We've gotta get off this planet.
We've gotta get off this planet, he says before his video even comes through clearly.
The world runs on war, he goes on, which could be coming rather soon. Have you read 'Des Chose Cachées Depuis La Fondation Du Monde' lately? It's in French but there's an English version.
I want to quit this video call, but Eric is a friend of mine, a upstanding fellow despite his enervating ideas, his ability to irritate me at a moment's notice, his alarming intellectual attractiveness. His words captivate. I only nod, not hypnotically, to show I am attending to him.
We've avoided nuclear war so far, but how long will that go on?
I nod again, and grimace, smile in my weird way to show I'm still with him despite the grimace. We've gotten on the call, ostensibly, to discuss how to gradually decrease his Twitter usage so that he can refocus on his work on geometric unity. Which is conveniently, for this story, a topic to which he now turns.
We need to escape. Look, I know what you might be thinking, that by that I mean faster-than-light travel, but that's not it at all. I'm talking about rethinking Einstein. We've only had him about a 100 years.
In other words?
Can we be more courageous? Do we need to be connected as much as we are? Can we buy more time?
You can't buy that in China.
Exactly. We should be less dependent on them, been saying that since the 90s. He pauses, looks away from the camera, his son is saying something to him from across the room, and he turns back. Look, I'm not going to make a scapegoat of them, to fall into René Girard's nonfiction. But I need your help getting off Twitter so that I can spend more time on getting us off this planet.
I show my support. I say we've had great luck, extraordinary even, and that we are foolish to imagine we might become wise enough to avoid our own problems.
YES, he says. Where are the signs that we are those people? And we're not going to upload ourselves into silicon or reboot from tardigrades.
Has this video call, I ask, in a polite manner of ending the conversation, helped you stay off Twitter today?
You know what? It has. Then he says something which warms my heart: We need more people like you. Willing to just, you know, listen.