The Invisible Pyramid, by Loren Eiseley


Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:42 pm



The human heart is local and finite, it has roots, and if the intellect radiates from it, according to its strength, to greater and greater distances, the reports, if they are to be gathered up at all, must be gathered at the center.


Every man in his youth -- and who is to say when youth is ended? -- meets for the last time a magician, the man who made him what he is finally to be. In the mass, man now confronts a similar magician in the shape of his own collective brain, that unique and spreading force which in its manipulations will precipitate the last miracle, or, like the sorcerer's apprentice, wreak the last disaster. The possible nature of the last disaster the world of today has made all too evident: man has become a spreading blight which threatens to efface the green world that created him.

It is of the last miracle, however, that I would write. To do so I have to describe my closing encounter with the personal magician of my youth, the man who set his final seal upon my character. To tell the tale is symbolically to establish the nature of the human predicament: how nature is to be reentered; how man, the relatively unthinking and proud creator of the second world -- the world of culture -- may revivify and restore the first world which cherished and brought him into being.

I was fifty years old when my youth ended, and it was, of all unlikely places, within that great unwieldy structure built to last forever and then hastily to be torn down -- the Pennsylvania Station in New York. I had come in through a side doorway and was slowly descending a great staircase in a slanting shaft of afternoon sunlight. Distantly I became aware of a man loitering at the bottom of the steps, as though awaiting me there. As I descended he swung about and began climbing toward me.

At the instant I saw his upturned face my feet faltered and I almost fell. I was walking to meet a man ten years dead and buried, a man who had been my teacher and confidant. He had not only spread before me as a student the wild background of the forgotten past but had brought alive for me the spruce-forest primitives of today. With him I had absorbed their superstitions, handled their sacred objects, accepted their prophetic dreams. He had been a man of unusual mental powers and formidable personality. In all my experience no dead man but he could have so wrenched time as to walk through its cleft of darkness unharmed into the light of day.

The massive brows and forehead looked up at me as if to demand an accounting of that elapsed decade during which I had held his post and discharged his duties. Unwilling step by step I descended rigidly before the baleful eyes. We met, and as my dry mouth strove to utter his name, I was aware that he was passing me as a stranger, that his gaze was directed beyond me, and that he was hastening elsewhere. The blind eye turned sidewise was not, in truth, fixed upon me; I beheld the image but not the reality of a long dead man. Phantom or genetic twin, he passed on, and the crowds of New York closed inscrutably about him.

I groped for the marble railing and braced my continued descent. Around me travelers moved like shadows. I was a similar shadow, made so by the figure I had passed. But what was my affliction? That dead man and myself had been friends, not enemies. What terror save the terror of the living toward the dead could so powerfully have enveloped me?

On the slow train running homeward the answer came. I had been away for ten years from the forest. I had had no messages from its depths, such as that dead savant had hoarded even in his disordered office where box turtles wandered over the littered floor. I had been immersed in the postwar administrative life of a growing university. But all the time some accusing spirit, the familiar of the last wood-truck magician, had lingered in my brain. Finally exteriorized, he had stridden up the stair to confront me in the autumn light. Whether he had been imposed in some fashion upon a convenient facsimile or was a genuine illusion was of little importance compared to the message he had brought. I had starved and betrayed myself. It was this that had brought the terror. For the first time in years I left my office in mid-afternoon and sought the sleeping silence of a nearby cemetery. I was as pale and drained as the Indian pipe plants without chlorophyll that rise after rains on the forest floor. It was time for a change. I wrote a letter and studied timetables. I was returning to the land that bore me.

Collective man is now about to enter upon a similar though more difficult adventure. At the climactic moment of his journey into space he has met himself at the doorway of the stars. And the looming shadow before him has pointed backward into the entangled gloom of a forest from which it has been his purpose to escape. Man has crossed, in his history, two worlds. He must now enter another and forgotten one, but with the knowledge gained on the pathway to the moon. He must learn that, whatever his powers as a magician, he lies under the spell of a greater and a green enchantment which, try as he will, he can never avoid, however far he travels. The spell has been laid on him since the beginning of time -- the spell of the natural world from which he sprang.


