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Dreamed 2009/7/27 by Wayan
I'm standing in a pleasant shady grove. Outside is a golden, shimmer-hot, dry-grass plain. The grove shelters a herd of giraffes--but it seems giraffes aren't what we thought. They're rather centaurian, with a delicate but quite functional pair of arms high up, near the head.
That neck is not as long as in my memory of African giraffes, though these giraffetaurs still loom over me--three to four meters tall (10-13').
Their heads are more oval, too. Oh. Those strange knobby vestigial horns are gone! Just mobile deer-ears. And huge, far-seeing eyes. Intelligent eyes. Between nibbling leaves, those mobile lips carry on conversations, and some of their slender hands hold tools.
One thing hasn't changed--their gentle, trusting nature. For good reason! They have no enemies. Even lions learn early not to pester folks with a kick like that. The giraffetaurs don't mind me a bit, just glance and smile and go on with their business.
As I wander the grove, they look stranger yet--even a bit skeletal. Eerie. They have oval holes to save weight high up, exposing bonelike struts of shining chrome--are they cyborgs? They seem to have hydraulic rods, pistons and swivels in spots. Their necks may even be telescoping, to some extent, and their jaws certainly use hydraulic pistons to get the chomping and grinding power they need for leaves and twigs, without a lot of weight. Efficient, but high-tech.
Who designed these people? Not God or Darwin--even Model 1.0 was hard enough to explain, with that tall neck's blood-pressure problems. But it's even harder to see how evolution or a fundamentalist God would insert chrome-plated pistons and hollow bones with oval cut-outs.
True, they're an elegant, light solution... but it looks alien. Just not human style somehow, and certainly not...
...natural? What does that word mean to Nature, beyond "it works"?
Gradually I realize I've overlooked another possible architect. Architects.
Did they engineer themselves?
NOTES IN THE MORNING
- Strange heads:
- Maya, an alien girl who's the star of the film Battle for Terra, which I just saw.
- Also just started DM Cornish's Lamplighter, a fantasy mashup of Oliver Twist and Gormenghast. Cornish's character sketches look quite cyborgy.
- Grove in a drought, with sentient herbivores: I also reread my own milestone dream, The Circus Humans' Desertion. It tells how to slog through spiritual slumps and dream-droughts--such as I'm going through right now. One of its spot illustrations was of a unicorn hidden in a grove. Is my intuition hiding out right now? Or turned kinda mechanical?
- X-ray views: maybe the dream warns I need to look deeper, use X-ray vision to see what's up with my dream-drought. But it may be more literal than that; I'm going in this month for my first MRI ever, for mysterious recurring flare-ups of neck and headaches. If so, the hydraulic-ness may be diagnostic, confirming that my pain's caused by fluid pressure, not muscle or joint inflammation. That's how it feels to me, but hey, I'm just the patient; doctors don't listen. We'll see.
- Evolution vs. Intelligent Design vs. custom design: I think the dream's poking fun at creationist sniping at Darwin, by recalling an older (and far more honest) debate between:
- Darwinists who thought inherited variation plus natural selection were enough to explain even miracles like the giraffe's neck with its multistage valve-system (a real example both sides used), and
- Lamarckians who thought useful traits acquired in life (like stretching to reach the highest leaves) might become inheritable somehow. Larmarck's idea, dead for decades, now looks valid again, with the discovery that life experience can switch genes on and off and even fine-tune their level of expression in offspring, greatly speeding adaptation in times of crisis. True, the mechanism making acquired traits inheritable is as futuristic as, well, hydraulic chrome pistons giving giraffe-taurs an extendable, elastic neck... but hey, whatever works!
- ACTION: draw the damn giraffe-taur-cyborgs. And go in for the MRI, I guess... and see. Oh, and stretch more. If Lamarck's right again... well, anything goes. We build ourselves.
LISTS AND LINKS:
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deer and kindred browsers -
cyborgs and robots -
science in general -
health advice in dreams -
pencil art - two ecotopias with sentient giraffetaurs:
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