|It exists; but in-the-world? Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911|
When I was a young man, south of the Equator, my veranda was on the edge of the high savannah, and I would watch these little olive birds the size of my finger hopping and creeping through the mopani and bauhinia trees. Willow warblers. Three of them flew all the way from sub-equatorial Africa to Huddersfield last week, and were creeping and darting about the alders the other side of the millpond across from the retreat where we Brothers watch by night. These three little birds had arrived just in time for the blizzard. When spring does come, and the last snow with its border of blue lace of ice under the May sky shrinks to spikey green, we’ll see their little corpses there, rich olivaceous down a muddy pulp. What is evolved cannot tell the future.
That is selection, sethren, no more and no less. With willow warblers, each death is the end of a line which is absolutely unbroken from the first life three and a half billion years ago. That’s a long time for phut! Out for ever. As if it were the commonest thing in the world. When the old people say, “Where have the manners gone, all this swearing, some self-entitled fuck in a Range Rover parked in the disabled spot at Sainsbury’s?” that’s the answer. Gone with those willow warblers.
The upside is that those willow warblers which might have had a tendency to migrate early won’t get layed and they won’t get hatched. The downside, given increasing climate instability, is that the ones that were selected by the meteorological environment this year, because their parents migrated late, will tend to arrive late next year, just in time for the mid-April second winter after the March heatwave.
Evoculture is very good at foresight, as long as it doesn’t involve something cataclysmic, like climate instability. In Evoculture, weather forecasts have evolved.
Oh, I know, sethren, you may say, weather forecasting is not an insentiently evolved thing, it is an act of human thought, an act of cognition. It is not. What do you or I understand of weather and the climate, sethren? Absolutely fuck all. It is something on the telly, predominantly blue on the BBC, with lines with red triangles on them and circles with numbers and cartoon rain. Beyond those is an uncountable multitude of demons, a huge host that have been in and out of a billion brains on the way, from Yahweh the storm god fighting the monster of the deep and long before that, to the pin-point accuracy of in fifteen minutes the temperature on the Huddersfield ringroad will be 0o and the wind due east at 16 mph, cloud cover with patchy sun. The present science of weather forecasting is so complex, composed of so many demons and alliances of alliances to several orders of magnitude of demons, that one could spend a lifetime anatomising it and the job not half done. That is why, just for the sake of practical economy, we need a map, a taxonomy, a hierarchy. And that will come, sethren.
But for now we need to tie up the loose ends of demons. What makes demons difficult is that you can’t pin them down. They are, in the final analysis, locations of energy, and the signature of this energy varies according to where it exists at any given instant. And just because it moves, that is to say exists in a new place, that doesn’t mean it ceases to exist in the previous place. It can move on, a thousand times a second, leaving itself behind a thousand times. Nipple. Sethren here before my eyes, with traffic, a Metro bus, one of those cement mixer lorry things, moving behind you, think of the path of that demon to your own neural substrate; to the part of the continuum of the universe which is your brain, your ideoverse; to the locus of the stable cycle of energy that is the irreducible difference between nipple and large hadron collider, or between nipple and wheel. The demon must have had some existence everywhere along that long and complex journey, otherwise it could not have arrived. And it also remained in my head, where it started. And suppose you asked yourself, “What did he say. Did he really say Nipple, and quite loudly given the conformation of a young lady who was just getting off the 316 from Holmfirth at the time?” and you turned to your neighbour and mouthed, but did not voice, “Nipple?” Think of the further journey of the demon. By way of the electromagnetic spectrum and your neighbour’s eyes. And think in that journey of all the places the demon has been, and all the places it still remains.
Highly distributed, that’s what demons are. And not just in the way I’ve just said, but also around and about what’s in the world. Demons that ally with things could not exist without the things themselves. An actual needle is a locus of the demon needle. And what, I hear you cry, not distracted for an instant by the hunger rattling in your bellies, of the square root of minus one? That does not exist anywhere out in the world.
But of course it does. √-1. There it is. And not just there either, but in a million books, on screens, in Wikipedia, on whiteboards in schools and colleges all over the world. Angels likewise.
So what’s a demon? A demon is something that must be able to exist, multiply and distributed, in the world and in the human neural substrate. In the neural substrate, it is a stable cycle of energy in the part of the continuum of the universe which is the human brain. It is the irreducible difference between something and anything else. And in the world it must at any point have some physical existence; as energy, like nipple travelling between your lips and your neighbour’s eyes; or as a thing, like a bag or a knife or a brick.
Okay, a bit rough and ready, but it’ll have to do. Tomorrow, the rest of the taxonomy. But still it snows. To ward of hypothermia alone, we need transfatty gloop to burn. We need MadamMiMi’sMagicMeatyBits. I shall lead the charge.