Long ago Plato told the story of the cave and the chained prisoners whose knowledge consisted only of what they could learn from flickering shadows on the wall before them. Then he revealed their astonishment upon being allowed to see the full source of the light. He concluded that the mind's eye may be bewildered in two ways, either from advancing suddenly into the light of higher things or descending once more from the light into the shadows. Perhaps more than Plato realized in the spinning of his myth, man has truly emerged from a cave of shadows, or from comparable leaf-shadowed dells. He has read his way into the future by firelight and by moonlight, for, in man's early history, night was the time for thinking, and for the observation of the stars. The stars traveled, men noted, and therefore they were given hunters' names. All things moved and circled. It was the way of the hunters' world and of the seasons.

In spite of much learned discourse upon the ways of our animal kin, and of how purely instinctive cries slowly gave way to variable and muddled meanings in the head of proto-man, I like to think that the crossing into man's second realm of received wisdom was truly a magical experience.

I once journeyed for several days along a solitary stretch of coast. By the end of that time, from the oddly fractured shells on the beach, little distorted faces began to peer up at me with meaning. I had held no converse with a living thing for many hours. As a result I was beginning, in the silence, to read again, to read like an illiterate. The reading had nothing to do with sound. The faces in the cracked shells were somehow assuming a human significance.

Once again, in the night, as I traversed a vast plain on foot, the clouds that coursed above me in the moonlight began to build into archaic, voiceless pictures. That they could do so in such a manner makes me sure that the reading of such pictures has long preceded what men of today call language. The reading of so endless an alphabet of forms is already beyond the threshold of the animal; man could somehow see a face in a shell or a pointing finger in a cloud. He had both magnified and contracted his person in a way verging on the uncanny. There existed in the growing cortex of man, in its endless ramifications and prolonged growth, a place where, paradoxically, time both flowed and lingered, where mental pictures multiplied and transposed themselves. One is tempted to believe, whether or not it is literally true, that the moment of first speech arrived in a star burst like a supernova. To be sure, the necessary auditory discrimination and memory tracts were a biological preliminary, but the "invention" of language -- and I put this carefully, having respect for both the biological and cultural elements involved -- may have come, at the last, with rapidity.

Certainly the fossil record of man is an increasingly strange one. Millions of years were apparently spent on the African and Asiatic grasslands, with little or no increase in brain size, even though simple tools were in use. Then quite suddenly in the million years or so of Ice Age time the brain cells multiply fantastically. One prominent linguist would place the emergence of true language at no more than forty thousand years ago. I myself would accord it a much longer history, but all scholars would have to recognize biological preparation for its emergence. What the fossil record, and perhaps even the studies of living primates, will never reveal is how much can be attributed to slow incremental speech growth associated directly with the expanding brain, and how much to the final cultural innovation spreading rapidly to other biologically prepared groups.

Language, wherever it first appeared, is the cradle of the human universe, a universe displaced from the natural in the common environmental sense of the word. In this second world of culture, forms arise in the brain and can be transmitted in speech as words are found for them. Objects and men are no longer completely within the world we call natural -- they are subject to the transpositions which the brain can evoke or project. The past can be remembered and caused to haunt the present. Gods may murmur in the trees, or ideas of cosmic proportions can twine a web of sustaining mathematics around the cosmos.

In the attempt to understand his universe, man has to give away a part of himself which can never be regained -- the certainty of the animal that what it senses is actually there in the shape the eye beholds. By contrast, man finds himself in Plato's cave of illusion. He has acquired an interest in the whole of the natural world at the expense of being ejected from it and returning, all too frequently, as an angry despoiler.

A distinction, however, should be made here. In his first symbol making, primitive man -- and indeed even the last simple hunting cultures of today -- projected a friendly image upon animals: animals talked among themselves and thought rationally like men; they had souls. Men might even have been fathered by totemic animals. Man was still existing in close interdependence with his first world, though already he had developed a philosophy, a kind of oracular "reading" of its nature. Nevertheless he was still inside that world; he had not turned it into an instrument or a mere source of materials.

Christian man in the West strove to escape this lingering illusion that the primitives had projected upon nature. Intent upon the destiny of his own soul, and increasingly urban, man drew back from too great intimacy with the natural, its fertility and its orgiastic attractions. If the new religion was to survive, Pan had to be driven from his hillside or rendered powerless by incorporating him into Christianity -- to be baptized, in other words, and allowed to fade slowly from the memory of the folk. As always in such intellectual upheavals, something was gained and something lost.

