by Paul Dean
April 21, 2003
Last but not least, was the furnace, on the right beside the stairs in the basement. In the furnace, all remnants of history and culture were consumed. Where there had once been a rich abundance of direct connection to the past, after the furnace, there was only uniform gray ash, devoid of any distinguishing feature. Observations by previous generations of subtle aspects of nature, of wildlife habits, and of the continuity of human customs were erased there, leaving nothing but the minds of the living to envision the past and to try to make sense of the present.
A small number of sorely misguided souls welcomed and applauded the flames, after they had enthusiastically constructed, fed and fired the furnace. But their minds were burdened by an erroneous and ultimately fatal assumption. They believed that severing ties to the past would break the chains that bound humanity. In their arrogance and ignorance of both history and culture, they believed their own values, customs and beliefs to be superior to all others. They sought to create a clean slate, a new beginning, a fertile world, ready for the sowing of their own virtuous seed, which they assumed would flourish and spread in abundance. Primarily the sons and daughters of the wealthiest, in the wealthiest country on earth, they considered their own superiority self evident and derided as a fool anyone to whom this fact was not apparent. Impatient with the vast and (to them) undifferentiated mass of humanity, they decided that the main impediment to their inalienable right to absolute rule was the attachment of all the faceless and inconsequential funny foreign people to their incomprehensible, strange, and ultimately evil, cultures. To counter this perceived threat, they conceived of and created the furnace.
But feeding the furnace was an active process. No vortex existed which drew material into it. In fact, the peoples of the world, for innumerable reasons, exerted a great amount of energy to keep alive the memories, relics and artifacts of their cultures. Even the peoples that saw the past not as a blueprint for the future, but as a stage in an evolutionary process saw great value in preserving connection to it. For this reason, the creation of the furnace brought about a tremendous reaction against its very existence.
The peoples of the world in overwhelming numbers viewed the furnace not as an opportunity for a clean slate, but as the doorway into a nightmare world in which all context and meaning has been obliterated. Because the faceless, undifferentiated masses envisioned by the arrogant were, in reality, neither faceless nor undifferentiated, and would never consent voluntarily to become so.
So it quickly became apparent to the true believers, the misguided Prophets of Profit, that the new beginning would never manifest without a concerted effort on the part of the self-proclaimed visionaries to bring it into being. It would require a monumental effort, a tremendous investment, and great violence.
But by far the most abundant resources that were invested in the effort to create the perfect state were egotism, conceit, narrow minded ideology, racism and bigotry. More accurately, at the outset, each of these devastating and debilitating afflictions were mistaken by delusional minds to be assets instead of being recognized as the terminal liabilities that they were. Predictably, great chaos ensued.
Fear, nationalism, and a campaign of misinformation were used to exhort the average citizen to bring ever more fresh material to stoke the furnace. And with massive networks for the dissemination of propaganda, massive financial resources, and boundless enthusiasm for the project on the part of its sponsors, the project at first appeared to be meeting with some success. Whole countries, albeit small and debilitated ones, were dismantled and fed to the furnace. As each new victim fell, and was turned into fine gray ash, many amongst the populace cheered and saw the flames of the furnace as heralding liberation for the oppressed and an end to evil.
But this phase did not last long. Soon, even those that had cheered as the fires burned began to ask why nothing beautiful and vital seemed to be growing where the ashes had been spread. Instead of the flowering of new growth that they had been told they were helping to bring about, they saw only devastation. Where impoverished peoples had once toiled under harsh conditions in an effort to survive, now, with all connection to the past severed by fire and chunks of steel, grew only an insidious hatred for the furnace and for those who had created and stoked it.