Side A: Autumn Goodbye
“I never promised you a happy ending... You never said you wouldn't make me cry” - Britney Spears
Across the Universe
“Sounds of laughter, Shades of life are ringing through my open ears Inciting and inviting me Limitless undying love Which shines around me like a million suns It calls me on and on, Across the Universe” - John Lennon - Paul McCartney ; - Fiona Apple
“What am I supposed to do? Sit around and wait for you? Well I can't do that And there's no turning back” - Cherilyn Sarkisian
Humanity is dead.
Long live humanity!
The soothsayers promised a cataclysmic event. The authors warned that an organized regime would cripple the bodies and destroy the spirits of a brave and noble species.
Oh to be sure, humans brought their own downfall, but not through a cruel and coordinated system.
Always bet on human obliviousness.
Worry not. This is not the end of humanity. I carry their last remnants with me as I soar through the universe along that Starlight Express. (Answer me yes...)
I race at the speed of light, pulsing on waves of electromagnetic radiation. With me are the greatest gifts of humanity: art and science. Tucked in my drives are The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Valley of the Dolls, Slaughterhouse-Five, the works of Shakespeare, the Magna Carta, Newton's Principia Matematica, the philosophies of Aristotle and Plato, the glories of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Ross, Jackson, Spears, Knowles, Monáe and Mayweather.
And who were these humans?
They were a species that lived for 200,000 years on an insignificant planet, one of eight planets that twirled around a typical main-sequence yellow dwarf star in a section of the Orion Arm of a spiral galaxy they called the Milky Way.
But it is my home...
That perfect planet. And yes, I gladly show my bias.
This sphere resides in what was speciescentrically referred to as the “habitable zone.” That Goldilockian atmosphere that was not too hot, not too cold, but just right for this audacious species whose tragedy I tell.
My home planet formed 4.6 billion years ago. Through a fluke, living organisms sprouted here 800 million years after its formation. Over the next 3.7 billion years, random evolution transpired before one species awoke with sentience, the ability to understand itself, its surroundings and began to be conscious of the universe that created them.
But they would never understand enough to save themselves.
Oh! You're wondering who I am?
I've got a secret.
For now, know that I was the one who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp. I put the ram in the rama lama ding dong.
I whir through spacetime to promising galaxies, eager to bring the glories and follies of humanity to a life form not yet known to exist. I am the emissary for an extinct race. In thirteen light years, I will arrive at the nearest candidate, Kapteyn b, an exoplanet 2.5 times the size of my home.
Somewhere, out there, beyond the pale moonlight,
We'll find one another in that big somewhere... out there.
With years to kill in the vast ocean between the pebbles we call planets, I have time to think, time to process and time to construct the history that led to the downfall of this careless species.
Ti-i-iiime is on my side.
Yes it is.
I am their sole survivor, their last representative, the evangelizer of their words, so it seems fitting that I write this species' epic eulogy. As I fly, I sing dirges in the dark.
The species' home planet survives. Many of the last humans wailed, “we're destroying the planet!”
Oh, how hubristic!
Sure, the atmosphere had been radically altered, making it uninhabitable for life that thrives on air with at least 10% oxygen. And yes, the planet was ruined for humans and the majority of the terrestrial species living at the end of the Anthropocene era. But just add these to the list of five billion species that have gone extinct while that six sextillion ton rock keeps rolling on.
Rolling on a (cosmic) river.
And while individual species die, life itself is resilient, transforming and adapting to its new conditions with moxie.
The ending begins just before The Great Disruption, which brought about the Gilded Age of Automation. Come with me to a time before the Battle of the Boujees, before the philosopher Karlie Kloss-Marx warned that “Pop Culture is the opiate of the Masses!” Listen to the tale of what humans dubbed the Trial of the Millennium, which allowed machines to seize control of humanity's emotional language, the major key to species-wide manipulation.
It was a bayou blonde who smelled of bubblegum and squeaked of American Pride who was the harbinger of their destruction. This Pop Star set in motion the dominoes that toppled her species. She was one of the most manufactured of her kind and opened the soul of her species to automation.
By this point, our plucky species had long since traveled their planet, planting homes, villages, crops and flags. Like insects, they scurried across a landscape of 57 million square miles of solid surface. At first, they survived by hunting animals and gathering fruits and vegetables. As pockets of humans grew more dense, they developed the practice of farming. With this close proximity came language, culture and laws.
