The origin of modern science in the 16th and 17th centuries corresponds with the origins of modern capitalism and the industrial system. From the beginning, the worldview and methods of science have fit in perfectly with the need of the capitalist social system to dominate nature and the vast majority of human beings. Francis Bacon made it clear that science was not an attempt to understand nature as it is, but to dominate it in order to twist it to the ends of humanity — in this case meaning the current rulers of the social order. In this light, science must necessarily be subjected to social analysis by anyone claiming to call the present social reality into question.
Our schools look like prisons
and our prisons look like malls.
-Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band
It’s a bleak landscape, indeed. Like a stone thunderstorm, I think, surveying the damage from my favorite hill.
I sit in the shade of some rocks on top of a nameless mesa in Nevada, a place I share with soaring red tail hawks, a playful murder of crows, and the lazy desert tortoise, watching clouds form on the updrafts of the mountains to the west. Below me, to the east, lies what was once a lush oasis of meadows and springs in the parched Mojave Desert. It was home to friendly bands of Shoshone and Paiute Indians who had relied for at least thirteen millennia on the underground aquifer lying beneath the valley floor to create the meadows which later lead Spanish conquistadors to grace the basin with its current name: Las Vegas. The Meadows. But today there are no meadows here.
What is the light that lights the lights? What is the power which turns on our machines, which hums through our power lines? What is it which we call energy in this modern landscape, where does it come from?
Fire. Wood. The life of the tree, its energy, the sunlight which gave it strength released in flame. The tree’s life is sunlight, wood is grown by sunlight, fire is sunlight. The earth, the earth is the ashes of the wood. The seasons are the cycles of the earth, the seasons are the growth rings of the wood. The breath of the wind are its leaves, the air that gives life to the smallest mouse and the greatest buffalo. The rains are its sap reaching skyward. The flowers, fruits, and seeds are promises that life goes on, that the seasons go on, that the heavens and earth endure forever. The flame is sunlight.
They say that man invented fire, but fire was always there. Man simply unlocked the key to fire, and ever since the obsession with mastering the forces of nature has driven the conquest of the earth. This urge is considered holy, sacrosanct, and innate. It is called our intelligence, our destiny, our responsibility and our right. To control. To carry the flame.
“Lucifer” means “Light Bearer.” He tempted Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. That got us kicked out of paradise. Prometheus stole fire from the gods. He was a thief. He came bearing light to humanity, and was punished by having his liver eaten eternally by birds of prey.