What was gained intellectually was a monotheistic reign of law by a single deity so that man no longer saw distinct and powerful spirits in every tree or running brook. His animal confreres slunk like pariahs soulless from his presence. They no longer spoke, their influence upon man was broken; the way was unconsciously being prepared for the rise of modern science. That science, by reason of its detachment, would first of all view nature as might a curious stranger. Finally it would, while giving powers to man, turn upon him also the same gaze that had driven the animal forever into the forest. Man, too, would be subject to what he had evoked; he, too, in a new fashion, would be relegated soulless to the wood with all his lurking irrationalities exposed. He would know in a new and more relentless fashion his relationship to the rest of life. Yet as the growing crust of his exploitive technology thickened, the more man thought that he could withdraw from or recast nature, that by drastic retreat he could dispel his deepening sickness.

Like that of one unfortunate scientist I know -- a remorseless experimenter -- man's whole face had grown distorted. One eye, one bulging eye, the technological, scientific eye, was willing to count man as well as nature's creatures in terms of megadeaths. Its objectivity had become so great as to endanger its master, who was mining his own brains as ruthlessly as a seam of coal. At last Ortega y Gasset was to remark despairingly, "There is no human nature, there is only history." That history, drawn from man's own brain and subject to his power to transpose reality, now looms before us as future on all the confines of the world.

Linguists have a word for the power of language: displacement. It is the way by which man came to survive in nature. It is also the method by which he created and entered his second world, the realm that now encloses him. In addition, it is the primary instrument by which he developed the means to leave the planet earth. It is a very mysterious achievement whose source is none other than the ghostly symbols moving along the ramifying pathways of the human cortex, the gray enfolded matter of the brain. Displacement, in simple terms, is the ability to talk about what is absent, to make use of the imaginary in order to control reality. Man alone is able to manipulate time into past and future, transpose objects or abstract ideas in a similar fashion, and make a kind of reality which is not present, or which exists only as potential in the real world.

From this gift comes his social structure and traditions and even the tools with which he modifies his surroundings. They exist in the dark confines of the cranium before the instructed hand creates the reality. In addition, and as a corollary of displacement, language is characterized by the ability to receive constant increments and modifications. Words drop into or out of use, or change their meanings. The constant easy ingestion of the new, in spite of the stability of grammatical structure, is one of the prime characteristics of language. It is a structured instrument which at the same time reveals an amazing flexibility. This flexibility allows us a distant glimpse of the endlessly streaming shadows that make up the living brain.


There is another aspect of man's mental life which demands the utmost attention, even though it is manifest in different degrees in different times and places and among different individuals; this is the desire for transcendence -- a peculiarly human trait. Philosophers and students of comparative religion have sometimes remarked that we need to seek for the origins of the human interest in the cosmos, "a cosmic sense" unique to man. However this sense may have evolved, it has made men of the greatest imaginative power conscious of human inadequacy and weakness. There may thus emerge the desire for "rebirth" expressed in many religions. Stimulated by his own uncompleted nature, man seeks a greater role, restructured beyond nature like so much in his aspiring mind. Thus we find the Zen Buddhist, in the words of the scholar Suzuki, intent upon creating "a realm of Emptiness or Void where no conceptualism prevails" and where "rootless trees grow." The Buddhist, in a true paradox, would empty the mind in order that the mind may adequately receive or experience the world. No other creature than man would question his way of thought or feel the need of sweeping the mind's cloudy mirror in order to unveil its insight.

Man's life, in other words, is felt to be unreal and sterile. Perhaps a creature of so much ingenuity and deep memory is almost bound to grow alienated from his world, his fellows, and the objects around him. He suffers from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy upon earth except as it is to be found in the enlightenment of the spirit -- some ability to have a perceptive rather than an exploitive relationship with his fellow creatures.

