The Teachings of Water

When I look into the water I see blurred shapes. Or do I?

Are they not, rather, revealed ones?

Is this not a message from my body?
Is it not the intersection between opening through movement and movement through opening?

Is it not the lesson of the water that they are the same? Is this not the blood speaking?

Is it not saying that life and the body each have their languages? and that they touch?

and that this is the mystery?

A Walk in the Fog

Boundaries show the limits of consciousness. When they are foggy, magic happens. Look how this grove inhabits the fuzzy boundary of the fog. It holds to itself and yet extends, not only across the pasture but into the fog. It makes sense. The grove is all about holding to itself and yet remaining open, drinking wind and eating light. Is it an active force? The question is absurd. It is a balance.p1300783

Now, look what happens when we pull back and include a human boundary called a wall. The tree is ‘contained’. It does its magic work within a human frame. That frame is what we call ‘civilization’. Note how it walls us out as much as it walls the tree in. To get to the tree we have to pass through the wall. We can be either on one side of it or another, but not both at once… unless we take the wall down stone by stone and carry them back to the quarry where they were once dug.


Fortunately, we have other metaphysical technologies. The one below is called a “way” or a “path”. In North America, we would call it a “trail”, but that’s a peculiarly colonial word, as fragile and riddling as a wall. A path is better. A way that extends to no end, from no beginning. A dancing ground, so to speak.


The trees know this. Look.


These paths for water rising into the sky don’t dissolve with the seasons. The tree neither lives outside of them or only at their tips. They are not histories. They are moments of presence. Now, add the wild. In this case, an ibex. This non-human point of view makes the entire scene as wide as the universe. It looks back, not just out of this animal, but everywhere at once.p1300861

That looking and that presence is who we are. Walls have contexts. They are not the path.


They are not the way.p1300903

The way is not through the trees. It is among them.

Becoming the Earth

Scientific culture tells us there is no relationship between this energy …
P1190283 … and this energy …
P1190460 … or this one …


… but it does propose a series of material causes and effects. They’re quite powerful. Science, however, lacks tools to view the patterns of connection between the above series with this …

P1190746 … or this …P1220635

… except to say that they form a part of an interlocking ecosystem based on competition (randomness creating pattern over time.) This viewpoint is cultural. To that culture, the pattern is inconsequential. The particular skill of this conception is its ability to become blind to pattern as a wholeness.


For that, it gains narratives of cause. That’s what it’s looking for. Not the non-cause of this photograph of a frog…


That the changes between energy states that lie within this world of chance are changes in manifestations of energy is not something its culture has the tools to measure, or cares to (it is looking for narrative, after all, which is a way of creating time out of unified space) so it ignores that image.


Materiality doesn’t draw on these questions, because it can’t prove them (Ironically, it can’t prove them because it doesn’t consider them.) Poetry and art have the ability to embrace this material, but poetry grew to be ignored as a tool of making these measurements after it went through the romantic period as an expression of wordlessness (emotion.) That was a valuable role, but it was easily circumvented with more materiality. At that point, poets chose to become aesthetic, hoping that would be an antidote to the commodification or materialization of language through its proximity to materiality. Unfortunately, its emotions were too easily manipulated, even by poetry itself, and in the end it couldn’t compete with machine gun fire in Northern France. Modern ways of thinking, that grew up in the time of machine gun emplacements and trench warfare, looked for pan-cultural universality, at the expense of intimacy. Essentially, it was an attempt to stop war by finding universal human commonality. That was found — in more war. Post-modern modalities suggested that the way to re-balance these poetic failures was to use pursuits such as poetry in a self-aware way. Poetry would thereby become a kind of scientific measurement device, to replace the ones that miss these manifestations. It would measure measurement. The world, however, went on wordlessly, as more than a plane of random intersections. It was obviously neither a measurement device nor a measurement method nor human.


The current fashion is to reformulate this failed solution by eschewing words completely and speaking of the non-space between words, where they are not (as if they were the things they named). This game insists that the space not be named or divided into forces, only honoured a new region of discovery called “vagueness.” Life (animation, energy) comes from it. Naming it kills its life.


This is a profound return to ancient Judeo-Christian (and earth religion) principles. Like Judeo-Christian principles, it is based upon a source of energy that can never be viewed (if it can be seen, or spoken of, it is not the right one) — a conception that dives within itself and opens up to infinity in every moment, not as the end of a process of development (as science would have it, with its bias towards points of observation).


