First Edition February 2016
Copyright © 2016 Michael E. Abramowitz
Published by Michael Abramowitz at Shakespir
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Cover: The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)
Credit:NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Text photographs by Michael Abramowitz
Author contact: [email protected]
By the same author: “Oracle of Love” (2008 and 2014)
Spirituality and religion are regarded as being out of this world. The very reason many religions regard themselves as ‘spiritual’ is because they offer us access to worlds other than the physical dimensions we find ourselves in. Spirituality is commonly used as an antonym for materiality.
Yet there must be some commonality between our spiritual and material worlds for us to be able to imagine them at all. Access to such other-worlds is believed to permit us to extend our same earthly lives, to lead lives of greater civility or comfort, to consort with beings whose powers and intelligence exceed our own or to extend our own powers beyond their earthly capabilities.
While it’s not possible to test the veracity of any other-worldly claims, the descriptions of this world by many religions have proved to be scientifically inadequate, and this has aroused suspicion of their other-worldly offerings. Some have managed to avoid this conflict by simply regarding the wonder and beauty of nature to be an expression of divinity, as Pantheists do.
But could divinity itself be a this-worldly rather than an other-wordly phenomenon? Could we find all the splendour of our spiritual imaginations here in our material world without having to resort to realms outlandish? Could spirits be coursing through our veins and singing through our minds using the elements of the Periodic Table? Spirituality might well be a phenomenon arising out of, or inherent in, our material world and not a precursor to it. Science could be informing our spiritual imaginations and not only contesting them.
Rather than looking to spirituality as an antidote for materiality, this book explores it in a much wider sense – regarding any being, principle or object to be a spirit if it influences us while remaining mysterious or beyond our possible control. In this expanded capacity spirituality serves as an intuitive complement to science while still embracing the traditional deities of the world’s great religions, the deities of natural religions and ancestor worship, the vague personal deities of individual agnostics, and a simple awe of nature.
We have no control over many of the material phenomena that affect us: The rotation of our planet vis-a-vis the sun, for example, absolutely dictates our daily rhythms, while the structure of our DNA is an important determinant of who and what we are. Dumb though these phenomena may be, their impact on us is unavoidable – and in this wider sense they are spirits we cannot but obey.
I suggest that sentience may be evident in such apparently dumb material phenomena – that they can be construed to comprehend meaning, experience sensation and express intent. I see such evidence not in the phenomena themselves, but in their patterning, in the ways they are sequenced and arranged. Its not just that their patterning may be beautiful or wondrous but that the patterns may be patterned, and patterned again and again, in orders of pattern, one overlaying or interlacing the other. This ordering may be deep indeed, and it is in the extreme orders of patterning that I see possibilities for spiritual sentience. Our everyday lives are far too busy to contemplate such deep orders of pattern but adepts of mindfulness tell us that it is humanly possible to become aware of them.
The possibility of a sentient spirituality based on the patterning of the material world is only the starting point for this adventure. The main idea of this book is that there appear to be two distinct ways that patterns can be ordered – modes of patterning I call them – and that we can glean information about our spirits from the modes of patterning they employ. Patterns can be ordered either hierarchically, where the orders are ranked such that those of higher rank overlay those of lower rank, or comparably, where every order interlaces with every other order equitably. These different modes of patterning can be seen for example in the way that armies are ordered in strict levels of hierarchical authority while fish school without leaders, and in the way that objects like chairs and tables strictly maintain their designated shapes while swirls in a water stream will be deformed by every relevant intrusion.
We extract meaning from patterns so there are correspondingly separate modes to the meaning we extract from them. For example, the usefulness of a chair in maintaining its shape under our weight (which is its major meaning for us) is of a kind that can never be extracted from a water stream. A meaning in the patterns in one mode (say that an object maintains the shape of a chair rather than that of a table) will have no relevance to patterns in the other mode (should a chair or a table be caught up in a flood, say, it matters not whether it is a table or a chair). And there is meaning in our own behaviour that occurs in the same two independent modes. It’s as if we live in, and can switch between, separate worlds of meaning within one material world.
Spirits too would have to negotiate these modes of pattern and meaning. Acknowledging the relevance of the modes to spirituality can guide our spiritual imaginations in the same way that science does (or should).
Complex phenomena generally involve a mixture of the two modes. We and our brains are such complex phenomena, and we switch modes as needed to discern the patterns we encounter and to comprehend their meaning. But depending on the mode our minds engage, it is the meanings of that mode, and of that mode only, that we comprehend at that moment. Until we switch our viewing mode, patterns in the other mode remain meaningless and indistinguishable. Of course, we can switch our viewing mode very quickly, allowing us to manage ourselves adequately with respect to both modes, but it is our viewing mode that determines which kinds of pattern we are discerning and which kinds of meaning we are following at any one instant. When we encounter patterns of both modes simultaneously, we have to choose (consciously or subconsciously) which mode to view them from (or perhaps we choose which mode to engage consciously and which subconsciously). The consequences of these choices can be significant.
In this regime of separate modes of patterning and meaning I am able to conceive of spirits that are only ever capable of utilising one of these modes. Unlike ourselves who are capable of comprehending both modes and switching between them, these spirits would have no appreciation of any meaning and pattern in their opposite mode, and would have no sensibility of other spirits that utilize their opposite mode. Understanding spirituality in terms of such incongruent modes of spirituality offers insights into many seemingly intractable spiritual problems.
So is this just another dualistic theology? What about One God? Well, it turns out that one of the modes is indeed universal in scope while the other comprises a manifold of localised occurrences. Whether a spiritual experience is that of a universal spirit or of a manifold of particular spirits depends on one’s viewing mode. We are all capable of both.
A brief biographical note to allay suspicions about my motives: I grew up orthodox Jewish and as a teenager in the 1960’s was groomed for the rabbinate. On leaving school I chose to study physics and maths at university where I embraced atheism instead. In the 1970’s a chance encounter with psychedelics rekindled the spiritual interest, this time in the direct experience of spirituality rather than the following of any religion. Attempts to reconcile the profundity of direct spiritual experience with the mundane physical world have occupied my attention ever since. This book is such an attempt. I have published another more intuitive work called the “Oracle of Love”, based on the Taoist I Ching.
Part I of this book establishes the essential characteristics and physical basis of the two modes. Part II shows how these physical characteristics underlie separate modes of meaning. It is only in Part III that I examine spirituality in the light of these modes.
You may find the focus on physics wearying. I ask your patience. I have made every effort to describe it in language accessible to everyone. Occasional statements that are beyond your reach may be passed over without losing the overall gist. On the other hand, I have stated the idea much too simply in order to convey it as directly as possible and to as wide an audience as possible. Please take this book as an outline of an interesting idea rather than a proof of anything.
“There are two kinds of people in the world” my friend Wally used to say, “those who squeeze their teabags and those who don’t.” I suspect he meant to distinguish people who wrung every ounce of flavour from their experiences. Wally squeezed his teabags and most of his friends did too.
People have been putting each other in categories since the year dot. Every which way we can, we do it. Friend or foe? Us and them. We label each other by religion, by nationality, by region and by town; by wealth, by ancestry and by power; by political affiliation; by taste in clothes, music or football team. Are you a cat lover or a dog lover? Do you smoke the same cigarettes as me? If we tried hard, we could create more categories than there are people.
For some people categorization is important – they don’t know who you are until they’ve ticked or crossed every box in their mental questionnaire – while others don’t give a hoot about your status or pedigree as long as you’re pleasant to be with.
It’s not only people that we categorize – we categorize books, music, rocks and plants – everything around us. Categorization helps us get a quick overall idea of what we are dealing with and manage our world more efficiently – it’s an essential part of being human.
But things are not equally amenable to categorization. Some are more easily distinguishable than others while some distinguishing characteristics do not last. It’s significantly easier to distinguish a cat from a dog than it is to distinguish say your dog from my dog, especially if it is the same dog that has merely changed owners.
Things that are amenable to categorization have some unique and unchanging properties. Parts of a motor car can be relied on to maintain their functionality (within well-defined tolerances) for as long as they are not broken, so we can categorize them as being tyres or seats, or front-left doorhandles and front-right doorhandles, for example. Sure there may be many front-right doorhandles that all look the same but each is on a different car.
Contrarily there are things that are a nightmare to categorize – things that have no unique properties or their properties change at the slightest disturbance. No testing of water of the Nile at Cairo could tell whether the sample originated in the Blue Nile or the White Nile. A cloud in the sky may be categorized as cumulus or stratus, but no cloud can be pinpointed as being the same one that was there yesterday.
These two contrasting extremes of susceptibility to categorization illustrate the two modes of pattern and meaning I will explore. Differences in susceptibility to categorization are only one of the contrasts between the two modes. The mode I call architectivity is also characterized by exclusiveness, separation, certainty of differentiation, and endurance. The mode I call connectivity is characterized by indistinctness, by ease of integration, by temporariness, by flexibility, by disorder and a penchant for change.
To grasp these modes more clearly, to understand how deeply they are embedded in our reality and how profoundly they affect our spirituality, I need to start with the fundamental forces of physics….
Physicists tell us that all encounters between physical objects can be described in terms of four fundamental forces. Every physical encounter, no matter how complex, can be analysed into smaller components, which in turn can be analysed into even smaller components, until at some point every contributing component can be described using only one or more of the four fundamental forces. The four fundamental forces of physics are known as the electromagnetic force, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and gravity.
Gravity is the familiar force holding our bodies to our planet and our planet in orbit around the sun. While we are familiar with the electromagnetic force at work in our televisions and light bulbs, it is also the force that binds atoms into molecules which in turn make up our bodies and the physical objects around us. The strong and weak nuclear forces hold atoms together as conglomerates of sub-atomic particles such as protons and neutrons. At the time of writing, every encounter between physical objects, no matter how complex, is considered to be ultimately describable in terms of only these four fundamental forces.
Newton and Galileo gave us a good understanding of gravity, showing how it arose between objects having mass, such as our bodies and our planet, and that the strength of the force was dependent on how much mass each object had and the distance by which they were separated. The larger the masses of the objects involved, the stronger the force, while the greater the distance between them, the weaker the force. Einstein later added greater detail to our understanding of this force to enable us to make predictions about its effects with extremely high precision.
Similarly, Coulomb demonstrated that the electric force arose between objects having an electric charge, and that the strength of the force depended on the size and polarity of the charge of each object and the distance by which they were separated. The larger the charges involved, the stronger the electric force, the greater the distances between the objects, the weaker the electric force, and whether they attracted or repelled each other depended on the polarity (positive or negative) of their charges. Later the phenomenon of magnetism came to be understood as a by-product of electricity and that forces between magnets were similarly describable in terms of the size and polarity of charges and the distances between them.