After man had exercised his talents in the building of the first neolithic cities and empires, a period mostly marked by architectural and military triumphs, an intellectual transformation descended upon the known world, a time of questioning. This era is fundamental to an understanding of man, and has engaged the attention of such modern scholars as Karl Jaspers and Lewis Mumford. The period culminates in the first millennium before Christ. Here in the great centers of civilization, whether Chinese, Indian, Judaic, or Greek, man had begun to abandon inherited gods and purely tribal loyalties in favor of an inner world in which the pursuit of earthly power was ignored. The destiny of the human soul became of more significance than the looting of a province. Though these dreams are expressed in different ways by such divergent men as Christ, Buddha, Lao-tse, and Confucius, they share many things in common, not the least of which is respect for the dignity of the common man.

The period of the creators of transcendent values -- the axial thinkers, as they are called -- created the world of universal thought that is our most precious human heritage. One can see it emerging in the mind of Christ as chronicled by Saint John. Here the personalized tribal deity of earlier Judaic thought becomes transformed into a world deity. Christ, the Good Shepherd, says: "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.... My sheep hear my voice ... and they follow me."

These words spoken by the carpenter from Nazareth are those of a world changer. They passed boundaries, whispered in the ears of galley slaves: "One fold, one shepherd. Follow me." These are no longer the wrathful words of a jealous city ravager, a local potentate god. They mark instead, in the high cultures, the rise of a new human image, a rejection of purely material goals, a turning toward some inner light. As these ideas diffused, they were, of course, subject to the wear of time and superstition, but the human ethic of the individual prophets and thinkers has outlasted empires.

Such men speak to us across the ages. In their various approaches to life they encouraged the common man toward charity and humility. They did not come with weapons; instead they bespoke man's purpose to subdue his animal nature and in so doing to create a radiantly new and noble being. These were the dreams of the first millennium B.C. Tormented man, arising, falling, still pursues those dreams today.

Earlier I mentioned Plato's path into the light that blinds the man who has lived in darkness. Out of just such darkness arose the first humanizing influence. It was genuinely the time of the good shepherds. No one can clearly determine why these prophets had such profound effects within the time at their disposal. Nor can we solve the mystery of how they came into existence across the Euro-Asiatic land mass in diverse cultures at roughly the same time. As Jaspers observes, he who can solve this mystery will know something common to all mankind.

In this difficult era we are still living in the inspirational light of a tremendous historical event, one that opened up the human soul. But if the neophytes were blinded by the light, so, perhaps, the prophets were in turn confused by the human darkness they encountered. The scientific age replaced them. The common man, after brief days of enlightenment, turned once again to escape, propelled outward first by the world voyagers, and then by the atom breakers. We have called up vast powers which loom menacingly over us. They await our bidding, and we turn to outer space as though the solitary answer to the unspoken query must be flight, such flight as ancient man engaged in across ice ages and vanished game trails -- the flight from nowhere.

The good shepherds meantime have all faded into the darkness of history. One of them, however, left a cryptic message: "My doctrine is not mine but his that sent me." Even in the time of unbelieving this carries a warning. For He that sent may still be couched in the body of man awaiting the end of the story.


When I was a small boy I once lived near a brackish stream that wandered over the interminable salt flats south of our town. Between occasional floods the area became a giant sunflower forest, taller than the head of a man. Child gangs roved this wilderness, and guerrilla combats with sunflower spears sometimes took place when boys from the other side of the marsh ambushed the hidden trails. Now and then, when a raiding party sought a new path, one could see from high ground the sunflower heads shaking and closing over the passage of the life below. In some such manner nature's green barriers must have trembled and subsided in silence behind the footsteps of the first man-apes who stumbled out of the vine-strewn morass of centuries into the full sunlight of human consciousness.

The sunflower forest of personal and racial childhood is relived in every human generation. One reaches the high ground, and all is quiet in the shaken reeds. The nodding golden flowers spring up indifferently behind us, and the way backward is lost when finally we turn to look. There is something unutterably secretive involved in man's intrusion into his second world, into the mutable domain of thought. Perhaps he questions still his right to be there.

Some act unknown, some propitiation of unseen forces, is demanded of him. For this purpose he has raised pyramids and temples, but all in vain. A greater sacrifice is demanded, the act of a truly great magician, the man capable of transforming himself. For what, increasingly, is required of man is that he pursue the paradox of return. So desperate has been the human emergence from fen and thicket, so great has seemed the virtue of a single magical act carried beyond nature, that man hesitates, as long ago I had similarly shuddered to confront a phantom on a stair.

