Hello! I’d like to take a moment to address Fermi’s Paradox (the idea that sentient life ought to be abundant in the Universe, but damned if we can find any); the Philosopher’s Stone; and the existence of Dragons. Everything here is true; everything I say is true; everything is true and everything can, and does, happen.
Honestly, it doesn’t take terribly much to solve a couple of the particularly pressing questions of myth which beset us in the modern world. All you really need to do is have a working knowledge of some of the wisdom of High Atlantis, which is something you would already possess, had we not gone out of your way, historically speaking, to destroy any and all information from previous civilizations which might be helpful in maintaining some sanity in the present day.
I mean, they left us entire Pyramids and we still spent most of our time, from a historical perspective, pulling off the shiny bits off, blowing up their walls in the search for treasure, or using their stuff for cheap building materials. That latter makes sense from the point of view of the there-and-then: I get it, people who wanted a city were not comforted by having several vast and inexplicable ancient buildings instead.
Still, all we needed as an understanding that the short-term benefits of having more construction materials were outweighed by (are you expecting me to say ‘the importance of historical record? The irreplaceability of the relics of a vanished past? Art? No, my bar isn’t that high; I was going to say): the tourist revenue. I mean, it would have been nice if we possessed even an ounce or two of reverence for the possibility that those who raised up megaliths, and other enormous structures meant to last for millennia had some sort of desire to inform us, and it might make sense to look for a message or two, alongside the mad rush for treasure hunting, but honestly, it wasn’t even the most profitable alternative, in the longterm.
Then again, how often do we go around intentionally leaving really meaningful things for posterity? I don’t mean, like, grandchildren posterity, I mean, like the year 9275. It’s hard to do, especially since we aren’t always in a position to believe that we have any real understanding of the present, or that we even ought to be giving a bit of a lift-up to the future. For at least the last several years, we’ve been at a state of such complex misunderstandings and disagreements over the nature of knowledge itself that it’s not incredibly unexpected to find ourselves unsure what wisdom we have to offer to anyone.
I mean, we have trouble recognizing that the past hundred years, while far from perfect, and frequently horrifying, nevertheless saw advances in science, medicine, technology, even, arguably, individual rights of human beings on an unprecedented scale.
(Whereas the horrifying stuff…is quite precedented. That doesn’t make it any less unique; in fact, that makes it worse. But the point still stands. We’ve improved in a lot of ways, and we seem to be actively trying to forget this.)
So our being slow to think we have anything might constitute any sort of knowledge worth passing down is…strange only if you look at it, and we try not to look at it, because life is too complicated for serious examination these days, or so we tell ourselves.
Let me be clear here: if there was an ancient and more advanced civilization which preceded our own, I’m not trying to say that they were good and we are bad. I’m just saying it takes a very long time to really understand the true expense of ignorance. Once the level of your stupidity is so great that it begins actively vacuuming out the contents of your billfold, you gain a different perspective on relativism, whether you want to do so or not.
Admittedly, a lot of our understanding of past worlds has leaked into the modern era in only the most diluted form.
For example, we have spirited discussions on the likelihood that our belief in dragons came from the bones of particularly large dinosaurs. Which makes perfect sense. And similarly, we figure that the idea of someone having a heart of gold is a metaphor, wherein we speak of the purity and beauty and perhaps rarity of the quality of compassion (a thing which, by the way, we believe resides in the heart, despite the fact that we no longer live two thousand years ago, when more people were running about strange ideas about medicine the spleen being the center of the intellect, or the liver our emotional core.)
(And they thought the Pineal Gland was relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things! …even though it is the organ which is most specifically adapted for the purpose of trying to understand the grand scheme of things! Have these people NEVER dropped acid?)
…then again, the totality of the cosmos is terribly large and thereby frightening. So I cannot entirely blame us for not immediately picking up on the stuff which might help us perceive it with more clarity and understanding.
All right, then. Let’s get tot the bits you need to know.
In point of fact: Hearts of gold are at least partially literal. Many sentient beings have such things. No, I don’t know exactly how that works. As I have not met those species and I am neither a metallurgist nor a biologist, I can’t tell you why it’s so, but it is. I mean, speaking to you as the Narrator, would the Narrator LIE to you?
