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Mantra For an Open Universe

(The 2005, 1000 words)

image: Tim Parish

‘Mantra for an Open Universe’ looks at the cross-pollination of religion, consumerism and technology through the eyes of a young, reincarnated Dalai Lama mixin’ it up on the decks in a cyberspatial global hook-up…

Sample: “But I do not like the Pokemon avatars, Rinpoche!”

Stark and blocky 3-D cartoon creatures stand motionless behind us. One looks like a blue dinosaur, one a smiling anthropomorphic yellow rabbit, the other some type of small chick perpetually bursting from its shell. They remind me of happy Tibetan tulpas – spirits from the higher dimensions.

“They don’t play like proper Pokemon should!” he complains, his cherubic face all screwed up. Sigh. This is not the proper way for the 15th Dalai Lama to behave, no matter HOW young he is. But he is so strong-willed and that twinkling in his eyes is the same I used to see in Tenzin Gyatso. This is what I get for letting the young master play with the SEGA Dreamcaster, but the 21st century demands a digital bodhisattva just as much as the 20th needed a bodhisattva of compassion. And this marvellous technology has brought us all here to the SECOND LIFE sacred space that is hosting Earthdance 14.0, after all. Amazing, this shared virtual environment, virally programmed to evolve in real time simulation with the global party hookups. What is it the young people say these days? Ah yes.

Breakfast @ YUMS

(Future Cities Project 2005, 2500 words)

Image: Paul Kalemba

Breakfast @ YUMS was commissioned as part of the Future Cities Project – an exercise in intelligent dreaming sponsored by the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne. Scientific opinion flirts with imaginative play to create a series startling visions and intriguing possible future worlds. Each year at our Future Cities Forum at the Melbourne Museum, leading environmental thinkers come together with writers and illustrators to play and to dream. The Sustainable Living Foundation and the project’s partners invite you to step into the future and join them in imagining an environmentally sustainable city 50 years from now.

Breakfast @ Yums explores a post-human, antediluvean world where net energy ratios are strictly monitored to ensure equilibrium. In this AI controlled permaculture world where all material goods are supplied, an elderly Tuvlan refugee seeks a meaning and sustenance that technology cannot provide…

Sample: Dawn broke over Port Phillip Bay, illuminating the permanent cloudbank that covered the horizon. The outside temperature was 40 degrees and rising. A vast, organic blanket of sensor arrays and nano-assemblers covered the surface of the waves, collecting the kinetic energy of tidal movement and channelling it back into the city grid for free electricity. A number of robot powered gondoliers were already on the waters and paddling down Harbour Esplanade, the waters mirroring the shimmering blue-white surfaces of the zaibatsu skyscrapers as they sucked in ambient carbon dioxide and breathed out oxygen. Across the Docklands, clusters of bio-organic buildings all opened their sensor dishes and drank in the day.

Permaculture One was a zaibatsu on the corner of Saint Mangos and Caravel Lanes, smack dab in the sunken 21st century waterworld that was New Quay, with it’s antediluvian archipelagos echoing back to the Age of Mass Consumption. On the twenty-fifth floor Vaka woke early as usual from her regulation eight hour sleep-coding shift and shook loose the last fading lines of data from her head. A dream about her husband, Sopoanga, may he rest beneath the waves. Gone thirty years and she still missed him every day.

They had left their sunken island home and gone to New Zealand as Tuvalu refugees before the second wave of global flooding peaked with the superstorms in the 20s. When Sopoanga was lost, she came to Australia with their children as part of the Oceania Free Trade agreements. Her two sons were all grown up and relocated across the Permaculture Zones in units of their own. They teleprescenced every day, but part of her had never taken to the new technologies, and what she really yearned for was the sea, the island beaches of her youth, not this tiny box.
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