Where’s the science that can match that dive into the moment? Where are the words that can unite its unity and disunity in one term, as science did nearly a century ago with the invention of quantum theory? Saying that poetry is social, which is poetry’s Big Idea today, and that even views of the earth are social product, is not an answer. I mean, look at this blown mustard.


That’s not social, except as an escaped weed, but that’s pretty aestheticized. The romantic mode is still an option: it can be a part of contemporary poetry through emotion, for example, including address (‘O weed, I feel your branching’… that kind of thing — very big in eco-poetry circles.) Nonetheless, this mustard is an integral part of an ecosystem which includes human bodies, both physical and social. Furthermore, it includes the ability of humans to cast up two sides to unified questions, so humans can debate them and bring them back together. Humans love that. They also love taking things apart. They put words to this stuff, for example…


… and it’s never unified again. Photography has proven more adept at that than words. What the Judeo-Christian tradition (which started with dividing the waters above from the waters below, in Genesis), and its science, and its poetry, have not done is to include the earth and its creatures within the social group, as non-human persons. This wasp hunter (below), for example, always moving for a better view right where I wanted to put my hand to get through this gate…


… or this wetland morning.


They look like poetry to Western eyes, I’m sure, just as I’m sure this entire conception does, and they’re certainly photography (although in its vagueness it lacks the vital bridging qualities of language.) Nonetheless, the work remains incomplete. Until we get past the idea that human-hood is person-hood or (its romantic-virtual incarnation) self-hood, or that being social is being human, we’re also stuck in such out-dated conceptions as male (or female) superiority, humans-as-language-monopolists, humans-as-the-rational-ones, and so on. We took the world apart, as part of a game, and for powerful reasons, most of them life-affirming. The other side of that game is to put it back together. Until then, we’re not fully human, because this…


… or this …P1180232

… will be not us. It will be other. Humans don’t do particularly well with ‘other’s. Furthermore, may I add, this raven and this rock…


… will continue to be seen as moments of the materialization of practical potentialities, rather than manifestations of unified energy that is, despite their difference, still unified.  Both are powerful modes. Neither precludes the other, except by force. Raven and rock are one. The word ‘habitat’ doesn’t really cover that, either, as it excludes the earth from the community of respect accorded to life. As a result, it loses the rights accorded to that respect, even so far as to be called “nature” (a human conception.) One consequence of failing to make this bridge is that men (culturally the holders of active force) will continue to be seen as road blockers to women (culturally the holders of receptive or attractive power), rather than being seen for what they are: together with women (and people of other genders and people of other species, including the earth) manifestations of a third, unified way. This cottonwood in wind at dusk, for example.


All that stands between us is fear of losing ourselves, although that’s precisely what we need to do. Poets are well suited to participate in this work of self-making. They have given it over to fiction (narrative) for too long. It’s been fun, but it’s time to tell our children our family stories now. Our big family. It’s time to enter space and become time.


The physicists and other cultural workers and beauticians will follow with their mathematics. They always have. Let’s welcome them heartfully and with full presence of mind.

The Moods of Colour

Look at the colour of this water.P1680668

Pretty nice stuff, for sure. Look at the colour of this water.

lakeFun stuff, isn’t it. And this water.

bottomWhy, it’s hardly there! And this…P1670546It’s coming to life. And this …track

Glorious! We could go on all day with this kind of fun, but think of this: that’s two stretches of water, not five, on two separate days. Here, I’ll show you…



Of course, in the cultural manners in which we’re all trained today, I’m being poetic here. I assure you, I’m being something more than that. To begin again, my moment of awareness looked a bit like this …

P1660987and a bit like this …


… all at the same time! I realized in a flash that the images, of oregon grape (upper) and poison ivy (lower), were the same colour.


To unravel this odd (to scientifically-trained eyes) colour shift, maybe it’s best to go back to the water.


Ah, that’s better.

