We interrupt your normal, daily eXistenZ for a prescheduled Utopian nightmare.
Power of the Gods.
Say the words, and let them roll of your tongue.
Power of the Gods.
Or, to sum in a single word: quantum. The stuff that controls the universe, so the many scientists of the world would tell us, and it’s responsible for the countless feats that homo sapiens novus are capable of. It’s not too hard to believe once you see someone call down the absolute fury of hail and hurricanes, or shatter mountains using only fists and feet. Think about what it must be like for the non-erupted to have to accept the reality that beings like that share the same planet as them.
Science is a very tricky language, indeed. Quantum is after all, only a term spoken of in classrooms and textbooks, a label given to something somewhat unquantifiable. It’s an abstract: you can’t look at something and say, “Yes, that’s quantum.” The slang for this energy, or whatever it might be, are many, though I most frequently hear it called juice. Other languages might define it as “magic.” That’s one of the necessary happenstances of language: once you assign meaning to something, it becomes hard to think outside that meaning and to realize that it’s only a term used to refer to the idea of that something, and not the something itself.
Quantum, for example, is defined by science as a combination of four varying sources of energy: strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism, and gravity. The combination of these four sources allow Novas to do almost anything conceivable, though there are definitely limits, especially self-imposed ones. That’s the ironic matter here. At one time, the ability to do anything, to make the universe obey your desires, was called magic.
Stick with me, folks, the semantics lesson is nearly over.
At one point, even, the ability to do anything was called divinity.
Not in such terms, of course, but those who could do things outside the range of normal people were considered divine or touched by the divine. In some cultures, this is what a god was.
Baseline concepts of what exactly a god/goddess is or was have varied throughout history and culture. Currently, the dominant religions of the world envision a single creator being, a Yahweh or an Allah type, whose power is omnipotent and omniscient. While other definitions apply, this manner of ever-present deity is what most think of when the word “god” is mention. Much of this is going to follow the idea of an afterlife, of course. We hold so dear to our existences that the idea of them ending in oblivion is unbearable, thus there must be something all-powerful directing the universe. This also ascribes some fashion of meaning to life, I suppose. This is important because it draws upon the idea that gods have the power to create life and/or worlds.
Other definitions of god include the Greek, Egyptian, and Norse models. Loki, Thor, Odin…Apollo, Athena, Aphrodite…Isis, Osiris, and Sutekh. Beings that while powerful, were not considered as infallible as the Christian or Islamic creator-figures, and further more, they had individual personalities instead of being some unfathomable entity.
The dichotomies between these two perceptions is striking, and this isn’t taking into account any of the Celtic, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Aborigine, Native American, Aztec, Incan, or African deities, or the scores that I’ve failed to mention in that list alone. It’s interesting, especially when considering that the advent of advanced technology has all but eliminated the idea that the smaller, fallible gods could have existed, and belief in a higher power has as a result all but become dependant upon the creator-style beings: Yahweh, Allah, and we can also include Buddha in the same category.
Alright then. Sorry about the lesson, there. All of that nice build-up leads me to this next section.
Imagine the time before technology. Imagine there are no such things as Novas. One day, along comes an individual, a man whose very body seems to be cut from stone. His glance can command armies without saying so much as a word. The knives and spears of your tribesman cannot so much as scratch him. He orders that you and your people will pay him tribute routinely, or else you will earn his ire. As a demonstration of his power, he gestures with hands, and the nearby volcano erupts to fiery glory.
Hmm…how about this one?
Imagine the time before technology. Imagine there are no such things as Novas. One day, your village is consumed by a volcanic eruption. No one survives, except you. And you didn’t do so unchanged. In fact, your body has somehow become as solid as obsidian, your voice the sound of a thousand rocks taking flight, and the lava your willing servant. You wander for a while until you come to a new village. Taken back by your appearance, they believe you a demon and attack you. Their weapons of metal and wood have no effect on you except to make you angry. You speak, and your voice cowers the crowd. You demand they desist or you will show them what you are really capable of. You give them a tiny demonstration just to enforce your words. They offer you food. They offer you young women. They praise your name and promise obedience.
