Author of the Month
The Qantas Mystery (Cont)
By John Grigsby
The ancestors would, though, be horrified at the loss of knowledge. The priests know much of physics and astronomy, the doctors of medicine and human anatomy, they know how to build simple boats and sewerage systems - but none will have heard of Freud, Michelangelo, Windows 98 (not necessarily a bad thing!), Abraham Lincoln, Buddha, the Pyramids, Beethoven. The computer and the violin await reinvention possibly a millennium, possibly ten, down the line.
What knowledge remains, divorced from its practical uses, becomes quasi-mythical, hedged about with legends and heroes. The people know it is important but they have forgotten why.
With each generation, except for the core of sacred knowledge, the old world fades from memory at an alarming rate. Soon tribal history takes on its own importance and everyday living becomes more significant than the time when the sky gods flew about the globe in metal birds and destroyed great villages with a spear of thunder and lightning. But still, a direct memory carried down from the ancestors, there exists a daunting primal fear of the fire and the flood, and the settlers are more than strict in their observance of the heavens - indeed they are obsessed with it.
Memory fades. But the sky gods knew this would happen. And so perhaps they thought of a plan so that they might not be forgotten. Was it in hope that one day mankind might remember the old world or a vain hope of a personal epitaph that prompted these people to build the monument?
In a clearing in the forest they set up a great pattern of tree trunks, deposited in rubble foundations. Using astronomical observations they set it true north. Before the batteries from their watches faded, they set the date of the equinox and marked it with a great post to the east, and they mapped out the constellation of Aquarius on the ground. And a great tree trunk is set due north, carved in the shape of a bear, with a star on its tail.
Our writings and clay inscriptions will not survive, they said. Perhaps the myths will -but this sign, so anachronous with our present level of culture, perhaps one day someone will recognise it - for only the stars remain true to their cycles forever - and will date our presence here. It is no use carving our names on rocks or trees - this, and only this, can survive - a message written in the only universal language - the mathematics of the heavens.
Maybe this was why the monument was built. Perhaps it was seen as a kind of time machine, a desperate attempt by the grandchildren of the sky people to return to the time before the catastrophe, by turning back the sky, and thus time - an attempt to recreate paradise before the fall?
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