the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Gaia; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (full post)

full article [0,11]

0, Cellular Automata

Recently, I had been assigned a task that included coding up a few cellular automata – – “Ex Machina” initially fumbled into my mind like a baton in a relay exchange, and of course, vehemently accompanied with a few Gattaca scenes rushing clumsily behind – – contrary to my split-second pseudorandom word association, it’s a study of complexity via a relatively simple model: across a given lattice rests a collection of cells. The collection exhibits diverse behaviours that arise from the state of the cells. The state of each cell updates given a local precept; constant rule(s).

Cool?… good; just a brief top-down rundown of a cellular automaton.

2D example of a cellular automaton.

For each new time step some forms blip in and out of frame like twinkling starlight.

Gosper’s Glider Gun.

Clusters of dynamic patterns persist to the extent that they have earned themselves notoriety as categorical constructs to be studied.

All this variety, given all conditions kept constant bar the initial states; where each cell state can be as simple as some representation of either on or off (e.g. black or white pixels). Sigh, I could have maybe put more effort into that assignment.

1, Gaia?

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

2, Holobiont

“The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine.”

— Victor Frankenstein.

There is a deep plurality in Victor Frankenstein’s words; a plurality that resonates within my own ethos. The Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus narrative follows Victor Frankenstein’s own eureka moment in successfully quickening the inanimate with life… with sapience. Some adaptations frame the creature as a mosaic of cadaver scraps.

The holobiont is a mosaic composing the host and a hefty medley of microorganisms (i.e. the host’s microbiota). Thus, the holobiont is an ecological unit; a dance shared between the host and its microbiota.

“Are we more microbial than human?”

— Richard Losick.

Our microbiota contribute to ~3% of our body mass yet the human to microbiome cell ratio estimates ~ 30:39 respectively on a 1e+12 scale (we’re talking trillions). Losick’s question, in tandem with the context of stats, lean towards reframing our understanding of the individual.

Wing size is a discriminant characteristic between the wasp species N. giraulti, N. longicornis and the N. vitripennis; all from the Nasonia genus. On the phylogenetic tree (consider this a family tree of species) the N. vitripennis is a distant relative to both the N. giraulti and N. longicornis. Any attempts at breeding N. vitripennis with its distant relatives results in hybrid lethality (the offspring between distant relatives’ die).

Brucker and Bordenstein’s study presents evidence that this “lethality is conditional on the microbiome”; hence, alluding that a host’s microbial communities may function as a unit of natural selection. In an event analogous to the Modern Prometheus, their study produced viable hybrids. A controlled antibacterial diet led to germ-free hybrids, as a result of flushing the microbiome local to the gut — lethality negated. Eureka, Life! On reintroducing a conventional diet — morbidity reinstated. Eureka, natura naturans rescued!

Granted that I have glossed over the relevant Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller model of genetic incompatibilities, I remain hopeful that this oversimplified account of Brucker and Bordenstein’s findings invokes an appreciation of this dance between host and microbiome and its potential as a unit of evolutionary selection.

And with this appreciation we can accordingly draw assumptions, along the phylogenetic tree, of many budding bifurcations. Holobionts emerging from these tributaries meandering around selective pressures. Each holobiont, a mosaic of genomes echoing that dynamic gambol.

Venus sortant de l’Onde’ — Gustave Moreau [c. 1866]

Like Aphrodite’s conception from sea froth; the holobiont surfaces as a symphony from a myriad of coupled gene regulation systems, a Himalayas of gene expression & silencing spanning over the hologenome: the orchestra of all the genes from the host and its microbial community. The following triple pendulum is a very simple model of these coupled dynamics:

Triple axis pendulum.

The path traced out by the pendulum corresponds to the holobiont which in itself encompasses the entire system (natura naturans & natura naturata). Homeostasis reflects this self-regulating symphony; conserving survival through a scale invariance of stability throughout the holobiont.

3, Fractals

Mandelbrot set

“My life seemed to be a series of events and accidents. Yet when I look back, I see a pattern.”

— Benoît B. Mandelbrot.

  • Segment a cube equally (into 27 cube segments).
  • Remove a segment from the centre of each face of the cube.
  • Remove the segment situated at the core.
  • Recursively iterate these steps over each remaining cube segment.
Five stages in the evolution of a Menger sponge. Credit: Niabot Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0).