I know, I know, what we’re looking at here is light not water, and all of it interpreted by our minds, too, and by a camera, AND by an electronic screen set to parameters that pleased a designer in a cubicle in California one day, or perhaps that was India, but it’s still water, even so, or an image of it. Standard physics will talk about angles of refraction and reflection, clarity of water, wavelengths of light, electron excitement, and so on, which all add up to what we see above. Pretty brilliant series of deductions, really. Goethe was onto something different, though. Maybe this image will help get at that …


 Winter Grass and Water Cress in Mid-February

This image shows two moods of the colour green, or to break that down further, two moods of the colour blue. In the bottom one, blue is in a yellow mood (blue + yellow = green, right?)


Note: rather than speaking of moods of colour, classical physics talks of this:


Note how the colours are jazzed up to give our brains a good kick. This is just one of the many ways in which physics and psychology meet.

In the bottom image (below), the blue and yellow have faded to pale pastels. Both have shifted together into a red mood.


In other words, it’s like the sun casting shadows, or ever-changing ripples of light.


Perhaps, though, that is all illusion. The poet-scientist, Goethe, said as much in his treatise, “A Theory of Colour” (Die Farbenlehre) in 1820. Colour, he pointed out, is not light. Light, he pointed out, is white. When you break it up into a spectrum of colours you are projecting an emotional image of the device by which you broke it up. (Physics would call this “vibrations of energy” and would dismiss the “emotional” term as poetic. Both, you will note, however, are poetic terms.) Goethe’s version of the above image, in other words, would look like this (without the frame):


Except, of course, Goethe wouldn’t have made such an image in the first place. What he wanted to do was make images of those emotional states, and he wanted to do that to show the link between perception and God, as he conceived of God to be. That was, mind you, also the approach of Newtonian physicists, with their talk of wavelengths of light. To Goethe, the light was not colour, but illumination itself, which came through the human mind and saw its emotional states cast on the world, and the emotional states of the world cast within itself: a unity, in other words. To Newtonians, who used physicals tools of measurement, it was all physical. This drove Goethe to distraction. He stressed again and agai nthat Newtonian physics looked at qualities of light that had been technically manipulated, whereas the goal was to consider light in its totality, as no colours at all, only the effects of light upon the receiving apparatus (whether that was eye or cantelope), which caused certain vibrations, depending on the mood of the object. By ‘mood’ of, say, a hard-backed chair, he didn’t mean its psychological state. He meant the amount of energy it contained of a person in the world, as a radiation of divine energy. Now, you might be particularly interested in divine energy, fair enough, but Goethe was. Whereas the Enlightenment made a science out of folk knowledge by structuring it in a hierarchal fashion predicated upon objective, experiment-based measurement of physical phenomena, Goethe wanted to extend the Enlightenment, to include the part it left out as being too poetic to measure: God, spirit, emotions, what-have-you. The Enlightenment left that to art. Goethe was only pointing out that it stopped too soon, and that a fully ‘modern’, self-aware consciousness did not have to discard the knowledge of the past, or the dignity and power of human observation, or relegate them to other forms of investigation, such as religion or art. He went even further, in fact, to suggest that colours themselves were created by the human mind, but that is, perhaps, splitting hairs. The moods, though, can be read precisely. So, to look again …


The grass and the cress are the same. They differ to perception and measurement because they’re in different moods, recorded not by a camera (a device proficient at recording precise measurements of the spectra of light and thus registering them as difference colours, in accordance with the science used to envisage the camera) but by an emotional, water-based, organic creature — a human, in other words. Moods are what we have. Goethe pointed out that people are the absolute most powerful technology for measuring and viewing light, but he never said why. I think this is what he meant. When the grass is growing, it has a certain energy. When it is dead, it has a different energy. All colours are present, which is to say “light” is present, or illumination, but they vibrate differently, displaying the ‘state’ of the object struck both by the light and the observation of the light. Classical physics hands this one over to classical biology, which points out that these are effects created in a long series of incremental evolutionary changes, and do not, in and of themselves, have ‘meaning’ or ‘significance’. They are tools of manipulation and survival. Again, a brilliant series of deductions, based on millions of hours of observation, experimentation and deep thought. Nonetheless, we are the product of that evolution, and have a complex ability to register tiny nuances of energy in the landscape. Any discussion of their evolutionary purpose, to aid with hunting and gathering and survival, is secondary to that truth. We can do this. Here, I’ll put it another way:


