Eden: A Utopian Imagining
Lilith opened her eyes. Nothing. By reflex she blinked. Still nothing, but blackness. Distantly she could feel a rising panic from her sternum. Her heart beat began to quicken in her chest. Her lungs expanded as a quiet scream built. But her mind was calm. Her body’s alarm felt muted, as if a closed door separated body from mind. A deep breath quelled the scream.
Tentatively, she lifted one arm. Sluggish and heavy from disuse, it rose shakily. With a thud it hit something over her. The pull of gravity told her that she was lying on her back. She wriggled, hitting walls within inches of her waist on either side. She lifted the other arm, her hands scrabbling across the surface overheard. Metal. Metal all around. She was in a metal coffin. The panic started climbing up again. Gulping down air, she pressed both hands against the metal and pushed.
Light spilled into the coffin. Not coffin, box of some kind. The lid lifted easily up and out. Lilith narrowed her eyes against the light, but it was soft and low. Deep breaths filled her chest, already the effort and panic had made her light headed. She grabbed onto the sides of the box, unsteady and weak, and tried to pull herself up. The strain made her head spin, but before she could drop back, dozens of hands reached in, holding her arms and head and lifted her out.
In a blur of motion, Lilith was on her feet, surrounded by people. In a fluid movement, wrapped a skirt around her waist. She must have been naked, but couldn’t quite be sure. Her head, her head just felt so foggy. By the time she passed out, they had already caught her. Hands soft and rough, large and small, brown and tan. The last thing she saw was their smiling faces. Then more darkness.
“Lilith? Are you Awake?”
Lilith opened her eyes. Swiveling her head, she caught the speaker as he bent down by her bed. A long white beard hung from his brown wrinkled face. He smiled at her.
“It’s ok Lilith, you made it. Welcome to Eden”
And Lilith started to laugh. It shook out of her bones and slid from her eyes.
“You have breasts!”
The old man stared down at her, then down at his- her breasts, the beard settling over them. Then she- he started to laugh too, causing them to shake and wiggle over her belly. The laughter ricocheted between them, unlocking Lilith’s cryo-frozen joints in spasms of giggles. Lilith rolled on the cot, still laughing.
The walls seemed to be made of a brown mud and the light from the candles flickered across them, making them seem soft and pliable. Turned back to the old woman, Lilith took her in, blinking tears out of her eyes.
The old woman wore a woven cap on top of wiry white hair. Her beard hung down between two sagging, but obviously present breasts. A round pot bell popped out from over her skirt, identical to the one that Lilith herself was wearing.
“What year is it?” Lilith stared at the old woman. Had it been years- decades since she had opted to escape the plague in the Ark cryosystem? “How did you survive the plague?”
“Lilith,” the old woman wiped the tears from her own eyes, “we’re glad you’ve woken up so well. And all your questions will be answered. But first we need to know some things from you. Will that be alright with you? To answer some questions?”
Lilith nodded her head, hungry to find out whatever she could from the old woman.
“Do you remember your full name? Where you’re from?”
“My name is Lilith Steinem. I’m from Chicago, well, north of the city, Evanston Illinois.”
“Is that central North Country in the Lakes Region? I’m sure if one of our anthrohistorians were here they’d know where that was. I’m sure you’ll want to speak with them.”
“Wait, we are still in the United States right?”
The old woman looked down sadly at her lap. “I’m afraid,” she said softly, “that many of the civil institutions that you once knew fell after the Great Death and the Great Rebirth. You are now in Edenland, far south of where you must have lived. We received your container after it was discovered. Every village that could has volunteered to accept one or two of your time people and to reintegrate them for modern life.”
Lilith sat still of a moment. The United States was gone. Chicago had been forgotten. What else had changed? The great death must have been The Plague.
“Would you like to continue? I understand that this must been a heavy burden for you.”
Again, Lilith nodded, but slowly this time.
“Do you remember if you had chosen un Sexo and what was the last Transformación you made? The other Elders are unsure when you were lost.”
“What do you mean chosen a sex? Isn’t it obvious?” Lilith touched her own breasts, suddenly shy about their nakedness. “I’m a woman, the same as you.”
The old woman looked perplexed, then embarrassed. She replied with a slight air of pity. “Lilith, child, I have breasts because I have young ones to feed. But I choose to be a Pers because that is what I feel and that it what I want other people to see.”
“A Pers? Choose to be? Are you male or female? You have breasts. You have a beard. What do you mean?” Lilith covered her nakedness with the blanket from her cot. She had been fine being naked with a woman, but this was someone- something different.”
The old woman or man, Lilith could not quite make herself say Pers, sighed. Per clearly had not expected this part of the questions to be difficult.
