Sunday, January 18, 2009


Preserving a Core Signal of Civilization After a Global Catastrophe

How would an advanced society make its level of accomplishments known after a devastating global disaster?

What sign could be primitive enough to be transmitted to a newly de-civilized world but retain the central meaning of its higher origins enough to be recognized as such when civilization finally restores itself?

The helix is one such object.

And, as an historical curiosity, it has already been utilized in the past to convey just such a "message"~ of a mythic remnant, and hint, of a previous "higher" civilization~ to the (self-assessed) debased, "fallen", and struggling people of our own past.

Specifically in the caduceus, or twined snakes symbol, which has a bifurcated pair of designs, and parallel meanings, whether it is of a single serpent curling around a rod (of Asclepius), as in the Medical field's primal icon, or the double serpents, coiling up a similar staff, in the god Mercury's enigmatic and chthonic glyph.

Each image conveyed very profound messages to the ancient world's people, but the latter could also be utilized by our own Future Disaster Semioticists (to coin a new field) for reminding our descendants of one of our present world's most profound and highest achievements in science and self-knowledge: the double-helix of DNA genetics.

The double-serpent caduceus is similar enough in design to the actual chemical structure of the double-helix to be a handy and easy-to-draw heiroglyphic for this telling genetic structure.

If we wanted to leave a devastated world a crude but compelling clue to our highest reaches of scientific development, this instinctually-alluring sign is probably the only one available which would be both simple enough for anyone to draw, but latently complex enough to reveal itself deeper meaning once the next civilization re-achieved its height of insight.

Metals and organic materials dissolve over eons so our cities and structures and books and tools would vanish after a few thousand years of erosion and corrosion. Only stone persists, as all the ancients understood, from the pyramid builders to the Persian despots. So the symbols we wished to carry forward our message should be carved in geologically stable and remote regions, in forms basic enough to be attractive to neo-primitives, but hold the second level of meaning that only a newly-ascendant scientific society could re-see.

The traces we find on our own world of an enigmatic, and perhaps advanced civilization before our own give a clue of what we need to do to signal those to come, should the present world descend into either natural or human-caused chaos and a global erasure of our present civilization's "exoskeleton".

A kind of "primitive futurism" of materials for preserving our greatest advances is required.

Start carving!

Use only the most profoundly basic and Janus-like iconography.

Like the helix.

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