A Memory of Trees

A Memory of Trees

A Chapter by TLK


We have all imagined a world where humanity has successfully orphaned itself.  Perhaps out of some self-hating identification with the impersonal majesty of nature; perhaps out of the need to deride this vision as an impossible dystopia.  Either because we want to warn of it, or because we see these warnings as ridiculous.

 



I simply ask you to visit it once more.

 



Let us paint this world with broad brushstrokes, together; we can both hold a brush.  The sky is clear, as beautiful as ever.  The smog has been broken down, recycled.  The personal flying machines have been largely abandoned, for there is nowhere to go that is any different to where you have been born.  Even the poles have been colonised in this way, by the commonplace.  So you will not necessarily need to draw in such an object.


Next we sketch the people.  We can say little of them that would be surprising, because just like us they have so much they do not know what to do with it.  They merely collect more fine things and have more fine experiences and once the finery has aged a minute it is Old.  And the Old is continually renewed, unceasingly, and with only occasional pangs of guilt at the transparency of the consumptive act.  Yes, just like that, vague shapes flitting around in circles of routine.


The biggest difference between us -- us now and us then -- is the necessity machines possess.  You know about the machine facilitation of daily life, why, nearly all of the fine things that you can so easily forget about have been made so cheap by these processes.  But, here, even private life is facilitated by machine.  Brains are audited, thoughts are corrected, children raised in perfection.  And you know what a technical perfection is, for you hold it in your hands each day.  It is the perfection of the assembly line, of regularity, of an eager desire to smooth out deviation.


To be brought to this perfect, the children are taught much by machines.  Machines with kind faces, and programmed to say kind words.  But the importance of imagination is lost on them; they teach facts.





Therefore children know this: there were once things called trees.  They fell into different categories.  They looked like, felt like, sounded like, smelt like, this simulation.  They could be climbed, pruned, felled, coppiced, leaned against.  And a thousand facts of human cultivation and significance: religious, cultural, poetic, personal.

 



Do not think that humanity is entirely ignorant of what has been lost.  There are always people given to memories.  They might have been born that way, brains like rotten fruit ready for wasps.  Or it might be that they have been softened in the warm bath of family ideology, eyes steeped in tearful reminiscence, and achieve solace in knowing about what they have never seen.


These people tend to love, and love tenderly.  They are drawn to those they can love with the least criticism, so many of them end up concerned about the issue of children.  Secretly they conceive of the possibility that something is wrong.  They hold this against their chest, under their clothes, imagining some membership to a community of conspirators.


In truth, these people are listened to by many.  There is no sedition.  There is no secret handshake.  There is no oppression.  Some people, however, like to feel oppressed, and that is just one more delight that an ordered society can supply for its citizens.


Under the guise of learning, these people try to spark their oddness in the children.  They solicit donations, set up a worldwide Centre for the Memory of Trees, and arrange regular exhibitions.

 



The most important donation is time.  In particular, the time of the old people -- retired but long-lived -- who experienced a living tree earlier in their life-time.  Some of these are still alive, and they are a great treasure.


Across the whole world, in identical classrooms, children listen; or not.  Across the whole world, people are brought together for the simple reason of age, and are told that this is their curriculum.


A man, a woman, or a group of people shares their memory.  They describe the facts that all the children have learned in personal terms.  You can see their eyes take on a faraway look as they describe the past.  There are hints of emotion in their voice.


And, at the end, the audience asks questions.  Not the whole audience of the world; that would be impossible.  In the classroom within the Centre for the Memory of Trees, the children are actually listening to real, living and breathing people in front of them.  And they ask their questions.

 



I ask you to imagine the children coming home from this trip.  They would not be asked much about the city they visited, for there is little to distinguish it.  They would be asked what it was like to be in a room with someone who had seen them, those thick monster necks made of dirt and air and sunlight, so unlike the algae commonly grown in vats under every city.  They would be asked about seeing that mouth say those words right there, right there in front of them in physical space.

