Clockwork Purple writer’s group meeting at Aingeal Rose and Ahonu’s home
22 May 2017 11 AM – book chosen by J Michael
Our randomly chosen book – Phenomenon of Man – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
340 pages unseen – Charles picks page 72, Linda picks line 12 – our prompt is
“Looked at as a whole, this picture satisfies the requirements of reality” – 45 minutes, START writing
Teilhard stood there beside the dirt road near Piltdown, England (lat/lon 50.982, 0.051) holding a petrified jawbone his gardener had just dug up. He and a couple of archeologists had come down to this roadside ditch because several extremely unusual things had been dug up the month before. A strange long dinosaur bone that looked like an English cricket bat and a piece of ancient skull bone had been found last week, and absolutely astonishing to all of them was that the piece of skull fit the jawbone Teilhard now held in his hand.
This was the most fabulous find in the history of archeology! It was clearly the bones of a million-year-old human being. The teeth were almost human in appearance, but just enough different not to be a modern human. What was just a little peculiar was that the teeth had been ground away by ancient breakage and weathering so that it was impossible to know for sure it wasn’t modern. Also, quite unfortunately, the “articular condyle” of the jawbone had been broken and worn away just enough that even to the skilled eyes of the professional bone people they couldn’t be sure if it was from an orangutan or a human.
This jawbone was exactly right for what they were expecting to discover … almost. But somehow the strange inconsistencies seemed to be what would be expected of an obviously ancient bone that had been turned to stone. It takes a very long time, tens of thousands of years, for the bone fossilization to occur because the bone must be in just the right kind of local situation. It must be buried in a very watery place such as a functioning peat bog with just the right chemicals for fossilization to occur.
But in this moment of extreme excitement, all that didn’t matter. Here it was! That was undeniable, and it had been discovered by people of impeccable public reputation and it was perfect! All of the parts fit together perfectly! Looked at as a whole, this picture satisfied the requirements of reality, of scientific reality, of emotional reality. It fit exactly what the scientists had been looking for, and it had been discovered by several different scientists working together who were of the highest possible reputation.
The method of discovery was wonderful. It was an example of careful analysis and deduction that would please Sherlock Holmes’ fans. After all, no one just digs in a ditch and finds a trove of astonishing things. The discovery was made because that ditch was being used as a source of gravel for a local road covering. Some of the gravel being used was chips made while crafting stone tools. That was obvious only to the eye of trained scientists specializing in ancient stone tools. As it happened, not far from Piltdown was a man who was a searcher for old artifacts and who was known to take his constitutional walks on that particular road. He was the one who noticed the chips and asked around to find out where the gravel came from. After some diligent asking around he went to the Piltdown gravel pit. Even before anything other than the stone chips were discovered he contacted the archeological authorities in London thinking he had discovered an ancient stoneworker’s workshop.
Thus the professional archeologists began digging there in the roadside ditch near Piltdown. Soon they were calling the collection of bones the Piltdown Man. A young clergyman and author named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin began writing about the fantastic find and came into national prominence. Fortunately for Teilhard’s writing career, the most famous author of the time lived walking distance from the discovery site and befriended Teilhard. He was the creator of the most famous detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle was also interested in archeology, and even knew from former encounters some of the prominent people who came to dig. He even came by a few times himself to watch the digs while they were in progress
Conan Doyle looked at the whole picture as satisfying the requirements for a reality-based novel and he was writing one which was soon published as The Lost World. That novel was nearly a hundred years later made into an Academy Award-winning movie The Lost World.
Conan Doyle was making great stories that would make him famous for as long as there are humans who are capable of reading or watching movies or pursuing hoaxes.
Some post-writing spelling and grammar corrections were made and web links added.