These forces arise as interactions between objects. They do not arise in isolation. Every object having mass gravitationally influences every other object having mass. My body is gravitationally attracted to everything that has mass, including your body and your dog’s body, no matter where you or your dog are. An apple dislodging from a tree actually falls towards every planet in the universe, not only to planet Earth. More so, the apple falls towards every other object on planet Earth including every animal, plant, and stone on it. But because planet Earth is so much nearer to the apple than any other planet, and because Earth has so much more mass than any animal, plant, or stone on it, the gravitational force between the apple and Earth is the one that really counts. For all practical purposes, we only concern ourselves with the apple falling to the Earth. Similarly, the tides of our oceans are determined not only by the gravitational force of our moon, but by the gravitational force of our sun, and to far lesser extents (because of the greater distances involved), by the gravitational forces of the other planets of our solar system, by other suns and their planets, and even by suns and planets in other galaxies. But in calculating the times of the tides, we only consider the gravitational forces of our moon and our sun because the others are too small to have a noticeable effect.
This universality of effect applies to every fundamental force. Every object having an electric charge electrically influences every other object having an electric charge, with large distances rendering some influences negligible, and in this case opposite polarities also able to affect an outcome; and so on. The situation is a little different in the case of the nuclear forces but the same principle applies – the strength of the forces are affected by the distances between the objects and the strength of their charges.
The fundamental forces between objects are mutual in the sense that they act on all the objects involved. The force of gravity between a ball and the earth acts on both the ball and the earth, and is of equal strength on both objects regardless of their relative size or their relative mass. Only the direction of the forces are opposite. Both ball and earth would experience a stronger force if either object had greater mass, and both would experience a weaker force if the distance between them was greater, but the strength of the force on the ball is always the same as the strength of the force on the earth. When objects mutually influence each other, the influence of one on the other is of the same quality and strength as the influence of the other on the one, as it were. One of the objects cannot be said to be the cause of the force and the other only to suffer its effect.
At less fundamental levels, encounters between objects are often not mutual. One object can be said to be a cause and another to suffer an effect, as we often see in everyday life. For example, when a person kicks a ball, we can say that the force of the person’s foot on the ball is the same as the force of the ball on the person’s foot, but we cannot say that the ball is as determined to kick the person as the person is to kick the ball. The person is the obvious cause and the ball flying into the goal-mouth is the obvious effect.
For the moment I wish to focus on mutual encounters between objects, such as those involving the fundamental forces, which I will refer to as causal interactions.
Objects participating in a causal interaction are responsive to each other. They may respond, for example, to changes in each other’s masses or charges, to changes in the distances between them or to their orientations to one another. If one changes its position relative to the others then the others will all make suitable adjustments to their relative positions and motions. The objects responding to each other in a causal interaction can be said to be[_ perceptive_] of each other.
Now some interactions, for whatever reason and regardless of which forces they utilize, are known to constrain the responses of their participating objects within specific ranges. For example, the interaction between a proton and an electron in a hydrogen atom (as based on the electromagnetic force between them) constrains the distance between them to be in one of only a few possible ranges. For the proton and electron to constitute an atom, they cannot be too far or too near each other – the distance between them must be just right. They move relative to each other and distance between them changes as they move, but the distance will remain within a definite range for as long as the atom exists. This constraint does not come from outside the atom – it is intrinsic to the electromagnetic interaction between only that proton and that electron.
Not all interactions between protons and electrons are so constrained. In our sun, for example, protons and electrons can influence each other without constraint, in what is called a plasma – a soup of individual protons and electrons that do not constitute atoms (though many do).
When an interaction is not intrinsically constrained, I call it, and the group of objects participating in it, a connective interaction, or a connective for short; and when it is intrinsically constrained I call it, and the group of objects participating in it, a binding interaction, or a bond for short, regardless of which forces the interaction utilizes.
This distinction between connectives and bonds lies at the heart of the physical contrast between the two modes of pattern and meaning I will be exploring. Bonds are quite magically different to connectives. A bonding of hydrogen and oxygen atoms – being water – is very different to a connective mixture of hydrogen and oxygen atoms – which is not water. At room temperature water is a liquid while hydrogen and oxygen, and their mixture, are gasses. A mixture of say 50 litres of hydrogen gas and 25 litres of oxygen gas has a mixed volume of 75 litres, but get them to bond (with a spark) and they magically get squeezed into about a tablespoon of water. This creation of difference by bonding underlies one of the modes of patterning central to my story.
So lets look a little more closely at the contrast between connectives and bonds.
Objects in a connective are free ranging in their relative motions while the relative motions of objects in a bond are confined within a definite range and so are bound to each other. A bond effectively displays an additional binding force that counteracts the connective forces between its constituent objects, to keep them within its allowed range.
From outside an interaction, any binding the interaction may be under only becomes evident when its intrinsic constraint is challenged. For example, in the case of a proton and an electron, it only becomes evident that they are bound together in an atom rather than ranging free in the connective of a plasma when a force is exerted on them that should change the distance between them but which instead moves both together in order to maintain the constraint of their binding.
The binding forces of bonds are known to have upper limits, called binding strengths, beyond which they break down. For example, an external electromagnetic force on an atom’s constituent electrons and nucleus (its protons and neutrons) may be so strong that it overcomes their binding and succeeds in shifting the distance between them beyond their constrained range so that the bond is no more. I say that the bond between the electrons and the nucleus has been disrupted. The bond has become a connective instead (perhaps only momentarily) because the underlying interaction between its constituent objects remains while the binding constraint on the interaction is now gone.
It may happen that there is more than one range in which it is possible for objects in an interaction to be intrinsically constrained, so that a new bond can be established between the same objects of a disrupted bond using a different range of constraint. This can happen, for example, when a strong external force pushes an atom into what is called an ‘excited state’. The same nucleus and electrons of the disrupted atom establish a new atom having a different range of constraint. The excited atom may still be under the influence of the external force that disrupted the original bond, but the binding strength associated with the new constraint is now greater than the external force and so the excited atom persists.
Once established, a bond persists with its same range of constraint until it is disrupted, if ever. Since a bond is intrinsic to an interaction, only disturbance by a force from outside the interaction can disrupt it.
Once established, a bond also persists with its same constituent objects until it is disrupted. No object can join the bond while it persists (though the bond may bond with other objects as will be described later) while any object leaving the bond involves the bond’s disruption (though it may re-establish itself with a slightly different constitution). A connective on the other hand persists even though objects may join or leave the interaction (unless there is only one object left).
The arrangement of objects in a connective will be disturbed by every relevant external force, while the arrangement of objects in a bond can only be disturbed to the extents that the bond’s constraints permit (assuming the external force does not disrupt it). The range of a binding constraint may sometimes be so narrow that for all practical purposes a bond may appear to suffer no internal disturbance from an external force.
An object participating in an interaction may engage in a different interaction with an object external to the existing interaction. But if the existing interaction is a bond, its constraints may negate the forces of the external interaction in order to maintain its constraints, meaning that a bond can effectively prevent its constituent objects from participating in external interactions. So a bond not only constrains the effects of its own connective forces on its constituent objects, it can also constrain its constituent objects’ ability to participate in external interactions. A connective, on the other hand, imposes no constraints on its participating objects – they are completely free to move relative to each other and to engage in external interactions.
Causal interactions between objects are either binding or connective – they are either constrained or they are not – there is no in-between. Complex interactions are mixtures of connective and binding interactions, rather than being something in-between. In the same way that every encounter between physical objects can ultimately be described in terms of one or more of the four fundamental forces, so every interaction between physical objects can ultimately be analysed into interactions that are either connective or binding.
One of the magical effects of bonding is that the bond’s constituent objects behave as a combined whole rather than as a collection of individuals. Connectives do not – they always behave as a collection of connected but separate individuals. When objects in a bond are subject to a force and the constraints of the bond prevent them from moving relative to each other, the force moves the bond as a whole instead.
That external force should also be seen in its context of a mutual interaction with external objects, and that those external objects respond to the movement of the bond-as-a-whole. That is, the other objects in the external interaction now perceive the bond to be a single object with which they are in interaction, rather than being in interaction with its constituent objects. The bond behaves as if it was a single object in its own right, able to engage in interaction in its own right.
Another way of looking at this is to see that the other objects in the external interaction do not perceive the bond’s constituent objects as individuals since they appear not to respond to the external force individually, while the bond-as-a-whole does respond, so it is the bond-as-a-whole that is perceived as an object in the external interaction and its constituent objects are not .
Connectives never respond to an external force as a single whole object – their participating objects always respond individually – so connectives are not perceivable as objects in their own right.
Now if the external force on a bond is so weak as to not challenge the constraints on its constituent objects, the force on them is not negated, and they respond to it individually while the bond-as-a-whole does not. In this case the other objects of the external interaction perceive only the bond’s constituent objects and not the bond-as-a-whole. I say that the external interaction has sublimated the bond, acting only on its constituent objects, which then appear to the external interaction to be unconstrained in a connective rather than constrained in a bond.
Perception of a bond thus imbues it with wholeness. It participates in external interactions in which it is perceived as an object in its own right. A connective always participates in an external interaction as the collection of its individual participating objects (assuming they are perceived) and not as a single object in its own right. Sublimation is the opposite of perception. A bond participates in an external interaction in which it is sublimated as if it was a connective.
Another magic effect of bonding is that the properties of a bond-as-a-whole can be different to those of its constituent objects, while the properties of a connective remain those of its participating objects.
The properties of an object are those of its aspects by which the forces of an interaction act, and which in turn may be affected by an interaction. For example, the property of an object that the gravitational force acts on is its mass, while its speed and acceleration (relative to the other objects in the interaction) are properties that may be affected by the interaction.
The properties displayed by a connective are the properties of its participating objects, summed as a group. For example, a plasma may outwardly display a group electric charge different to the charge of any one electron or proton (and perhaps even no charge at all if they all happen to cancel each other out) but the external influence of a connective through its group properties will be no different to the combined influences of its participating objects through their individual properties.
A perceived bond on the other hand, as an object in its own right, displays properties of its own rather than those of its constituent objects and these may be very different to those of its constituent objects even when considered as a group. These emergent properties of its own would be those utilized by the bond in any external interactions it may have as an object in its own right.
Some of a bond’s emergent properties will be displayed by its constituent objects, such as the properties of spatial volume, position and speed, though their values will likely be different. Both an atom and its constituent electrons and protons display spatial volumes, but the volume displayed by the atom will likely be different to the volumes displayed by its constituent electrons and protons, and different to the sum of their volumes as a group.
But some of a bond’s emergent properties may be completely new. They are either entirely novel and not displayed by any of its constituent objects at all, or properties of its constituent objects are missing from the bond’s own display. Molecules, being bonded atoms, have completely new emergent properties that their component atoms do not have.They may have a shape that is different to that of their component atoms, or they may be electrically neutral while their component atoms are charged ions, for example. It is the new emergent properties of water molecules that makes water different to a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. It is the new emergent properties of atoms as different to the properties of their component nucleons that opens up the entire arena of chemistry, by which we distinguish oxygen and hydrogen from each other, by which atoms relate to atoms using their atomic properties and by which molecules relate to molecules using their molecular properties.
