The Future of Life: Texts

Bottleneck: A Letter to Henry
Pay Mother Her Due
How Spiders Came to Hawaii
A Bequest
Bee-Song
Grand Grand Mother is returning

Acknowledgements

Inspired by the book "The Future of Life" by Edward O. Wilson

Texts of Bottleneck: A Letter to Henry, Pay Mother Her Due, How Spiders Came to Hawaii, A Bequest
Text adapted from "The Future of Life" by Edward O. Wilson , ©2002, published by Vintage Books, and used with his kind permission.

Text of Bee-Song
"The Song" by Anne Baring, first published 1996 in "The Divine Feminine" by Anne Baring and Andrew Harvey, and used with the kind permission of Anne Baring.

Text of Grand Grand Mother is returning
"Grand Grand Mother is returning" by Judy Grahn from her book-length poem, The Queen of Wands.

 

Bottleneck: A Letter to Henry

Adapted from "The Future of Life", Prologue, xxii-xxiv

Henry, my friend, …the living world is dying; the natural economy is crumbling beneath our busy feet. We have been too self-absorbed to foresee the long-term consequences of our actions, and we will suffer a terrible loss unless we shake off our delusions and move quickly to a solution.

Science and technology led us into the bottleneck. Now science and technology must help us find our way through and out. Surely the rest of life matters. Surely our stewardship is its only hope.

The race is on between the forces that destroy the living environment and the forces that might save it. We are inside a bottleneck of overpopulation and wasteful consumption.

There are encouraging signs. Population growth is slowing, so there may be only 8 to 10 billion people by century's end. It should be possible for all those people to have a decent standard of living and to shelter most of the world's plants and animals too.

You searched for essence at Walden and you hit upon an ethic with a solid feel to it: nature is ours to explore forever; it is our crucible and our refuge; it is our nature home; it is all these things. Save it, you said: in wildness is the preservation of the world.

Science and technology led us into the bottleneck. Now science and technology must help us find our way through and out. Surely the rest of life matters. Surely our stewardship is its only hope.

Pay Mother Her Due

Adapted from "The Future of Life"
Chapter 5 How Much Is the Bioshere Worth? p.105-106;
Chapter 7 The Solution, p.182-183

Homo sapiens,
Industrious, bipedal apes with opposable thumbs,
we've won Darwin's lottery.
But we chip away at the other miracles around us.

Habitats shrink;
species decline;
put them on the Red List;
forget to notice when they disappear.

Can we measure what is being lost?
Can we protect what is being lost?

Pay now or pay later
Protect a sample of all Earth's ecosystems: the bill…pay it now, only 28 billion

Pay now or pay later
Manage the protected tropical wilderness: the bill…pay it now, only 4 billion

Pay now or pay later
Protect the Earth's hotspots of diversity: the bill…pay it now, only 24 billion

Pay now or pay later
Not now, wait, pay it later:
Recreate, manufacture, reinvent what Mother Nature used to provide: the bill…
Wait, not now! Wait, not now; pay it later, it's trillions, 33 trillion

Pay Mother her due!

How Spiders Came to Hawaii

Adapted from of "The Future of Life," Chapter 3 Nature's Last Stand, p.46

Stand tall on a leaf or twig
Spin silken strands out into a passing breeze
Let the threads grow and grow, longer, longer
Until you feel a tug
Let go
  And sail upward
Ride the wind to anywhere

A Bequest

From of "The Future of Life," Chapter 3 Nature's Last Stand, p.77

We bequeath to you the synthetic jungles of Hawaii and a scrubland where once thrived the prodigious Amazon forest, along with a few remnants of wild places we chose not to lay waste. Your challenge is to create new kinds of plants and animals by genetic engineering and somehow fit them together into free-living ecosystems. We understand this feat may prove impossible. We are certain that for many of you even the thought of doing so will be repugnant. We wish you luck. And if you go ahead and succeed in the attempt, we regret that what you manufacture can never be as satisfying as the original creation. Accept our apologies, and accept this audiovisual library. It illustrates the wondrous world that used to be.

Bee-Song

"The Song" by Anne Baring, from "Her Words", p.29

Beehive source
Trellised womb
Mother of all beginnings

Hold me
Gather me
Feed me
With the honey-nectar
From the hive.

Nourished
I will sing
The Bee-song
The long-forgotten threnody
Of praise to thee.

Grand Grand Mother is returning

By Judy Grahn, from "Her Words" p.9

The egg is always being made
and making,
always getting laid
and laying;
thread is being spun
and spinning,
truth is being found
and finding,
getting all unwound
and winding,
being all unsnarled
and snarling,
and the Grand Grand
Mother is returning

that's all I know

Don't suppose it will be
as it is remembered
in time past

time present is a different
unpredicted picture

time future happens
only in the mind

Worlds are always ending
and beginning,
tales are getting learned
and learning,
birds are always taking off
and landing;
the sky is ever being turned
around, and turning;
the tree is ever being stood upon
and standing;
and the flame is getting burned
and burning

Grand Mother is returning
don't expect
the past, expect
whatever happens,
men are moving, more
than ever women are
just wakening;
Grand Grand Mother
is returning

that's all I know