In spite of everything, population continued to decline. I was not able to discover the cause of this universal process. Perhaps the root of the trouble was physiological. Some chemical deficiency may have affected the germ cells. Or again some subtle mutation of the human stock may have rendered conception less ready. Or perhaps the neurotic condition of the population had produced hormones unfavourable to conception. I am inclined to believe that the real cause, through whatever physical mechanism it took effect, was the profound disheartenment and spiritual desolation which oppressed the whole race.
One striking aspect of culture was a vast development of the technique of personal intercourse. Language blossomed into a great forest of terms for all the new subtleties of emotion and intuition, and all the types and shades of personality. The citizen of the new world could by the use of this rich linguistic symbolism become intimately aware of a strangerâ€™s personality in an hour. There was also a subtle ideography of psychological and spiritual phenomena. By the careful drawing of a number of Chinese-looking symbols an artist who was something between a novelist and an abstract painter could present the essential form of the intercourse of several human beings from birth to death. In comparison with these ideograms, verbal language, though so greatly improved, was a cumbersome medium. A single meticulously inscribed page could convey a whole biography. Thus arose a new visual art, which, by means of highly abstract signs charged with the emotional and intellectual experience of the race, obtained the far-reaching effect of great poetry.
Gradually, however, the balance of power in the world altered in favour of the Chinese Empire. This was due at bottom to the greater efficiency and colder intelligence of the Chinese ruling class. The worldâ€™s most ancient and most phlegmatic civilization, though by now so grievously perverted, had an advantage in this respect against the worldâ€™s newest, immature, and equally perverted civilization. Moreover though Chinese imperialism was handicapped by a late start, it was better organized, more wealthy, and more united than the Russian variety. After the trouble in Manchuria the Chinese government tightened its hold on all its outlying provinces, moving whole populations hither and thither so as to create a homogeneous people stretching from the Altai Mountains to the Timor Sea. Thus the rulers contrived that, although in every region there was servitude and frustration, in none was there a sufficient local tradition and consciousness to form the focus of a serious uprising. In the huge, straggling Russian Empire, on the other hand, the ancient Soviet tradition had maintained a great deal of local autonomy. Further, the personnel of the Russian imperial service, if it lacked the tyrannical meddlesomeness of the Chinese, lacked also its cunning in propaganda and oppression. The Russian provinces were therefore in a constant state of unrest, which frequently broke out into turmoil, now in North America, now in Britain, now in India. Indeed every country had its history of revolt, alternating between secret sedition and open rebellion. The consequence was that throughout the latter part of the Russo-Chinese war Russia appealed to China for help far more often than China to Russia.
As I write this book my own death must lie somewhere in the near future. When, I cannot tell; for so minute an event could not imprint itself on the vision that has possessed me. Seemingly it is at the time of my death that the strange experience begins, obscurely and intermittently at first. For this reason the earlier part of the twofold story is fragmentary and chaotic, like the experiences of childhood remembered in maturity.
The fall of India dismayed the middle-aged North American community. When at last the Soviet dictatorship picked a quarrel with it, internal dissensions made resistance impossible. The regime of the middle-aged collapsed. The youthful minority seized power and welcomed the Russian aerial armada. The Hammer and Sickle, formerly the most heartening emblem of the will for the light, but now sadly debased, was displayed on the Capitol.