Above you, one by one, the stars are dying out. A darkness is spreading across the cosmos, consuming stars and planets. Your eyes are perceiving them much quicker than normal. Time is breaking down. This was anticipated.
You look around. You cannot tell if you are on a moon or some long-dead world. Mountains jut into the sky like the shattered bones of giants. There is no wind. No activity. You are not breathing. Utter silence engulfs you. You cannot remember how you came to be here. This is understandable. The interface is still calibrating. A slight hum. Calibrating.
You discern me. I am surprised, but only for a moment. I doubt that you notice.
Then you experience it: a flash. A memory. Light. A question forms in your mind, and you ponder how to express it, until at length you make a decision.
“I want to know how the Light began,” you ask.
And I show you.
It begins with flesh against grimy flesh, in thunderous beat. Next comes the slow beating of wood against earth, against stone, against brethren wood. The meandering, curious step-step-step of the beat, a fluid rhythm born from chaotic synapses firing and tracing the echoes and movement.
Guttural sounds shatter the air. High, low, high high low. A twisting of the vocal cords and the cadence and timbre change; still guttural, still raw, as they engage in the mimetic game of nature.
High high low.
What must have the first song in history sounded like?
The Divje Babe flute, constructed of a cave bear femur, is arguably the oldest musical instrument discovered. Dated at over 43,000 years of age, academics argue over its origins and whether it was a construction from Neanderthal hands or a providential accident from an animal chewing on the bone.
We could go back and imagine the origin of this flute; a cave bear being hunted by early man. The cave bear is young, only a year or so, and the hunters have the edge in experience. In a moment, they are upon the beast. Sharpened rock pierces fur and flesh; blunt stone connects with fragile skull. The animal is stripped, the fur procured for protection in the coming winter. The meat is consumed and shared among the tribe. The bones are turned into tools.
Perhaps they had been experimenting already; or perhaps the tribe had a visionary, a pre-historic Brad Plunkett tinkering and re-engineering an existing piece of material into the Accidental Flute. And after hollowing out and embedding the holes, how did they proceed? How did the find the boldness to test and experiment in front of the tribe?
Bone flute slick with saliva.
Raspy air on porous calcium.
There are some theories that the Neanderthal’s form of communication was, in fact, a proto-linguistic system that was more musical than modern languages. The development (or discovery) of the musical instrument- and subsequent proliferation thereof- would then be a logical extension of the race. How much music integration there was in those early linguistic endeavors, we’ll never know. But the musical instrument must have represented a massive paradigm shift; the conveyance of ideas not through strict conversation, but rather along more esoteric and emotive lines.
As the landscape around you dissolves into a frothy dissonance of color and darkness, you come to a disconcerting realization: you don’t feel your body. Not just your toes, or hands or maybe a leg that fell asleep; your entire body. Everything is dark. You panic, briefly; this must be what Death feels like. The utter lack of sensory input could drive people mad, back when there were people in multitude. Now it is just you, and this darkness.
You don’t go mad.
You have me here, in your mind, feeding a pulse of encoded static into your subconsciousness that simulates a sense of input that fools your mind into remaining functional. The process for what comes next is delicate; it takes time to engineer.
You perceive that it has been two seconds since you left the landscape. You don’t even realize that it has been, in fact, closer to two centuries.
You are surprised. Don’t be. Time has long since become meaningless. Well, not entirely meaningless; but for our purposes, and for what you are yet to accomplish, we are in no short supply.
“I wanted to see the beginning of the Light”, you stammer.
I showed you, but in order to understand the Light, you must understand its memory.
Perhaps a more critical viewpoint is necessary.