Voila, you have successfully constructed a Menger sponge which has a unique property of infinite surface area, yet zero volume. This is also a feature of the lungs-alveoli physiology that optimises gaseous exchange.

A Sierpinski Triangle outlined by a fractal tree.

Fractals are geometric constructs that exhibit self-similarity across scale. Families of fractals are ubiquitous in nature and systems.

Branching shapes ripple through lush shubbery; jolts ripping through the sky; bulls & bears racing over financial exchanges. Our own brain architecture depend on these units of branching patterns facilitating the abstractions that construct our entire experience of existence.

4, Uncertainty

“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”

— Werner Heisenberg.

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that there exists some limit to the information gain from a system (the system can denote a particle). This maxim of nature (or rather our perception of it) has an apparent see-saw trade-off in the precision between conjugate quantities:

“The more precise the measurement of position, the more imprecise the measurement of momentum, and vice versa.”

— Werner Heisenberg.

I consider this uncertainty principle, in itself, to be a conjugate to the wave-particle duality which posits a dimorphism of behaviour;

Double slit experiment.

where particles exhibit wave behaviour (and vice versa) that collapse upon observation.

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”

— Werner Heisenberg.

A symphony can be decomposed into a sum of frequencies from each instrument of the orchestra. Brass, strings and percussion instruments; units of harmonies culminating along scale into one congruent construct.

An example of a Fourier transform.

That orchestral decomposition (or summation) has a flavour evocative of the Fourier transform. I am particularly fond of this branch of mathematics as a tool that pools virtually all systems into a trigonometric relationship. With the Fourier series any function can be represented as an infinite series of sines and/or cosines (waves). Everything is music or rather music smoothly abstracts to the same math underpinning everything. A paraphrase of the de Broglie hypothesis springs to mind,

“..any particle of matter that has linear momentum is also a wave.”

— Louis de Broglie.

5, ‘Networks’

“Power is changing hands, from dying hierarchies to living networks.”

— Marilyn Ferguson.

A sotto voce piques from Ferguson’s quote alluding to an anima that whistles across a potential nucleating in all networks. A potential gradient sweeping from dissolution to thriving configurations.

Her words trigger that overactive word association trait of mine. Flooding my thoughts with a cascade of conservation laws. In particular, the conservation of energy that encapsulates the 1st law of thermodynamics: only transforms of energy persist in an isolated system, the sum of energy remains constant.

This leads on to further triggering flashbacks of my botched doctoral research. A barrage of bereavements exacerbated that nagging imposter syndrome along with my own intrinsic incompetencies with conforming to standardised structures. Womp, womp and healing cycles — we still stride toward the prize, while now prioritising holistic well-being.

My research at that time hinged on the Carnot cycle that builds its basis on thermodynamic laws. In short, and to spare me anymore PTSD, the carnot cycle dictates a maximum efficiency on the amount of work that can be siphoned from the migration of energy across a potential. Or in other words, there exists a theoretical limit on the amount of work gained from a perfect engine (no energy loss from auxiliary processes like friction). A helpful analogy: a limit on how fast, in theoretically perfect conditions, a waterwheel can spin under the migration of water over a potential (from top (source) to the bottom (sink) of the waterfall).


Abstracting the carnot engine concept over to a material’s intrinsic property essentially surmises my research in thermoelectric materials. Thermoelectric refers to the conversion of a heat gradient to electricity.

Envision a lattice not too dissimilar from the Menger sponge constructed earlier. Consider this to be a configuration of bonded atoms resulting in a distinct crystalline structure intrinsic to a material. The symmetry of the configuration articulates the thermodynamic phase (‘energy’) local to the system. A unit cell is the smallest scale in a lattice that conserves the symmetry sweeping across a crystal lattice.

Now imagine a heat source (hot) at one end of that crystal lattice and heat sink (cold) at another end. Due to the directionality entropy imposes on thermodynamic processes, heat strides from source to sink. Generally for solids, heat transfers via conduction; the thermal energy propagates via oscillations through the lattice structure.

Animation depicting phonons across a lattice.

Imagine a sort of Indiana Jones walk through the menger sponge, the walls (atomic bonds) erratically charging towards and racing away from you. The amplitudes, creeping over each unit cell towards the heat sink, can be discretised as phonons: a ‘packet’ of acoustic/vibrational energy.