All parts of the ponderosa pine above, bark, needle brushes and cones, are moods of blue. The needles are in a yellow mood. The cones are in a red mood. The branches are in a nearly purely blue mood. The differences in colour that I see in the image (I presume you do, too, unless you are a Google robot checking up on the humans today, in which case, Hi.) are contrasts. They’re like shadows of black and white. This observation doesn’t negate Newtonian physics and the marvellous world it has revealed to us all…


… but it has added this …P1660612


Think of the image above as a dark field, illuminated by a colourless “white” one. The boundaries between these energies, the points of intersection between them, creates an expression of the substance and state of the smooth sumac bushes here, the cliffs, the lichen, the moss, but also reveals characteristics of linearity, angularity and extension. Like the moods of the colour, those are moods as well. In those terms, the cliff and the bushes have the same linear (and angular and extensional) energy, but the way it manifests itself in them displays different tendencies, which are corollary to the moods of colour. Any tools we use to measure or analyze these effects are always going to be lesser than the mind that sorted them out of the world in the first place. Here’s another example:




Oregon Grape? Or water, collecting at the base of the cliff, rising up again, drawn upwards by the sun? In other words..this is a mood of water. I hope to suggest that this way of thinking has the ability to present as complex a model of the world as conventional science, and that it should never have been hived off of it. Our earth would be in better shape if it hadn’t. What’s more, socially it seems that by controlling the tools by which humans, such as you or I (Sorry, Google Robot, but I think you’re up to something different, but, hey, Hi.) individuals can be channelled into certain forms of social behaviour and political organization, to the exclusion of others. I don’t particularly like that. Do you? (Yes, Google Robot, I know how you feel about this, shhh, don’t scare the humans, would you?) Social parameters aside, there is still considerable ability in the human measurement tool, to precisely observe complex relationships, like this:


Colour, mood, linearity, extension, time, edge effects of myriad kinds, life, angles,and so forth, are all instantly perceived above by the human mind. Forget for just a moment about the social cues placed upon them, that see them as “beauty” or “water” or “gas effects” or “refraction” or “gravitational effects” and so on, and look at them. You see it all, instantly. That’s what Goethe meant about light. And so the four images of sumac below, display different moods. You can read them as well as I.

smoothshore smooth2 Remember, the only difference (in this line of thought) between these images is their mood …wall2 … the boundaries between forces, and their energy…P1660803 smooth


… and, of course, how you receive them, and what you do with them. Whatever it is, though, it’s not ‘nature’ and it’s not ‘science’. Goethe was trying to point that out, too. So was I, when I showed you this…



… and said, so to speak, hey, it’s this:



Put it this way, the difference between the energy of the bottom image and the top one, or the difference between its colours, which are the same, because they receive the same light (and absorb different parts of it, reflecting the rest), is what I mean by mood. Out of that mood (in the guise of reflected light), physicists can measure the precise chemical composition of either the poison ivy berries or the oregon grape leaves, and Goethean scientists can measure particularities of life energy within them, to the same degree of precision, or perhaps greater, because of the ability for creative interaction and inspiration. Here’s an image for next time …


I’ll be extending this discussion into “paths of water”.


Life (and chipmunks)

Fire comes from the centre of the solar system. fire1Water comes from the edge of the solar system. waterThey meet on earth. P1410986You would think they might extinguish each other, but no. P1420013 Here on earth, they are both the same thing. weeds2 That’s our planet: a meeting ground. weedsThat’s what life is.

dragondrPhoto: Diane Rhenisch

The voice of the solar system.



P1420004And sun.

chipmunkAnd chipmunks, bless them.


Evolution and Randomness

Ah, evolution.


Great Blue Heron on His Barn Roof, Watching for Mice Below (Click.)

Is evolution a random process? Is life itself random? Did life arise on earth randomly and then develop randomly? [Evolutionary theory tends to say Yes!]


Are the Colours of This Gull Random? Is the Gull? Is its Behaviour? 

Mid-winter thaw on Okanagan Lake.

To be fair, evolutionary theory is using the “random” word to separate itself from a conception of the universe that is determined by will and intention, with a sixteenth century God making everything happen for his own social purposes.


God at Work?

Hey, it’s winter. You’d hope He’d play with the ice, right?

Truth is, technicians of evolutionary theory really don’t use evolutionary theory for opinions on matters of God. They use it to describe observable processes. (And God, by definition, is not observable.) Should evolutionary theorists comment on matters of God, however, they’re no longer talking about evolutionary processes; they’re talking about God.

