Danielle is lovely. Her gray-green eyes sparkle like her gold necklace as it shifts on her shimmering gold and black blouse. She and Frederique lead the way up the stone stairs to Jean and Marianique's house. Frederique's day-glow, skin tight hot pink slacks sway lusciously in front of my eyes as she climbs the stairs. Yves is at my elbow, wearing a white shirt and black slacks, carrying some bottles of champagne. The night is fine and cool and the house filled with the scent of a giant feast. New Years Eve in Noumea.
Jean greets us with great enthusiasm. He gives a big hug and kiss to Danielle, Frederique and Yves. He turns to me and I try to get my New York mind used to the idea of a big French man hugging and kissing me but, to my relief, he offers his hand and shakes mine energetically, laughing. I laugh back.
Jean and Marianique run a health spa. They have a complete gymnasium/sauna complex just below their fine house in the middle of Noumea. They met Yves and Danielle in Madagascar years ago and have been best of friends ever since. Marianique makes a sweeping entrance down the hall with her red hair ablaze and her tall, slim, powerful body moving like a ballet dancer. She hugs and kisses us all, and I don't object in the least.
They are a beautiful couple, physically and personally. Their house is tastefully cluttered with mementos. Unlike Yves' and Danielle's collection, theirs runs to big treasures: everything from unusual rock crystals from South America to huge wood statues from Africa.
Like parties anywhere, the crowd brakes up into small groups. Most everyone speaks English at some level. I find plenty of people to talk to, some of whom I recognize as the windsurfers I met in Ouvea.
Yves finishes his rounds of friends and returns to me. I am flattered by his attention. Since we are talking English, the others drift off. Yves appropriates a bottle of iced champagne and we wander outside where it is quieter and sit down at a patio table.
"I must tell you of a very strange coincidence," Yves smiles as we sip our drinks. "Yesterday my daughter gave to me a comic book written in English. She said it would improve my English."
He pauses to sort through his English vocabulary. He is about my age but looks very young with lush black hair which falls in a forelock, and very dark eyes. When he speaks French, he is very sophisticated and suave. But when he speaks English with me, there is a charming boyish air which comes complete with an 18-year old smile. A comic book. Right. I love it.
"The hero of this comic book has the name of the Silver Dolphin and he wears a silver dolphin on a chain around his neck." My eyes moved to the silver dolphin Freddy cast for me years ago. I gave it to Yves as a gift of friendship and he is wearing it on a chain around his neck.
"Yes, that is a coincidence," I laugh. "Perhaps she saw the silver dolphin around your neck and.."
"No, she didn't. It was under my shirt. I had not shown it to her."
"Well here is another coincidence," I sip my champagne, "I never heard of the Silver Dolphin until I was in Sydney. There I met some people who were going to make a movie about the Silver Dolphin comic hero. But I've never seen the comic book, myself. We are surrounded by magic silver dolphins. Actually, there is still another coincidence because yesterday Freddy gave me a comic book to improve my French: Asterix. Who would think two scientists would be reading comic books on New Year's Eve?" We laugh.
"I also was reading your book, Living Corals," Yves went on. "What you said about the corals eating fish fecal pellets was very interesting because, of course, the fecal pellets do not do the coral any good at all. But they are good for the zooxanthellae. So perhaps we can think of the corals as a slave of the zooxanthellae."
"We can," I said, trying to remember if the editors had cut that particular observation from my text. I think they did. "But we can also think of the zooxanthellae as the slave of the...."
"Yes. The chloroplast," Yves finishes for me, beaming. "The chloroplasts were once free, also, small bacteria which the zooxanthellae now have inside of them to convert sunlight to energy."
"So the coral now works for the zooxanthellae, the zooxanthellae work for the bacteria. And really, the bacteria is the slave of the DNA molecules which make the bacteria." I wave my hand in a circle to indicate each cycle.
"Yes, it all works beautifully," Yves laughs and pours some more champagne.
"There is a book by a biologist named Dawkins called the Selfish Gene," I hold out my glass and he fills it.
"The?" Yves tilts his head.
"Oh yes. Selfish. I know. And gene like in genetic?"
"Right. Dawkins says we are all salves of the DNA Masters."
"But I have another view."
I pause to find the easiest words. "I would not say we are slaves of DNA. I would say we, you and I, are what DNA has learned to do." I pause again and suddenly his face lights up.
"Yes! Very good. Yes of course!" He chuckles and I feel a surge of affection for him.
"I like this view better than being a slave." I continue. "This way we are not separated from our DNA but are an expression of what DNA has learned in two or three billion years it has been learning how to live with itself on this planet."