Written deep in the human subconscious is a simple terror of what has come with us from the forest and sometimes haunts our dreams. Man does not wish to retrace his steps down to the margin of the reeds and peer within, lest by some magic he be permanently recaptured. Instead, men prefer to hide in cities of their own devising. I know a New Yorker who, when she visits the country, complains that the crickets keep her awake. I knew another who had to be awakened screaming from a nightmare of whose nature he would never speak. As for me, a long-time student of the past, I, too, have had my visitants.

The dreams are true. By no slight effort have we made our way through the marshes. Something unseen has come along with each of us. The reeds sway shut, but not as definitively as we would wish. It is the price one pays for bringing almost the same body through two worlds. The animal's needs are very old; it must sometimes be coaxed into staying in its new discordant realm. As a consequence all religions have realized that the soul must not be allowed to linger yearning at the edge of the sunflower forest.

The curious sorcery of sound symbols and written hieroglyphs in man's new brain had to be made to lure him farther and farther from the swaying reeds. Temples would better contain his thought and fix his dreams upon the stars in the night sky. A creature who has once passed from visible nature into the ghostly insubstantial world evolved and projected from his own mind will never cease to pursue thereafter the worlds beyond this world. Nevertheless the paradox remains: man's crossing into the realm of space has forced him equally to turn and contemplate with renewed intensity the world of the sunflower forest -- the ancient world of the body that he is doomed to inhabit, the body that completes his cosmic prison.

Not long ago I chanced to fly over a forested section of country which, in my youth, was still an unfrequented wilderness. Across it now suburbia was spreading. Below, like the fungus upon a fruit, I could see the radiating lines of transport gouged through the naked earth. From far up in the wandering air one could see the lines stretching over the horizon. They led to cities clothed in an unmoving haze of smog. From my remote, abstract position in the clouds I could gaze upon all below and watch the incipient illness as it spread with all its slimy tendrils through the watershed.

Farther out, I knew, on the astronauts' track, the earth would hang in silver light and the seas hold their ancient blue. Man would be invisible; the creeping white rootlets of his urban growth would be equally unseen. The blue, cloud-covered planet would appear still as when the first men stole warily along a trail in the forest. Upon one thing, however, the scientists of the space age have informed us. Earth is an inexpressibly unique possession. In the entire solar system it alone possesses water and oxygen sufficient to nourish higher life. It alone contains the seeds of mind. Mercury bakes in an inferno of heat beside the sun; something strange has twisted the destiny of Venus; Mars is a chill desert; Pluto is a cold wisp of reflected light over three billion miles away on the edge of the black void. Only on earth does life's green engine fuel the oxygen-devouring brain.

For centuries we have dreamed of intelligent beings throughout this solar system. We have been wrong; the earth we have taken for granted and treated so casually -- the sunflower-shaded forest of man's infancy -- is an incredibly precious planetary jewel. We are all of us -- man, beast, and growing plant -- aboard a space ship of limited dimensions whose journey began so long ago that we have abandoned one set of gods and are now in the process of substituting another in the shape of science.

The axial religions had sought to persuade man to transcend his own nature; they had pictured to him limitless perspectives of self-mastery. By contrast, science in our time has opened to man the prospect of limitless power over exterior nature. Its technicians sometimes seem, in fact, to have proffered us the power of the void as though flight were the most important value on earth.

"We have got to spend everything we have, if necessary, to get off this planet," one such representative of the aerospace industry remarked to me recently.

"Why?" I asked, not averse to flight, but a little bewildered by his seeming desperation.

"Because," he insisted, his face turning red as though from some deep inner personal struggle, "because" -- then he flung at me what I suspect he thought my kind of science would take seriously -- "because of the ice -- the ice is coming back, that's why."

Finally, as though to make everything official, one of the space agency administrators was quoted in Newsweek shortly after the astronauts had returned from the moon: "Should man," this officer said, "fall back from his destiny ... the confines of this planet will destroy him."

