Witnessing a Miracle

The COVID-19 pandemic is a miracle.

I mean this in the biblical sense. Biblical miracles are horrific, bringing death and destruction. The Ten Plagues of Exodus were miracles, or at least “wonders.” The miracles of Revelation are even worse.

A miracle isn’t a fluffybunny event. It is an act of God.

The COVID pandemic is a power greater than ourselves. We can’t stop it; we understand very little about it. It brings us to our knees.

I am in awe of it. I have watched humanity killing the planet my whole life, with obvious warnings of dire consequences. But this Spring’s COVID shutdowns were the first time I saw humanity do anything about it. It was short-lived, but amazing: flights grounded, industry slowed, pollution abated enough to reveal long-hidden mountains for the first time in years.

All of that ended after only a few months. Nothing to see here, folks; go back to paying attention to MONEY. And so contrails again fill the skies, mountains retreat back into smoggy shrouds, and the gears of commerce grind away.

Biblical miracles are famously unheeded, which is why it took all Ten Plagues for Pharaoh to relent. God makes clear commandments; humans don’t follow them. This is the whole story of the Old Testament. Even after occupying the Promised Land, the Hebrews can’t get their shit together, and Jerusalem falls over and over again. The New Testament is no better, especially the ending.

The COVID-19 virus makes its demands pretty clear: Avoid crowds. Stop industrial slaughterhouses and factory farming. Don’t go to (non-essential) work. Spend time with your children; actually raise them. Stay home from school. Stay home, but go outside; look at the sky, feel the sun, breathe the fresh air. Attend to Reality over money. Don’t go to bars, don’t party, don’t crowd into spectacles like sportsball. Calm the fuck down. Take a goddamn break from your hyper-consumer lifestyle.

We still need food and shelter and medicine, the sustenance and maintenance of our lives, and the virus doesn’t seem to have anything against these. The virus clarifies what is essential and non-essential. It turns out much of human activity isn’t essential. We already knew that; the virus urges us to stop denying it.

The pandemic makes another biblical suggestion: a Jubilee cancellation of debt. We can’t stop the gears of commerce, we argue, because we’re all in debt – if we don’t earn money, we will die! Our society won’t forgive debts, but what if we simply froze them, until a vaccine or cure is found? A year (or however long it takes) out of commercial time. Don’t end, but suspend the non-essential economy. All debts, for everyone, everywhere, frozen*. A global time-out. That would be a miracle.

I don’t believe in the biblical god. But I do believe in Nature, and natural consequences. The coronavirus is just one of many disastrous and inevitable natural consequences of human activity. Animal agriculture and overpopulation and global industrialization will do this; it’s a wonder it’s taken so long. It’s also a wonder how gentle the virus is, all things considered. It could have been more like ebola, with a much higher death rate. Plagues of the past have been far deadlier. The Black Death killed 50% of some European regions. We are getting off lightly here.

My response to this miracle is awe. Others respond with denial, or panic, or exploitation. So it has been written; so it ever was, and ever will be. I have long felt like I’m living in a dystopian novel, but right now I also feel like I’m living in a biblical prophecy. What a wonder, to witness these times!

*What about money to run the essential services? Our economic system accumulates vast reservoirs of money in billionaires. If these reservoirs can’t be used, then what exactly is this system for?

Share

Paroles, Paroles (Words, Words)

Paroles Paroles from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Directed, animated, designed, etc. by Nina Paley
Hebrew consultant: Aharon Varady
Subtitles to come once I figure out how to make them Subtitles on everything except the repeating end verses, because I manually typed my first ever SRT file at 5am

Song: Paroles, Paroles
Score: Gianni Ferrio
Lyrics: Leo Chiosso and Giancarlo Del Re
Vocals: Dalida (Goddess) & Alain Delon (God)
circa 1973

(song abridged by Nina Paley)

English translation:

Male/God: IT’S STRANGE
I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE FOR ME TONIGHT
I LOOK AT YOU AS I DID THE FIRST TIME

Female/Goddess: MORE WORDS, ALWAYS WORDS
THE SAME WORDS

M: I DON’T KNOW HOW ELSE TO TELL YOU

F: JUST  WORDS

M: BUT YOU ARE THAT BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY
THAT I WILL NEVER STOP READING.

F: EASY WORDS, FRAGILE WORDS
AREN’T THEY PRETTY

M: YOU ARE THE ONE OF TODAY AND THE ONE OF TOMORROW

F: TOO PRETTY

M: YOU ARE ALWAYS MY ONLY TRUTH.

F: BUT THE TIME FOR DREAMING IS UP
MEMORIES ALSO FADE
WHEN WE FORGET THEM

M: YOU ARE THE WIND THAT MAKES VIOLINS SING
AND YOU CARRY THE PERFUME OF ROSES

F: TOFFEES, SWEETS AND CHOCOLATES

M: SOMETIMES, I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU.

F: THANKS, NOT FOR ME
GIVE THEM TO SOMEONE ELSE
WHO LIKES THE WIND AND THE ROSES’ PERFUME
TENDER, SUGAR-COATED WORDS
TASTE SWEET ON THE LIPS, BUT NEVER IN MY HEART

M: ANOTHER WORD.

