We have far too much to feel joy. We are too satiated, too full. We have produced an overabundance of human life and a dearth of real humans. We have produced great cities filled with flesh, but these are merely living catacombs. These flesh repositories erode statues and people alike; we are reduced, we have ordered out. Intimacy is a crime and character is an emetic parody. You will meet people who have not really been there for years; they stopped being there at school or university or in the workplace. They know a few lines that they can singsong back to you, just like a clever crow. This is the sorrow of abundance.
Spiritual renewal? It is not a sermon, it is not something you can sign up with: it is death. Prophets, usually mathematicians, people with an aptitude for study, have charted the geometry of death. Logic is never warm; it is the thing that is so cold to the touch that it has become warm. The logicians look at cities and say: there are just too many people, too many. Thankfully, the devices for our salvation have been prepared, nerve gas and the like; even to mention it makes minds a little bit tight, you have stepped onto the razor blade. After abundance, reduction must come. This is just the law of life. If nobody makes the necessary cuts then the cuts will come anyway. How many more billions will nature tolerate? Not many more. Few have the spiritual clarity to make the cut; it means you are, by popular consensus, a bad person—popular consensus is a sickness.
Come with me now, come to my orbiting satellite. It is a dark star of my own construction. Behind us a fleet of ships, composed of the most productive and purest people on Earth, is treading towards a distant star. Below us, the old home; she is very cramped and bent under the weight of human biomass. We press the button together: we are both responsible for what happens next. I will not let you escape responsibility. The missiles fall from the station, billions of people fall into a redemptive sleep. The carcasses will pollute the cities for a year or two—according to computer calculations, anyway. Beside us there is an ark, it contains the seeds of regeneration: a hundred thousand people to repopulate the Earth. I know there will be new mistakes, and I know that, in twenty centuries time, we will be back at this point; the technology will be better, but the dilemma will remain exactly the same. Did you think this was a reign of quantity? Yes, it is that. It is also the age of zero, a great help in building our machines and plotting our infinitesimal calculations. Zero has a clear answer: death. The great cleaning is under way; we are the servants of truth and nature, fanatics for a more real world. Nothing is as real as death.
Go to the window. Can you see the death of the cities? Can you see the lights going out? A few will survive, it is a statistical certainty. These few will be honoured by the colonists; the redemptive kernel in the filth. Even though everyone around them was dead, they were alive; they were the secret carriers of the purple flame. Adolescents of the species, they asked: “Why am I different from everyone else?” Now we have answered them; we have answered them with liberation from the prison of flesh that surrounded them.
No tears. You lived with man as long as I did. You know his ways; his cruelties, his reluctance to end misery. He would extend the prison forever and be a better zookeeper; we have set the animals free. We will build a large stupa where New York once sat; we will carve an elephant on one side and a tiger on the other. We will come with pilgrims to remember what we did today.