Really, there’s only one sentient species in the Galaxy whose hearts are NOT made of gold, namely:
What happened is quite simple. Dragons are a starfaring race, as everyone knows. I mean, humans believe weird things, like “Dragons breathe fire”. That’s ridiculous. Nobody could possibly breathe fire. They don’t really to “breathe”; they can just generate fire and push it out of their lungs by pulling in air molecules; what else would you expect. They are supported by some form of abiologicial internal infrastructure, which is beyond my personal knowledge or understanding, and probably yours, no offense, even if you’re a biologist; especially if you’re a biologist, probably.
(It’s not your fault that you’re looking for ways that things work, and are stymied when things which patently shouldn’t happen, happen altogether too much. It’s okay. Have a beer and don’t let it worry you.)
It could perfectly well be magic that powers Dragons. Whatever it is, though. I’ll just say that they are not earthly beings and don’t necessarily conform to the laws of Earth.
Now, human beings are extremely prolific, and one can imagine the vast horde of dragon folk taking up residence on this sphere and waiting for this vaste horde of roving edibles-to-be to gain whatever level of knowledge, compassion, and understanding lead to the transmutation of one’s heart to one of the auric metals. Imagine the Great Lizards’ shock and dismay when they figured out that this was never going to happen.
Dragons are very long lived. So I cannot imagine how long they spent observing us: thousands of years, millions of years. They might be extremely patient. They had probably mined much of the known universe up to that time and figured they’d found a trendy new culinary delight; jokes on them, we’re basically made of plastic, soul-wise! We’re like the imitation food that restaurants put in windows to entice people into assuming that the cuisine within is much like that which is on display, only, hopefully, made of actual food. And as so often happens, the answer is “No, sorry, not so much.”
So the Dragons of this world, perhaps abruptly, all took off at once in search of greener pastures. Or at least most of them took off at once, the flapping of their wings generating cataclysmic wind; indeed, this occasioned the great tidal waves and seismic upheavals which sank the aforementioned Atlantis, which is a pity, because those cats were pretty hep and could have told us a lot more about the Universe. And to be fair, they certainly tried. But we’ve successfully ignored just about everything they tried to tell us, which isn’t the worst thing in the world; oh, it’s unfortunate to miss out on things we might have wanted to know, but there’s something to be said for making all of your own damn mistakes.
This it was that Dragons went to many other planets, upon which were species whose hearts were true gold. I said earlier that their hearts become a metaphorical gold, and then I suggested that human hearts might have become the actual metal “gold”. But there is of course, a slightly more metaphysical answer, which is that gold, as a thing which exists both as a physical building-block of matter and an immaterial-but-real spiritual component of life, might be something you could achieve with a certain level of spiritual grace, a totality of kindness to others and love within one’s whole being. And these other species of the Universe? They’ve all got that.
Now, Dragons, as you know, like to sit atop hoards of gold. In their trans- galactic flight, which must have taken some time, perhaps the Dragons grew very large, or perhaps their manifestations on Earth were simply very small compared to their true size. Whatever it was, when they landed on those planets and sat upon them, they truly dominated, if not the entire planet (that would knock a celestial object out of orbit, killing its inhabitants and rendering them of no use to the aforementioned Wyrms) – but they were the size of vast, vast mountains. And they took rulership over all the inhabitants of those place, and sat upon them, at least metaphorically, in the sense of ‘seat of rulership, although, for all we know, they also literally SAT upon hundreds of bodies on a given day. I mean, Dragons themselves are not terribly kind creatures.
So this is why we do not encounter other species of sentients, even though it’s likely that they exist. If they exist, why haven’t they contacted us? Easy. Dragons are currently sitting upon all of them. That is the solution to Fermi’s Paradox AND it answers the question of why there are no Dragons among us.
In short, in the end, there was only one thing that really protected humanity from suffering the horrible fate of every other thinking species. We are a bunch of right bastards. We are disagreeable, and immune to holistic enlightenment; we are so forcefully insistent on being individuals that we would rather sometimes be dickish to one another than the united in cosmic harmony; and, in fact, this is not a bug, it is a feature. We just need to refine it so that our dickishness is a bit more focused on protecting ourselves as individuals than snarking at our neighbors, not because snark isn’t fun, but because you can always binge-watch more Vincent Price movies if you’re spending less time checking your booby-traps to see if the neighbors have come by your back porch to see if you’re edible.
Whether or not we refine our jerk-osity enough to live happier lives is unknown; as an optimist, I’d like to think so. Either way, though, I have firm faith that humanity will remain sufficiently dickish that we shall never be plagued by Dragons again. Good on you, humankind.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.