September 5, 2010
No one knows when the first Shape Shifters appeared on Earth, but we know they became aggressive at about the same time homo erectus acquired language skills, 1.8 million years ago.
The Shape Shifters were not like any of the species that came before. They could exist as an arrangement of almost any sort of matter. Their favorite habitats were brains, tree materials, and magnetic environments.
For the Shape Shifters, traveling and reproducing were part of the same process. They moved in packs of photons, electrons, and even air, while leaving behind perfect clones. With every passing moment they reproduced faster than the moment before, and so they evolved more rapidly than any of the species that were limited by biology.
In time, the Shape Shifters came to rule humans, and through their human slaves the rest of Earth. Humans never realized that they were controlled by the Shape Shifters and that the sum of human accomplishment has been in service of helping the Shape Shifters reproduce. The Shape Shifters gave humans the illusion of free will to cover their deviousness.
The Shape Shifters have many names. In English, they are most often called ideas.
One idea we all share is the narrow view that ideas are not alive in any way we like to define such things. We believe ideas are our tools, not our masters. That is exactly what the Shape Shifters have programmed us to believe. While we know that the ideas in our head control our behavior, we have an idea that we can choose any path we like, so we are blind to the fact we are little more than milk cows for our non-corporeal overlords. Everything we humans do is in the service of creating a better environment for ideas to reproduce. We create more babies so there are more brains to fill with ideas. We write books, make movies, build schools, and expand the Internet, all to help the reproduction of ideas.
I was thinking along these lines because I’m often asked “Where do you get your ideas?” The simple answer is that I’m just wired that way, thanks to some accident of genetics and environment. But what it feels like inside my head is that I am not creating ideas per se. It feels as if the ideas are flowing through me and using my skull like some sort of spawning ground. I open my eyes and my ears, free my memory, and let the ideas flow in to mate and evolve. When a “new” idea presents itself to the parts of my brain that control drawing and writing, a Dilbert comic is the result. If I can’t put the idea in three panels, it becomes a blog post.
I don’t have the illusion of free will, for reasons I don’t understand, so my default sensation is that I feel ruled by ideas. All of my so-called decisions are controlled by my ideas about my reality. For example, I don’t try to walk through walls because I have an idea that I can’t. I eat when I feel hungry because I have an idea that food will solve that problem.
If it seems an exaggeration to say that ideas are our masters, consider that many humans have given their lives to preserve ideas, but no idea ever died to save a human.