It was a strange way to consider our planet, I thought, closing the magazine and brooding over this sudden distaste for life at home. Why was there this hidden anger, this inner flight syndrome, these threats for those who remained on earth? Some powerful, not totally scientific impulse seemed tugging at the heart of man. Was it fear of his own mounting numbers, the creeping of the fungus threads? But where, then, did these men intend to flee? The solar system stretched bleak and cold and crater-strewn before my mind. The nearest, probably planetless star was four light-years and several human generations away. I held up the magazine once more. Here and here alone, photographed so beautifully from space, was the blue jewel compounded of water and of living green. Yet upon the page the words repeated themselves: "This planet will destroy him."

No, I thought, this planet nourished man. It took four million years to find our way through the sunflower forest, and after that only a few millennia to reach the moon. It is not fair to say this planet will destroy us. Space flight is a brave venture, but upon the soaring rockets are projected all the fears and evasions of man. He has fled across two worlds, from the windy corridors of wild savannahs to the sunlit world of the mind, and still he flees. Earth will not destroy him. It is he who threatens to destroy the earth. In sober terms we are forced to reflect that by enormous expenditure and effort we have ventured a small way out into the planetary system of a minor star, but an even smaller way into the distances, no less real, that separate man from man.

Creatures who evolve as man has done sometimes bear the scar tissue of their evolutionary travels in their bodies. The human cortex, the center of high thought, has come to dominate, but not completely to suppress, the more ancient portions of the animal brain. Perhaps it was from this last wound that my engineer friend was unconsciously fleeing. We know that within our heads there still exists an irrational restive ghost that can whisper disastrous messages into the ear of reason.

During the axial period, as we have noted, several great religions arose in Asia. For the first time in human history man's philosophical thinking seems to have concerned itself with universal values, with man's relation to man across the barriers of empire or tribal society. A new ethic, not even now perfected, struggled to emerge from the human mind. To these religions of self-sacrifice and disdain of worldly power men were drawn in enormous numbers. Though undergoing confused erosion in our time, they still constitute the primary allegiance of many millions of the world's population.

Today man's mounting numbers and his technological power to pollute his environment reveal a single demanding necessity: the necessity for him consciously to reenter and preserve, for his own safety, the old first world from which he originally emerged. His second world, drawn from his own brain, has brought him far, but it cannot take him out of nature, nor can he live by escaping into his second world alone. He must now incorporate from the wisdom of the axial thinkers an ethic not alone directed toward his fellows, but extended to the living world around him. He must make, by way of his cultural world, an actual conscious reentry into the sunflower forest he had thought merely to exploit or abandon. He must do this in order to survive. If he succeeds he will, perhaps, have created a third world which combines elements of the original two and which should bring closer the responsibilities and nobleness of character envisioned by the axial thinkers who may be acclaimed as the creators, if not of man, then of his soul. They expressed, in a prescientific era, man's hunger to transcend his own image, a hunger not entirely submerged even beneath the formidable weaponry and technological triumphs of the present.

The story of the great saviors, whether Chinese, Indian, Greek, or Judaic, is the story of man in the process of enlightening himself, not simply by tools, but through the slow inward growth of the mind that made and may yet master them through knowledge of itself. "The poet, like the lightning rod," Emerson once stated, "must reach from a point nearer the sky than all surrounding objects down to the earth, and into the dark wet soil, or neither is of use." Today that effort is demanded not only of the poet. In the age of space it is demanded of all of us. Without it there can be no survival of mankind, for man himself must be his last magician. He must seek his own way home.

The task is admittedly gigantic, but even Halley's flaming star has rounded on its track, a pinpoint of light in the uttermost void. Man, like the comet, is both bound and free. Throughout the human generations the star has always turned homeward. Nor do man's inner journeys differ from those of that far-flung elliptic. Now, as in earlier necromantic centuries, the meteors that afflicted ignorant travelers rush overhead. In the ancient years, when humankind wandered through briars and along windy precipices, it was thought well, when encountering comets or fired rakes, "to pronounce the name of God with a clear voice."

