How fear creates beauty

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Been reading some very interesting stuff on “fear landscapes”…http://www.cof.orst.edu/leopold/papers/Laundre_etal2010.pdf

Basic idea is that the classic concept of a predator changing the ecosystem by culling prey isn’t really correct – the much more significant factor is just the *idea* of a predator being nearby changes the behavior of potential prey. They don’t go and graze in the open etc…

The interesting result is that many of the things we think of as beautiful in nature – a beautiful green field of grass, fields of flowers – much of it is only there because of fear. If not, then grazing animals would have come and eaten a lot of it. So fear creates many of the things we think of as beautiful in nature.

The extension of this I’m interested in exploring is the impact of the ultimate predator – death itself. Because in the end, what the animals are afraid of, or what their biological systems have told them to be afraid of predators in response to, is death. The end of their existence. Humans are the only animals that have a chance, perhaps, to remove death as the ultimate predator in some ways. We’ve already largely removed any other animal (apart from ourselves) as potential predator of humans, and we’ve dramatically extended lifespans – and will continue to do so. What happens if we’re able to infinitely extend our lives by uploading or merging with machines, etc…

I wonder what the green fields of life are, the things that we perceive as beautiful that are only there because of our own fear landscape in response to the predator of death. And I wonder how removing or delaying that ultimate predator will change our fear landscape, and what beautiful things in life will die out as a result…

2013-07-04T10:54:01+00:00

About the Author:

Books translated into 16 languages and CyberStorm now in development for film by 20th Century Fox

2 Comments

  1. Anita Jurat March 2, 2014 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    I am a writer, I;m a mother, I’m a worker and have been a lover, as the song goes. I am about to step onto the eplatform with my first novel. I am seriously impressed with your capacity for imagining and transcending your success. I have pondered the same question- long before Johnny Depp emerged in Transcendence (movies keep exploring the doom element of this concept). After the exquisite and divine taste of the ‘first’ of everything, like the first time I scuba dived, the first time I felt wet grass with bare feet, the first time I ran my hands across the first spring blooms, the first time I sailed across open seas in a narrow plywood boat to a remote island group, the first time I fell in love, the first time I held each of my remarkable children, my first taste of ice cream, my first time to ski , the first cycle of a road bike, the first time I worked on my pearl farm, the first time I directed a company, the first time I spoke on radio about human rights, the first time I heard a University radio channel and became aware of an astonishing world beyond my own when I was thirteen, et al, what happens to that life if we can live indefinitely? Will we create new firsts- there exists an exclusive set of people in our own culture who have this already and the competition is fierce- like the best tickets to an exclusive event, like having Beyoncé sing for your kids party, that kind of thing, or have David Beckham coach your son privately- that kind of stuff already exists. Will we completely lose touch with our humanity? What will the new experiences be? Will they be philosophically based? Will they tap into a new philosophical stance that puts up mind altering propositions and think tanks work on it because the real world has lost its enchantment, and ideas, especially original ones, are the new frontier for mind landscape development? Where beauty, as perceived by the beholder lies in holding an idea, developing it and cultivating it so that it has value beyond the highest art form? Will the ultimate universe exist in the synapses of our brain and self implode to become one with the universe, and thus return to the core of the big bang? I see some kind of polarisation already; people can’t get enough of the new buzz, the new thing, the new experience- African Safaris, ipads, google glasses, heli skiing, rally trips in Mongolia, the best dog- the cavoodle. But then others shake their heads and look at the environment, the over fishing out of Mozambique and the denudation of that island. The horrors and atrocities of poor governance in so many countries- gross inequities in life and turn their backs, returning to the land, smaller communities and real human relationships. Do we want to live forever? In my own family there are divides on that- we have those kinds of conversations. Look back at my first line- do we just keep procreating because we can; the whole point of the firsts, is because we know we won’t be down that road again, but if we can, what would we do? Would it be like Groundhog day, because we could learn, do, be everything. Would that satisfy us? Interesting thoughts- I am turning them in the infinite space of my brain but I still will go out this morning and walk in the sunshine, ride my bike and hug my almost adult child. This is still the ultimate high living for me. If you ever have even a moment to read this, and you are looking for a contrast to scifi, I would be delighted for you to be a beta reader or a reviewer of my book. But it is okay, I have a professional editor taking it on board after this weekend, if you don’t have time.
    Good luck and now I will read your books too.

  2. Sharon June 29, 2014 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Matthew,
    I read CyberStorm and really liked it. I’m usually not one to like that type of story, but it was interesting and it makes you think. I’m Texas girl and grew up fishing and hunting, so some of the situations they were in, well, to be honest, they were no brainers for me. However, what you did an excellent job of was making me realize that most of people really do not know how to survive under those extreme conditions. We’re all so dependant on our electronic devices that we’ve forgotten how to think or be creative in regard to survival. I am working on my masters in English and would be happy to be a Beta reader if you ever need one. I’m going to start the Atopia series soon, I’m sure it is as good as CyberStorm. I can’t wait to get started! Oh, and I almost forgot, thanks for sharing your S.H.A.K.E.S.P.E.A.R.E. system. You are a very generous author.

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