So, yesterday I saw there would be a talk at the university entitled “The Future of the Brain”. Being a brain, I was interested. Though most people take the brain’s future for granted, I’ve been wondering. I’m not so sure. You see, the more brains there are in the world, more than seven billion now, the more stupid our collective behavior seems to get. So, I’m thinking that, a lot of the time, maybe most of the time, brains are not additive. That’s the big mistake economists make. They think the more people there are, the more likely someone will come up with an invention that helps everyone. But really what happens is there’s just more chance for someone to invent something that screws things up even more. Roundup-Ready corn, anyone? Nuclear bombs?
What do you get when you put one brain together with another? You don’t necessarily end up with two brains. Sometimes there's a synergy and you end up with a sum greater than the parts, but other times you may end up with half a brain, or they could completely cancel each other out, given the tendency of brains to diverge in opinion. If one brain goes negative while the other brain is positive, the sum of all that nonsense is zero. Or else--and employers are familiar with this--the two brains get along so famously that they end up chatting and getting nothing done at all. Actually, one brain can do this pretty well on its own, thinking about all the things it needs to do until the day is comfortably over.
Sure, a brain is wonderful and all, a real miracle, but you’ve got to admit that it’s also the most dangerous organ to ever come into being. Okay, I’ll change that. It’s only dangerous when combined with hands. Dolphins and whales have really smart brains, but they haven’t screwed up the world because they don’t have hands. They can’t build what they dream up, they can only dream. I’ll bet you their imaginations are taking them places ten times better than anything we’ll ever find on the internet. They’re frolicking in one big womb out there. Doesn’t get any better than that. We’ve turned our homes into wombs--with those umbilical cords bringing in energy and water to maintain optimal temperature and fill the jacuzzy. But it’s not the same.
So let me take you on a brief history of the brain. In the beginning there was a brain. The brain fell in love with another brain, and they made more brains, who in turn made even more, until there were brains over here and over there, and all was love and spirituality until the brains grew hands, and started building stuff. Or maybe the hands came first, and the brain grew to better inform what the hands were doing. In any case, some brains over there decided they wanted what the brains over here had made, and vice versa, which hatched economies until one especially foolish brain decided war would get the job done faster. And the resentments hardened, and surviving brains made more brains that they in turn trained to keep hating the other brains, so it just kinda snowballed.
No other animal needs much stuff beyond a nest, but because we lack much in the way of teeth and speed and fur we needed lots of stuff, And when our brains needed more than what nature was giving them above ground, they started digging under her skin, digging all kinds of things up, stuff to make other stuff--enough stuff that they filled their homes with stuff until they needed other places to store still more. And as places got filled with stuff the brains needed to build superhighways to get away from it all. Which seemed okay, except for everything that had been living in their paths, until someone figured out that the superhighways were really superfactories for climate change. And meanwhile the whales are out there dreaming the finest dreams and leaving everyone and everything else alone.
So let that be a lesson to you. The next time you’re drifting through the galaxies and God comes along and deputizes you to start life on some lonely planet way out there, think twice about the brain-hand thing.
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