What animates that vulture gliding gently, intelligently up in the sky, the blue sky with whispy white clouds against backdrop of craggy rocky hill topped with rich green pines and whispy grey twigs bursting chatreuse and cinnamon buds? What creates such rich texture and animates the life in it? The traditional answers, and they are very old and they are still prevelant among most of us, is that some mind spirit that lives outside of all this (in outerspace? heaven?) created it all out of his ideas and animates it with some kind of buds of his spirit.
This is an early myth and where does it come from? and does this explanation (does it explain anything?) make us happy? maybe, but what it ultimately leads to is that it makes us yearn for something different than this Earthy existence we have, it makes us yearn for some eternal life as spirit beings on some passing commet, killing ourselves in the process, killing our mother Earth in the process.
Is there a source of wisdom for us to follow outside of our deep fall into mind spirit? How did we begin to ween ourselves from it in modern times to
Somehow in ALL traditional human societies, inner human experience has always won out over direct experience of the natural world as the source of wisdom and animating power. Human experience is a powerful force on this planet! look at all its moods: rational thought, deep winding story telling capacity, passionate emotions, dreams, bicameral hallucinations, ecstatic states of inspiration, childhood states of mind, near death experience, orgasm, lovemaking... It is capable of driving humans in ecstatic states to work together to build pyramids, great wall of china, wars that ravage landscapes, ultimately to get whipped up into such a communal frenzy to almost gas an entire people out of existence or even building an arsenal of a thousand hiroshima nihilating bombs and be prepared to use them. human ideas have created a planet wide network of automobiles and coal burning power plants that is changing the planetary climate...
Perhaps it is possible to be convinced that this communal ecstatic experience is more powerful than any force on this earth. That being an ecstatic state, it surely doesn't come from any of US. Where does it come from? So we invented a story early on that it comes from 'somewhere' It used to come in voices so we decided that it comes from SOMEONE else. These voices often sounded like our dead loved ones, in ceremony they sounded like the voices of dead honored kings. In public ceremony the voices blended over generations? or anyway the experience is so powerful, so unlike everyday awakened human experience that we decided it was immortal. So we decided that the most powerful force in the universe was some kind of immortal spirit being.
How the most powerful spirit being in the western world came to live in outerspace is curious. (or do the christians say that it resides in our hearts? i suppose that is a constant tension in religion)
Well, this imagined spirit being based in ecstatic state in a way of experiencing that sometimes lays us open to the miraculous, more often than not lays us open to the labyrinths of our own swirly psychological bullshit... It has often directed us in communal ecstatic states to wage war on each other, to wage war on flesh, to wage war on Earth. being immortal it fears death. but life is death. Life invents, life is beautiful, because it has embodied cycles of life and death as a way to create. Life is mortal open to the dangers of death because life is extravagantly vulnerable. life lives dangerously in the face of the laws of entropy, feeds off of them in fact! This godbeing we find in ecsatsy being immortal, fears such life. has tought us to fear it. fearing life and death we certainly fear anything woman.
It is clear where this has lead us. World wars, nuclear arsenals, world wide pollution of the ocean, world wide acid rain, global warming while we ignore it in our airconditioned cars listening to electronicly produced music mimicking the voices of ecstatcy. will we permanantly poison our mother? will we burn our own species out of existence?
or, is there wisdom outside of our own ideas? what did it finally take to wake European culture out of this narcissistic embrace and begin looking outside itself? outside of mind? outside of this narcissistic relationship with our own minds? how did Science develop as a practice to ween ourselves from our minds and find wisdom in something truly new? what did it take to form the tradition that finally can write a book about a grubby germ that no one had before thought to love, that has more text, more detail than the complete works of shakespeare or the bible? how were we finally driven to know that there are more kinds of living creatures than there are words in any human language? How were we driven finally to learn that flesh, mud is capable of this powerful experience we call mind that it need not come from a realm apart from Earth?
We get so cought up in these narcissistic patterns that we seldom wake up to the bare sense data of the wonderful sprouting world that we were born from that we still feed from that yearns to nourish us with beauty, that we have covered it up with monotonous concrete and asphalt! we have smothered our Earth in ideas.
Anyway, why didn't most cultures attach any importance to the finely textured details of dead fallen leaves, little bugs, tiny organisms in pond muck? why didn't they look? why didn't they catalog those details as much as they catalogued the escapades of heroes divine and military? did any? Aristotle and some other classical authors began to. did any of them look at fine details and begin to wonder how? did native americans look at fine details? traditional cultures are known to classify plants birds on the order of hundreds of them. But only those creatures that are USEFUL to them?
Why were even the skeptics of myth of religion in ancient greece still cought up in mind? why were they cought up in the smooth geometries of the cosmic mind? why did they not begin messing with iterated discrete dynamical systems? was it hard to calculate brute numbers? why did no classical cultures mess with cellular automata? it was all smooth orbits on smooth manifolds the worlds of the gods, eternal orbits. not even the chinese with their game of Go?
Why did Darwin and Wallace appear so recently? why did it take till the '60s to discover cellular automata? chemistry, that this textured swirly world is in fact built on discrete molecules took so many centuries to puzzle out! what an accomplishment.
I mean, in 2 or 3 seasons i learned to distinguish 400 plants in Goshen, Middletown, brooklyn. Surely if they were looking, an iriquois tribe over a few generations COULD have compiled a list of 2000 plants, 500 birds, 10,000 insects and spiders... Can you compile a list of 10,000 insects in cultural, oral memory, or do you need paper? Why not a museum with an insect collection? they weren't sedentary enough? i think you need a massive stone pallace to house an insect collection of 10,000 insects over the 100 years it takes to collect them!
so what did it take for a human society to learn that there were on the order of TEN THOUSAND different kinds of bugs in their neighborhood? why did europeans start caring about bugs? (was it mainly the british? curious!) Why didn't the japanese catalog how many beetles they had? (how many do they have? they're on an island) ( so are the britts!)
So what drove European culture to begin measuring, counting, weighing, classifying 1000s of creatures and minerals? I kept track of 400 plants by sight? without a book, how many critters could i learn to distinguish and name? When in history did people reach this limit?
Microscope. before the hand lense, did people peer in closely at tiny stuff? Without having seen pictures and looked in microscopes would i have been motivated to look at hydras, stentors, vorticella, ostracods, cyclops... which you CAN surely see WITHOUT a lense! Mossimo and i would peer into ponds at scummy swimming stuff, but i already had the American Museum of Natural History. My dad trained me from infancy to know the microscopic world down to the molecular level. Hmm...