“You must be from the early days of the cryo-experiments, probably in the early days of the Great Death. I have much to explain to you, but I’m unsure how to make it clear in ways that you’ll understand. I will try to explain our ideas to you, but you must promise to stop me if you have any questions. First you must understand the nature of the Great Death. It was not one disease, but a whole host working in tandem. One would diffuse the immune system, another would stop the body ways of making children, and another would destroy the mind. And once the person was docile, the diseases would simply eat per away. It killed so many people and scared many more into embracing death or near death cryo-sleep. Many simply gave up, but a few continued to fight. The diseases changed so quickly, it was impossible to fight on their terms, so my ancestors changed the fight. Our children are not born of the body anymore, too dangerous. Our change was radical.
“You don’t have children? What future is there then?”
“We have children, yes. I have had many children in my time, but they are not of our body. Certainly there are those that still practice the body ways of making children, but they are rare and religiously fanatical. Mostly they have disappeared into the Great Jungle. But the ancestors to Eden, the last of the Nations, Mezomerica, learned a new way. So many of us suffered from the disease of child making, there was no complaint when the Genomancers offered us their solution. They offered to combine the genetic information of three people to birth a new baby child.”
“Genomancers? Sounds like science fiction”
“Genomancers are those who study the ways of creating and changing the body. They are the ones who saw the cure to the Great Death. The genetic material of three people is combined into a baby child and that child is raised until the age of 10 by those three people. This is called the family trinity. But the family trinity do not raise their child alone, because they are a part of the family senary, the group of six triads that all raise their children at the same time. “
“But what about having a mother and a father. I’m sorry, this is ridiculous. This is all some kind of joke.” Lilith threw the blanket over her head. She sat there in silence. She wished that she could go home, back where she knew who she was and knew the people around her. Knowing people. She knew no one in this time. Everyone she had ever known was dead. She sat under the covers and cried the bitter tears of loss.
There was a soft pressure next to her on the cot. The old person sat down on the cot and gently caressed her head through the blanket.
“Oh my child, I’m so sorry for your loss. Maybe this was not the right way to Awake you. But I promise, if you follow me, I will show you a world so much more vibrant than the one you lost.”
Lilith gingerly pulled the blanket off her head. Acting like a child. Idiot. The only way to survive is to adapt. She fumbled with the blanket until she was free and held her hands out to the Person.
“My name is Lilith. I’m scared and confused. Could you please show me the way?”
“Hello Lilith”, per smiled. “My name is Eve.
Lilith opened her eyes and smiled. She had been Awake for over a year now and while the Eden life still seemed strange to her, it was starting to develop a comfortable rhythm. She sat up and reached for the wrap that everyone in Eden seemed to wear as their sole article of clothing. Pulling it around her nakedness, she ran through the list of chores that had to be done before she was summoned for her shift at the Nursery. There were logs to be split, water to be hauled from the river, and eggs that needed gathering. At first she had baulked at the physical labor. Why couldn’t the men do the heavy lifting? They were stronger. Why should anyone be forced to carry anything at all? The Edenlanders had the technology to erase manual labor. But Eve and Raphael had only laughed.
“Why give machines the pleasure of work?” they had said.
It had taken Lilith even longer to accept that gender made very little difference to people who could change their names, pronouns, and bodies as easily as she had changed clothing in the time before. But in the end she had accepted the change as part of the new world. Lilith hurried out of her room and out into the bright sunlight of the new day.
“Good morning Lilith, are you free next Sabbathseve? My senary kin are celebrating our births occasion and the wine will flow like honey from our hives,” Alma called out. Lilith blushed a deep rose which only made Alma laugh. She had told Lilith that her embarrassment about sex was adorable and fumbling as a young child. Lilith had smacked her bare thighs at the time and then kissed them. Sex for the Edenlanders was as common as eating and Lilith was strange in her shyness.
Lilith had pulled Eve aside the first time someone had asked her to lie with them and tried to tell per in a soft tone. But Eve had laughed loudly and called per trinity fellows over. Raphael and Sara had also laughed as Eve made Lilith explain what had happened. Sara was younger than Lilith, but had the same amused expression as Raphael and Eve.
“Are you planning on entering a trinity partnership with Ben?” Sara has asked, mustering some semblance of seriousness from her laughter.
“Of course not! I can barely get myself around this place, let alone try and raise a child!”
“Well then it is not a problem.” Raphael patted the top of Lilith’s head. Per was always a little condescending whenever Lilith’s ignorance came up. She would have disliked per, but Raphael was so gentle with the trinity family’s little Aliyah that she could never hold her anger.