Yves nods thoughtfully, "Not just our bodies, but also our minds. Our civilization. As you said the other day, Man means the one who thinks. So DNA forms the core of the one who thinks. The whole earth, all of life, a part of the learning of all the DNA. Yes!" He picks up his glass and toasts, "A happy new year to the Earth-Mind."
We down the champagne and Yves refills our glasses again. We sit, sipping the vintage brew for a while just feeling good. "So you say, then, Evolution is learning." Yves looks at me.
I need a definition of evolution. No sooner do I think this, Inner Voice hands me the phrase, "Evolution is To Be, Changing in a direction, as awareness moves toward the development of new sensory abilities." I repeat it to Yves.
Yves' face falls and his brow furrows as he hears it. I wait as he thinks it over.
Finally, he shakes his head and says, "No, I don't follow it. To be?..... What is to be? This refers to what?"
"`To Be" is any focus of behavior which is a living entity. It could be an individual be-ing or a population of be-ings which form a continuous gene pool: a species is a be-ing.'
"Ahh. Evolution is a species .... developing new sensory abilities?" Yves restructures the phrase.
"Almost. Evolution is the change in behavior of the members of a species. This change in behavior leads, eventually, to the development of new sensory abilities, new levels of awareness." I clarify but simultaneously dull the exactness of the definition. It's not quite right this way.
"The overall vector of evolution, the change in change, is to increase awareness: to improve the ability of awareness to perceive, remember and react. New modes of behavior, new life styles, derive from each improvement in sensory and mental ability and these increase the survival rate of the beings.
"Think of it in cellular terms. Differences in the behavior of cells create the difference between one multicellular species and the next. New cellular behavior makes better eyes or better noses or longer legs."
"Yes. I see. This goes with your image of the ... awareness ... learning and the multiplication of life forms on the planet." He frowns in concentration.
"Sure. Genes are memories of how to behave. They are patterns of awareness guiding our cellular development and our behavior."
"And how are these memories, these patterns of awareness, created?"
"By communications. By consciousness."
"I don't understand. You are saying our cells are conscious?"
"Of course. Exactly that. All forms of life on all levels are conscious. But Yves, you must use the original meaning of the word conscious to understand what I mean. Con means together. Scious means to know. To know together is to be conscious. We create this situation by communications."
"Ah, Yes. Now I understand. Of course. Cells communicate in many ways. And the communications between cells are...?"
"The patterns of awareness which guide us and ..."
"Wait. I thought the genes were the patterns of awareness and these are enormous organic molecules of DNA."
"No, that's exactly my point. Genes are not huge molecules of DNA. Genes are memories. They are coded within DNA but they become behavioral awareness when transcriptase reads the code and the community of organic molecules implement the message in the cellular behavior system. Genes are not the molecules themselves, not the atoms.
"It's like writing. Writing contains thoughts and memories and yet it is nothing, just marks on paper, until it is read by a person who knows the language and to whom the meaning of the words has relevance. THEN it becomes an awareness, a pattern of behavior which guides the person in further actions."
"But surely this is a very temporary thing. How it is also evolution?"
"Yesterday Freddy and I took a taxi back from Pris Unique department store. The taxi driver showed us a pamphlet written in French and printed in Cuba. It was a typical bit of hate group literature. It said, in effect, the French were imperialist pigs who were mistreating the poor black people of New Caledonia. It said the white people should be thrown out so the blacks could grow and prosper."
"Yes. I know. It's foolish. Nobody wants this."
"Somebody wants it. Somebody printed the pamphlet. In Cuba. Anyway, Yves, this is like a gene. A viral gene invading the larger body of language controlling the population behavior pattern in New Caledonia. It will endanger the mode of peaceful behavior and spawn violence. The change in behavior will alter how the various parts of the living system - New Caledonia - will behave in five years time. A genetic shift is like that. It is an alteration in behavior. It can spread and impact the whole population and the environment of the population."
"What? I'm sorry I did not follow." He is still thinking about the Cuban pamphlet.
"Think of it this way. A mutation is really a new concept, a new idea for a way to behave. It emerges from the host of various memories of the whole genetic system when the system is pressured by an outside environmental force. And an idea, once it is in the system, has the power to change the entire structure."
"You have switched from biology to politics."
"No. Politics is an expression of biology. It is one of the patterns of communication which guides us."
"Oh. Oh, yes. Now I see. The politics of the cells?"
"In a way, but you must not confuse the two systems. The carbon memory system of DNA has a different mode of development from the writing memory system of MAN. What we call politics is a variation on the theme of evolution. Of learning."
"And what is the goal of this evolution?"
"To increase sensory abilities, to increase awareness of mental landscapes now beyond the horizon of our perceptions. Eventually, perhaps to satisfy the universal desire of life to spawn."