This act was performed once more by many millions when the wounded Apollo 13 swerved homeward, her desperate crew intent, if nothing else availed, upon leaving their ashes on the winds of earth. A love for earth, almost forgotten in man's roving mind, had momentarily reasserted its mastery, a love for the green meadows we have so long taken for granted and desecrated to our cost. Man was born and took shape among earth's leafy shadows. The most poignant thing the astronauts had revealed in their extremity was the nostalgic call still faintly ringing on the winds from the sunflower forest.
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Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:43 pm



abbeys, English destruction
of, 101
Absaroka range, 120
acrasin, 54
Africa, contrasted with South
America, 43
agricultural civilization, rise
of, 65, 66
alienation, between the
generations, 89, 109, 132
Akhenaton, 101
Alpha Centauri, 128, 153
Apollo 11, 26
Apollo 12, cost of, 89
Apollo 13, homeward voyage
of, 156
Athens, 11
atom, primordial, 34-36
Australia, laboratory of
evolution, 42 , 44
a marsupial world, 42
Australian aborigines, cultural
conservatism of, 60-61
axial religions, 145-149,152,155


Bacon, Francis, 94
herald of scientific method,
learning as way of
enlightened life, 69
vision of future created by
science, 68
bats, 55, 56
Bear, constellation of, 130
Beau, 38-40
Benedict, Ruth, 104
Bernard, Claude, 47, 49
Big Bone Lick, 12
biological novelty, recognition
of, 14-17
blackout, New York City, 82
Blake, William, 119-120, 124
evades specialization, 19-2 I
increase in size during Ice
Age time, 142
role of in generating
improbabilities, 20
Bruno, Giordano, 86
Buddha, saying of, 81
Buddhism, 77


Campbell, Joseph, 110
Carthage, 101
causality, 107
Christ, Jesus, 147
Christian calendar, attempt to
eliminate, 101
Christianity, 132
civilization, energy in, 132
possibility of others in the
cosmos, 78, 79
resemblance to human
personality, 104
Clark, Captain William, 12
Clarke, Arthur, 55
Cocteau, Jean, 119, 128
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor,
61, 62
collective man, encounters
himself, 139, 140
Confucius, 147
Conklin, H. C., 58
continental divide, 13
contingency, multiplication
of, 106
Copernicus, Nicolaus, 40
cortex, human, 141, 145, 154
cosmos, extent of, 32-38
Cree Indians, 57
cultural acceleration, 22
culture, a second world
projected in the human
mind, 142, 144, 145, 150,
151, 154, 155
cyborgs, 79-82, 125
cyprinodont fish, 119-120


damnatio memoriae, 100-101,
109, 111
Darwin, Charles, 14, 18, 23,78
Decline of the West, The, 84
dispersion, value of, 81
displacement, linguistic, 144
Donne, John, 49


earth, as unique in solar
system, 152.
eclipse, solar, of 1970, 70
electron microscope, 88
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 124,
126, 155
energy, modern man's
consumption of, 63, 64
erosion, geological, 13
ethics, extended to the world
of nature, 155
exosomatic, 80, 82
in South America and in
Australia, 42-44
irreversibility of, 44
wounds of, 154
extinction, human, 79
eye, bifocal adjustment of,


Faust, 85, 134
Faustian culture, Spenglerian
conception of, 84, 85
Forbes, R. J., 56, 58
Fremont, John Charles, 13
Freud, Sigmund, 97


Galaxies, outer, 35
Galilei, Galileo, 40
Garrett, Garer, 76
geological time, perception of,
13, 14
Glanvill, Joseph, 62, 63, 69
Gold, Thomas, theory of, 26-27
good shepherds, time of the,
148, 149
Gothic cathedrals, 84, 85
Greeks, 132
green revolution, 106
Gregory, William King, 42


Halley's comet, 7, 27, 32-33,
67, 71, 133, 155-156
orbit of, 8
Hanunoo (Philippine tribe),
history, erasure of, 100, 101;
see also damnatio
Homo faber, 56
Homo sapiens, 64
as parasite, 54-55, 62
Hutton, James, 13, 14


Ice Age, terminal fauna of, 66
invention, meaning of, 86
inventions, of power and of
understanding, 86-88, 91,


Jackson, Hughlings, 21
Jaspers, Karl, 147, 148
Jepsen, Glenn, 22
John, Saint, 147
Jupiter, 79


