Tag Archives: animism

The Limits of a Religious Materialism

I walk into an empty room and see a billion sacred things. Another person meets me and there’s a billion upon a billion more. Each thing, each Being no matter how tiny, a billion upon a billion points of sacredness. Ecosystems of rooms, holy. Human beings, holy down to the mitochondria, endogenous viruses, and monerans of which only a small faction have been classified. Ecosystems within layers of paint, holy. In the sublayer of the carpet, holy. Relationships between, holy. Predator and prey, holy. Parasite and host, holy. Discourse from plasmids and retroviruses all the way up to words and rhetoric, holy.

That’s the shallow holy. That’s the superficial, the minimal, the glance into the bedroom filled with holy Matter and holy Beings. That’s not taking the time to listen and attend over holy cycles ranging from seconds to years. To look like an idiot, slack-jawed staring as long as you dare listening and watching holy. To realize as you put the cup to your lips that you sip from the bones of holy on the flesh of the holy and to loose your appetite because those relationships demand conscious consideration about what you’re about to do.

Those are the limits I acknowledge, to not only step over the Spider or gently carry the Wasp out the door, but to change diet, change career, change methods of transportation, change housing. Because other things pay that price.

The difference between us is not that I deny your gods, but that you deny mine, and cry “Disenchantment” because you can’t see dancing and singing Matter. But what’s seen can’t be unseen. I’m getting middle-aged and won’t go back to taking it for granted.


2 July 2014: Libertango

Is it possible for a composition, a made thing to be a Being, to have a voice beyond the notes of the composer, the arranger, and the performers? Is it possible for a work of art to demand to be heard and understood, not in the manner of being merely attractive, but in the manner of a person who interrupts your dreams to urgently tell you of their own?

It’s one of those things that doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t have to. But it happened.

Life is never just our lives, but the lives of the great many. Sieving through one another, changing one another, just by existing. We often see the land itself as something inert and impassive. Yet all terrestrial plants exist through it, and we exist through the plants and the animals that do too. Without the land, we would be without ourselves. With the land we are here. So we’re not separate from the land. We are very much of the land. So when we speak, it is the land that speaks also. All creatures singing the land’s song. Aren’t we a jolly bunch. Yet our time to sing is short.

Nature Is Enough – A Stream of Consciousness Essay

19 May 2014: Leaf Litter

“The fallen leaves blanket the ground.”

My first thought is a cliche, but also metaphor. An anthropomorphism, slipping it into human terms.

One view: The oval leaves fallen in the spring lying on top of the mulch and dirt laid down by previous gardeners. An association I make leads to a question, did the Clovis people honor the trees in fashioning stone or is it a matter of parallel convergence.

Another view: The starlings pace across the square, scattering the leaves with quick motions of their beaks to forage what lies beneath.

Another view: An ant crawls across a leaf, foraging for something. The eggs of competitors? Fungal blooms? Seeds?

An inferred view: Fungi and bacteria digesting the leaves, a different species for each polymer. Others scavenge the scant remains of oils, waxes, and proteins. Viruses and spores wait for new growth to emerge through the litter. Carnivorous fungi set snares for nematodes and flatworms. Promiscuous mycelia not quite in season to bloom into mushrooms. Slime molds wait for the signal to gather in orange masses frequently mistaken for puke. Only a small fraction of this world has ever been cultivated onto pure media.

Another inferred view: The stretching branches of the oaks themselves, as expansive below ground as above. If I was rude enough to dig, I might find truffles, the white mats of associated puffballs, inky caps, and stinkhorns. I’d find roots stretching out engaged in chemical and biological warfare against competing species.

As with many things, the leaf litter is a fractal, going down to the chemical and atomic.

I seem to be in possession of an architectural model

It seems a consequence of writing more than a handful of lines about a being is that I find myself in a Relationship with it. The library in which I work is going through a process of renovation. In comes Kreepy Klown Klan Kid with the Pink Fruit. And apparently today, out goes a collection of student architectural models that were lined up on the top of bookshelves. I did my usual walk-around to the windows when I noticed what was going on. Most of the models had been torn apart and stuffed into garbage bags.

I’m attempting not to be a hoarder. I keep my relics to a minimum, and I now wonder if my grandmothers heard the same thing. But the model library (with a bit of water staining, and missing windows) spoke and I listened. So now I have an architectural model of a local renovation that was never completed. The relationship between it and I isn’t quite over, although it’s certainly likely to change now that it’s no longer something I go to when I’m working off energy during my work day.