the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

1, Gaia?

I believe it was James Lovelock, in one of his interviews, that poignantly impressed an active concept of Gaia for me.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers [c. 90s]

That and the 90s cartoon, Captain Planet; haha, “simpler days”, I’d like to think, “sigh”.

“Life clearly does more than adapt to the Earth. It changes the Earth to its own purposes. Evolution is a tightly coupled dance, with life and the material environment as partners. From the dance emerges the entity Gaia.”

— James Lovelock.

For a young child steeped in abandonment issues and scrimping on to a scant silhouette of reality (i.e. misfit), this came as a profound certification of my discerning faculties.

I am not alone in my thinking!”, a budding world comes to form. ’Tis nothing short of a eureka moment following a suite of socially-acclimating difficulties. The trait still persists now; notwithstanding that I have found my crown and a throne rooted here.

In that interview, Lovelock gifted me a bid for community. Even at 9 years old, I was able to intuit that familiar ‘othering’ he mentioned. It was intriguing to witness his testament of othering in the politics of scientific investigation. Chills, as he spoke of the recoil his theory faced from the scientific community. That stench of betrayal looming in the dissolution of tribe. I also glimpsed for the first time a nobility in the autonomy of independent scientific research.

“I lived in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in maturity.”

— Albert Einstein.

Ergo, the Gaia theory gleamed in my eyes. I recognised it. It was somehow innate; more ancestral. More than just the white lab coats and the white voices that washed over the scientific community.

Tellus (Gaia’s roman equivalent) depicted on the Ara Pacis Augustae [c. 9 BC]

Gaia. ‘The great mother of all creation’, ‘Goddess of the Earth’, ‘bearer of all forms’. A powerful motif rooted deep in the human psyche’s nurturing principle projected through greek mythology; Gaia. This empyrean ethos extends beyond greek mythology, of course. Its recursive across cultures. Odinala of the Igbo religion, Prithvi Mata of Hinduism or Bhumi of Buddhism, are just a sprinkle of examples. All budding forms populating the conceptual eigenspace (neighbourhood) corresponding to the mother/nurturing motif in our psyche.

Bhumi ‘भूमि’ sculpture [copper alloy; c. AD 13]

At some point, in my own psyche, this mothering ethos merged with Lovelock’s hypothesis that in itself somewhat echoes Spinoza’s belief that God is…

“the sum of the natural and physical laws of the universe and certainly not an individual entity or creator.”

— Baruch Spinoza.

The two Gaias, seemingly distinct in evocation, cohabit the same percept. Spinoza also speaks of a Natura Naturans (nature in so far as it natures) and a Natura Naturata (nature insofar as its natured). I conceive this as a dance between the alert and the inert, akin to F.W.J. Schelling’s naturphilosophie that presents a dimorphism of nature; its active ‘productivity’ and objective ‘product’ that each, as well as cumulatively, constitute nature. A waltz between nature’s intrinsic & extrinsic qualities.

‘The First Day’ — Director: Barnaby Roper [c. 2020]

Tantamount to dancers that map rhythm into a visual percept. Each twist, jerk, contortion of the body paints an architecture in space spanning time. The dance seemingly escapes the dancer(s)… seemingly clutching at sentience through its ephemeral forms.

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