They proclaim you, in their language, a god.
If you had been born several centuries later, you’d have been called a Nova. Let’s pretend you were time-warped to the present, though. Instead of offering you food and women, they’d tell you that you’re no different from them, and insisted you live alongside them, instead of above them. Of course, instead of simple weapons of copper and oak, they have these loud mechanical beasts that spit stone-shattering projectiles that actually hurt you. Those little pieces of paper they seem to hold so valuable suddenly look quite attractive. After all, they get you food. They get you women. It’s basically the same thing, after all. They are still giving you tribute, it’s just you have to be cautious about threatening them now.
The question of what might have happened to these “god-novas” during the rise of Christianity in the west and current day is still a valid one. Perhaps they left, seeking their destiny among the stars. Perhaps they are still here, living openly now as Novas after countless years of living incognito. Perhaps they are dormant, waiting for their time to rise. Perhaps they died off, leaving no offspring to take their place in a world that was rapidly becoming hostile.
I know I’m not saying anything new here. Everyone who’s sat through a college mythology class has had to endure a thousand such conversations. I’m talking about this because the difference between a god in the times of ancient Thrace and a Nova in contemporary times is simply one of social definition, and most importantly, the presence of modern technology.
While to most of the First World and many of the Second World nations, the thought of considering Novas as gods is practically grounds for a one-way trip to the funny farm. But, as everyone who surfs the OpNet knows, it happens. The “India Syndrome,” as Project Utopia refers to it, is most common in regions of the world where technology’s presence isn’t felt as strongly. Or, interestingly, where the presence of Islam and Christianity aren’t as dominant. The two tend to go hand in hand, which is why the idea that Novas are the messengers of Yahweh or Allah aren’t as common as India Syndrome tends to be. (Yes, I’ve read the stuff on the OpNet too, so all of you out there who believe that Novas are the messengers of the previously mentioned creator-figures, please don’t send me any of your literature. I read it before writing this column.)
There’s no reason to assume what was once called divinity isn’t currently called quantum. We say it isn’t because a thousand years of social conditioning have relegated the gods of old into nothing more than fable and fabrication, and science the words that bind the universe into a realm of biological equality. When a Nova proclaims himself a god, he is accused of having a “god-complex” when in actuality perhaps a century before, in 1898, Caestus Pax might have been the second coming of Christ, if not Yahweh himself walking the planet.
It’s little wonder that primitive cultures, or ones that remember the old gods and keep them dear, have no problem considering a Nova as such a being. In the absence of technology, any Nova on the planet would be a god or goddess. Geisha or Alejandra could quite easily have been Aphrodite or Astarte. Jager or Pursuer could have been Mars or Thor. Splash and Fury could have been any number of deities. Prodigy could have been Hephasteus. Corbin, if he so chose, could have been Loki. Antaeus is so obviously the Green Man out of pagan lore. Apep might have been…Apep. Mal might have even been Zeus.
It’s also of interest how quickly both Islamic nations and Christian nations embraced Novas as one of their own, or denounced them as creatures of the Adversary. There is no middle ground, no room for the possibility that Novas could be something once defined as divine. To do anything else is to threaten the stability those religions base themselves upon: there is a single creator, a single god-being, and anything else is blasphemous.
Some very vocal members in the Teragen essentially have declared themselves gods, though most of those Novas are not exactly sterling representations of the trans-human community. Sometimes, though, you have to wonder if there is any truth to that declaration.
Just because the most commonly accepted definition of a “god” today is Buddha, Allah, Yahweh, or the pagan Goddess, doesn’t mean that word wasn’t first given to something a little more tangible.
Life as normal may resume. Forget everything you read here. Back to your regularly scheduled eXistenZ.
Previous Entry Back to Table of Contents Next Entry