"Ahh, the spawning of the Earth!" Yves smiles and pours some more champagne.
"Exactly. Every form of life, from bacteria to cities, has the need to spawn. But spawning is not a division. Spawning is a coming together, a communication. Spawning is a form of consciousness - knowing together. When an egg and sperm unite, the joining of their ancient memories creates the new and different being. A brand new focal point of awareness. It's just too bad this is so often accompanied by such negative actions."
"Oh yes." He sobers, "Perhaps this year we shall see the Earth more peaceful. But you are right, it is strange there is so much strife all the time. Why should we not get along better? It seems so wasteful."
"Maybe it's necessary to accomplish the spawning of the world mind."
"But this is not... biologically economical."
"I can think of lots of examples of biological waste in spawning. Like the Salmon. The adults die when the young are produced. And look at human behavior. Love is frequently aggressive. Males fight and kill for females in many vertebrate species."
"True, but Poland... I don't see..."
"Poland, the political trouble there, is a product of the interaction of the Communists and the Individualists, The East and the West, right? The pressure caused by these two huge mind systems results in an escalation of technological advances. Which hurries our spawning activities."
"Space...yes. And wars bring radar..better sensory abilities..even the ability to see other stars and galaxies.."
"Do you know what a slime mold is?" I ask.
"No, but we must get another bottle of champagne before we get to the slime mole," Yves says. He has slurped up most of the bottle of champagne but seems perfectly steady on his feet. I've had only a few glasses but am feeling no pain. I follow right behind Yves as we wander in amid a whirl of guests and appropriate a freshly opened, iced bottle of champagne and several handfuls of snacks, then back to our isolated table. He pours as I continue.
"OK. You find slime molds on the floor of big forests. They are like a loose colony of amoebae. They creep around moist leaf drop areas. Conditions eventually change and the site becomes no longer suitable for them. Maybe too dry or something. The first amoebas to detect the change for the worse secrete a hormone called ETAH. As they crawl, they leave a slime trail with ETAH in it. This forms a network of trails for all the other amoebae to follow and the ETAH is a very special communication for those who follow. It says, "follow me, I am your leader." The individual amoebae converge on the leaders and pile right on top of them. When most of the colony has piled up together they form a long slug-like creature. This creature moves off as a single beast across the forest floor. When it finds another suitable location, it stops." I demonstrate this with my hands on the table.
"The amoebas near the leaders, who are still in the middle of this mass of cells, crawl to the top of the slug body and create a hollow tube with their own bodies. Then the original leaders crawl up the inside of the tube and form a compact mass just below the end of the tube." This is a challenge to my hand-description but I manage. Yves now has a huge expectant grin on his face.
"The amoebas forming the wall seal off the leaders and build up atmospheric pressure in the tube by differential osmosis." Here I begin moving my hand up and down around the imaginary tube, building up pressure. Yves begins to laugh.
"When the pressure reaches a critical level, the end of the tube ruptures and the leaders are ejaculated into the air - flying in long trajectories to seed the forest floor and become new colonies. Then the slug body dies." Just as I am demonstrating how the leaders burst into the air with my hands another guest takes a flash picture of me. I am half out of my chair with my arms stretched over my head and eyes wide.
Yves laughs and then looks at his drink and says, seriously, "Yes, it is a very good example of our behavior."
"It is. It is. If I were to take some cells from your body and culture them they would turn into little amoebae. We are like a very complex slime mold slug. In fact, the reason we know so much about the ETAH process is that we still have a bunch of amoebas.."
"Bunch, a group, a colony of amoebas, living at the base of our brain. We call this colony the Pituitary Gland and it still secretes ETAH which still mediates the growth and form of the whole complex of our body. These are the ancestral leaders. They are still organizing things. The big politicians of our cells. So perhaps it is not too surprising to find the slime mold behavior patterns in our own bodies and in our group body - civilization."
"Yes, the spawning of the planet. Shooting off seeds into space to bring our planetary memories into contact with other planets. Perhaps at great cost to the original body." Yves finishes his drink and pours another.
"That's the way our civilization has interpreted the drive. Actually, the spawning is already well underway without shooting people into space. Spawning requires communication with other living star systems. We are already doing this at the speed of light using radar signals. The SETI project is really the most economical and most reasonable way for the stellar system to spawn - reaching out into the Galaxy with radar and radio waves - broadcasting thoughts to the other stars in search of other living star systems."
"But the trouble. Poland. The people who wish to cause problems here in New Caledonia. Perhaps this is no longer necessary." Yves says. "Why doesn't it stop?"