P1130712Is This an Image of God?

No, by definition God is uncontainable in images. 

And in the middle of this dog chasing its tail is the word that  is used to separate notions of intention from those of non-intentional process: randomness. Another word for that is “chance”. Those early mathematicians were actually trying to figure out ways to cheat at cards. Ironically, they are called games of chance, but the ancestors of contemporary science were trying to take all the chance out of it. Hmmmm. A little switcher, and the problem is solved: use “randomness” instead. The problem is, however, that the word doesn’t fit the world well, either. It’s also just not random. Pattern, it seems, is inescapable, and beautiful, too. Calling it “random” changes nothing, except the ability to see it.


The Exquisite Energies of Winter

What is a guy to do, when the world that is described as random, to separate it from  intentionality and the predetermined fate that follows that (and the obedience to social class and the political and religious superstructures that follow hot on the heels of that), isn’t random? If it were random, it would be chaos.


This is Not Chaos

Sure, sure, sure, “random” means the non-intentional combination and combination of elements according to general, universal principles called “The Laws of Nature”, that create the preconditions on which the energy and matter architecture of the scientifically-imagined universe rest. One such “law” is Archimedes’ principle, which states that the upward buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces. Just to give an example.


Displaced Air

Random, though, also means totally by chance, which has got nothing to do with natural laws, which, like the God they are modelled after, aren’t by chance. You could say they’re the very idea of will and intentionality that evolutionary theorists are trying to escape. Tut tut tut. What a mess.


This Is Not a Mess

In order to make their way through this maze, scientists, who are practical roll-up-the-sleeves-and-break-out-a-petri-dish folks who brook little nonsense and have built some really cool devices (like android phones running on ice cream sandwich … my my), tend to redefine or constrict words, such as ‘random’, to create a language specific to their intentions. That’s a powerful solution, but also one that locks thinking to specific parameters, while excluding others, which might also be present in phenomena.


In Romantic Forms of Art, This is Life

Now that academic art practices have subordinated themselves to scientific nomenclature it is illusion, and all the world with it.

Bizarre! Is this illusion?

P1150364 No, it is ice cut up by the wind. Is this illusion?


No. It is a gull. Any human seeing an illusion here is under an illusion. Here’s an illusion:


Blue Heron On His Old Telephone Pole Decoration House Post Thing

Here’s the real thing.


Great Blue Heron on His Barn Roof

See?  Not the same thing at all. Yes, I get it. If God is undefinable and can’t be presented in images, the old monkish game of listing what God is not (anything left over should, by definition, be God) retains its power in contemporary scientific thinking. But, wait, let’s try that, shall we.


This is Not God. This is a Bike Rack.

Umm… sorry. By definition, God is everything. 

Gadzooks. May I just say that from what I’ve observed as a human living in a physical world built out of spiritual energy and mapped through stories in which I am both the land and the man walking through it, could it be that something has been left out?


I Made This Crack in the Ice by Crossing it To Make This Shot


Could what has been left out be the notion of human-ness itself? What if nature, rather than being distant, is very close, and human?


I Cracked This Ice, Too!

It’s not the crack I wish to draw your attention to, nor my cracking of it, but that I cracked myself in the process. It might sound a little obscure, but it’s a direct, physical thing, like this:

P1150119Ice Cracking Under Its Own Tension

Or maybe the weight of geese. Physical, at any rate.

In the image below, I also had an intention, of moving my body into a certain position. I imagined it, in other words. I saw and felt myself there, and moved my body to get inside that thought. It happens much in the way you know where your hand is in the dark or how to get from your bedroom to the kitchen and get a glass of water without seeing a thing (watch out for the cat, though).


Human Body, Cracked

There is a force at work here that is neither fate nor intentionality but completeness. In the sense of energy, I was already there before I moved my body there and made the energy into a physical, or bodily form. Let’s call that completeness time, to get the discussion going.



What if time were filtered in to the equation? Would the gull that opened this meditation be random then? To help you meditate on that, here is an image of that gull taken shortly before the image above.

P1110520 And here it is shortly before that…


Sure gets around, doesn’t it! But, wait, if we’re looking at a gull existing in time rather than in space, what about the gull existing in a flock, rather than as an individual? How is that different, really?