Lilith sang old songs from her time as she finished her chores. The ballads of Regina Spektor seemed oddly fitting in the Hatchery. From over the hill, she heard the ringing of the Nursery’s bells, calling the next shift. Lilith finished the row of eggs and hurried to the Nursery as fast as she could with her bare feet on the gravel path. Eve had recommended that Lilith work in the Nursery with per until she found her own calling, but Lilith already considered the Nursery to be her second home. She had loved children in the time before, when she had been a librarian.
It was in the Nursery that every child learned how to live in Eden. Of course each child had learned the basics from their family trinity and family senary, but the Nursery took them from their tenth year for three years and opened their eyes to the greater world around them. Natural sciences, genomancy, art, agriculture and everything else that could be offered the children was taught as the children themselves started to find their own callings. And after the three years, the new adults were sent off into the world to follow that calling wherever it led them, either in Edenland or farther out into the world.
Lilith herself was preparing to leave the Nursery, following her calling to find the remnants of books that were left scattered across the world. She chuckled a little as she entered the larger mud and brick structure. She had always loved books, and now that they were rare, she was in the position of authority of books from her time. Already she was building libraries in her mind, helped by apprentices and anthrohistorians.
“Good morning Lilith,” sang a chorus of young ones as she entered the hall. Eve smiled at her, and continued per lesson. Lilith would miss them, but it was a new world, and she had to see it all.
Captain’s Log 2615
As I write this, Terrans continues to thrive and adapt to new situations. It has been quite gottlewarming to watch the reintegration process for those who had undergone cryo-genetic stasis among the various civilizations that have emerged after the eco-cultural devastation of the 2010 plague years. Since I was dispatched to this lunar outpost in 2000, I have seen quite remarkable changes down on the terran surface. Special consideration much be paid to the sentient Terrans who have displayed remarkable resilience and adaptability to new paradigms. In order to understand this new Terran epoch, I have been forced to turn to a host of Terran scholars from the late second millennium. For the purpose of this report, I will be considering the Terran Shulamith Firestone and her work on utopian restructuring. Of course, Firestone could not have known that her work would be used by the Mezzomerican Empire in 2154 as the basis of a new family structure, nor could she have imagined how it would deviate from the structure she imagined. First, it must be stated that the eschatological nature of Mezzomerican radicalism drew on Firestone’s evocation of certain Terran mystery cults, such a Hebreism. Firestone used the imagery of Eden and Original Sin as the basis for her critique of the terran familial structure of her time. She wrote, in a text entitled The Dialectic of Sex, “The revolt against the biological family could bring the first successful revolution or what was thought of by the ancients as the Messianic Age.” (Firestone 242). Firestone saw the main cause of systematic oppression by half of the species on the other as based in the biological family. Now Terrans naturally reproduce through a mingling of sex organs and the insertion of one set of genetic material by “Male” into the body of the “Female” where the new organism is grown and supplied by the body of the “Female” for the first nine months of existence until which time it, the offspring, is capable of existing outside of the body. At this point, the nearly helpless offspring must be cared for either by its biological parents or by other Terran adults or else it will die. When the Mezzomerican scientists, those known at the Genomancers, discovered that they could mix the genetic material of three Terrans and grow the child for the nine month gestation period ex utero, it brought forth the Firestone idea of liberation for the “Female” aspect of the species from “the tyranny of their biology” (Firestone 238). This freedom from child bearing and rearing was matched with the Mezzomerican policy of contractual triads, colloquially known as the Family Trinity. Three Terrans would apply together as a non-sexually, non-genetically related triad to the Genomancers with their genetic material and receive their offspring together with 5 other triads in a larger familiar structure that carried the colloquial nomenclature of the Family Senary. Several of these Family Senaries could exist at any point within a Village. Thus, I have seen a realization of the Firestone idea of “limited contract” (Firestone 231) What is interesting to note, however, is the only partial relation that the late Mezzomerican society known as Eden has with the fundamental texts of Firestone, especially in relation to the rearing of the young. In Mezzomerican Eden, which cannot be confused with the Skandish Eden, children are raised by the Family Trinity and Senary until age 10, at which point they are relinquished to the care of a community center known as the Nursery. Firestone writes in her text that Terran offspring are inherently oppressed (Firestone 216). Eden families continue the practices of earlier Terran societies of nurturing of the young in a lopsided power dynamic. However, in my observation of the Terran developmental processes, this period is necessary for the education of the young at an early age. However, the Nursery system is operated much like the teaching of John Holt and Grace Llewellyn, in that the children are incorporated in their own education as quickly as possible and set out into the world to follow their own path at a much early age that during Firestone’s time. This is actually directly in line with the Firestone idea of young people, referenced from page 236, which is that they be made contributors in society as quickly as possible within their own developmental process. Indeed, the Mezzomerican Eden is much like that of Hebreistic lore in that many of the societal power dynamics have been equalized. This is will be an exciting development to follow.
Terran Lunar Base 2615