes on 
||  an infinite horizon. Or to the mountains where they can 
1|  do the same thing. But this desire to see space receding 
9|  past our ability to comprehend it, is, I think, a basic 
8|  human need.
9|       TALBOT: How basic?
||       ELBOD: I think it's important. I know people who, if 
B|  they don't get to go to the coast once during the year, 
Y|  feel as though they have missed something vital. 
||       Many of the Moorish buildings were designed to 
R|  create an experience of infinity, because the Moors 
I|  believed that this was an essential part of their 
C|  religious feeling. And I believe that a number of 
H|  religious symbols serve as a connection between the 
A|  finite and the infinite, allowing us to be connected to 
R|  the infinite even though we cannot understand it.
D|       And it is these kinds of symbols, plus many others, 
||  that the modern world is lacking.
d|       Symbols, such as the myriad of symbols now at 
e|  Christmas, are important to the nourishment of the human 
G|  psyche. And we will need more symbols, new symbols, if we 
A|  are to survive.
R|       But this season of the year also reaches back into 
I|  the past and expresses a number of pre-Christian beliefs 
S|  and imagery, I feel.
||       The solstice celebration was a major event in the 
D|  ancient world. The Romans had long annual holiday at this 
O|  time, the Saturnalia festival, which involved the burning 
B|  of lamps and the exchanging of gifts. The burning of the 
L|  yule log, for example, which is associated with 
E|  Christmas, came directly from a winter solstice 
||  celebration. 
A|       No one, as far as I can tell, knows when Christ was 
L|  born exactly. In fact a more likely time would be the 
L|  spring, since "shepherds were watching their flocks by 
||  night", which happens in the spring. It appears the 
R|  church fathers picked the same time as the Roman festival 
I|  to steal thunder from the competing pagan beliefs. Christ 
G|  was always identified with light so it is appropriate 
H|  that this time of year should be a celebration of His 
T|  birth. But since it falls near the solstice, I also feel 
S|  our use of lights expresses ancient fears about the 
||  diminishing power of the sun; a fear that the sun might 
R|  keep growing dimmer and dimmer, never return. So by 
E|  "sympathetic magic" as it is called, lights and candles 
S|  are lit every year to "help" the sun return, to help the 
E|  sun's rebirth. Not unlike a rain dance in which the 
R|  Indians helped the clouds rain.
V|       TALBOT: So what is your point?
E|       ELBOD: That this tradition is very old and there is 
D|  more to it than meets the eye.
||       Because I believe that if you scratch the surface of 
||  a modern human, you find ancient beliefs underneath, 
C|  beliefs that people are not even aware they hold. But as 
O|  I pointed out in the discussion on advertising, 
P|  merchandisers know that these beliefs still exist and use 
Y|  this knowledge to manipulate us.
R|       The anthropologist Montagu has stated that seasonal 
I|  celebrations are rites of passage from an old state to a 
G|  new state. New Years eve, in particular, meets these 
H|  criteria: the old year symbolized as the aged man and the 
T|  new year as the young baby; the wild drunken joviality, 
||  followed by sober New Years resolutions. And again it 
1|  appears that this is based on a Roman holiday.
9|       TALBOT: Where are you going with all this. After 
8|  knowing you for while I can sense that you are about to 
9|  make a point.
||       ELBOD: Very perceptive my dear Talbot. 
B|       We, meaning anyone who will listen, need to go about 
Y|  the task of creating new powerful symbols, new stories, 
||  new celebrations to help us through this period of 
R|  transition that I spoke of last time. Not in place of any 
I|  celebration, but in addition to. 
C|       TALBOT: New celebrations? New symbols? Such as?
H|       ELBOD: I'm not sure. It needs to be a group effort. 
A|  Let people try out a number and let the best win. 
R|       But we need to retake the world and our world views 
D|  from the commercial image makers and forge images 
||  ourselves. My friend Monty points out that the word 
d|  "myth" is now a pejorative term. That when you say "myth" 
e|  you mean something untrue, or a fantasy. But as Joseph 
G|  Campbell pointed out it is myth, in a positive sense, 
A|  that gives us necessary symbols for life.
R|       This is a hard point to make in our cynical world. 