This mechanism details the material’s lattice contribution to the heat transfer through the material. Thermal conductivity, an intrinsic property of all materials, dictates the rate and efficiency of that heat transfer through the material. Its basis components are the lattice contribution (detailed earlier) and an electronic contribution: where charge carriers (e.g. electrons) also share the burden of jostling the thermal energy across the temperature gradient.

In thermoelectric materials, the electronic contribution to a material’s thermal conductivity dominates. The limits on the electronic contribution’s efficacy is dependant on the material, its phase and its reservoir of available charge carriers. Nonetheless, the presence of a temperature gradient, elicits an electrostatic potential difference that drives a current across the crystal lattice. Voila, the Seebeck effect; and its reverse is the Peltier effect: inducing a potential difference to create a temperature gradient across the material. Hence, power arises from migration of one energy state to another.

Magnetic flux, over a cubic lattice of neodymium beads, engulfs its ‘prey’.

Magnetism arises in a similar fashion. The congruent orientation of magnetic dipole moments across each unit cell averages over the whole lattice into a flux we experience as magnetism. There are a number of examples, in materials science, depicting phenomena precipitating from this fractal abstraction that conserves intrinsic states and symmetry scaling over a lattice… a network.

IAC’s Isaac Newton group of telescopes on La Palma island with Cygnus overhead — Adrien Mauduit.

Phenomena that lunges beyond the remit of its own architecture. Akin to constellations, distant stars weaving patterns divined across the celestial sphere that lunge and captivate our myth and ambitions.

Ergo; following this logic, sentience lives on a manifold assemblage of branching neurons. That physiological fractal infrastructure, grafted from an orchestra of gene expressions, provides a medium for emotions and cognitive drives to thrive. The stream of consciousness you perceive as self lives on a summation of fractal abstractions.

I wonder how this translates for artificial neural networks & intelligence?

6, God is a verb

As I draft this article, a soothing flashback sets in:

Comfortably perched. My peripheral furnished with books shelved meticulously complimenting that distinct cozy Golders Green cottage decor. I am the latest recruit here, immersed in a parkour of dialogue with a former colleague and his SOAS cohort; about seven or eight of us. Our mutual friend’s beautiful home hosts the eclectic exchange.

After jousting through a garrison of topics the tempo simmered and a voice among us gently leapt over. Perfect elocution peppered with a distinct upper class Catalan flare coaxing the discourse to a new wellspring, “ — please join us, we’d love your opinion on…” (paraphrasing here, this memory has weathered about five years now). Our host’s mum replied with grace as she approaches to join us; we orient ourselves for new discourse. The room almost folding in as if the walls and ceiling eagerly hunched over to receive her words. Gracefully, she sets in, communing and enriching the dialogue from her perspective as a rabbi. “God is a verb…,” the rest of her wisdom revolved around this phrase. Still my own memory of that evening, like the folding walls and ceiling, huddles around those affirming words.

An intuition that was budding in me over the years that I had not yet fixed language to; here she succinctly articulated, “God is a verb.”

7, Ego;

‘The Day the Earth Smiled’ — NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute [c. 2013]

“An artist is a sort of emotional or spiritual historian. His role is to make you realize the doom and glory of knowing who you are and what you are. He has to tell, because nobody else can tell, what it is like to be alive.”

— James Baldwin.

Vantage points impress upon us new perspective. Malcolm MacIver and Lars Schmitz rally behind the theory that information gain is an evolutionary drive; one that compelled our early ancestors from water on to land.

I suppose vantage points, here, can be considered any framework that parses stimuli into a percept that conserves survival and skews probability functions toward ‘thriving’ outcomes. The visual-cortex, a sieve seizing the information that composes symphonies at the speed of light, is a logical vantage point to elucidate the impetus intrinsic to that bifurcation along the phylogenetic tree.

Logistic map bifurcations trace the edges of Mandelbrot set.

Science. Art. Both are conjugate phenomena inextricable from one another. In unison sculpting vantage points as philosophies that interpolate some function of our position and/or direction in existence.

The Day the Earth Smiled’ offers an ontological vantage point gifted to us from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. An accretion of all our strides dot across, at most, a couple of pixels almost indiscernible under Saturn’s rings.

‘Saturn’ — Peter Paul Rubens [c. 1636–1638].

“When, therefore, an alchemist conjured up the spirit of Saturn as his familiar, this was an attempt to bring to consciousness a standpoint outside the ego, involving the relativization of the ego and its contents.…”

— Carl G. Jung

Like an ode to the Kronos myth; Saturn devours our glory. Consequently, a novel apperception instantiates. Le stade du miroir unfurls, conserved, over scale; the ego redacts.