A connective cannot participate in external interactions as an object in its own right or have properties in its own right. A plasma remains just a bunch of electrons and protons even though they are interacting. A connective can engage in external interactions only as the collection of its participating objects, utilising their individual properties to do so.
When a bond is sublimated by an external interaction, the external interaction does not perceive the bond as an object in its own right and does not perceive the emergent properties that the bond would display in its own right. The sublimating interaction only perceives the bond’s constituent objects and the properties they display.
Since a bond participates in a perceiving external interaction as if it was a single whole object with its own properties, all the objects participating in an interaction, whether the interaction is connective or binding, may be perceived bonds.
Perception is a mutual affair, in that an object being perceived in an interaction is also perceiving the objects that perceive it.
Yet another magic effect of bonding is that every physical object/bond excludes all objects that perceive it from its spatial volume. Mutually perceiving objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Every physical object is perceived to have spatial properties such as volume, position and speed. Objects that do not perceive each other do not perceive each other’s spatial properties and are not excluded from each other’s volumes.
A connective does not exclude other connectives or objects from a spatial volume because it does not have a spatial volume in its own right – only its participating objects have spatial volumes, from which they do exclude each other and any external objects that perceive them.
Since a bond – as an object in its own right – spatially excludes all objects that perceive it, when perceiving bonds meet they collide and remain separate. When connectives meet they merge, integrating in a shared spatial volume and perhaps even passing through each other, while their participating objects may collide if they perceive and meet each other.
It’s very easy to distinguish things that are clearly separate from each other – and bonds are – while distinguishing merging connectives from each other can be very difficult. Sorting a puff of smoke from the air around and between it would be impossible without some very sophisticated technology, and ultimately only becomes possible because each particle of smoke has properties that are different to those of the air – they can be individually identified.
The collection of properties (and their values) displayed by a perceived object constitute what I call its identity. The identity of an object is unique if only because objects perceiving each other remain separate – they cannot occupy the same space at the same time and the space it occupies is one of an object’s properties.
The set of properties that emerge at a bond’s establishment is fixed for the duration of its existence. The values of some of those properties are also fixed for its existence, such as the value of its mass for example, while others, such as its values of position and speed, may be highly variable. Its fixed set of properties together with those values that are fixed and its separation from objects perceiving it contribute to the object having a lasting unique identity. The identity of an object is not only always unique but it exists for as long as the object does.
Connectives do not display unique and lasting identities, since they neither display properties in their own right and their group properties are not necessarily unique (multiple connectives may occupy the same space at the same time). Nor do any of their group properties have fixed values – a plasma’s group electric charge may change or even disappear as its participating objects move. Connectives may sometimes be distinguishable but they do not display a unique and lasting identity.
All objects participating in an interaction, whether the interaction is binding or connective, perceive each other to have unique and enduring identities.
Objects can interact with each other in many different combinations. For example, the bonding of 8 protons with 8 neutrons and 8 electrons results in an atom of oxygen, the bonding of 92 protons with 146 neutrons and 92 electrons results in an atom of uranium, and there are 84 different atomic combinations in-between. The bonding of one proton and one electron without any neutrons results in an atom of hydrogen. A plasma (which is a connective) of 8 protons, 8 neutrons and 8 electrons is not significantly different to one of 92 protons,146 neutrons and 92 electrons. A cornucopia of difference, newness and variety opens up by bonding objects in different combinations, which connective interactions cannot offer.
But there is more! Bonding explodes with creativity when bonds, being objects, bond with each other. It’s not just that objects create something new when they bond, or that bonding in different combinations gives a variety of newness, but that the new objects so created can then bond with each other and with other objects to synthesize even greater confections of novelty. Protons, neutrons and electrons bond with each other to create many varieties of atoms. The atoms so created can bond with each other – again in many different combinations – to create molecules of great variety and complexity, and molecules can bond with each other to create extremely complex structures such as the proteins that we are ultimately made of. A plasma (which is a connective) is not an object in its own right and so cannot engage in a bond. Plasmas of plasmas are just bigger plasmas that are not significantly different to their contributing plasmas.
When bonds bond with bonds, I say that they aggregate. The aggregating bonds become the constituent objects of a larger aggregate bond. The aggregate bond is also an object in its own right, having emergent properties of its own and able to bond with yet other objects to aggregate into even larger objects, and so on.
As they aggregate, the bonds/objects are tiered in levels, and with each aggregation the number of levels rises by one. With each aggregation a new object emerges at the topmost level, having an identity different to those of its constituent objects (and different to those of their constituent objects, and so on).
Each aggregation is a discrete, singular event, being the establishment of a bond.
Since an aggregate is a new bond, the term ‘aggregate’ is really also equivalent to ‘object’ and ‘perceived bond’.
Atomic nuclei emerge from protons and neutrons aggregating with each other. Atoms emerge from atomic nuclei aggregating with electrons, and atoms aggregate with each other into molecules. Contrarily we may say that at one level of aggregation a molecule has atoms as its constituent objects, at the next lower level of aggregation atoms have nuclei and electrons as their constituent objects, and at the level below that nuclei have protons and neutrons as their constituent objects.
Aggregates may destruct rather than construct. When one of the bonds that make up an aggregate is disrupted, it leaves behind smaller bonds that were the aggregate’s constituent objects. These smaller bonds may disrupt into even smaller bonds, and so on. Each step in the destruction of an aggregate is also a discrete event, being the disruption of a bond. With each destruction event an existing object disappears, but in this case the smaller objects that are its remnants are not new objects, for they existed prior to the destruction as the constituent objects of the erstwhile aggregate.
I speak of an aggregate/object/bond undergoing an aggregation event when it is not necessary to distinguish whether the event is constructive or destructive. I also speak of an aggregate’s [_internal objects _]being its constituent objects at all levels, so as to include the constituent objects of its constituent objects and so on.
As you can see, the levels of an aggregate are arranged in a hierarchy, and every object within an aggregate can be allocated a rank in the hierarchy according to whether the object is internal to, is bound to, or has emerged from, another object within the aggregate.
For example, the atoms in a molecule have a higher rank in the molecule’s hierarchy than do the protons and neutrons inside those atoms, while the atoms that have bound to create the molecule all have the same rank and the molecule itself sits at the top of the hierarchy (assuming that it is not bound to anything else).
There is a time-line built into an aggregate’s hierarchy, for the object that emerged most recently is always at the top of the hierarchy, and those of the next level down are the next most recent, and so on.
The hierarchical ranking of an aggregate’s internal objects cannot be changed without disrupting one or more of the aggregate’s internal bonds, which in turn would disrupt the aggregate as a whole, so an aggregate’s hierarchy persists unchanged for as long as it exists.
I call the hierarchy of an aggregate its architective hierarchy, or architecture.
Objects of a lower rank in an aggregate’s architective hierarchy are more numerous while those of a higher rank contain more internal objects than those of a lower rank. There is only one object at the very top of an architective hierarchy and it contains all the others.
(This discussion of the aggregation of bonds is overly simple but is sufficient to convey the gist of my argument. If you are interested, some complexities are discussed in the appendix.)
Connectives are not objects in their own right and so cannot interact with each other. But their participating objects are and the participating objects of one connective may interact with the participating objects of another.
If the participating objects of one connective interact connectively with those of another then the connectives have effectively integrated or merged into a larger connective. It matters not whether all or only some of the objects interact, for even if only one object from each connective is involved then all the objects of all the contributing connectives will be interacting at least indirectly with each other.
The participating objects of one connective could alternatively bond with those of another connective to form a connective of different, larger objects; or they could all bind together to form a single large object, but the connective itself cannot bind with another object or connective.
The capacity for external interaction of an integrated connective is not any different to the capacities of its contributing connectives, which is the capacities of their participating objects. One plasma integrating with another creates a larger plasma that is not any different to the integrating plasmas in its capacity for external interaction.
Each participating object in an integrated connective directly or indirectly interacts with every other object in the integrated connective, no matter which of the contributing connectives each object originally belonged to. The contributing connectives may become indistinguishable once integrated, or their original groupings may be maintained, to some degree, or for a while. If more connectives join in, the merged participating objects may pass through so many arrangements that it may be impossible to discern the original contributing connectives or any sequence to their merging. In fact, the arrangement of objects in a connective may change so much, even without any integration taking place, that groupings of its participating objects may simply appear and disappear with its flux. In a connective there are no constraints to hold the groupings in place. Lasting identification of groupings or of the contributing connectives is impossible. It may not even be possible to say whether a connective is the result of a prior integration.
The arrangement of objects in a connective will be disturbed to some degree by every force that acts on any of its participating objects. If one object changes its position relative to the others then the others will adjust themselves accordingly. While a connective is not identifiable as an object in the way that a bond is, I say that it is discernible in the sense that all its participating objects respond to a disturbance even though each responds as an individual.
Though subgroupings of its participating objects may appear and disappear with its flux, the subgroups are sometimes distinguishable from each other, albeit temporarily. We distinguish constellations in our galaxy and currents in oceans and rivers, for example. I call any distinguishable subgroup of a connective a visage of the connective. A visage describes a temporary or arbitrary arrangement of the participating objects in a connective, like a cluster or a current, rather than a lasting identity. A visage may last a long time as in the case of a constellation or pass quickly as a swirl in a water stream.
While a bond has a unique and lasting identity by which it may be perceived to differ from every object it interacts with, connectives may or may not offer distinguishable visages and may not even be distinguishable from each other since they do not necessarily exclude each other from their spatial volumes. Even when visages are distinguishable, the distinction may not last since the participating objects are free to move in response to any disturbance.
Identity is meaningful to a bond in a way that a visage is not meaningful to a connective. A bond’s identity emerges with its establishment and disappears only with its disruption. A bond’s identity persists and remains unique for the term of its existence, while a visage of a connective is ephemeral.
By virtue of its constraints, a bond actively preserves its identity. As long as a bond exists, it acts to maintain its identity in the face of external disturbance. It maintains its identity no matter how many other interactions it engages in. Connectives do not act to maintain their visages. Their visages are incidental.
A connective also has no persistent hierarchy of its contributing connectives or its visages. Visages may temporarily display a hierarchy in that some may be larger than others or some may be spatially contained within others, but these arrangements are not fixed. In fact, any connective having more than two objects can be arbitrarily divided into visages at the whim of an observer.
Here we begin to glimpse the charm of connectives. They are unremittingly dynamic and responsive. So much so that they cannot be held to any sort of certainty or precision. They are changeable, unconstrained, flexible, vague and ephemeral. I really appreciate the way air makes way for me as I walk through it.
Bonds spin wonderful spells of certainty and newness but they can be factious things, for there is always a question as to how a bond will respond to an interaction it participates in. Will a molecule withstand the forces involved as another molecule approaches, or will it break apart into its component atoms? Might it, as a whole, aggregate with the approaching molecule or will it be destroyed and its components aggregate with the intruder instead?