I|  Some people would like to think that they are above such 
S|  things, or that the modern world has no need for anything 
||  like symbols, but they couldn't be more wrong. Symbols 
D|  nourish us, and if we don't have the necessary ones we 
O|  will put our energy into false ones, such as those that 
B|  advertising offers us. But a need for deep symbols is 
L|  essential.     So, as Monty says, we need to re-
E|  mythologize the world, not in a dogmatic way, but in a 
||  way that restores the richness of symbol and imagery. 
A|  Campbell has suggested that the machine will have to be 
L|  incorporated into the modern myth since that is now an 
L|  important part of our lives. I believe that science, 
||  technology and other modern concerns should also be a 
R|  part.
I|       But let me tell you a wonderful older myth that I 
G|  heard, which seemed to strike a chord. It is a myth of 
H|  creation.
T|       TALBOT: Please do. 
S|       ELBOD: This particular culture felt that numbers had 
||  a magical significance so they used a lot of numerals in 
R|  their stories.
E|       (Then Kirk adopted a strange tone of voice, as 
S|  though acting the part of a sage in a tribe.)
E|       Billions of years ago there was no time or space. 
R|  Everything that there was, including all the stars you 
V|  see in the night sky, and the earth, and the moon, and 
E|  the sun, were gone. The only thing there was, was a tiny 
D|  ball, smaller than a grain of sand.
||       No one can say how long the tiny ball lasted because 
||  time did not exist. But the ball lay dormant like a seed 
C|  until suddenly one moment, it exploded creating space and 
O|  time, and filling the space with a strange new basic 
P|  substance, which consisted of two parts: a positive and a 
Y|  negative, a yin and a yang, perhaps the beginnings of 
R|  male and a female. 
I|       Space was filled with this substance everywhere, but 
G|  after many more years it started to clump together and 
H|  created huge balls of fire which burned hot and brilliant 
T|  for billions of years. Then some of these balls burned 
||  themselves out and exploded. And in the explosion the 
1|  first basic substance was changed into new heavier, more 
9|  complex substances, which later would be necessary for 
8|  the creation of life.
9|       Then these newer substances, themselves, clumped 
||  together and formed worlds which circled, newly created 
B|  huge ball of fires. And one of these balls was called the 
Y|  Sun. And the third world from the Sun was our own world, 
||  which we now call the Earth.
R|       Not long after the Earth had formed, life appeared 
I|  in the oceans. After two and a half billion years these 
C|  tiny creatures had changed the air of the entire world so 
H|  that it contained oxygen, the substance that we people 
A|  depend on for life.
R|       In the beginning these tiny creatures could only 
D|  multiply by dividing themselves in half, by making 
||  copies. However not long after they had changed the air, 
d|  some of the animals changed into a different kind of 
e|  life: male and female, and this sexual means of 
G|  multiplying, within a fairly short period of time, 
A|  created almost all the diversity of life forms we see 
R|  today.
I|       Now not too long ago, in the forests of Africa, a 
S|  creature emerged who would change the Earth. This tree 
||  living animal, who was equally at home on the ground, was 
D|  neither the swiftest, or the strongest, or the biggest. 
O|  But it possessed capabilities that no other animal had. 
B|       It could think ahead. It gathered special stones 
L|  from miles away to be used later when needed. And these 
E|  creatures could overcome their limitations in size and 
||  strength by being able to work together, work as one, and 
A|  in this way, for example, scare off a more powerful lion 
L|  from a zebra it had killed.
L|       In our own time we have realized that these animals 
||  were unique in other ways. Some felt that its language 
R|  and symbol making ability were the most remarkable, along 
I|  with its capacity to pass along learned information from 
G|  generation to generation.
H|       Still others found the male-female relationship the 
T|  most unusual, the most distinct from the rest of the 
S|  animal kingdom. There was less difference between the two 
||  compared to other species. The female, unique among all 
R|  animals, could have an orgasm. These animals generally 
E|  copulated face to face. And this animals devoted an 
S|  unusual amount of time choosing a mate.
E|       Some have felt that it's rapid development has been 
R|  due to this mutual selection and bonding by both the male 
V|  and female, a selection made by the animals themselves, 
E|  in addition to natural selection.
D|       The name, given to this kind, means "of the earth" 
||  or "earth born" based on the old word "humus" meaning 
||  soil, ground, earth. So these animals were called humans, 
C|  and we are they.
