Welcome to JManimas Democracy Magazine for February 2009

Fire Monkey

Copyright 2009, John Manimas Medeiros

It all started with a campfire, the exciting taste of melted fat. Licking fingers, sleeking hair, warming and drying the sweat from the hunt. It was so grand, so spiritual, this discovery of the usefulness of fire. This came suddenly, with an inexplicable loss of fear. All the world, all the universe, was afraid of fire, until the monkey that ran on two legs like a kangaroo or ostrich lost the fear of fire. Came to like it. Came to love it. Fire became the guardian, the primaary tool to control the world, to make every other creature on Earth afraid of them, the fire monkey, the jokester, the one who kills and eats everything.

They lighted up their fire sticks and chased mastodon over cliffs. They watched the lightning strokes of the dry storms set the plains on fire and the black smoke rise born of the land reach upward to join the clouds of the sky. Then the carousing monkeys marched across the parched plains, after a little cooling, maybe after a gentle rain. And they saw the bounty. They saw animals cooked, grains popped. Soon they saw the new green life return to the burnt land, rich grasses and grains and trees and flowers, all fast and with no struggle to uproot the unwanted plants and chop down the trees. Slash and burn. Or better even, for the gentleman farmer, just burn and burn. What a great way to live. Fire is the way. Even the wolf-dogs that follow us stay. They hang back, but if we are by the fire, eating, they stay. They too have less fear, so long as we are near, and appear to be in control. Where there are fire monkeys, there will be fired meat.

The romantic love of fire went deep, has always been profound. The jester monkey, this fire monkey, thinks they are an ape. But apes are serious. Gorillas, baboons, chimpanzees, are serious. Step into their territory and you will see how serious. But not the monkeys. Most monkeys are clowns, jokesters. They scream and hoot and throw stuff and watch you, then imitate your stupid motions. Don't you remember when you were a child and you were goofing off, ignoring the teacher, and she said, "Stop your monkey shines!" That's it. That's what we do. That's who we are: monkey shines. And the shining, the real shining, comes from fire. Our beloved fire.

This fire monkey that we are, monkey of funny fire, we even think that we are smart. We have named ourselves "wise ape," homo sapiens for the literati, especially those who believe we evolved here. I don't think so. We were dropped from the ass of a silver bird, accidentally. That's where the myth of the stork bringing babies comes from, because they returned, have returned many times, and told us: "You were dropped from the ass of a silvery white bird." The pilots saw it, and said, "Oh shit. What do we do now?" But they knew the answer immediately. Feign incompetence. This is what seasoned leaders do, and we are leaders, not chumps. We will just leave it out of our report, and when it is discovered, we will say, "What? That can't be. That was not our plan. It must have been an accident."

So the turd-life that was accidentally dropped on Earth became us, fire monkeys. Monkeys that play with fire. All the time. We became so in love with our fire. We made balls of it to throw at the other tribes. We used it to build ships and to burn ships. We use it to build homes and burn homes. We use it to kill people. We have a long history of watching people burn. People that we don't like, or who someone else doesn't like for some reason. We use it to remove what we want removed. We came to understand that it causes water to turn to steam. We came to learn that some materials burn quickly, even explode into flames. At first this was feared as some form of magic, something to avoid, bringing back that tightened heart, shortness of breath, cold in the veins, that we felt before we fell in love with fire. Fire good, explosion bad. Too fast. But we learned to love explosions too. We came to love the metals that are extracted from stones with fire, intense fire, incredibly hot fire. We came to learn that some chemicals could burn in a closed chamber and exert a force that could be captured. Just as a piston could capture the force of expanding steam, a piston could capture the force of an exploding gas, gas ignited with a spark. This igniting spark is like the first spark that cooked our tiger-meat. We learned to cook the big cats and keep the little cats home, because they killed the rats that bite our children and eat our grains while we sleep. The little cats, like the dog wolves, learned to sit with us, by our fire.

And all this time it never occurred to the jester-monkey that he was making the world warmer. His fires seemed so small. But they added up. Thousands of fires, millions, billions. No child left without a fire. Ships, cars, trucks, planes, all terrain vehicles, motorcycles, cars for racing, hot fire-powered cars for racing faster than sweating horses. Motor scooters, motor bikes, motors for all things, for blowing leaves across the ground, for sucking up dust, for cutting grass, for painting houses, for taking the paint off of houses, every machine a fire, even the machines in the factories run by electricity fire getting their wire-born energy from giant fires far away, giant fires that convert giant, hot campfires into lightning fire that travels, like piss through a straw, through wires. The jokester monkey pisses electricity through straws of solid copper. How smart. How deft. Hard to believe it all started with a turd dropped from a bird.