Gulls with the Okanagan Lake Shrimp Fleet, Okanagan Landing

What if any individual gull’s movements were random only if considered separately from its relation to the flock and its own movements? What if the flock were the life and the individual gull only a generator of the movements in time that are the flock and which human definitions of “life” call “life”? Even the geese don’t have words for knots of ideas like that. They just cut right through it all and do this instead:



Well, lucky for us, we don’t have to answer questions like that, either. They’re unanswerable. They are questions asked with words. This is not a word…


… or if it is, it is spoken in a language of energy that words present as ice, water, light, flock and so on. That’s simply not the same thing, and to state that it is so is not to quibble with words, either. Just to point that out. 


This is Not a Quibble

It is called “walking carefully so you don’t fall down.”

To show you what I have observed in light of this observation, here’s some ice I found three days ago, in some grass in a young swampland just beginning to develop as an ecosystem.


Cool stuff, huh! What you’re looking at is water funnelled into an old irrigation canal by an urban street drainage system, which has given rise to a colony of reeds, dryland grasses, weeds and rushes high above the valley floor. That unique (and brand new) combination makes for some beautiful effects.


Caterpillar? Peas in a Pod?

No, just grassland ice.

Evolutionary and mathematical theory would suggest that the formation of such structures is “random”, because it’s unpredictable and unrepeatable, but what is random, anyway? A word? Yes. A mathematical concept? Hardly.


This is Not a Mathematical Principle

It is a complex combination of water, grass, light, energy, gravity, atmospheric pressure, and the boundaries between their energy states, as expressed through time. In other words, this is what time looks like. 

There are strict mathematical principles at play in the water captured in the image above, which give rise to basic forms like this …


… on a non-predictable frequency, but that’s not the same as interpreting those principles as randomness. There is, after all, the physics of air bubbles in freezing water and the play between water tension and the molecular energy of air, as they achieve a balance …


… always on the same principles but never quite the same …


… but that’s not precisely randomness, either. Again, I’m not arguing fine points of nomenclature here, or slicing and dicing words up into a rhetorical salad to make some point that doesn’t interact meaningfully with either the physical world or scientific practice. I’m trying to point out that phenomena are wordless and that there is more power and potential within them than words characteristically release.


There Are No Words for This…

…yet every human responds to them profoundly (and physically). The “thought” in play in such a response is a physical response, not the kind of cognitive one used to play hide and seek with “God”.

On the other hand, phenomena are constrained by words. The image below, for example, is an illustration of how early life formed around the frozen-thawed boundaries of different molecular regimes in the early earth.


No, not really. I made that up. Still, it might be the case, or it might not, but that’s not the point. Rigorous experimentation and analysis might increase understanding of the issues behind this hypothesis, or might dismiss it altogether, but that’s not what I’m trying to get at. I’m trying to get at this:


My point is that by applying descriptive terms to the ice (such as my hypothesis about cold-warm energy exchange boundaries playing a possible role in the formation of life on earth), certain lines of thought are opened while others are closed. That’s why words like “random” are dangerous — they do the same thing. Whatever the image below is, it is not random.


To say it is random is to close off possibilities that might lead to different comprehensions. Call those points of view. Here’s that ice again, from a different point of view.

P1130695 Ah, but what is a point of view? It is a viewing self, an individual human “I”, constructed by the early romantic philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte in 1792 as a portable, relativizing tool for scientific observation, that allowed measurement to both take place and be transferable, as distinct from the pre-scientific self, which was embedded in a social group, or a church, which isn’t called a flock for no reason. The following image presents another point of view. In this one, notice that a point of view that can separate the world into points of attention can also be redefined by the earth that it chooses to attend to.

P1130787 Looking at ice like that changes you.

It also means you are not downtown have a coffee at Starbucks.

A huge number of points of view are possible.


They are all human. You can talk about gas pressures and molecular structures till the cows come home, but, in the end, this is just ice.,


Before There Were “I”s to Focus Attention, There Were Words

To “understand” ice is one thing. To know what in the heck it is, you’re going to have to go out and spend some time with it.

You could, for example, eat it, touch it or just throw stuff on it instead of going out onto it yourself (Safety first!)


A Messy Experiment in Out of Body Travel

The scientific world view is built upon best guesses confirmed by experiment, which are then used to build the foundation for future hypotheses, which are confirmed by further experiment, and so on. At each step along the way, language guides which hypotheses are formed: it makes some possible and makes others extremely unlikely. In this sense, scientific descriptions of the world are cultural artefacts.