“my humanity is a constant self-overcoming”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Similar to the moon trailing menstrual cycles, Saturn also looms over our own riddle of the sphinx. i.e. like a cartographer, its orbit (~every 29.4 earth years) traces the main epochs of an average human’s lifespan: infant, adult, elder.

On each return, the alchemist deposits a byzantine grain archived in this celestial hour glass. Offering up each new configuration that constitutes our tenet of self; not unlike the artist that Baldwin references.

Starling murmurationHerbert Schröer [c. 2015].

“…through this process of melting and recasting there is formed a new amalgam of a more comprehensive nature, which has taken into itself the influences of the other planets or metals.”

— Carl G. Jung.

8, {‘I am’, ‘ God’}

‘The Creation of God’ — Harmonia Rosales [c. 2017]

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.”

— Exodus 3:2–4 (KJV).

A flock of ruffled feathers typically obscure my words whenever I try to elaborate on, “I am God”. And admittedly, an ad hoc intuition of the statement gripes deep. An insolent coup d’etat against the sovereign arbiter? Against the Grace that vets our tenets populating the self we aspire to? Tenets adhering to a reverence woven over generations and across cultures.

The offence warrants an early rebuttal and I empathise. It is not my intent to muddy waters that nourish hopes. I’ll try my best to tread respectfully.

I am only posing the questions: are other symmetries conserved over the syntax? what shape does the flux of semantics then take when we consider the states of its components?

“I am the egg that surrounds and nurtures the seed of the God in me.”

— Carl G. Jung

Borrowing from the cellular automaton and holobiont; consider the ‘I am’ as an instance of precepts inherent in the lattice of probabilities that contiguously render an orchestra of outcomes.

Like Jung’s alchemist decanting the ego, the ‘I am’ begets me but is not constrained to me. There exists a relativization of the ego; a transcendental apperception ensues from assimilating a neighbourhood of ecological systems.

“The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

‘I am’ is more than a history of ecological units in symphony. It is a singularity threading the sum of past outcomes to the sum of potentialities. It’s an azimuth actualising a shape to existence. I presume, geometrically, not too dissimilar to the bush on mount Horeb; the ‘I am’ conserves that prime precept as recursive symmetry branching over a manifold that spans the age and potential of the universe.

“No one has my God, but my God has everyone.”

— Carl G. Jung.

Jali, also known as griots, are personified repositories of oral tradition. An archive incarnate; crystallising cultures, ancestry and events. They are essentially a west african analogue to the bard.

A momentum, resembling the capillary action that draws water across some potential, streams through these living archives stitching together a symposium of memoirs. This arrangement, in itself, preserves an elocution of the griot over generations.

An abstraction of the mosaic of Truth.

Similarly, the ‘I am’ eulogizes all the symmetries streaming through ‘me’, the objective unit. Hence, the subjective ‘I’ precipitates as a conscious observer appending my context of existence to that ‘I am’.

I believe this scales over every entity. An object exists threading many caricatures spread over a manifold of perspectives all approximating to the actual object.

Each entity logs, advances & crystallises each unique perspective. Conserving an overall aggregate of symmetries to an n-dimensional mosaic truth of the prime precept. It unravels a new dimension to René Descartes’ “I am, therefore I think”.

“Cogito ergo sum!”

— René Descartes.

An abstraction of immortality resides here, evocative of the relay baton skirting across race tracks. Its position & momentum updating from each athlete’s contribution. Or the conductors’ baton that articulates the nuance of the symphony. This is the aspect of a doctoral thesis that captivated me; the opportunity to graft my nuance on to branching lattices of scientific knowledge.

“You have the one God, and you become your one God in the innumerable number of Gods.”

— Carl G. Jung.

Accordingly, the ‘I am’ supervenes as a seat for ‘God’ to impress upon. {‘I am’, ‘God’} is thus witnessed as that active principle on Mount Horeb emanating from the dynamic between the burning bush and Moses. {‘I am’, ‘God’} references the capacity for our truth of God to articulate the will of God.

“I do not myself become the supreme meaning or the symbol, but the symbol becomes in me such that it has its substance, and I mine… But insofar as it takes place in me, and I am a part of the world, it also takes place through me in the world, and no one can hinder it.”

