Harry Dodge’s My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing shifts its scale from the cosmos to viruses. Nothing escapes. Robots and artificial intelligence are discussed in detail. Materialist Dodge says that technology is made by organisms made by matter, so no technology is unnatural. He says, “We are always changing, we’re never fully formed.” This is a book of constant revelation, and a perfect blend of style and content.
An excerpt from “From My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing,” by Harry Dodge.
March 2016 I walked in — back from Houston — greeted the baby and Maggie and then we (all of us at once) noticed the small box on the front porch. I hauled it into the house and onto our dinner table, held my breath. They watched while I got a knife; there was only the sound of cardboard tearing and then I retrieved a bowling ball of a thing suffocated in Bubble Wrap,
which appeared to be accompanied by zot, neither invoice nor receipt, no language. Remarkably heavy. And bandaged like this, in a relentless sad tape job that looked like it had been performed by a mental patient. Maggie backed away, suddenly nervous, pulled Iggy aside by the back of his shirt. I looked at them and back at the thing; unwrapped it while they watched. There it was, an iron glob of gum. It was buzzing, it was glowing, just smaller than a human head, but much heavier. Unbelievably heavy for its size, like it had a different type of gravity that applied to it; an alien gravity might have applied. It was dark gray but metallic too and had deep pits lined in black: gooey tortuous crevices, folds which were also penetrated by black and burnished in zigs and snoods, coruscant at its facets, or scallops, its outermost convexities, which could have been observed at this point to have been no less vulnerable for being lustrous. It was a turtle from the event horizon, a dog head from Jupiter. All the weight gave two simultaneous and opposite impressions: the impression that it would like to have squirmed away (dropped away maybe? barreled right through the Earth and on into the empty blue-black of space?), and a kind of stalwart noble servitude unstained by fear. I am here telling you, it was saying hello.
Do you think it is radioactive? Are you sure about this rock? Maggie refused to touch it, pulled Iggy out of the room, before relenting just a moment later. We all touched it at once, gingerly, guilelessly. We stared. It was beautiful in the most banal and obvious sense of the word, I mean, plainly and strongly seductive, erotic. It did occur to me that it might spy on us, or resubstantiate like a compressed-foam Jesus into some sort of elephantine cuttlefish overlord, so I didn’t know where to keep it overnight. Maggie was astonished. How do you know it’s real, she asked several times. I showed her a small card I had finally uncovered swaddled beneath the meteorite. Here’s an info card. He said he would send a certificate of authenticity, but I don’t see anything here. Maggie reads the card and says, Found 1527. Argentina, yah, looks like the colonizing Spaniards came upon a group of people who showed them this field, Campo del Cielo, in 1527. So these rocks fell while humans watched.
I treated the meteorite as I would any guest and laid it gently down on a small red wool coaster. And then got under my own covers to sleep. I dreamed that for the rest of my life I would reinvest all of the money that came in from selling artwork to purchase more and more pieces of this particular meteorite, the Campo del Cielo. I would spend my life reuniting the fragments and slowly I would become famous, an artist known for this obsession, and when they were all back together, all of the pieces in one room, there would be a Terminator-like “Rise of the Machines” via this METALLIC REUNIFICATION, a Big Bang in reverse; this thing I had caused, this thing I knew to do. I would be an agent of divine-material chaos—but it wouldn’t be a drag, it would be fate, it would be lovely and epic and right. Like the best heroin but rather than singly ecstatic, encased in ugly nods, it would be ubiquitously, publicly salutary. The stress of the world would gather into a point and, having become too dense to be supported by the web of our collective desire, would whorl into a baby black hole and drop all of the matter of our galaxy through an interstellar poop-shoot into a teardrop-shaped bag of shit which would land in some nature canyon somewhere; it (terrestrial intersubjective tension and its more intellectual cousin, torsion) would then start again so meekly that it might be mistaken for the weak- force itself, gravity. It would glow and the magnetic field would start to creep around a new Earth in another part of the (still) observable universe. We’d all die but our constituent pieces would become other, much cooler, stuff. I woke up horny.
In the morning I decided to take the meteorite out of the house but didn’t know how to carry it; I chose a large clean canvas tote and tried not to bonk it around too much as I walked. It was metal but may as well have been flesh and bone. It was clearly alive to me: an iron creature. On a shelf just above my welder, I let it sit in my studio for three days without looking at it again.
But then things started to happen. Unbelievable things happened.
“From My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing” by Harry Dodge. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Harry Dodge, 2020.