Gas fire and powder fire lead to bomb fire. Bombs that destroy amazingly hot and terribly fast. The bodies of the other tribe crackle, melt and die before you can say "Jack Fireson." The houses burn, the smoke and heat and flame rise up, and we have made a great fire, a storm of fire, a fire storm. We, the fire monkey, make fires that imitate thunderstorms. Instead of being made of cold air and rain, they are made of skin-melting fire. We deliver our bombs with our fire-powered vehicles, cars, trucks, ships, planes. We make everything we need with our fire-powered machines. So, after doing this for centuries, someone, some analytical snooping twerp, said, "I think our fires have added up. I think we are heating the planet." The first reaction was, of course, feigned incompetence. "No," they said, it is not us. We are innocent. It is the smoke from the trees. It is natural. It has happened this way before. It is caused by cow farts, by volcanoes hidden under the sea, by just being Earth. This is a lie created by lazy people who want to take away our jobs. How could we heat the atmosphere of the Earth, so big it is. We are so small. Our fires are small. But, not so small. Every car is a chunk of solid metal holding steady at about 250 degrees. Factory fires are often hotter, much hotter, thousands upon thousands of factories. Power stations, burning, burning, burning everything that burns. Even burning atoms, because we fire monkeys learned to make the primeval fire, the fire that existed not only before us, but even before the silver-white bird that crapped us out onto the good ground of Mother Earth.

And from our good nuclear fire, we make not only electric power to heat up everything more, heat the rivers, heat the sky, heat the soul of the planet, but also we make the most spectacular fire bombs. We make bombs that are the very core of the spirit of fire. The nuclear fire bomb burns hot enough to kill all that is, to kill both close and far, to kill now and far into the future. This is what we have come to, because our ancestors taught us to make a fire. And the nuclear fire bombs are the pride and power of nations. Our government talks about nuclear bombs like insecure men talk about sex: "I could not possibly have too much, and you don't need any at all."

We have come to love our fires so deeply, we make fires to show that we are happy. When we celebrate, we watch fireworks. Does fire work for you? Fire works for me. Fire works for you, for me, for us. Splash across the sky like stars beginning and ending in a single moment of blaze light. Colors, sparkles, stars, as quick and as glorious as the love one feels inside the body. We like fire. We hate bad people, and we like movies that show bad people disappearing in the billowing yellow and orange and red and black-edged flames of monster explosions, explosions of gas and liquid and solids, explosions of everything that men have dreamed and feared since a frightened mastodon stepped on grandpa's head and made his face look like it was printed with vegetable ink on a tortilla.

Our grandchildren and our great grand children will be both great and grand. They too will sit around a campfire, as in the early times, as in the dreamtime, the before time, the real time, the remembered but forgotten time when we were learning about fire but didn't know that we were learning but just thought there was something different about us. We ask questions. Is that it? We think about God. Is that it? Maybe. Maybe not. We are aware that we think. We wonder about our own thoughts. We have consciousness. We have a soul. Is that it? We are intelligent. That must be it. But maybe not. We make mistakes. How big are our mistakes? As big as burning a continent? As big as turning an ocean into a cesspool? As big as unintended consequences? As big as accidental apocalypse? Could be a kind of justice in that, that is if we end by accident a million years after starting by accident. Maybe what is different about us is that we do not fear fire. We cherish it. We want it. We play with it. Yes, they will have such fun, our grandchildren, sitting around a campfire, hearing stories of frogs and large predatory birds and all kinds of mythical creatures that once inhabited the Earth. Tigers that lived in snow, an ocean that teemed with billions of fishy lives, instead of being our planetary sewage treatment program, provided by the eighteen Honorable Industrial Nations. They will hear of when there were only six billion people on Earth, just a fourth of the more advanced twenty-four billion who live in their modern gymnodisc apartments. When they get a little older though, in their early teens, the camp activities will change. The regularly stimulated boys and girls will get their secret messages through to one another day or night, when the camp counselors are asleep, or embracing the hearth of a human body, and in broad daylight, in the small seconds when the counselor is looking at a bug on a leaf, or another kid. The messages will get through: "Come on, baby! Light my fire!"

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