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Essays

What Is Real?

8/9/2011 jeffa

Ever since man was no more than a glob of snot floating in a primordial ocean of ooze, he has pondered the nature of reality.

Perhaps this inquiry came later in his evolutionary journey.

He may have even been a glob of snot with legs by the time he began questioning the universe around him, but snot he was and snot he would remain for billions of years.

One clarification to avoid labels of sexism; the current English male pronoun is used to describe our primordial progenitor for the simple sake of convenience. In fact our gelatinous little ancestor had no gender. Like many fans of science fiction he would have no sex at all for much of his existence.

So there floated our wee ancestral phlegm pondering existence.

He wondered if there might be a world above the water.

He wondered what IS real? Is this watery world in which I find myself floating real and if so, am I keeping it real?

But more than anything else, he pondered what a little protoplasmic ball of goo has to do to evolve into a species with gender and therefore sexual reproduction.

Eventually groups of snot-wads clumped together and formed The Protoplasmic Ponderers.

Initially intended to be a philosophical society, they soon devolved into a primitive Doo-Wop band. This delayed further advancements in philosophy for 3 billion years, but resulted in a lucrative recording deal. The Ponderers considered that fair. Philosophically speaking, that is.

Eventually man moved out of what scientists refer to as the "Mucoceous Period" or colloquially amongst themselves after a few rounds of beer as The Age Of Snot.

It is generally accepted as fact among scientists who do not smell of sulfur and methane that dinosaurs did not ponder the question of what is real until they saw a giant ball of fire in the sky, at which point they universally asked, "Is that thing for real?"

In fact that sight sparked an evolutionary leap in thinking that would have flowered into the greatest civilization ever known on planet earth had it not been followed 12 seconds later by an earth-shattering impact that may or may not have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, but sure as hell put a stop to all that high-toned thinking they had just started.

Next we leap forward to the age of Homo Erectus. We shall move on lest we consider too deeply what he was thinking.

Now we enter the Stone Age. Suddenly man found leisure-time in which to think thanks to his many inventions. Inventions such as the "Giant Pelican-Like-Bird-Thing Washing Machine", the "Pig-Beast Garbage Disposal" and of course, "Mastadon Plumbing". That and the stone spear. That was quite popular as well.

Another leap in thought occurred during this period, when Auaagghuurraagh The Mighty Hunter was struck dead by lightning in the very instant before he would have achieved the greatest kill of his life by plunging his stone spear into the raging beast known to the tribe's elders as "Pooky". Two great discoveries came from this chance happening:

  1. The tribe decided that the universe doesn't like over-achievers and
  2. BBQ.

In fact Auaagghuurraagh was blasted inside Pooky (along with a small pigeon) and the world's first "Turducken" was created.

The story of Auaagghuurraagh was handed down over many generations through the iron, tin, aluminum, pyrite and eventually the bronze age when the Greeks explored the concept of hubris through the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Perhaps Socrates said it best when he questioned, "That wasn't really hemlock was it?"

Through his death Socrates proved that as the universe selects against over-achievers, so do our fellow humans. Especially if we annoy them with questions.

And now in our mighty space-age, we who have hurled our spears to the very edge of our solar system and stamped our heavy boots right in the eye of the once feared Moon goddess, find ourselves asking: "What is real?" and "Are we keeping it real?"