A look back in time from a different perspective - written in 2000.
The year is 62,000BC and time is a very unfamiliar thing. Days are not even invented, life is ungovernable. Day comes, day goes, and night comes and stars twinkle, as they have always done. Nature's creatures go about their ritual of survival and reproduction, foraging for the plentiful food supplies that abound.
In a distant land that would one day become Yugoslavia, a tribe of CroMagnum men, women, and children cower under the sky, the threatening spring thunderstorm hovering over their very existence. The cluttered, heavily forested landscape hides their existence from prying eyes of the great predators overhead, and muffle their sounds from the forest creatures seeking the weak and infirm for prey.
Hunkered down in their spartan cave, the tribe is going about their daily ritual, the slaughter of the deer being butchered and hung to mature, and the hides being expertly crafted into fashionable clothing for the children and mothers. The menfolk are all gathered around the fire, patiently talking of the hunt, sharing in the ritual of the sherbet root, and the daytura leaf tea. All the men that is except one!
Hunkered back in the group, almost lost to obscurity, is the young thinker in the tribe, Crickstigbo. The eternal dreamer, the reluctant hunter, the predisposed painter and recorder of the tribes history on the caves walls, the drawer of the sky and the orator of the tribes history. Crickstigbo rarely gathered with his fellow hunters, finding the fascinating world of his dreams more to his liking, and the artistry of his daubing his main pleasure.
But poor Crickstigbo was disturbed this wondrous evening by an event from the night past gone. His mind shifted now to his drawings and the recognition of the disaster he had drawn. It had troubled him all day during the hunt, forcing his mind from the activity going on around him. So much so that he had almost become sabre tooth tiger meal, if not for his lightening fast youthful reflexes, and the timely interference of his brothers skillful lance thrust. The thought of the chaos he had created had totally overridden his normal survival processes and caused his premature departure to the afterworld.
One of the elders, Crickstigbo's Uncle Trughotjk, spied the troubled youth sitting back from the gathering, and noted the tense stress marks on his weathered and tanned brow. He excused himself from his fellow hunters, and limped over to the far off figure.
"Huh, Crickstigbo, what's troubling you my boy?" The low guttural grunting sound so deep it nearly shook the cave and all in it, but the sense of warmth and worry strained every vocal utterance.
It drew Crickstigbo's attention, washing away the deep thought of his dilemma, if only for a short while.
"Huh, hello Uncle," replied the troubled orator, his voice laced with serious contemplation. "I'm just thinking you know."
"Yeah, I noticed, but what on Grafdesgat's back have you been thinking about. Been at it all day, haven't you?" The old man, almost bent double as his forty three years sagged under his decaying strength, reached a gnarled hand to his favourite nephew, grabbing the younger man's hand and pulling him to his feet so that they could talk eye on eye.
"Come, tell me your problem, it must be very grave indeed to trouble you so, and if it troubles you, it troubles me."
"Uncle, I did something last night, and I am very afraid of what I have done, very afraid." The normally placid Crickstigbo was shaking as he said these words, his fear obvious for all the tribe to see.
Of course, in a society where very little vocalising took place, the long discourse now had the whole tribes attention, all gathered in the cave now aware of the young mans' discourse.
Trughotjk placed a great hairy arm around the poor boy, and sensing the import of his words, and the nervousness of his fellow tribal conclave, he ushered Crickstigbo back towards the darker end of the cave, to the cavern offshoot that was Crickstigbo's room and the repository for his paintings. They both skirted through the deerskin-covered portal, and into the lard lamp-lit room that the door led to.
The old man surveyed the room, marveling at the talented work on display, the history of his group. As the leader, he felt a sense of pride that his tribe could record their life, as no other group he knew of had attained such dexterous skill yet. The drawings of deer, birds, eagle, beer, and wild cattle abounded, as did the latest fascination of the boy, the sky pictures.
He also marveled at the thoughts his historian had expounded, the sounds he made that paralleled nature's song, and his attempt to tame the day with signs signifying parts of the daytime and night-time too. But he also thought the poor boy crazed at times with his attempts to get other members of the tribe to follow his lead.