Kalahari Bushmen, 70, 71
Kazantzakis, Nikos, 31
Kroeber, A. L., 21


development of, 142
limitations of, 31, 32
nature of, 20
speculation on emergence
of, 142
Lao-tse, 147
Lascaux, cave art of, 102
Levi-Strauss, Claude, 59
Lewis, Meriwether, 12
linguistic displacement, 144,
Lovell, Sir Bernard, 35
Lovering, Thomas, 65
Lucretius, 33, 34
Lyell, Sir Charles, 14


magnetic needle, 86
mammoth, belief in survival
of, 12
alienation from nature,
as a bridge, 10, 11
destiny of, 94
disrespect for nature, 70
forerunners of, 81
fossil record of, 142
as interplanetary spore
bearer, 54
as planetary virus, 61, 64
possibility of dispersal
through galaxies, 78, 80,
retreat from nature, 144
world eater, 53-55
Maritain, Jacques, 121
Marlowe, Christopher,
Mars, 79, 133
Maya Indians, mathematical
achievements of, 130, 131,
Mead, Margaret, 113
Melville, Herman, 54
Mercury, 152
Mesozoic era, 42
Milky Way, galaxy of the, 35
monotheism, 143
Montagnais-Naskapi Indians,
moon landings, 90, 133
mucoroides, 54
Mumford, Lewis, 63, 71, 147


extravagance of, 81
hold on man, 139, 140, 156
primitive man's view of, 143
primitive and modern views
of, 59-61
Nazareth, 147
Nixon, President Richard M.,
Norman invasion, 7
North America, migration
from, 43
North Star, 86


Olmec civilization, 91, 93
Origin of Species, On the, 16
Ortega y Gasset, Jose, 107,


Palomar Mountain
Observatory, 88
Pan, 143
Peacock, Thomas Love, 123,
Phillips, Henry, on attempts
to foretell the future, 108
Pilobolus, 75-77, 80
Pindar, 11
Piranesi, Giambattista, 107
Placentalia, 42
planetary impoverishment,
danger of, 64-65
Plato, 55, 140, 143, 148
Platte river, 13
extinction in, 25
fauna, mystery of its
disappearance, 25-28
Pluto, 62, 152
poets, double vision of, 124
pollution, of the human
environment, 69
Primates, of New World
contrasted with Old, 43
primitive man:
attitude toward nature, 143
limitations, 58, 62, 63
prison, cosmic, nature of,
progress, misconception of,
on African and Asiatic
grasslands, 142
relative antiquity of in
comparison with Homo
sapiens, 23
pyramid, invisible, 87, 93,
pyramids, Egyptian, 87, 129


Radin, Paul, 115
relativity theory, in relation
to space travel, 78
rocket ship, 78
Roman empire, 77, 132
Rutherford, Sir Ernest, 78


Santayana, George, 41
Saturn, 79
as a social institution, 90
creation of problems by, 92
world view of, 144
scientific method, invention
of, 86
scientists, role of in modern
business civilization, 104
Shakespeare, William, 134
slime molds, 53-54, 70
smog, 151
societies, characteristics of
future-oriented, 89
solar boats, Egyptian, 40-41
solar flares, 26, 27, 87
solar system, habitability of, 79
South America, Darwin's
visit to, 14
Southern Cross, 86
space probes, cost of, 89
space travel:
motivations of, 89, 90
and relativity, 78
specialization, biological
effects of, 16, 17
Speck, Frank G., 58
spectroscope, significance of,
Spengler, Oswald, 84
Stuart, Don, 125- 127
sunflower forest, 149-151, 153,
155, 156
superorganic, rise of, 18-21
Surveyor 3, cost of, 89
Suzuki, D. T, 146
systems analysis, 92-93


technological change, rapidity
of, 93
technology, cost of, 88-90
temperature, importance of
stability in mammals, 47,
Thompson, Eric, 133
Thoreau, Henry David, 103
cyclical and Christian, 107
novel aspects of, 14-16
varieties of among
primitives, 111-114
time effacers, 100-101, 109.
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 13
Traherne, Thomas, 47
Tutankhamen, 102


United States, consumption
of world resources, 64
universe, age of, 35


Vaughan, Henry, 46
Venus, 79, 152
vertebrates, 44
vestigial organs, 18


war, nature of modern, 69
Whewell, William, 67
writing, significance of, 63,
Wyoming, 120


youth revolt, current, 101
Yucatan, 131


Zen Buddhism, 146
zero, independent invention of
by Maya, 86
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