On the Church of the Sea
The Church of the Sea has its foundations on land. This can be considered an aesthetic error: so much we consider it not just in the sea but of the sea that, save for our commitment to historical fact, we would amend its history and think it truer.
A consideration of how it came to be in the sea shows this apparent mistake not so.
It wasn't a dark and stormy night: it was a dark and stormy age when what was an under-staffed and budget-starved bioresearch laboratory was overrun by the record-breaking storm that every few weeks relegated the previous one to statistical obsolescence. This should have only been an institutional and human disaster, but years of crisis --we must not forget that it wasn't only the age of the New Scientific Revolution but also that of the Fractal War-- had eroded the processes and resources that would have rendered harmless the then-experimental technology that is now such a basic part of our culture. The very first nanocomputers and genome toolkits were swept by the sea in their full primitive potency, and that vast polymorphic meta-ecosystem that now rules under the perpetual waves, the tridimensional jungle of self-evolved one-off organisms and lateral feature epidemics, comes from this moment. It wasn't the self-organized spontaneous complex emergent of religious myth, nor the completion of a secret plan of varying asserted antiquity and intention (the reader will excuse if I've confused the conspiratorial and the theological). At the intersection of accelerating science and collapsing societal capabilities catastrophe hit and the result was something new.
We see our own reflection on these strange waters, and what could have been the psychic trauma of the climate catastrophe is now something more ambivalent. Not just because of our own casual attitude to our own biology, the ease and creativity with which we reprogram ourselves and the philosophical resignation with which we accept our often lethal mistakes -- both mirrors of the endless and deadly creativity of the seas. This parallel is too trite and true to be sufficient.
We too are children not of a science we struggle to engineer geniuses bright enough to understand, nor of the political chaos that fed and fed on our liquid flesh and oracular math, nor of the planetary phase transition we triggered and suffered through, so much destroyed and so much rebuilt. We are shaped by the collision of these forces, not by their addition. We too are prototype technology swept by violence into a new space without frontiers or safety. When we walk into the sea to attain bodies unencumbered by gravity we are exploring new architectures of muscle and brain but not straying from our deeper identity, and even those who reshape themselves to follow the mechanical swarms our computers design to explore space dream with still only half-photonic brains not of electromagnetic tides and the taste of strange skies but of the vast potential spaces of all the lifeforms we have yet to become.