If the force of an external interaction is so weak as to not challenge a bond’s internal constraints, the bond is sublimated and its internal integrity is not threatened. If the force is so strong as to break the bond’s constraints, the bond is disrupted and its integrity is lost. If the force is neither too weak nor too strong, the bond is perceived and it remains intact.
There is effectively a contest between a bond and any external interaction it participates in. Under the force of an external interaction a bond either holds its constituent objects to its constraints and thereby keeps itself together, or the force exceed the bond’s constraints and it is disrupted. I call this situation a contestation between the bond and the interaction it is participating in. The contestation is decided on a test of strength between the binding strength of the bond and the force of the external interaction.
The bond either wins or loses the contestation. For as long as the bond holds and the external interaction continues, the contestation continues with the bond winning the test of strength and maintaining its integrity. If at any point the bond loses, it is disrupted and the contestation comes to an end.
Much is at stake for a bond in a contestation. Should it lose, it disappears. It loses its identity, its emergent properties, its hierarchical authority (see below) and its ability to enter into interaction as an object in its own right. For a bond, losing a contestation is catastrophic. For the external interaction, there is no winning and there is no losing – it either interacts with the bond or with the bond’s constituent objects.
The external interaction is of course mutual, and the other objects participating in it may themselves be bonds and be suffering a similar contestation under the very same interaction. An interaction contests the internal constraints of all its participating objects. Some may win and others may lose.
It may happen that one or more constituent objects lost by a losing bond then aggregate with a winning bond, so that the winning bond has not only preserved itself but has also produced a new object with new properties, a new identity and a new capability for interaction – while the losing bond has disappeared. Here there are clear winners and losers. So a contestation could also be taking place between the objects participating in an interaction, in which the objects having the greater binding strengths are winners and the weaker ones are losers. A chemical reaction in which a component atom of one molecule exits that molecule to aggregate with another to form a new molecule is an example.
So with every interaction between objects there is also a contestation, between the interaction and its participating objects, and perhaps between the participating objects themselves as well.
There can be no contestations between connectives, for they are not objects in their own right and so cannot interact with each other. Even in the interactions between the participating objects of merging connectives, all the participating forces are expressed – none are negated and there are no winners or losers. We could talk of competition between connectives, for example, over which star may capture a comet to its orbit. But competition in such a connective sense does not involve the negation of any forces or the undoing of any competitor. The participating objects of a connective respond to every relevant force. A comet may orbit more than one star simultaneously. In a purely connective competition the outcome is a superposition of the competing influences while in a contestation there is a selection of one influence and the negation of another. Contestation cannot occur between connectives alone – at least one of the contestants must be a bond.
When bonds interact, they either aggregate or else enter into contestation. When connectives interact they integrate to occupy the same space and may even pass through each other, disturbing each other as they pass, but without contestation.
In a chemical reaction in which an atom switches from one molecule to another, the atom’s constituent protons, neutrons and electrons necessarily go with it to the other molecule.
When a bond is in a contestation, there may be uncertainty over how the bond will cope and which way its constituent objects will go, but it is absolutely certain that, whichever way a constituent object goes, its internal objects will go with it. If a bond holds its constituent objects it also holds the constituent objects’ constituent objects, and so on. If a constituent object breaks free or is absorbed into another aggregate, its internal objects go with it.
I say that a bond has hierarchical authority over its internal objects to take them with it in decisions under contestation. A contestation is also a contest for the allegiance of a bond’s internal objects.
Put differently, bonds of higher rank have authority over those of lower rank, while those of lower rank are subordinate to those above, in decisions of hierarchical allegiance. The bond at the very top of a hierarchy thus provides a central point of control from where a single decision under contestation may direct the allegiance of every bond in an aggregate.
By contrast, the idea of hierarchical authority has no relevance to connectives. In a close encounter of galaxies, for example, some stars of one galaxy may well be absorbed by the other, and vice-versa, even while the galaxies continue to be distinguishable after their encounter.
The bond at the top of an architective hierarchy can control more than the allegiance of its internal objects – it could control the values of their properties as well.
In order for a bond to be perceived as an object, a constraint must be challenged (unless the perceiving interaction acts on a new property of the bond). Now it may happen that the force from the perceiving interaction continually acts in the direction of one boundary of a bond’s constraint rather than another, so that the constituent objects of the bond are biased, possibly strongly so, to one boundary of their constraint. For example, when a proton approaches an atom, the electrons of the atom will likely spend more time on the side of the atom closest to the approaching proton by virtue of the attraction of their unlike charges.
The same can be said of the constituent objects’ constituent objects, and so on, meaning that all of an aggregate’s internal objects may have a bias to one boundary of their constraints rather than another.
It may even happen that all the internal bonds of an aggregate are biased in the same direction so that, by the topmost object in an architective hierarchy entering into an interaction, a bias to a particular value may be imposed on all its internal objects.
We begin to see the depth of a bond’s capacity for control: A bond not only controls the motions of its constituent objects by constraining them within definite ranges, it controls their ability to participate in external interactions, their hierarchical allegiances and may even impose a bias to their values. None of these controls are evident in connectives.
The internal arrangements of bonds don’t change. Their constituent objects remain confined within their constraints for as long as the bonds hold and the architective hierarchies of their internal bonds cannot be changed without disrupting the bonds.
Yet there are ways by which bonds can be considered to change. They can be considered to change when a bond disrupts or is created. They can be considered to change when an aggregate grows or shrinks, acquiring or losing constituent objects.
I say that bonds progress (rather than change) by stepping from one static architecture to another in sequences of discrete reconfiguration events.
In contrast, the internal arrangements of connectives are highly susceptible to change, and they do so in a smooth, unstepped motion.
Bricks are really handy for building houses in a way that water is not. What is it about bricks? It’s that they maintain their shape and size under pressure, much like a bond keeps its constituents in a definite range. (One could of course use ice to make bricks, but they would have to be kept from melting.) And it’s not just that they maintain their shape – they have a particular shape and size that makes building with them so much easier than building say with rough stones.
The shapes and sizes of objects matter to the way they can be arranged and used. A chair has to be the right shape for me to sit on it, and there is no point building me a house the size of a shoe-box. My house must also keep the rain out and let me in. All these requirements can be satisfied utilising the rigidity and emergence of bonds to create novel objects like walls and roofs and doors, having particular shapes and sizes that maintain their spatial arrangements under pressure.
Connectives can’t be expected to have particular shapes and sizes let alone maintain them. Their flexibility renders them useless for building houses but they are spatially interesting in a different way: Since a connective distorts under the slightest of pressures, by doing so it allows the distorting pressure to pass through it as a wave. A bond’s constraints prevent waves from passing through it. A wave must sublimate a bond in order to pass through it.
There are also great contrasts in the spatial interactions hosted by connectives and bonds. Bonds facilitate the building of complex and rigid spatial structures (man-made in the case of a house and natural in the case of a mountain) while connectives allow waves to pass through them.
So let’s see a world of structured objects awash in a sea of waves….
By constraining its spatial volume, a bond can display a more or less fixed shape and size, that it maintains in the face of disturbance. A bond perceived to maintain such a definite shape and size I say has a figure. Crystals, for example, as bonds of atoms and molecules, perceive each other to have rigid geometric figures.
Objects that perceive each other also exclude each other spatially, so objects perceiving each other to have figures cannot move towards each other at the places where their figures meet. The result is that the ways in which objects having figures can be spatially arranged when in contact are governed by the geometry of their figures. The ways that bricks can be arranged are very different to the ways that chairs can be arranged, for example.
The geometry of their figures also governs how objects can move relative to each other when in contact and how efficiently they can be packed. Crystals are most efficiently packed in patterns favoured by the geometry of their figures, so that a packing pattern of say cubic crystals will be different to a packing pattern of say pyramidic crystals. Objects having figures may be packed so efficiently that for all practical purposes they can’t move relative to each other.
Objects need not have identical figures in order to affect their spatial arrangements – square tiles could be packed against triangular tiles, for example, while complementary figures such as a peg and a hole can also pack together efficiently.
When a contact of objects’ figures restricts their relative movement in at least one spatial dimension, like a peg in a closely matching hole, I call their contact an embrace.
Because the relative movement of objects in an embrace is restricted, embraces also have fixed shapes and sizes, and so have figures of their own. For example, wooden legs can be shaped to fit into holes in a wooden board to make a table having a figure of its own. Embraces can aggregate into more complex embraces in the same way that bonds can aggregate into more complex bonds. An object capable of engaging in an embrace can be regarded as a figurate object, capable of engaging in figurate aggregation, from which a figurate aggregate emerges to be a figurate object in its own right.
While electrons and nucleons are spherical or shapeless, the bigger atoms and molecules often display uneven spatial volumes having definite figures, and they can aggregate figurately. The figures of atoms may determine the shapes of the crystals they aggregate into while the complex figures of large molecules such as proteins may allow one protein to fit neatly into and embrace another. Crystals may aggregate into conglomerates, conglomerates into rocks, rocks into mountains and mountains into continents and planetary crusts. Our own bodies are largely built of interlocking proteins. Most items of our material environment – trees, timber, bricks, houses, tables and chairs – are complex figurate aggregates of their underlying atoms and molecules.
The similarities between bonds and embraces are many. While a figurate embrace is not exactly a bond it is reliant on the bonds underlying its embracing figurate objects to maintain the rigidity of their figures and to exclude each other. The shape and size of a figurate object can be seen as figurate properties that comprise a figurate identity which the object maintains in the face of disturbance. Disruption of a figurate object means the loss of its figurate identity. Figurate aggregates display an architective hierarchy in which their component figurate objects are ranked – for example a rock has a higher rank in the architective hierarchy of a mountain than does a crystal it contains. A figurate disruption would break a figurate aggregate into its component figurate objects, or ultimately into the bonds at the lowest rank of their figurate hierarchy. Figurate aggregates may engage in contestations decided on tests of their figurate strengths. And figurate objects higher in their architective hierarchy have hierarchical authority over their internal figurate objects in matters of figurate contestation.
The arrival of figurate objects into the contact of an embrace is a discrete event. Figurate objects are either in the contact of an embrace or they are not. There is no in-between state. Similarly, the separation of figurate objects from a figurate contact is a discrete event. An arrival of figurate objects in, or a separation of figurate objects from, a figurate embrace is a step from one static figurate architecture to another, as for example when a peg is inserted into or removed from a hole, or a hook is inserted into or removed from an eyelet. Figurate objects also progress rather than change, by stepping from one static architecture to another.
Unlike a bond, an embrace may be disrupted without challenging its figurate strengths, through the motion of its figurate objects in a direction not governed by the embrace, to a position where the figurate objects are not restricted by their figurate contacts. A peg may easily slide out of a hole.
The spatial volume of a figurate aggregate may be the sum of the spatial volumes of its constituent figurate objects, but it may also be more than their sum, for example when the figurate aggregate forms a shell that completely encloses an empty space.
