Issue 18 of Kill Your Darlings is now online and available in bookstores, and includes an essay by yours truly. I’ve really got my geek on in this one! The piece’s premise is that ancient murals and myths, tool-toting chimpanzees and a science-fiction motif are all trying to tell us something (cue paranoid music score).
It was a tough one to write, I suspect because it’s more ideas based than what I’ve written previously. It touches on the fields of archaeology, history, cinema studies and geo-engineering. Thanks to Jacob and Imogen for their feedback on early drafts of this one.
Here is an extract:
My heart sped with the thrill of discovery and the delicious undergrad naiveté that whispers Maybe, just maybe I’ve made a…but I quickly came down to earth as, scurrying through the books, I realised that others had noticed the same correlation.
Connections have also been drawn even further afield, with the Mayas and their Popol Vuh. There it is written that early humans were spoken to by their maize grinders, cooking griddles, plates, pots and grinding stones, which, in revenge for the way humans had treated them, crushed their owners’ faces, ground up their flesh, landed on their heads and flattened their bodies. The correspondences across time and space suggest that this Revolt of the Objects, as it is usually called, is an ancient American myth.
I contemplated the reproduction of the Moche mural: headdresses, clubs and weapons sprouted arms and legs and chased after people, attacked them and dragged them by their hair. Chaos reigned on the walls as humans were domesticated by the tools they had created: one man grimaced in pain, another stumbled as a shield attacked him. The militaristic Moche were thrust to the bottom of the food chain by the technologies responsible for their regional dominance – their most important tools – just as the Huarochirí informants and the Maya had imagined their ancestors were.
I closed the book and leaned back in my chair. The neon lights were casting a clinical sheen across the desk and there were murmurs drifting from the stacks. Sometimes a piece of the past flies through time at just the right angle to cast new light on the present. Images from a steady diet of pop-culture rose in my mind: cool, terrifying robots, humans in farms and the planet a wasteland. It seemed that the modern, Western imagination to which I was subject wasn’t so different from this ancient American one.
Read the rest at Kill Your Darlings.