"Uncle, I have done something that will alter life as we know it forever, something that is so against nature, that it will through everything into chaos, and I can't get rid of it, no matter how hard I try." Crickstigbo's staccato admission immediately grabbed the old man's attention.
The boy turned towards a dim end of the cavern, pointing to a strange object drawn on the wall. Trughotjk's incomprehension spread across his face at the strange drawing, and a trickle of fear sweat edged its way across his cheek. His nephew's thought telepathied to his mind, and the concepts that entered frightened him, breaking loose in his mind, the destruction of their life as plain to see as day was against night.
"Get rid of it, now!" commanded the frightened CroMagnum Chief. "Get rid of it, I say, I see nothing but bad coming from this."
"But Uncle, I can't, no matter how I try it just won't go away, and I fear it will never go away now. You have seen it, and I have seen it, and it is there forever now, in our minds, and in the future of our lives."
The exasperated leader crouched to the floor of the cavern, the thoughts of the strange drawing clouding his mind, confusing the shapes of his natural world. He had seen something of it before, but never like this! The trees were almost the nearest to the shape in his world, or perhaps the odd crack in a rock, but this one was starker, more distinct than anything he had seen before. And yes, in his mind, he too saw chaos coming from it.
"What do you call it, Crickstigbo, this linear interference to natures existence, this mind numbing threat to our sheer existence, what is it called?" Trughotjk's grizzled gruff question eating into the heavy air of the cave.
"Well, Uncle, I haven't really given it much thought, but there maybe something in what you say that would adequately do. I like your reference to lineal interference in natures existence, something rings about that." The orator mused for a second, then looked at the figure again, realising the straight drawing needed a proper description, and the thoughts started to flow, eventually settling into a logical pattern. L for lineal, I for interference, I for in, N for Nature, E for existence.
"How about we call it a LIINE, Uncle, L, I, I, N, E. The sounds match the drawing and the thoughts I have had match the connotation of those sounds."
Plato was foraging through the ancient scrolls unearthed from the capsule in the cave. His travels had taken him many miles, and the cave he had found had provided good shelter for the night, and as it turned out, a treasure trove of such great wealth that it made him wonder at the chance discovery.
The word had been around for some years, the shapes of design also, and all had been attributed to the Sumerians, and to the other ancient cultures of the near past. But the scrolls he now surveyed with his keen brain outdated these by so long he shuddered to think how old they were. The drawings in the cave certainly showed creatures he had never seen before, and amongst them, strange manlike figures in the pursuit of their prey, and in the tasks of their everyday life.
Judging by the work, it was all done by the same artist, the shapes having very similar styles and lines, the work of a great mind. But his attention was repeatedly drawn back to the drawing in the corner. The line, with numerous scratches and smudges on it as if someone had deigned to remove it, stuck out like a sore thumb in the gloom, it's starkness testimony to another's work. Or was it?
Plato was puzzled. This was the first time that he had seen such a line in any cave art, everything before having that flow of nature in it's style. So had someone else found this cave since, and done the graffiti to this treasure trove? If that had been the case, then it would be probable that other drawings would have been similarly damaged, and in his inspection of the hidden grotto, there appeared to have never been any life in here for centuries, or longer! His logical mind thought immediately to the line again, and the importance of his find. Did some early ancestor of man already know about the line, contrary to popular belief? If so, why had they tried to destroy what they had created?
Plato mused on this for some time, and finally he reached a decision. Up until the time of this drawing, everything, he assumed, in cave art was shaped to nature, and straight lines were never to be seen when one looked at nature. Almost-lines every where, but nothing anywhere that could be deemed dead straight! Ah, eureka!! They were afraid of that line, because it wasn't natural!! Hence the need to get rid of it. But they never did. It was evident in all walks of life now, in everything man did. It was the guide to the existence of Homo sapiens. It formed the letters of language, measured the time, moulded the environment of human life, and created the boundaries of existence and conflict.
Head heavily burdened by this thought, Plato lay down on the cavern floor, and suddenly realised that above the invention of tools, the wheel, alchemy and mathematics, the greatest single destruction to nature on earth was a CroMagnum line drawn on a cave way back in the ether of time.