As Soon as You Name This It is a Cultural Artefact

Too much naming based on ladders of hypothesis and proof, as essential as they are to the system called science, risk turning that system of exploration into a self-fulfilling cultural prophecy. Perhaps an example from ancient Syria might help clarify that point. Beware, this was translated from the Latin, from the Greek, in 1911, by a New Age philosopher.

In like manner, also, as the light of the sun is present in the air without being combined with it — and it is evident that there is nothing left in the air when the illuminating agent is removed, although warmth is still present when the heating has entirely ceased — so also the light of the gods shines while entirely separate from the objects illuminated, and, being firmly established in itself, makes its way through all existing things.

Iamblichus, On the Mysteries (Source.)

Translation? Sure, I’ll make a stab at it:

In the same way that sunlight is present in the air without being part of it — and nothing of it is left there after the sun has gone down, although the air remains warm for awhile after the sun has stopped heating it —  the light of the gods also shines separately from the objects it illuminates. Because of its indivisible nature, it makes its way through all existing things.

Iamblichus is talking about ancient spiritual matters. Inn his discussion (which gave rise to medieval scholasticism and from that to contemporary science itself), two points are relevant to my point here:

1. Life rises from the earth when struck with the light of the sun (for Iamblichus, a supreme force, which gives rise to the gods as well),

2. Godhood (or the sun) is present in an object proportionately to the perfect shape (beauty) of that object. (The more beautiful [perfectly shaped] an object, the more the god [or the sun] is present within it.)

Not exactly the stuff of science, is it! Well, no, but it could be. That’s my point. Here, let’s look at that ice again. First, life is rising from the earth, when light strikes it…


Well, grass, at any rate. Of course, the grass came from seed, so it’s not really quite the way Iamblichus describes it. Sure, the new grass wetland has evolved from the combination of forces in an unlikely location, but the grasses themselves evolved millions of years ago, so the sun didn’t really animate dead earth to make all this magic happen (that was long, long before), and this stuff …

P1130884 Algae!

… evolved billions of years ago. All life stands in an unbroken chain with the cell divisions within these organisms and others like them. It has all happened in time. Read there, read as if time were space (um… it is!), it has all happened at once, much like this:


A Flock of Gulls, Okanagan Indian Band Beach, Okanagan Lake

Another word for this is Time.

That’s all a bit different than randomness, and a bit different as well from the intellectual rigour of science, which sought to separate itself from romantic interpretations of Iamblichus’s philosophy and the alchemical traditions that came from them.


Human I in the Ice

It’s not a romantic concept. Fichte tried to turn you into a more portable version less easily confused with God. Oh, those parsons’ sons!

Humanly observed, nature exists in human social time, in which the term “random” is a human social marker, moreso than a marker of actually physical processes. One such human social marker, for example, is the word “random.” Another is the notion that time progresses while space remains stable. It could just as easily be the opposite. There is certainly a sense of that reversal in Iamblichus.


Mom and Son Feeding Ducks

Is this time or is it space? No, it is space-time, which is a kind of word sandwich meant to say “human” without saying “human”.

Ah, what’s to be done? Well, one way to get at time is to go back to the beginning of life, with one eye on Iamblichus and one eye on molecular biology, which creates energy and material transfers and physical replications by such processes as gas permeation of membranes (for example, oxygen uptake into lungs), electron transfers across membranes (photosynthesis), and intricately folded hydrocarbon strings designed to adhere to specific atoms and molecules in specific positions (DNA, photosynthesis, and so on). It all happens at the point at which the sun strikes carbon in the presence of water and carbon dioxide, at particular energy levels. Here’s that ice again…


That’s not such a far cry from cell biology. Liquid water is required for life on earth, but perhaps frozen water, and its ability to separate processes on spectrums of time and energy, played a role…


…, in relation to water in its liquid state. What is separated in the process of freezing could be in the process of thawing.


and freezing again…


… and thawing and freezing and freezing and thawing and freezing and thawing and freezing and thawing as the earth turns…


… like breath.


That has merged with light.


Whatever those things are.


The fact that it looks like life is because a living human has observed it. Dead humans don’t observe stuff like this. Neither do android phones running on ice cream sandwich.