— Carl G. Jung.

The truth of God consolidates me; the will of God acts through me. {‘I am’, ‘God’} probably better understood as a contraction of “I am a prophet of [my] God.”

9, Shaman

“…the shaman cannot be cured by the usual methods of healing. He has to find the unique way, the only way that applies to him.”

— Marie-Louise von Franz.

Idiosyncrasies attributed to shamanism all orbit altered states of consciousness of indigenous folk; spells of out-of-body experiences, rituals, chants, supernal access, divination, animal spirits, and more.

Legos depict crystal formation via the nucleation process.

Extending on the network section from earlier; crystals phase transition or precipitate out of solution via nucleation. Nucleation can be thought of as a self-assembly into thermodynamically stable configurations. Spontaneous clusters, nuclei, instantiate the symmetry that branches over the system; the symmetry conditional on the systems’ internal & external conditions.

The nuclei here and the shaman, for me, share the same function: singularities that communicate, to the network, a new pertinent symmetry. A paradigm shift to subsist through new flux. Through a social lens this flux looks like any stressors that impact social groups/societies; e.g. access to resources, population size, demographic distribution, politics, natural phenomena.

“…the shaman is the great specialist in the human soul; he alone “sees” it; for he knows its “form” and its destiny.”

— Mircea Eliade

Symmetries summing over a material yielding some functionality, kindles an erred sense of unidirectionality in the field of functional nanomaterials.

Deformation over a piezoelectric PZT unit cell.

Let’s peer into some piezoelectric crystals to gain clarity (pondering my orb 🤣). Piezoelectric crystals generate an electric charge when experiencing elastic deformation. i.e. a charge occurs from the temporary asymmetry that arises from mechanical stress over the lattice.

An exchange is occurring:

  • the atomic orientation of unit cells feed into a lattice that scales into a larger construct (crystal).
  • stressors from the environment act on that construct.
  • the construct distributes the stress across the lattice.
  • each lattice configuration shifts as the distributed stress displaces each atom’s position.
  • The new orientation, under stress, results in an imbalance of electric dipole moments; charge ensues.
  • The reverse is true; applying an electric potential will elicit an inverted deformation cycle over the lattice. (i.e. if compression in one axis induces charge; then a potential will induce a compression over the lattice along the same axis).
FEM simulation: two modes of oscillations distributed across multimodal architecture of piezoelectric beam.

The field of functional nanomaterials takes advantage of (and optimises) that dialogue between the environment and a material’s properties (intrinsic & extrinsic). A mosaic enfolding molecular stoichiometries, synthesis processes, lattice symmetries, optimum architectures, applications, environment and function.

Rather than a unidirectional flow of information, we witness a network of feedforward and backpropagation recursive over scaling hierarchies. Very reminiscent of homeostasis: the self-regulating pinball flux shared across the holobiont.

Cover artwork for Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids ‘Shaman!’ — Tokio Aoyama [c. 2020]

“The shamans have played an essential role in the defence of the psychic integrity of the community…”

— Mircea Eliade.

Proceeding with the crystallography analogy; the new symmetry refers to the divinations (new information) that orients (updates) the group (network) toward advantageous outcomes. I propose, the shaman’s supernal access to divination relates to a delocalisation from the coplanar exchange of information across the network. The ‘coplanar exchange’ refers to socio-cultural dynamics specific to the group.

“Dissociation is posited to be a psychological mechanism for coping with internal and external stress.”

— Christopher D. Lynn.

Anthropologists have juxtaposed shamanic phenomena with dissociative characteristics. Lynn suggests that dissociation is an adaptive ability; only expressing as maladaptive in the extremes: ‘unsupported excessive dissociation’ and ‘lack of dissociation’.

“…one can also point out that sexual intercourse and eating are biological adaptations far more fundamental than dissociation, yet promiscuous intercourse can be used to selfishly or ignorantly hurt others and spread diseases. Likewise, overeating or poor nutrition can lead to poor health and social dysfunction.”

— Christopher D. Lynn.

In my opinion, the metric for ‘maladaptive’ exists on a spectrum that conforms to a socio-cultural basis for success of the group. Socio-cultural niches stratify social groups. For example, cities are often said to have personalities. In London, a mosaic of subcultures thrive; stirring a distinct identity that ripples through its citizens. A buzz diffusing through clefs of sky peeking through staves of buildings. Much different from the towns in Surrey and Oxfordshire, where I sojourned during my research & 1st career role.