An external force may be said to perceive a figurate aggregate if it makes the figurate aggregate respond as a whole rather than having its component figurate objects respond individually.
The boundary of a figurate object may be divided into a finite number of distinct facets where each facet is capable of participating in an embrace with another figurate object. For example, a peg may be fitted into holes at both its ends, or a peg may have many ends, of different sizes, all capable of fitting into suitable holes. All the facets of a figurate object need not have the same figure, nor need the figure of every figurate object in an embrace be the same. For example, an object may have the shape of a peg at one end and of a hook at the other.
The unlimited flexibility of connectives means not only that they are easily disturbed but that disturbances can propagate through them, for when a force from an external object acts on a connective, the force will likely act first and most strongly on the objects of the connective that are closest to the external object, and the responses of these objects will disturb their nearest neighbours. These in turn will disturb their nearest neighbours and so on, so a wave of disturbance propagates through the connective.
When a perceiving force acts on a bond, on the other hand, the bond’s constraints prevent its constituent objects from responding in any significant way and disturbing their neighbours, so no wave of disturbance propagates through the constituent objects of the bond. Instead, the bond responds to the force as a single whole object, and if the bond is itself an object participating in a larger connective, the responding whole bond contributes to a wave passing through that larger connective. Thus a bond restricts not only the motions and external interactions of its constituent objects, it also prevents waves from propagating through them. Of course, if the external force does not perceive the bond, its constituent objects are disturbed and the wave propagates through them as if they were in a connective.
Connectives can host waves because they are so easily disturbed. A wave will not penetrate a perceived bond to disturb its constituent objects or any embraces they maintain but will disturb the bond-as-a-whole instead. Waves propagate within connectives and not within bonds (unless they sublimate the bond) and waves can propagate from connective to connective.
It is worthwhile reviewing some features of waves. More detailed descriptions of these can be found in any reference work such as Wikipedia.
Disturbances often repeat with a regular frequency causing the participating objects of a connective to vibrate as they respond to a disturbance that repeats. Some connectives, by their nature, respond even to a single disturbance with a vibration of their participating objects. Then, as the wave of disturbance passes through the connective, it sets all the connective’s objects vibrating.
The distance or time between the extremities of a repeating disturbance or of its associated vibration is called its wavelength.
The strength of a disturbance, the strength of its wave and the size of any vibration it induces, is called its amplitude. The amplitude of a disturbance describes how much each object that it traverses is affected by it. So as a wave encounters each object in its host connective, the amplitude of the wave determines whether the wave disturbs the object as a whole or whether it disturbs the object’s constituents, that is, the amplitude of a wave determines whether the wave perceives or sublimates each object it encounters. A perceived object responds as a whole while the constituents of a sublimated object respond instead.
The objects participating in a connective may have different sizes or different masses or different charges, for example. If a participating object of a connective is bigger or more massive compared to its neighbours it may have a relatively muted response to a wave, while a smaller object may have a relatively exaggerated response. This could slow the wave down or speed it up or change its direction (in processes known as refraction and reflection).
Waves travel smoothly through their host connectives. The motions and vibrations of all the affected objects are smooth, covering all the positions between the extremities of their motions rather jumping from one extremity to another, as is the case in the discrete steps of a progression. Perhaps the equivalent in a progression would be a cascade of discrete reconfiguration events, as when a bottom item in a grocery display is removed and other items shift in a series of discrete events to fill the gaps as they appear.
Unlike an object, a wave does not occupy a space to the exclusion of other waves (or to the exclusion of objects). Multiple waves can propagate through a connective at the same time and even traverse the same objects at the same time. When multiple waves meet at a single object, the net effect on that object is the sum of the effects of all the waves – no effect is excluded. As well, each of the waves continues on its original way after their meeting, that is, they pass right through each other. This is known as the ability of waves to interfere with each other. Compare such interference to a meeting of perceiving bonds – which exclude each other and do not occupy the same space at the same time and cannot pass through each other.
When multiple waves traverse the same string of consecutive objects, the net disturbance to those objects is equivalent to the disturbance that would have been caused by a single wave traversing them having a frequency and amplitude corresponding to the combination (by interference) of the contributing waves. Such a single wave whose effect is equivalent to that of multiple waves is called a superposition of the contributing waves. In a way similar to the visages of connectives, it is not possible to tell if a vibrating object is responding to a single wave or to a superposition of multiple waves.
Waves have patterns. They can have patterns in time, for example as a sound that gets louder and softer; and they can show patterns in space, perhaps as ripples in a pond. When multiple waves interfere with each other, their patterns do too. Their interfering patterns could have a very choppy result as a pond would have on a windy day, or they could have a very pure result like a single note from a well-tuned musical instrument. Interestingly, if properly timed and spaced, individual wave patterns that are complete opposites of each other can cancel each other out while patterns that are timed to reinforce each other can produce even bigger waves, in a phenomenon called constructive interference.
While wave patterns interfere as they travel, interfering waves can also show patterns that appear to stand still. These are known as standing waves, when, for example, a guitar string plucked in its middle shows a pattern that does not move, always having a zero amplitude of the string at its ends and a large amplitude in its middle.
In the case of a guitar string, the standing wave arises because the bridge of the guitar architectively prevents the string from vibrating at their point of contact. But standing wave patterns can also arise in the absence of an architective anchor like a guitar bridge, when for example patterns arise in atmospheric clouds due to air pockets having different temperatures. While an architectively anchored standing wave such as a note on a guitar can have a very well-defined wavelength (as determined by the fixed length of the guitar string), the wavelengths of purely connective standing waves such as cloud patterns would be vague and temporary since they are based on, and are themselves, visages.
A combination of effect applies to connectives in general. The effect of multiple waves on an object is the net contribution of all the waves acting on the object. The effect of multiple forces on a participating object of a connective is the net combination of all the forces acting on the object. Compare this to the selection of some effects and a negation of others as happens in contestations of bonds and embraces.
The muted response to disturbance of a relatively massive object participating in a connective means that, for all practical purposes, a massive aggregate among the participating objects of a connective can slow or prevent disturbances and waves from propagating through the connective. Large objects can serve as barriers to waves in a connective.
A massive aggregate could be constructed to take the shape of a closed shell or casing so that it spatially encloses the other objects in a connective. In this case the massive aggregate not only prevents disturbances propagating beyond the enclosure, it prevents the connective’s participating objects from moving outside it as well. The connective cannot escape its container and a wave in the contained connective will not be able to escape from the container (assuming it perceives the container).
Contrarily, a container may exclude a connective from a space rather than enclose it within one, or prevent waves from disturbing a contained connective. Containers may be used to separate one connective from another. (And connectives can be used to isolate one architecture from another.) A rigid container may effectively hold a contained connective to a rigid figure. An external disturbance that imposes a motion on a rigid container imposes the motion on any contained connectives as well.
Containers may be constructed from bonds that don’t have completely rigid figures, in which case they behave as a soft membrane, like a balloon. Membranes can also separate one connective from another but cannot hold a connective to a rigid figure.
Containers and barriers extend the capability of architectures to exercise control.
An architecture controls the motions of its internal objects by constraining them within definite ranges, it controls the hierarchical allegiances of all its internal objects and their ability to participate in external interactions, and it can also exercise control over waves and connectives by taking the shape of a barrier or container.
Connectives and waves, on the other hand, while having an effect, are incapable of keeping an exact control over their effects since they are always open to interference and disturbance.
This does not mean that connectives are not capable of being precisely controlled, only that some kind of architecture needs to be in place to control them. A light beam can be targeted very precisely but not without the intervention of a rigid collimating mechanism.
Waves and connectives have features in common: They interfere or integrate with each other in the same space rather than exclude each other when they meet. They enjoy a freedom to move or change (that is complete if they are uncontained) and enjoy a complete smoothness of that movement. They are vaguely distinguishable rather than definitively separated from each other and they have no capacity to exercise precise control. These features of connectives and waves characterize a mode of behaviour I call connectivity.
Bonds and figures too have features in common: The motions of their constituent objects are always constrained, they can maintain a lasting stasis, they can maintain lasting and unique identities, they exclude each other and separate when they meet, they can be defined and categorized with certainty, they progress in discrete steps rather than change in smooth flows, they can aggregate into new objects, they can be disrupted, they display fixed hierarchies of rank and control, they can exercise control and can contest for hierarchical authority. These features of bonds and figurate objects characterize the mode of behaviour I call architectivity.
Connectivity and architectivity have no features in common.
These two modes of behaviour underlie the separate modes of patterning and meaning that I believe play an essential role in our lives and even our experiences of spirituality. It is worthwhile familiarizing ourselves with them through some examples from everyday life:
I have illustrated how subatomic objects can architectively aggregate into atoms, atoms into molecules and molecules eventually into planets. Objects can also interact connectively with each other, for example, as gasses or liquids whose component molecules are free to range (unless held in an architective container). Clouds and rain and streams and oceans and atmospheres are all connective phenomena, interacting no differently to the way their individual participating water molecules would.
Disturbances may propagate through gasses and liquids, and through unperceived solids, as do waves of sound and light. The weather, the atmosphere and oceans, flames and floods, all exhibit purely connective behaviours while earthquakes display figurate behaviours as well. We shelter in protective architective shells to escape the ravages of connective atmospheric storms.
Interactions between heavenly bodies are connective, for although the bodies may move in well-defined orbits around each other, they are not constrained to a definite range and their orbits can be changed (say by a passing comet). In stars and between them, plasmas of protons and electrons flow freely in connective behaviour with waves of disturbance propagating through them. The trajectories of comets and the orbits of planets affect each other connectively. Gaseous planets such as Saturn and Jupiter display only connective behaviour at scales above the molecular, while Mars and Earth display architective behaviour at a planetary scale because they have planetary crusts.
An apple falls to the ground connectively, but its landing is architective. If it lands on a rock, the force of the impact is less than the binding strength of the rock so the shape of the rock is not affected, but the apple may not be so strong and the figure of the apple is disrupted. If it lands on a bed of sand, the figurate strength among the sand grains may give way before the cells of the apple do and so the figurate arrangement of the sand progresses before the apple can bruise.
Trees and grass waving in the wind, and kelp waving with the ocean currents, are displaying connective behaviour while their roots are architectively anchored to the ground.
Floating boats and fish are in connective interaction with the molecules of their host water, as are balloons, birds and aeroplanes with the molecules of the air. An anchor thrown by a boat establishes an architective embrace between the anchor and the earth, but it is not until the boat is so firmly tied up that it cannot move (say tied to a quay or in a dry dock) that the boat itself has established an architective embrace with the earth.
A ball on smooth ground is in contact with the ground, but is not in an embrace with it since it is free to bounce, roll and move. A person standing on the ground is in an embrace with it if he/she is not free to slide. When walking or running we put one foot in front of the other, progressing from one embrace with the earth to another.
Stone, scissors, paper is a figurate, architective game.