"Inertia. Communication momentum. The system is set up to operate in a certain way and is not even aware of itself, let alone able to control itself. Evolution works that way. Think of all the species now extinct. They began evolving along a certain path and could not stop even when the specialization became a liability." I put my hand over my glass as Yves starts to pour another round.
"Like the Irish Elk," Yves says thoughtfully. "Their horns got bigger and bigger. It was a useful strategy when it started. But then the horns got so big they got tangled in branches in the forest and became a liability. They became extinct."
"Right, they were too horny." We laugh again.
"The tensions between the Leftist forces with their global concentration in Russia and China and the Rightist forces concentrated in the West are like the two hemispheres of our brain mirrored one layer larger on the surface of the planet.
"The leftist, dreamer, communal mind versus the rightist, practical, individualist mind. In ourselves, and in our larger culture, the pattern of behavior is the same. We dream impractical dreams but must control and temper these with practical reality. Our dreams often conflict with our abilities to accomplish these dreams. The conflict between dreams and reality drags awareness into new areas of development. This is the motivating force of evolution in mankind - personally and globally."
"But it must be controlled," Yves insists, drinking another glass of champagne in one shot.
"It is controlled. Very much so. That's why it is so hard to change. Maybe impossible to change. The problem is the mechanism of control is so difficult to understand. It operates on levels of social consciousness we have hardly begun to explore. And, in fact, may be directly prohibited from exploring." Yves studies his empty glass and decides it should be filled again. He also refills mine although I have hardly touched it.
"Yves, have you ever noticed how all the leaders of the military wear stars? The more stars, the more important their position in controlling what the military will do."
"You think we are controlled by the stars?" Yves squints at me from under his dark forelock of hair.
I sip my champagne. He's made the old inversion mistake. "Sure the stars control us. Not because of anything the stars do, we are controlled by the stars because of our own belief systems.
"Are you familiar with Jung's concept of archetypes? Mental templates forming basic, underlying myths in mankind?'
"Carl Jung the psychiatrist? Yes, yes, I know of archetypes."
"Well, I see the endless military behavior of the hominids as part of a Jungian archetype. A very basic underlying drive, maybe the most basic drive of all. The drive to reproduce. Man's wars are basically sexual displays over territories. Oh, these territories might be actual terrain or they might be ideological or economic territories, but they all involve a display of lust. They center on the need to conquest. Here I mean conquest in its basic sense - to seek together. It is the driving force for the spawning of the Earth."
"I'm sorry. I thought we were talking about stars," Yves laughs.
"Oh, of course. Stars on the leaders. Yes, I was getting back to that. It really is not the planet spawning, you see. Because the planet is not - by itself - a living entity. Life would not exist on the planet without the energy of the star, our sun. The star is the source of all awareness. It guides our behavior in the most literal sense possible since its energy supplies the basic sustenance of life as well as the light to enable our eyes to see. The star's guiding pattern of behavior is represented by the icon of the star - on hats, epaulets, flags - leading hominids into otherwise senseless and stupid acts of violence against each other."
"Sometimes I get the feeling we are talking about two things at once," Says Yves with an odd look on his face.
"We are. When we talk about the forces which guide the communication network, we talk about lots of different levels. But we are both disturbed about what's going on here in New Caledonia."
"Yes. Very disturbing."
"Right now, when I look around, I see what you see, the Island most close to paradise. It is the first place I've visited on our planet where the schools let out in the afternoon and the black, white, yellow and mixed children stream out of the door together, all laughing, all without any sign of mutual distrust. I always look in the faces of the children to see the heart of society.
"In New Caledonia I see a working harmony between very different hominids. The French laisser faire attitude allows everyone to do what they want to do, within legal limits. But I also see professional interference in the system. There are those who would destroy harmony and build racial hatred on this island.
"Yves, consider the whole island of New Caledonia as a single, living organism. The people are the consciousness of that organism. I see another consciousness reaching like a giant hand from over the sea, its shadow has fallen on the island, and it brings destruction."
"But, no. You don't understand," Yves protests. "Nobody here wants independence from France. We are a territory of France. Everyone depends on this. The Kanaks, the Vietnamese, the Caldoch, we need the funds and the security of being French. It would be insane to stop this. Nobody will respond to this attempt."
"You underestimate the opponent. These men are professionals. Their business is creating strife between different ethnic groups of hominids. They will succeed unless you take immediate and strong countermeasures."
"Who do you say is behind this?" Yves is totally serious now.
"How should I know? But Yves, look for the money, and you will find the culprits."
"The money? Not the power?"
"Money. There is only one form of immunization for such a behavioral virus: communication."
Jean comes reeling out onto the patio and drags us into the house. It is almost midnight.
As One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty Two years elapse from the birth of Jesus Christ, everybody kisses everybody else and Yves toasts the spawning of Mankind.