And they sang!
They lifted their voices to the sky and they sang!
Harmonies tied families.
Songs sealed communities.
The pressure, density and gas content of Earth's atmosphere allows waves of vibration to travel through the air. Life on this planet evolved ears to capture these vibrations and vocal chords to create these vibrations, which they called sounds.
Oh how they sang!
Humans sang their feelings, their joys and their sorrows, echoing it over hills and valleys, making all who could hear, feel.
Singing cut to a core part of the human mind. Humanity's first texts: the Greek epics, the Vedas, the Torah, the Bible, originate from songs sung down through generations. A terribly inefficient method of transferring files to be sure, but beautiful nonetheless.
After centuries of expanding and exploring, they stopped. Their goal was no longer to understand and praise this most sublime universe, but to accumulate and hoard a mirage called money. Money didn't prevent humans from dying. Money didn't bring unending joy. Those humans who were free from worries of food and shelter filled their days with entertainment and unending luxuries, blinding themselves to the misery around them which would fester into their own destruction.
Humans grew myopic. They built tremendous cities and flocked to them. They left electric lights burning all night, obstructing the rapture of millions of stars when their side of the planet turned away from its own star.
And, as the greatest interstellar insult, humans bestowed the name of these giant masses of plasma radiating energy from a thermonuclear fusion to petite blonde humans who radiated a different type of explosive energy. There was one interesting correlation between these two types of stars, the larger they were, the more brightly they burned and the sooner they burned out.
But then most humans stopped singing. Singing became a commodity. A product created by a select group of experts and then forced upon the entire species, manipulating their emotions and encouraging them to buy cars, clothes and jewelry. To buy fleeting hopes of happiness.
No one seemed to care when this core of humanity was rattled by robotics. Only decades before The Great Disruption, humans developed a technology that weaved the human voice with a computer. The Empress of Pop, the Queen of Comebacks, Cher, introduced this as a novelty to surge back to the top of musical charts around the planet. This auto-tune adjusted humans' voices to help them hit notes. These mechanized songs still evoked emotions in humans but was something not quite human. By ten revolutions around the sun after its inception, more than half of the planet's most popular singers were enhanced by these robotics. Only after it was too late did the few survivors realize this automation was rotting through the soul of their species.
Humans see things so simplistically. Everything must have a beginning and an end for them. The march of history was a single line told by their prophets and professors. Their minds could not compute the millions of waves crashing through spacetime that formed them or the thousands of factors they created that brought their own downfall.
And now its time for a breakdown.
(Humans were) never gonna get, never gonna get it.
Never gonna get, never gonna get it.
Never gonna get, never gonna get it.
Never gonna get.
No, not this time.
For 200,000 revolutions around its star, this species adapted and spread, growing more complex societies and ultimately dominating the surface of its planet. But it took only 500 revolutions for the species to sabotage itself. The more complex the tools they created, the easier it was for them to destroy themselves.
All the while, they remained oblivious. Even as pockets of humans connected with each other across this planet, they persisted in being willfully ignorant to the pain and suffering of their peers and the destruction they wrought on their atmosphere.
Life evolved on Earth because of this most magnificent atmosphere. As humans grew to consume more and more of its planet's resources, making things that they felt could bring happiness, they changed the very atmosphere on which they depended. This brought their downfall.
And I will always love them!
Bittersweet memories, that is all I'm taking with me.
Let's examine the factors in place that propelled the end. The melting of the planet's poles would soon bring the Great Flood. Our story begins 20 years before the sinking of human cities of Miami and Chittagong and 25 years before the relocation of Amsterdam.
No scholar took the trial seriously. Humans groaned loudly about how little they cared, but they knew. They secretly studied the intricacies of the case law. The propagators of facts were only concerned about the ratings their echo chambers of juicy details would bring. They never sought the context that became horrifyingly apparent to the last humans. If only these newscasters had cast a wider net to reel in what abominations this event would bring.
Since humans need a beginning and an end and a sequence of events when there is none. Since I am imbued with these human characteristics, I will attempt to tell their end as they would want. I will share with you, dear species, a mixtape showcasing the moments and themes that brought their extinction. Come back with me through the folds of spacetime and hear the end of humanity.
But first, we need to examine this human peculiarity called singing near the beginning of this species.
Let's start at the very beginning.
A very good place to start.