Waves can carry information as they mimic the disturbances that caused them. Information may be connectively encoded in the modulation of waves as is done in AM and FM radio. But a wave is susceptible to disturbance and the connective information it carries may be garbled by interference with other waves or encounters with unusual objects in the medium it traverses. An architecture, on the other hand, such as a computer hard-drive, a printed page or a digitally encoded wave, offers a honeycomb of internal objects that are not disturbed by external encounters (unless the encounters destroy them), nor by aggregation nor by passing waves. Architectures can store information reliably, they can transport that information and copy it faithfully. As long as they are not disrupted, architectures can preserve information with absolute fidelity.
Complex constructions are usually mixtures of architective and connective phenomena. For example, the architective construction of a peg fitting into a hole can have a dash of connectivity added to it by making the peg and hole round so they can rotate freely.
Architective and connective phenomena can be added to a construction as devices that each contribute one or more functional properties to it. For example, a device may contribute a capacity for motion as a functional property, or a capacity for rigidity, or a capacity for aggregation at its location in the construction. Each device, and the overall construction itself, can be regarded as a functional object able to aggregate with other functional objects into more complex functional objects from which new functional properties emerge (and which in turn may aggregate with other functional objects).
For example, the functional properties of a double-sided peg are a capacity to maintain a separation between two holes, a capacity to rotate so that the holes have no fixed orientation to each other, or to the peg, and to aggregate with the holes to create a new functional object say of two-blocks-joined-by-a-swivelling-rod.
We can add architective devices such as walls, shells, membranes and containers; and fill these with connective devices such as gasses and liquids, to create extremely complex functional objects. Contained connective regions may also host waves inside them.
It may happen that a complex functional object is able to operate as a coherent and self-sustaining structure. Self-sustaining objects may in turn aggregate with others to become even more complex, and so on. For example, an air conditioning unit is a coherent, self-sustaining functional object, which may be incorporated into (and so aggregate with) a motor car – itself a complex functional object utilising other complex functional objects such as a combustion engine. (And note how an air conditioning unit and a combustion engine incorporate connective devices such as expanding gasses.)
The arrangement of the functional objects in a functional aggregate can be precisely mapped to describe its functional hierarchy.
Functional objects are architective phenomena. They may or may not incorporate connective devices but they cannot be constructed using connective devices alone.
While connectivity and architectivity cannot be used to explain how or why living beings have come about or why they have developed autonomy, the features of connectivity and architectivity are evident in all the mechanisms living beings employ.
Life as we know it is built on a platform of complex molecular chemistry. An outstanding feature of this chemistry is the way that carbon atoms can aggregate with each other in long chains, from which a great variety of complex organic molecules, such as proteins, can emerge. Proteins, in turn, can take a great variety of different shapes, and the effects that emerge from the embracing of their figures play a significant role in the metabolisms of all living things.
Proteins may aggregate into rigid skeletons (architective) that give cells their shape, or into less rigid membranes (architective) that separate cells from one another and contain their (connective) cytoplasms. Cells aggregate functionally into organs and organs aggregate functionally into organisms, even autonomous organisms such as ourselves.
An organism’s bones or shell provide it with a rigid skeletal support (architective). Its blood cells (each a separate architective object) contain within them nutrients and energy and their connective flow distributes them through the organism via an architecture of veins and arteries. Eyes and ears sense (connective) vibrations in an organism’s environment, nervous systems flow (connectively) and switch (architectively) to relay electrical information between organs, and endocrine systems relay protein hormones as architective messages using the blood’s distribution function. Hearts, brains and lungs vibrate (connectively) to regulate the organism’s subsystems, while the chemistry of switching molecular bonds turns food into energy for warmth and propulsion.
The bodies of biological organisms are complex functional objects that maintain their architectures in the face of disturbance. The architectures of their bodies, organs and cells can be disrupted by external forces that exceed their architective binding strengths.
Biological organisms store genetic information in the architecture of their DNA molecules. They progress by replicating their architectures and genetic information through mitosis and meiosis, one reconfiguration event at a time. The vulnerability to disruption of an architecture means that genetic information in DNA can be modified by the occasional disturbance that does exceed its binding strength.
Every cell, organ or organism is a separate architective object. In that they are separate, each organism so capable has a different subjective experience and sensation.
Organisms can relate connectively with their environment. Humans have organs that are directly sensitive to physical waves such as sound and light and our subjective experience of these as tone, colour, loudness and brightness, is connective. We have organs sensitive to heat (a connective vibration) which we may experience connectively as pain or pleasure. We can relate with connective behaviour directly, perhaps by surfing an ocean wave or by touching a purring cat.
We also relate with our environment architectively. We have organs sensitive to the chemical shifts of taste and smell. An embryo is figurately constrained within the body of its mother or inside an egg. We can be bodily constrained by a leash or by prison walls. We may be confined to living our lives in a particular country. Our limited lifespan confines our existence to a particular time in history. We are bodily distinct from each other and have distinct personal histories. We figurately fit shoes on our feet and hats on our heads. We clasp a pen between thumb and forefinger. Mammalian sexual organs are a perfect figurate match. Our individual organs have physical shapes and sizes that figurately aggregate into the shape of a human body. Our physical figures decide which passages we can negotiate and what shapes would constitute a comfortable chair. We collide when our bodies meet. We may enter into contestation with other organisms for our bodily resources (such as physical battles amongst ourselves or battles with bacteria attacking our bodies). Our bodies depend on their architective binding strengths for their survival.
Touch, sensitive to bodily architective contact, can translate into subjective connective experiences such as pleasure. Bodily disruption can translate to a subjective experience of pain. We may form fixed (architective) associations of our connective experiences and store memories of them.
Humans can intelligently employ connective and architective devices to manipulate their environments. We intentionally modulate our voices into connective harmonies or into architective words of information. We construct chairs and tables and shelters that suit our figures. We have configured languages to communicate exact data of information. We can architectively store that information and reproduce it exactly. We have constructed functional technologies that permit us to communicate using radio waves, to control the flow of rivers, synthesize new chemistries and build skyscrapers.
Orgasm can be both a profound connective experience and a defining moment in our reproductive progression as architective objects.
Connectivity and architectivity is evident in human social relationships:
We cannot choose or change our parents and family – we are bound to specific people for our entire existence by the circumstance of our birth. This binding is disrupted only when we or they die. There is a fixed genealogical hierarchy in every family which progresses in reconfiguration events – one birth or death at a time. Our family structures have all the hallmarks of architectivity.
We are also likely to enjoy the warmth and love of our family members, and they are likely to enjoy our acceptance and reciprocation of their love. These warm feelings may carry through to later life but they are not fixed – they may sour or become covered by layers of intrigue. This empathic aspect of family life is a connective behaviour – the feelings are inclusive of all whom we love – and cannot be presumed to be constant. Nor does the empathy (as I will use the word) recognize familial boundaries. As we grow up we relate empathically with non-family members, and may even select a spouse on this basis.
Architective sociality is obvious: Families can aggregate into tribes, tribes into nations. We can be definitively categorized by lineage or history, or by geographical location. Persons, families or tribes may also develop or inherit particular resources or skills by which they may be associated and categorized, say as smiths, nurses or bankers.
Connective sociality is not quite so obvious: Empathic affinities may be fleeting and cannot be contained within well-defined categories. Gossip and love are connective and beyond anyone’s control. Yawning is contagious. Our movement in large numbers may display connective behaviour like herding, the flocking of birds, or the waves of decision running through a school of fish. An event experienced by a group may arouse an empathic affinity between its participants so that they display a group visage, but only a recorded description of the event or association of an icon representing the event can give the group a well-defined identity.
Architective social groups can aggregate into a multi-faceted society such as a nation, having definite characteristics that make it different to other societies. Societies are hierarchically structured in a multitude of ways depending on how their members can be categorized, with those at the top of a hierarchy controlling those beneath them in respect to their activities within the hierarchy.
Societies constrain the behaviours of their members and act to preserve their hierarchies. They enforce the categorizations and definitions they have evolved. They architectively codify rules and roles into laws and traditions, violation of which could result in ostracism. These may intrude into the intimacy of family and personal life, and family members are expected to play roles in their personal relations that are supportive of the traditions of the greater society.
A successful social hierarchy can crystallize into an institution, whereby all its offices persist independently of the empathies and idiosyncrasies of the people that hold them, as long as the people conform to the defined roles of the architecture. A well-founded institution may continue its existence long after its originating founders have disappeared, with faceless individuals entering the institution and performing the roles that have been codified as necessary for its maintenance. Institutions emerge as new social objects in their own right from the constrained social interactions of their officers.
At every level of social ranking, each social object has a unique and enduring identity, definable in terms such as family, tribe, class, profession, wealth or power, depending on the properties by which the social category or society is structured. Every single human can be uniquely identified by lineage alone.
Empathic relationship does not recognize the ranks of social hierarchies or the boundaries of nations. It does not recognize the existence of social architectures at all. Empathic affinity takes place between individual people and not between categories. When one group prefers association with another based on a commonality of interest, culture, or language – it is an architective association. While people may be averse to cross-boundary empathic affinity or not be willing to acknowledge it for fear of censure from their society, they cannot prevent it from happening.
In an institution there is no regard for empathic behaviour. Empathic content in the art and dance of an individual, for example, is replaced by iconography and ritual procedure in an institution. It is also not uncommon for individuals to assume for themselves the identity of their institutional roles.
The traditions and laws of institutions and societies confirm the social identities of all their members from the very lowest to the very highest, as well as the identity of the institution or society itself. They are extremely conservative and resistant to change. Even if change becomes necessary for the survival of a society, it may be successfully resisted even to the detriment of the society.
The constraining rules that a society imposes on individual members may also conflict with their connective behaviours, perhaps to a point where individuals revolt and the society responds oppressively in order to preserve its architecture.
Contestation may arise between different societies having different traditions or laws of ownership. Contestation may arise within a society or for control of an institution. When contestation arises between individual people it is either within a social context (whereby individuals are fighting for a nation or religion for example) or over an exclusive architective resource, such as a limited food supply.
There are great benefits to architective sociality.
Individuals aggregating socially can increase their chances of winning and survival because the powers of an emergent social body as a whole may be greater than and different to the sum of its members’ powers.
The members of a society or institution would serve the greater offices above them and control the lesser offices below them. In return for their service they could appeal for assistance from its greater offices, while wielding the concerted obedience of lesser offices in their own causes. Even those at the bottom of a hierarchy could at least fly the flag of a power much greater than their own, while the office at the very top of a hierarchy has hierarchical authority over all the institution’s members.
Individuals may be able to increase their power by climbing the ranks of their social hierarchy and by external contestation. Though individuals may know their places within a society and dutifully hold their stations, the possibility of switching offices opens the society to internal contestation as well.
Architective hierarchies act to preserve themselves, so a social architecture necessarily encourages a sense of self-preservation among all its social objects.