O|       TALBOT: (Kirk paused so I broke in.) You are telling 
P|  me, of course, the modern story of the universe. You have 
Y|  taken a few liberties, I noticed but have stuck pretty 
R|  close to our modern understanding: the story of the Big 
I|  Bang; the creation of hydrogen - the most basic element; 
G|  and the creation, in the explosion of an earlier star, of 
H|  the higher elements like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen 
T|  which are essential for life. Not to mention your thinly 
||  disguised story of man. Did you really think that you 
1|  would fool me?
9|       ELBOD: No, of course not. But that wasn't exactly 
8|  what I was trying to do. I was trying to get you to look 
9|  at it as a myth, as rich and mysterious, as any ancient 
||  myth of creation that you can dig up. Instead of feeling 
B|  alienated by this story of science, I feel mystery and 
Y|  amazement. I feel a sense of continuity and connection 
||  with the powers that be. Now I don't pretend to 
R|  understand all of it, but then I doubt that members of 
I|  prehistoric tribes understood all of their myths either, 
C|  they merely accepted them. And perhaps we, as modern 
H|  humans, should learn to do the same.
A|       TALBOT: It does sound a bit fantastic when you tell 
R|  it out of context.
D|       ELBOD: And I have to draw one obvious deduction from 
||  the story of the Big Bang which no one seems to mention, 
d|  which gives us a connection to the beginning of the 
e|  universe. The deduction is this: atoms created in the Big 
G|  Bang run through our veins.
A|       TALBOT: I agree; I had never drawn that conclusion.
R|       (At that point we had run out of candles on the 
I|  sidewalk, but for some reason we both kept walking and 
S|  talking. Kirk told me about Carl Jung who felt that man 
||  was on the Earth to complete the work of the creation of 
D|  the world. Jung wanted a mythology to be built around 
O|  that idea. Kirk talked about rites of passage. He felt 
B|  the world, as a whole, was going through such a passage, 
L|  and that we had no choice except to proceed. Yet older 
E|  symbols of rites of passage could be of use to us. And 
||  then he moved on to talking about ends and beginnings, 
A|  quoting T.S. Eliot's famous line "In my end is my 
L|  beginning."
L|       We talked for hours. I completely lost track of 
||  time. Abruptly I looked up and light was on the horizon; 
R|  dawn was upon us.)
I|       TALBOT: Kirk we have talked the entire night, and 
G|  I'm supposed to work today. 
H|       ELBOD: Sorry about that. (He said with a tinge of 
T|  one-upsmanship.)
S|       But before we go I want to tell you about the word 
||  good-bye.
R|       It always seemed to me to be a strange word, that it 
E|  had some hidden meaning. And as I say if you scratch a 
S|  modern human you may find a much older mentality. So I 
E|  looked it up in Partidge's book of world origins. It 
R|  originally meant "God Be With Ye!", which was expressed 
V|  by saying "God be wi' ye", which turned into "God bw'ye", 
E|  then "God bwye" and finally "good-bye". So we are really 
D|  wishing each other God's help when we part. As though my 
||  wishing would make a difference in your fate, but then 
||  that reflects an old belief as well.
C|       TALBOT: Well, good-bye Kirk, until next time. (I 
O|  said with a yawn.)
P|       ELBOD: No, you don't understand. There won't be a 
Y|  next time, I've told you all I have to say. We've come 
R|  full circle. There is no more.
I|       TALBOT: But Kirk...(I stammered)
G|       ELBOD: I've enjoyed it. We've spend a year talking 
H|  about the world in words. Now I plan to spend some time, 
T|  doing things which are not verbal, that I don't have to 
||  put into words. Please if you ever publish this, say 
1|  anything you want, but spell my name correctly.
9|       (Abruptly that was the end of our series of 
8|  interviews. Like the Lone Ranger that he loved to 
9|  criticize, he disappeared over the hill. I wondered if he 
||  was a loner or would ever let himself become involved or 
B|  as he said "immeshed" in the society.
Y|       I must admit I missed him at first and was a bit 
||  hurt at his abrupt departure. But then he had taught me 
R|  to expect the unexpected. Yet, I also realized that I had 
I|  changed during the year, that he had given me something 
C|  which made me more complete. 
H|       I never saw him again, although I heard conflicting 
A|  stories: that he had moved to the east, that he had moved 
R|  to the west, that he lived as a recluse, that he lived in 
D|  a big city, and that he had married, had a child, and 
||  become the pillar of a community. But this last seemed 
d|  too improbable. Even Kirk couldn't be that consistent and 
e|  live his life the way he said other's should live 
G|  theirs.) 
R|                      THE END

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