 



Prized for having first-hand experience of a second-hand memory of trees.




© 2012 TLK



Author's Note

TLK
Picture credit: http://tonyducesart.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/remembering-tree.html

My Review

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Featured Review

I am awed by this story. It truly identifies a life that we so easily could be a part of. In times of crisis I feel that the philosopher and the artist are the best leaders to promote change in a population through emotion. The "Keep Calm and Carry On" art so widely spread across the globe is just a sign of that.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Heyns

5 Years Ago

Though art is subjective, sometimes to the detriment of its message by excluding large parts of the .. read more
TLK

5 Years Ago

Musicians are very effective at selling a certain ideology. Popular music is nothing if not excessi.. read more
Heyns

5 Years Ago

It's as if pop culture persecutes any societal propulsion to sustainable prosperity (excuse the alli.. read more



Reviews

I love this.
It has such a great message, and it truly is inspiring.
I too dream of a world where we go back to nature.
And it's the dreams that are so attainable, but seem so impossible,
That are enough to break your heart.
Great write!

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

Thank you for sharing your dreams.
11 passages from the bottom, you might want to to use a, ? for the question...do you think humanity is entirley ignorent of what's been lost? such a profoundly pressing question by the way...this article combines child therapy, the enviornmental worthiness of tree s and memory fuction, while imparting accessiblry all sorts of valuable and new, well researched knowldge adn information! wow...an ambitious, courageous effort this is, thanks.

Posted 5 Years Ago


TLK

5 Years Ago

Thank you. I see what you mean about "Do not think that humanity is entirely ignorant of what has b.. read more
SHEEMA HUQ

5 Years Ago

indeed an apt, and accurate assertion..
This is strongly reminiscent of Richard Bach. :) I love the way you've placed the reader in medias res here...everything is visible in my mind's eye, through your vivid descriptions. Thank you for sharing. (And thanks for teaching me the word 'sedition' - 'til now, I'd not come across it.)

Take care,

Casey

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

There's not much insurrection or treason (ha, tree-son), so it's a related word that doesn't get use.. read more
exceptional!

by an utterly delicious coincidence i just finished translating a book (title and author not important here) in which nature and more specifically trees were talked about with a huge amount of love. i pity humanity for accepting the possibility that trees would become just a memory in a school manual at some point in a much too dark future. if that is what lies ahead of us, we're not worth the label of "human beings".

but i'm rambling here :). sorry. so, returning to your text above, i hope with all my heart that this will remain just a piece of fantasy, although wonderfully penned but still, just a fantasy.

hat off!

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

Everybody loves trees. Except, I guess, Ayn Rand, who hated nature.

Thank you for inha.. read more
I am awed by this story. It truly identifies a life that we so easily could be a part of. In times of crisis I feel that the philosopher and the artist are the best leaders to promote change in a population through emotion. The "Keep Calm and Carry On" art so widely spread across the globe is just a sign of that.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Heyns

5 Years Ago

Though art is subjective, sometimes to the detriment of its message by excluding large parts of the .. read more
TLK

5 Years Ago

Musicians are very effective at selling a certain ideology. Popular music is nothing if not excessi.. read more
Heyns

5 Years Ago

It's as if pop culture persecutes any societal propulsion to sustainable prosperity (excuse the alli.. read more
A sad future indeed...when trees are a second hand memory and life is a featureless horde...

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I think this would make a great performance piece. It just sounds so passionate.


Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

I'm surprised by that comment. When I wrote it, I thought was in the grip of a cool sublimity. How.. read more
I like this poem. I think it a great opening for a prose-poem futuristic sci/fi/fantasy epic. I enjoyed this style. And the last line is powerful.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

5 Years Ago

Thank you. I hope it leaves people wondering (and not just 'why the hell are there no trees?').
Penlady

4 Years Ago

Years ago I remember telling my first husband and father of our four children that one of these dys .. read more

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Added on August 25, 2012
Last Updated on September 22, 2012
Tags: memory, trees, nature, future


Author

TLK
TLK

Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom



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