Social architectures would likely be dominated by strong individuals engaging in contestation with others within their own hierarchies or in contestation with external foes.
Different social bodies may have different binding strengths and some could be judged to be more robust than others. A primary motivation to join a particular social body would be to participate in one offering the best survival strength and most powerful assistance.
The lower a member’s position in an architective hierarchy, the more valuable is any leverage obtained from the benefice of a higher office, but there is also a greater number of authoritative offices to which the member must submit. As the member rises through the hierarchy, the value of the subservience due from those below rises, and the degree of submission to higher authorities decreases, so that when a member gets to the top of a hierarchy they are both all controlling within the hierarchy and not subject to any hierarchical authority.
Because of the top-down hierarchical authority of an architecture, the subservience of inferiors can be taken for granted while invocations for intervention from superiors requires their consent. As well, the relative value of a member’s self-service gets more pronounced as the member rises up the hierarchy since their success becomes less dependent on their subservience to superiors while the support of more inferiors can be taken for granted.
Dispensing power or control in the service of an inferior becomes less likely as a member rises in hierarchical rank since there is likely to be less benefit to themselves, and will not happen at all if there is a cost that could jeopardize their own position. It is more likely that a superior will sacrifice an inferior in the superior’s interest, and do so with the inferior’s consent since the superior’s interest is in the greater interest of the society. The object at the top of a social hierarchy is able to indulge its self-interest without recrimination. For those not at the very top, life is necessarily problematical, and the degree to which it is problematical increases with distance from the top. The position at the very top of a social hierarchy is particularly privileged and desirable.
Architective sociality may also offer salvation from the uncontrollable environment of empathic engagement by providing well-defined channels for empathy that can be more easily managed than the empathic relations themselves. While empathic relations may be important to individual people, empathy per se is not relevant to the offices of a social hierarchy – only the channels permitted by the architecture are relevant.
It is well to remember that objects architectively emerging from our social activities would not be directly perceptible to us since it is we who are the objects’ constituents. Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “the medium is the message”, for example, awakens us to the fact that social media emerge to have influences in their own right that we do not directly perceive.
While every phenomenon displays connective or architective behaviours or both, it often depends on the scale of our observation of the phenomenon as to which behaviour is most obvious or relevant. In looking at a table, for example, its architective behaviour is what matters at the scale of a human observer and what distinguishes it from say a chair, to the point where any connectivity in the table is irrelevant. In fact, without the tools to make an observation at the smaller molecular scale (which humans have only acquired in recent technological history) we would be totally oblivious of any connective behaviour inside a table.
The geometric shape of an atomic nucleus plays no role in its interaction with the atomic electrons, nor do we distinguish the figures of individual electrons in determining how they interact with each other. The same can be said of the entire sub-atomic menagerie – it is not meaningful to specify geometric figures for protons or quarks in describing how they relate to each other. There are no figurate embraces between sub-atomic objects.
Quantum mechanics tells us that it is however meaningful to specify wave properties such as frequency in describing sub-atomic objects, and that they can establish bonds. Connective and binding behaviour are common at sub-atomic scales.
As we go up the scale of things, it is only at the scale of atoms combining into molecules that aggregates acquire the uneven shapes that enable them to participate in figurate embraces. It is only at the molecular level of functional complexity that atoms aggregate into objects whose distinct geometrical shapes contribute to the properties of the material they constitute. Large molecules such as proteins can fold into shapes that play a crucial role in defining their material characteristics. Above the molecular scale, humans fashion materials into shapes (like pegs and holes and bricks and screws) where their figures can be the main factor in determining meaning in their behaviour.
Interestingly, I can find no examples of architectivity at a cosmic scale. Connectivity is widely evident in the interactions between stars and galaxies, yet stars and galaxies seem to be incapable of establishing bonds and they are definitely not capable of aggregating into embraces with complex shapes. The largest architective behaviour that I can imagine is a contact of rocky planets, or perhaps more realistically, a collision between a comet’s core and a rocky planet. Meetings of gaseous planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, or between suns or galaxies, would exhibit connective integrations rather than architective aggregations. There appears to be a limit to the size that an object can take and still participate in an architective interaction.
Figurate behaviour appears to be restricted to a window of scale residing between the molecular and the planetary, while bonds appear to become scarce at larger scales, and absent at very large scales. Connective behaviour, on the other hand, is observable in abundance at every known scale.
Importantly for us, the figurate window of scale is our home. The scale of human activity means that we live in the thick of figurate behaviour. Our bodies are complex functional objects having figurate components. An arm is figurately different to a leg. Our foods have figurate components whether they are vegetable or animal. Our tools, homes and cities employ complex figurate shapes. We have become adept at figurate technologies.
All living organisms as we know them are figurate functional objects. If there are other functional life forms out in the cosmos they would be on a scale not too far removed from our own since they would necessarily have a dependence on architective if not on figurate behaviour. They would likely share our figurate window of scale.
The absence of physical architective behaviour at very large scales occurs because none of the fundamental physical forces have strong enough constraints to operate at those scales and so create very large objects or hold objects within very large containers.
Apart from gravity, the forces themselves (rather than their constraints) are too weak to be significant at very large scales. Gravity too is weak, but electromagnetic interactions are bipolar and cancel each other out over large collections of objects, and the nuclear interactions are completely insignificant at large distances. Gravity and the electromagnetic force also fall off rapidly with distance. The result is that, at very large scales, gravity is the only fundamental force known to have any significant effect and that is only strong enough to facilitate connective interactions.
It is not unreasonable to propose a window at a cosmic scale, say anything bigger than the planet Jupiter, in which all behaviour is connective.
(It could be argued that a future human society, as an architective object, may span a number of planets, possibly even a number of solar systems, but it too would ultimately be limited by the capacity of its outposts to communicate with each other, so such an argument only pushes the boundary further out without eliminating it.)
What might such a purely connective window be like? Astronomical interactions between stars and galaxies are good examples. All the features of architective behaviour are absent from their interactions. Galaxies can integrate but not aggregate (and divide but not disrupt), and so cannot create new kinds of objects having properties that they do not have, in the way that atoms can aggregate into molecules. That is, creation and extinction as a behavioural phenomenon would be absent from the window. A galaxy’s visage may fade away as it loses stars but the underlying gravitational interaction between the stars remains, with the stars perhaps being distributed among other galaxies. The concept of identity is also not relevant in such a large-scale window – a galaxy displays only a variable visage rather than a lasting identity, so it can suffer no loss of identity because it had none in the first place. In the purely connective window the concepts of creation, extinction and identity are meaningless. All is a flux of temporary visages.
To be precise, no architective behaviours are available in a purely connective window of scale. The absence of static architectures means there can be no certainty of definition or specification, no permanent storing of information, no categorisations of identities, no ranks, no fixed hierarchies, no precise control, no contestation and no processes by stepped progression.
A purely connective window would be very alien to us.
There could be no certainty of position or distance in a connective window of scale, since no two objects could be assumed to have a fixed distance between them to set a standard for measuring other positions. The concepts of relative position, distance and span of time would be meaningless and the concept of relative motion would be the standard measure of spatial and temporal reference. Think about flying or swimming without being able to see ground. You don’t know where you are or even if you are moving. You are like a fish swimming with or against the current, with no land in sight, unaware that the tide may be taking you. Your only spatial references are the current and the relative motions of other fish. No ground to put your feet on. No “I am here”. Only “I am aware of how you are moving relative to me”.
I refer to scales smaller than the purely connective window as the architective window . These are the scales at which architective behaviour is evident or at least possible. The architective window of course includes the figurate window mentioned above.
Consider that the largest physical object (as a perceivable architective bond or embrace) in our vicinity is planet Earth itself. It is at the very top of the physical architective hierarchy we live in and so is not in architective interaction with any other cosmic object, not even the moon. The moon does affect the Earth and things on and in it like the ocean tides, but these are connective influences. There is no aggregate of which the Earth is a constituent object. It participates in the solar system, yes, but that system is a connective. Earth is of course connectively related to every other cosmic object through the force of gravity but it is architectively isolated from all of them. All its external interactions are connective. It can really aggregate no more, close as it is to the maximum scale of the architective window.
Even though the possibilities for architective complexity are infinite, every actual architecture has a finite size. The highly complex architecture of every cosmic object would likely have emerged along a different path of aggregation and emergence to be different to every other and will be architectively isolated from all of them.
Connective phenomena are neither confined to a maximum size nor are they connectively isolated from each other, unless they are confined in or isolated by architective barriers or containers. Scale is irrelevant to a purely connective behaviour.
Having familiarized you with the ideas of connectivity and architectivity, you will have come to notice them in yourself and the world around you. Let’s now look at how they affect the meaning we find in our world.
When a light beam is reflected by a mirror there are many ways that the beam and mirror could be arranged to change the direction of the light. But no matter which way they are arranged, the light beam is a connective phenomenon while the mirror is an architective one. Given the interactions comprising an event, there may be many variations to the ways it could play out, but its behaviour remains governed by the connectivity and architectivity of its underlying interactions. In the reflection of a light beam by a mirror, different angles may give different outcomes but the connective and architective natures of the participating mirror and light beam are unchanged.
Given the interactions comprising an event, the complete suite of possible variations to its outcome I call its avenue of possible causality. The one way in which it does play out I call its thread of actual causality. A thread of causality is one of the possibilities offered by an avenue of causality.
Spatial arrangements are also governed by the connectivity and architectivity of their underlying interactions. Architective features govern the ways figurate objects can be arranged and connective features govern the spatial interference of waves, and in these too there could be much variation. The possible packing of tiles would depend on the shapes and sizes of the tiles, while even tiles of the same shape and size can be arranged in a myriad ways. The complete suite of possible variations to a spatial interaction I call its avenue of possible spatiality, with a thread of spatiality being its actual spatial arrangement.
The patterns we discern in the thread along which a phenomenon proceeds will also be governed by the thread’s underlying connective and architective interactions. The possible patterning of tiles or of musical notes are their avenues of possible patterning while the patterns that we actually create or discern in them are threads of pattern.
Humans may be aware of the avenues available to an event or arrangement and may be able to make prognostications about how its threads will develop. We may have the ability to affect their outcomes to suit our intentions and even to play games with them. Some actions or outcomes of a game may be prized while others are distasteful. The rules of a game can be quite arbitrary, making the possible definition of a game highly variable. However, a game will be governed by the avenues available to the phenomena on which it is based, and so by the connectivity and architectivity of their underlying interactions. A game of chess, for example, is highly variable, but always takes place on a particularly patterned board between two initially equal and opposing contenders, each having a specified set of pieces. I speak of the avenue of possible gaming for the ways a game could play out and the thread of gaming for the way that it does.
Collectively, the avenues of possible causality, spatiality, patterning and gaming for a phenomenon I call its avenues of play. These avenues make a major contribution to the meaning we find in our lives and are all governed by the connectivity and architectivity of their underlying interactions.
