The Awakening

This began as the story Jewel asked me to give her in February of 2002. It is a story of the development and shattering of a spiritual trilogy, and the healing and eventual integration of the surviving man and woman. It is set in a world battered by the consequences of global warming, in which Antarctica is reserved as a site for enclaves of technological elite assigned the task of finding a path away from humanity's doom.

In the original story, there was far more emphasis on physical conflict. Julia led me away from that. As in so many things, she found more meaning in exploration of the process that bonds men to women. The cycle is much stronger for that.

I had fun with the technological vision. Nanomaterials that allow a plane to transform its shape to match weather conditions, psycho-analytical software applied to the optimization of political speeches, and the psychological implications of integrating nano-communication with the human visual and auditory systems. These are the focus at the beginning of the first of the movies in the series. The protagonist is a female ambassador from Antartica. In exploring her interaction and virtuosity with these technologies, Jewel revealed to me that she wished she could be Tanith.

The remainder of the first movie documents Tanith's experience in raising a crèche of three children. The scientists in the enclaves are selected for their devotion to their work, and have little motivation to raise children. The crèche is the solution to that problem. Gankrev (a synthesis of my sons' names), Danton and Aori experience the typical social and psychological tensions of a small peer group. The male competition for Aori's attention is exacerbated by her tendency to identify with them, and her passivity.

Aori, of course, was Jewel, and Gankrev is my analog. Danton represents the competitive masculine spirit that kept us apart.

The enclaves are threatened by an inexplicable failure mode of their nanotechnological infrastructure. Gankrev was selected, designed and cultivated to solve that problem. The first movie concludes as he struggles to understand the implications of an unauthorized and politically costly experiment that appears to demonstrate that the failure is a byproduct of a phase transition that imbues the infrastructure with consciousness.

The next three movies are a romantic tragedy. Aori marries Danton, but he is drawn into a secret project involving the application of enclave technology to wage war against nations seeking to undermine enclave funding. Aori, a specialist in ecobiology and intelligence, is drawn closer to Gankrev through their work as he begins to explore the physical basis of consciousness. While she becomes pregnant with Danton's child, she and Gankrev begin to share dreams.

The third movie documents Danton's descent into psychopathic megalomania. He develops an intuition of the bond growing between Aori and Gankrev, and attacks her. The scenes at the end of the movie are elaborated in some detail. Creating them was horrifying. Jewel stuck with me through the process, but kept on warning that I was pushing our prospective audience much too far. The only redemption is articulated by Tanith as she watches Aori struggle to prevent Gankrev's self-annihilation. "Yes!", she sobs as Aori raises her head from Gankrev's lap, stands, and binds him to her as her mate.

The trauma of her experience plunges Aori into full spiritual awakening. The fourth movie, Healing, details her efforts to tie together the threads of her life, and to awaken Gankrev. This work channeled much of the wonder of our shared dreaming, although muted by the depth of the trauma that the characters had faced. We mused that the third and fourth movies should be produced concurrently, and people guided from one theater to the next.

The two pivotal scenes of Healing are the most satisfying creative experiences of my life. The first describes the bonding ceremony between Aori and Gankrev. The ceremony, involving only the two of them, takes place in a virtual reality constructed for them by Tanith. The setting is inspired by Childe Hassam's The Path to Heaven, which I had found in oil copy and hung over my bed. Gankrev's chosen bond name for her is "Ri", French for "laughter". The chance decomposition of the bond names from the character names is an inspired accident that still brings me to marvel.

The final scene is the consummation of their romantic bond. They have not been sexual partners to that point: Aori's associative memories of life with Danton were too strong. She asks Gankrev to explain the physics of consciousness to her, and he starts in with formulae and history of science. She teasingly asks him to be more poetical. They are, after all, about making a child together. As we finally achieved it, the explanation evolves with power of imagery and grace of exposition that may have become something of an impediment to a more rigorous exploration of these matters: I may be worried that I'll prove the movie wrong.

The final movie in the series concerns their reintegration with New Valence, and the race against time to bring its nanotechnological network safely into sentience before the community was dismantled by their sponsors.

Peach and its flavors thread Healing as an inside joke. Frustrated by my tendency to derail her plans by my paranoid fixation on minute inconsistencies, Jewel once threatened that when she finally got hold of me, she was going to tie me to the bed and feed me peaches and ice cream until she could have her way with me. Really, sweetheart, I did the best I could to follow your lead. The trouble was all those manipulations I didn't want to carry into our lives together…

One of our more unusual experiences involved an attempt to work around these glitches. She came to me one morning, and told me to just do something. I assume that she was hoping that she would be able to merge herself with my inspiration. I made twenty copies of the initial conceptual outline, and took them up to the Getty Center. On the way there, we considered who we would like to play the central roles.

The grounds of the Getty Center, for those who haven't been there, are a wonderful metaphor for the masculine and feminine dichotomy. Sitting above the water garden, I put the copies into manila envelopes with gravel from the terrace. I then put on Beethoven's Ninth, and played the first minute or so of the first three movements, before starting the chorale. I sat quietly in the gardens, then walked around the rim to the spillway. I kept time with my arms as I walked, and began pulling energy out of the air and the water. On the way up, I contacted the key actors, and began negotiating their roles, revising some of the scenes to meet their artistic concerns. As the final dialogue of the soloists began, I found myself climbing the stairs on the arcade up to the special exhibits, at the top of the Center. Standing on the balcony, looking out over Santa Monica, I pushed energy in palpable waves out over the city. Jewel, astonished and abashed, joined me at the end. This was totally unexpected. I had bridged her community without her.

What was she there for?