I’ve had the beautiful pleasure of enjoying this Christmas season and striding into the new year at Birmingham. Another english city weaving its own tempo stitched together over tributaries. You can feel the deep breath of the city as you move between the ‘Brumm’ towns and villages.

“To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality in fact is.”

— Carl G. Jung.

Personalities aren’t the only traits that scale to cities. Cities have been shown to have distinct microbiota that reflect their niche character. Imagine; what kinds of citywide information these microbiota encode? One study, lead by Chengsheng Shu, pivots on this ‘fingerprint’ of cities. Amassing swab samples from ~60 cities’ transport systems (noted for high human density).

Shu and his team were able to build a metagenomic map that correlated the relative abundance of microbial signatures to a city’s unique conditions. Essentially encoding the city’s disposition. For example, relative intensities of antimicrobial-resistant gene signatures correlated with a city’s antibiotics protocol; directly linking the health system.

This hints to a world inundated with innumerable quarries of information. A profundity of vast undertones streaming just under (or over) our attention. Concise ciphers of insight awaiting decryption. A wealth of knowledge teeming in cold nips of air whistling through quaint moonlight; pirouettes of starlight eagerly charting epics eclipsing Homer’s Odyssey; a kiss of dew softly articulating gentle furrows quilting my lips; old hymns wafting up through soil contouring under my feet.

“The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.”

— Gregory McGuire.

Via an abscission; the shaman decants into an implicit perception that divines over a higher order architecture. In essence, a sort of apperception discerns the anatomy (truth) and momentum (will) across the holobiont spanning the local ecology. (S)he/they then disseminate the divinations across the coplanar network (group) via efficient communication channels specific to that socio-cultural niche. This in turn reorients the network toward a comprehensive scope of success.

Ergo; I propose that humanity’s average momentum is locked in a maladaptive shamanic process.

“An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it.”

— James Lovelock

10, Infantile

“The recollection of infantile memories and the reproduction of archetypal modes of psychic functioning create a wider horizon and a greater extension of consciousness, provided that one succeeds in assimilating and integrating the lost and regained contents. Since they are not neutral, their assimilation will modify the personality, even as they themselves will have to undergo certain alterations.”

— Carl G. Jung

Jung speaks of an infantile amnesia at the root of a patient’s neurosis. Maintaining that a reconstitution of these dissociated memories quells a narcissistic self-absorption and in turn leads to holistic healing.

‘Alice in Wonderland’ — Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske [c. 1951]

Homo sapiens are, relatively, a very nascent bud along the phylogenetic tree. Toddlers in comparison to our elderly roommates; the enigmatic octopus, the meticulous ant, even the bizarrely clever slime mold and many scores more. We really are the unruly brats animating an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ motif.

“The greatest mistake an analyst can make is to assume that his patient has a psychology similar to his own.”

— Carl G. Jung.

For the most part; we have consolidated a narcissistic self-schema. We have self-ordained our idiosyncrasies as solely proximal to God. We’ve precipitously attempted to funnel a sovereign principle, that threads constellations over all Earth’s epochs, into our constrained subjective ‘I’. Juvenile hubris; dandelions kissing thunderstorms.

Mind you, “we” in this context refers to the western civilisation modality impinged on the globe through european colonisation. Aristotle’s Biology fermenting through the Scientific Renaissance; we have inherited a schema that places nature as adjunct. Something beneath ‘man’ as opposed to amalgamated with. Far off from a holisitic egalitarian schema ubiquitous across indigenous cultures.

“So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

— Genesis 3:24 (KJV)

Our neurotic proclivity to decimate our environment are nothing short of ostentatious tantrums. Prideful irreverence; our tower of Babel lobbing to close the chasm between amour-propre and God. Tantrums driven by this exclusion from God’s immutability & immortality; our lingering dimorphism of shame and grief.

“If you seek perfection unconsciously you will seek death. Don’t seek perfection in life.”

— Sadhguru.

Perfection eliminates need for growth; learning; evolution. Paradoxically, perfection occupies stagnation.

“Finality is death. Perfection is finality. Nothing is perfect. There are lumps in it.”

— James Stephens.

“The apex of evolution!”; we claim. Infantile perversions of Noah’s arc hauling as many species as we can along our stride to ‘perfection’. Theatrics whelming over our sepulchral death drive. Delusions of grandeur feeding entitlement; distracting from our fear of transience. This death anxiety blinds us to our own constitution within natura naturata. We forfeit on assimilating the libido into our ‘higher self’.