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: LISTEN TO ME!

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: PLEASE.

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: I SWEAR TO YOU.

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS
MORE WORDS THAT YOU SOW IN THE WIND

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: LISTEN TO ME.

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: PLEASE.

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: I SWEAR TO YOU.

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS
MORE WORDS THAT YOU SOW IN THE WIND

M: YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

M: YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL

F: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS
MORE WORDS THAT YOU SOW IN THE WIND

________
Original French lyrics (translated from Italian by Michaële, abridged by Nina Paley):

C’est étrange,
Je ne sais pas ce qui m’arrive ce soir,
Je te regarde comme pour la première fois.
Encore des mots toujours des mots
Les mêmes mots
Je ne sais plus comme te dire,
Rien que des mots
Mais tu es cette belle histoire d’amour…
Que je ne cesserai jamais de lire.
Des mots faciles des mots fragiles
C’était trop beau
Tu es d’hier et de demain
Bien trop beau
De toujours ma seule vérité.
Mais c’est fini le temps des rêves
Les souvenirs se fanent aussi
Quand on les oublie
Tu es comme le vent qui fait chanter les violons
Et emporte au loin le parfum des roses.
Caramels, bonbons et chocolats
Par moments, je ne te comprends pas.
Merci, pas pour moi
Mais tu peux bien les offrir à une autre
Qui aime le vent et le parfum des roses
Moi, les mots tendres enrobés de douceur
Se posent sur ma bouche mais jamais sur mon coeur
Une parole encore.
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Écoute-moi.
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Je t’en prie.
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Je te jure.
Paroles, paroles, paroles, paroles, paroles
Encore des paroles que tu sèmes au vent

Paroles, paroles, paroles
Écoute-moi.
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Je t’en prie.
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Je te jure.
Paroles, paroles, paroles, paroles, paroles
Encore des paroles que tu sèmes au vent
Que tu es belle!
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Que tu est belle!
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Que tu est belle!
Paroles, paroles, paroles
Que tu est belle!
Paroles, paroles, paroles, paroles, paroles
Encore des paroles que tu sèmes au vent

Share

Gaia’s Reproductive Phase

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17

The Gaia Hypothesis posits the Earth’s biosphere is a single living organism. Living organisms by definition reproduce. How would a planet’s biosphere reproduce?

By sending reproductive cells of some sort to other planets.

Much (possibly most) of the Earth’s biosphere consists of bacteria. In fact most animals, including humans, consist largely of bacteria. Animals are mobile housing units for bacteria.

Humans are a peculiar animal. We’re creating our own extinction event. We seem hellbent on exploiting and destroying “nature,” yet we are part of nature, produced by nature. Why would the biosphere produce homo sapiens?

An extremely popular belief of our time is that humans will colonize other planets. Many humans consider this a more worthy goal than preserving biodiversity on Earth. Humans are willing to trash this planet in order to reach others.

It is vanishingly unlikely humans will survive on other planets. But it is likely we will reach other planets. We will not colonize other planets with humans, but with bacteria.

Humans are Gaia’s way of sending bacteria to other planets, thereby reproducing.

Humans will reach other planets, fueled by human dreams of human colonization. Humans will then die on other planets, leaving convenient meatbags for Earth’s bacteria to feed on, giving them a nourishing head start in a new world. Just as seeds and eggs contain mostly nutrition for zygotes, space humans are mostly nutrition for bacteria. Over billions of years, these pioneering bacteria will evolve, growing a new biosphere of diverse life forms. A new, living planet – another Gaia – is born.

Human exploitation of natural resources culminates in leaving the Earth. Travel to other planets is the pinnacle of human technology. The Holocene Extinction is the price Gaia pays for Her reproductive phase.

Reproduction requires a huge investment of an organism’s energy and resources. Many organisms die upon reproducing. I personally think that even if an Anthropocene environmental catastrophe wipes out “higher” life on Earth, bacteria will persist. Bacteria thrived before oxygen was a major component of Earth’s atmosphere, and will probably thrive after. But whether Gaia is semelparous or iteroparous, to be alive, She must reproduce.    

Share

Hathor the Golden Calf

HathorWalk36

I took some liberties in this design. “Why all the boobies?” you may ask. Once upon a time, boobies were an object of respect, not shame and ridicule. My goddesses have big, bare breasts to represent that mindset. Not that I think boobies should be worshipped; I’m not into biological fertility, and I’m not a “breast (wo)man”. Having breasts myself, I can say they’re kind of a pain in the ass (nor am I an “ass (wo)man”). But there’s so much shame around female breasts these days, I make ’em big and plentiful on deities to remind myself, and hopefully you, that the shame, discomfort, and anger they provoke is about patriarchy, not women’s bodies.

Here’s Hathor as a golden idol:

HathorGold36

My favorite interpretation of Exodus 32 posits the Golden Calf was Hathor, a very popular Egyptian cow goddess. I’m running with that in my film. Fun!

Share