It's not the nodes, it's the connections.


The way in which we are moving into a new way of locating is to realise: we're enveloped in a whole drama. I mean, this has been going on—we've been here for 200,000 years. This drama of the universe has been going 14 billion years. We wake up inside a story everyday.

Brian Swimme

I have been craving for stories, getting lost in lands and narratives in an escapist stupor (recently read Le Guin's Earthsea stories in a week); which was partly why I found the quote above incredibly soothing, that we wake up everyday already inside an unfolding cosmic Story.

If we can cognitively attune to unfurling-with and -within this Story, I wonder how we can re-orient ourselves, cultivate togetherness, care, love.

But—what do we mean by stories?

It is about anchoring our narratives in deep time. It is the realisation that instead of having a universe filled with things, we are enveloped by a universe that is a singular, energetic event, ongoing till now.

It matters what stories tell stories, espoused Donna Haraway.

Maybe, this would allow us to fix our broken narratives of us and the Other. As interbeings with the biosphere, we evolve with the Earth's creative intelligence that brought forth the complexity of life we see around us, and continues to do so.

To identify the logic of stories as one's epistemology is to expand one's modes for knowing the world. One then comes to know the world through stories, through netbags of metaphors in all its fuzzy logic. You invite imagination and poetry in the sensations of grass beneath your feet, in noticing the way the trees slow-waltz to certain rhythms of wind, in the line of ants marching up your walls. This allows for more ecological thinking, more thinking-with other critters, all of us entangled in an unfolding story, coming into full expression with one another.

Through us conscious beings, the universe enacts its true nature, by endowing us the capacity to create meaning through relationships,

The universe we live in gives birth to itself through relationships. At the level of elementary particles, the neutron, by itself, disintegrates within 3 to 4 minutes. This is due to radioactive decay. On the other hand, if you bring the neutron in relationship with a proton, it will exist for a billion years. The very nature of the neutron relies upon forming a relationship with a proton for it to express itself.

Brian Swimme

So obvious but so overlooked, we unfold-with others through relationships; through ecological assemblages and co-evolutions, in different flavours of cooperation or competition.

Haraway echoes this, that companion species are relentlessly becoming-with; Ontologically heterogenous partners become who and what they are in relational material-semiotic worlding. Natures, cultures, subjects, and objects do not preexist their intertwined worldings.

Sympoiesis, or, collective-reproducing (Beth Dempster, 1998). In other words, "relational worldings"—I read this as co-creating meaning-laden worlds when one forms relations with another.

(Hyphenated words open up the semiotic space; how else can we articulate a language of collective-becoming, of sympoiesis? If categories are unstable, we must watch them emerge within encounters, Anna Tsing insists.)

On similar threads, Kauffman, theoretical biologist, origin of life researcher, extends the magic of stories, becoming-with, into the messy empiricism when science-meets-complexity. We invoke the spirit of collective autocatalytic sets1 from the field of biology—collectively reproducing, collectively arising—to read matter, culture, consciousness,

[…] the realisation that we are members of a living world of untellable creativity in its becoming. Life is abundant, the universe is rife with becoming, based on physics but beyond any physics we know. […] Creatures, by existing, create the very conditions for other creatures to come into existing. […] The blossoming biosphere creates its own ever-new possibilities of becoming, yet more diverse and abundant.

This ultimate, an unknowable unfolding, slips its foundational moorings and floats free.

We do not live alone, we make our living world together… We all are joined together in the evolving, emerging, unfolding of the biosphere as a whole.

— Stuart Kauffman, A World Beyond Physics (2019)

Something amiss here is indigenous knowledges. We have much to learn from their Cosmologies, Part ICosmologies, Part I
I tend to leave my ideas to collect dust. I've been thinking about this since the talk I had on Balinese Cosmology by the artist Wayan Karja in 2019 and a paper by Yuk Hui.

Cosmic Energy 2016, Wayan Karja


"Schemas that define the mode of participation of humans and non-humans"

Cosmologies are based on the proposition that ideas about the cosmos are an integral part of human cultural and social systems. To truly comprehend a culture, one must have some sense of its cosmology,...
, and the myths or stories they tell that collapse the lived realities (e.g. spacetime, social realities), the cosmos and the environment into interweaving threads. There's a great are.na channel on this topic and I'm planning to dive into it :~).

Finally, a homage to the episode on Midnight Gospel that inspired this post, and lit up the synapses between the different authors I'm reading,

So the Buddha looks at Indra's Net and it's basically the same topography, but he says, "it's not the nodes. It's the connections."













P.S. Recently, during meditation, my mind sometimes fall into some ad infinitum non-space (as vast as our consciousness can be), and I realised how art, or beauty, or the dewdrop of a moment (sensory alignment, before it plops! and ends), seems like an interface into the larger consciousness. I wondered why in certain environments, I enter such states of mind more easily (e.g. when there is wind, sitting under open sky on my porch, humidity not too heavy, etc.) than other times, which led me to the (admittedly meek) insight that perhaps symmetry (broadly), experienced subjectively, acts as interface or gateway into something cosmic.

I also realised that wonder is important to me. to cultivate wonder is to cultivate joy & love. :)  also, wondering why theory engages so little with spirituality.

  1. An autocatalytic set is a collection of entities, each of which can be created catalytically by other entities within the set, such that as a whole, the set is able to catalyze its own production.