“[Libido] denotes a desire or impulse which is unchecked by any kind of authority, moral or otherwise. Libido is appetite in its natural state. From the genetic point of view it is bodily needs like hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex, and emotional states or affects, which constitute the essence of libido.”

— Carl G. Jung.

An illustration of this death anxiety resides in Frankenstein’s intense repugnance towards his creation. The creature is a mirror; a deep introspection imposed on Frankenstein.

Frankenstein from the Royal Ballet — Ross MacGibbon, Liam Scarlett; Mary Shelley [c. 2016]

“For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”

— Victor Frankenstein.

His libido animating through this cadaver patchwork profanes his self-image. His schema strains to accommodate his essence reflected through rot. Frankenstein, overcome by the elements, eventually dies in his plight to quell the grotesque rather than subsume it.

‘E Homo’ — Peter Paul Rubens [c. 1612].

God made flesh… lacerated; the ‘Ecce Homo’ motif. Pontius Pilate’s infamous words from the gospel of John 19:5 (KJV). “Behold, the man” encodes our hubris; feeding our inability to reconcile death. An effigy personifying our ecocide through deicide. Rather than reinstate a holistic schema through assimilating the libido; we instead shrink God into our image and reduce God to something corruptible.

Unlike Frankenstein’s quest to suppress and kill his creation, God incarnate descends into the ‘grotesque’ and is transfigured ‘into his glory’.

“What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal.”

— Freidrich Nietzsche.

11, A fortiori

“All the time I was getting closer to animals and nature, and as a result, closer to myself and more and more in tune with the spiritual power.”

— Jane Goodall.

The logic, throughout this thread, is not to usurp anyone’s beliefs with a graeco-roman Earth deity nor does it aim to reduce them to physical processes. The aim is to cultivate an appreciation for this recursive symphony serenading through our cartography of existence. This is more an acknowledgement of that inherent intelligence iterating through n effervescence of outcomes. From which we, ourselves and all our experiences, are engendered.

Often it’s assumed that an ascetic stance is essential for transcendence. Grasping divinity via a culling of the corporeal drives. Everyone has their path to enlightenment; I believe, this asceticism is just one of many.

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.”— René Descartes.

Sinking into the body immersed in nature achieves a similar consequence (i.e. reintegrating sapience into the context of the wider holobiont); a state of cognisance. We become privy to this profound wealth of sensory vocabulary dynamically articulating our stream of reality. Eavesdropping on ancestors holding dialogues spanning time.

This unique amalgam of genes bridging both ‘the archaic’ & ‘the novel’ through symphony: the individual; the prima materia. The discernible body; the first cradle of an individual’s consciousness. The smallest scale that conserves sapience, both narrates & scripts the nuanced world around us; nucleation reality.

Our bodies, through an extensibility of the holobiont, is a sieve extending our conscious intent (will); inclining probabilities toward outcomes that shape an environment’s capacity for nurturing consciousness and/or sapience.

“The libido has, as it were, a natural penchant: it is like water, which must have a gradient if it is to flow.”

— Carl G. Jung.

Rather than demolish ego; I propose to extend its architecture, its scale. Assimilate a holistic understanding of self. Pool in information from the expansive holobiont network. Gaia sets in new percolation phenomena; sustainable self-schema models skewed toward preserving our stake, and our unfurling, in existence.

“Be careful when you cast out your demons that you don’t throw away the best of yourself.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche.

At the very least, the framework put forward in this thread builds on the very fundamental ethos: unus mundus.

Ouroboros on a shrine enclosing Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus [c. 1600 B.C.].

Gaia’s anthropomorphisms parallel our own abstractions of existence. Our experiences conform to the constraints of the hierarchies we’re embedded in. Stitching together stimuli from multimodal perceptual spaces (composite vantage points) expands our abstractions. Hence, we impress upon the world via recursive involutions of self into overarching ecologies. Crystallisations of these abstractions equate to legacy. Akin to the cellular automata; we each contribute to a distinct mosaic stitched across this canvas of space, time and consciousness.

“The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.”

— James Baldwin




Threading a few concepts as a defence for Gaia and sustainable mental models

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A cross-pollination ✍🏾.. you’re welcome to sail along as I script to myself...

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