Since there is a complete separation to the features of architective and connective behaviour, each mode of behaviour offers different avenues of play. Architectivity, for example, offers an avenue of play by which objects of higher rank in a hierarchy might control those of lower rank while connectivity offers no such possibility. Connectivity offers an avenue of unconstrained response to disturbance and architectivity does not. Avenues of play characteristic only of architectivity constitute the architective mode of play and those characteristic only of connectivity constitute the connective mode of play.
Phenomena having an architective component will offer one or more of the following avenues of play. None of these avenues are available to purely connective phenomena.
Stasis is an avenue of play in which arrangements of objects endure without change, even in the face of disturbance. Stasis is also the avenue of play by which objects themselves endure, since objects are enduring arrangements of objects in embraces or bonds with each other. Objects such as molecules, tables, buildings and societies offer a capacity to maintain themselves in a stasis.
The avenue of stasis allows us a sense of enduring position and distance. We can say for example that two towns are fifteen kilometres apart and expect them to maintain that distance, as well as being able to compare that distance with the distances between other towns. Stasis allows us to play games based on position and distance such as football. Importantly, stasis allows us to manufacture an item to fit a space and expect that neither the space nor the item will have changed during the manufacture of the item.
A static architecture allows us to store information with fidelity and endurance, such as in a written text, a DNA sequence or a computer memory.
Stasis allows symbols to have enduring implications, such as letters in an alphabet and words in a language.
Stasis allows us a sense of social position and orientation.
Stasis can only be provided by architective phenomena. While some connective phenomena are able to display temporarily enduring arrangements, they cannot be relied on to maintain them.
Exclusion is an avenue of play in which objects exclude each other from their spatial volumes and thereby maintain a distinctness and a separation.
The distinctness and separation of objects gives each a unique and lasting identity, opening avenues of play by which objects are distinguished from each other, enduringly and with certainty.
Objects can be categorized according to their identities, and these categories too can be enduring since each identity is enduring.
The avenues of identity and category enjoy great possibilities for variety, and can develop even wider ranges of possibility by aggregation, because new identities can be created having new properties that open further possibilities for classification.
Games of classification are many and can be arbitrary. People may be classified according to nationality, age, occupation or preferences in music, for example. Books in libraries are categorized for ease of access.
Games can attribute different values to different identities and categories, increasing and complicating the significance of their consequences for their players.
The collision and separation of billiard balls offers a game of exclusion.
Unique, enduring and excluding identities can only be provided by architective phenomena. Connective phenomena may perhaps be discernible by their visages, but these offer only temporary distinctions which are readily disturbed and may appear and disappear spontaneously.
Complexity and emergence are avenues of play in which objects aggregate to create new and more complex objects. These in turn may aggregate with other objects, further extending the possibilities for complexity in their aggregation. Complexity and emergence permit enormous variety in the construction and distinction of objects, as evidenced by the endless possibilities for the design of buildings, furniture, textiles and organic molecules.
By generating difference, and difference of difference, emergence offers creativity as an avenue of play.
Fashions are games of complexity and creativity.
Capacities for complexity, emergence and creativity can only be provided by architective phenomena. Connective phenomena may also compound but no different objects emerge from their integration, and their integrated arrangements are not necessarily more complex or different.
In contrast to creativity, architectivity also hosts destruction as an avenue of play by which objects are disrupted and their identities lost.
Enumeration is an avenue of play in which objects can be numbered, precisely, enduringly, distinctly and with certainty.
A physical bond or embrace cannot change the number of its constituent objects without disrupting. A social object cannot change its defined social classifications without being reconstituted. Each has a fixed number of constituent objects (though they can aggregate to create larger objects). Objects also cannot change the number of levels in their architective hierarchies without disrupting or aggregating.
Starting at the top of any architective hierarchy, the number of internal objects and levels of aggregation can be counted, one by one, for as long as the internal objects are perceptible to the counter. As long as an aggregate endures, each of its internal objects can be allocated a precise numerical rank within its hierarchy.
Objects in a figurate pattern can be counted every which way along the threads of the pattern, for example horizontally, vertically and diagonally in a pattern of squares. A pattern itself can be associated with a number, for example if it is based on squares we can associate it with the number 4 or if it is based on hexagons with the number 6.
One count of objects in or through an aggregate can be numerically compared to another count, or to a count in a different aggregate, according to arbitrarily chosen rules. The spatial sizes of figurate objects can be measured and compared.
Objects in a connective may also be counted, but never with certainty, if only because if any of its participating objects disrupt, their debris may be incorporated into the connective. External objects may join the connective and others may leave without altering the nature of the connective.
The hierarchical authority of an object in an architecture can also be precisely enumerated as the number of objects internal to it (to any specific or perceivable depth in its hierarchy).
The avenue of enumeration allows us to make measurements of objects to a specific precision.
Precise enumeration as an avenue of play is offered only by architective phenomena.
Progress, in the sense of architectures reconfiguring in discrete steps, is an avenue of play.
Examples are the meshing of cogs in gear wheels, as one figurate embrace is replaced by another; the stopping and starting of traffic flow at traffic lights, the quantum leaps of an electron switching orbitals in an atom, and the growth and shrinkage of a family as members are born or die.
In many card and board games, players are permitted to make one distinct move at a time.
The sequencing of steps can be played with to be regular, rhythmic or random. A periodicity to architective progressions offers avenues of play, for example in variations to rhythmic beats on a drum.
The certainty of separation, identification, enumeration and ranking in aggregates permits their construction to be specified exactly; by written texts, maps or plans, thereby allowing them to be reproduced with absolute fidelity.
Reliably precise reproduction is an architective avenue of play. Connectives may be reproducible, but never with a precision or fidelity that can allow their reproduction to be termed exact.
Hierarchy is an avenue of play based on the distinct levels at which objects occur in the hierarchy of an architecture. Unless an architecture is disrupted, the number of levels in its hierarchy does not change, while the rank of each level is both fixed and enumerable.
The ranks objects occupy in a hierarchy can be numerically compared and the objects can be categorized according to their ranks. Games may be played in which objects are valued according to their rank in a hierarchy.
While the visages of connectives may display an apparent hierarchy, such as solar systems within galaxies, their rankings are not clear, for there may be planets that do not orbit a sun, and star clusters and solar systems may come and go.
Control is an avenue of play based on the ability of architectures to constrain their lower ranked objects and control them in matters of contestation and allegiance; and to control connectives and waves by containing them or presenting barriers to their motions.
Games of control are played for example by an army, as officers exert control over the actions of subordinate soldiers. Different armies may play different games of control.
Pinball and other ball sports are games of control.
Connectivity has a capacity to generally influence a situation but cannot exert the degree of control to deliver a specific outcome.
Contestation as an avenue of play arises when multiple interactions are possible between objects but only one can be actual (rather than allowing a simultaneous actualisation of all possibilities). If the contestation is between architective interactions, then the interaction that has the greatest binding strengths wins; if the contestation is between an architecture and a connective then the test of strength is between the binding strength of the architecture and the force of the connective interaction.
In contestations between architectures, the binding strengths being tested may well be dependent on properties that accumulate, such as size, hierarchical authority or inertia, so that the architecture containing the biggest or most objects wins the contestation. Such contestations permit games of power to be played, in which the participating architectures strive to aggregate as much as they can so as accumulate the contributions of many internal objects.
In games of power, expansion by aggregation has a positive value and contraction by disruption has a negative value. Objects having high values or high rank are more valued for their strength in contestation. Objects may increase their value by climbing the ladder of rank, or increasing their size or hierarchical authority, should the game permit them to do so. In games of power, big means powerful.
Games of contestation can also be played using threats of contestation rather than actual contestations. After judging the possible outcomes of a contestation, a player may choose safety by voluntarily submitting to a competitor rather than risking demise. A player may also be able to choose safety by retreating from a contestation.
Skill, strategy and efficiency are useful tactics in games of contestation,
Losing a contestation may have repercussions in games of identity since loss in a contestation necessarily means the loss of an object’s identity. In a game of power, loss of a high-ranking object would have wider repercussions than losing a lower ranked object.
Business and politics often involve games of power and contestation.
Contestation and power as avenues of play require the participation of at least one architecture.
Certainty per se is an avenue for architective play. Architectivity allows for phenomena to be defined and described with precision and has a capacity to deliver outcomes that are certain.
While we can be certain that forces are at work in connectives, connectives do not allow any exactness of their spatial or numerical specification and there is always an element of uncertainty in the outcome of their interactions. Connectivity has a capacity to influence outcomes in a general direction, but cannot provide the precise control or stasis that could guarantee certainty of a specific outcome.
The certainty of architectures allows us to have a certainty of expectation in their regard. For example, we can expect that a window-frame made to measure will fit its prepared hole in a wall. Particular chemical ingredients in a particular setting will always result in the same chemical reaction, and we can be certain that the same molecules will emerge from it. When turning the key in a well-engineered and well-maintained motorcar we have an expectation that the motor will start.
We play games of control with an expectation of certainty of outcome.
The avenue of certainty allows architectivity to provide contexts in which we can specify and expect perfection.
Phenomena having a connective component will have one or more of the following avenues of play. None of these avenues are available to purely architective phenomena.
The absence of internal constraint means that a purely connective phenomenon will respond to every relevant disturbance and there is no restriction on the degree to which it may respond. The unlimited flexibility of connective phenomena plays, for example, in the vibration of a radio transmitter, which is free to mimic any and every human voice in disturbance of its vibration, while a comet’s trajectory will be affected by every planet it passes.
The responsiveness of connective phenomena and the absence of internal constraint also means that there can be no certainty in their measurement since these might change before any measurement can be completed or they may be affected by the making of the measurement. The uncertainty inherent in connective phenomena is also an avenue of play, for example in the volatility of a stock market.
Connectives offer plays of uncertainty in the numbers of their participating objects, in the vagueness and volatility of their visages, in their lack of control and in the fact that they may be spatially indistinguishable from each other.
Variability in degree of sensitivity to disturbance offers another avenue of play.
If not already in motion, the objects participating in a connective are always open to it, and that motion is never constrained by the host connective.
Since there are no constraints to restrict the responses of purely connective phenomena, their responses are always unconstrained and completely smooth – they never occur in discrete steps between constrained positions as would occur in an architective progression.
Though the constituent objects of an architecture may display a smooth, unprogressed motion within their constraints, even when not sublimated, that motion is always constrained.
Unconstrained smooth motion (as opposed to progress in discrete steps or constrained smooth motion) is a purely connective avenue of play.
We see unconstrained smooth motion in the trajectory of a ball through the air, in a flow of water, in the orbits of planets and the propagation of waves.
It is not only spatial movement that offers avenues for smooth motion. Other properties of connective phenomena may change smoothly, as for example would the frequency of a sound emitted by a source whose speed is changing smoothly.
Under a microscope we can resolve architectures and connectives into their constituent and participating objects respectively. However, greater magnification of an architecture will eventually reveal definite and unavoidable gaps between its internal objects, inside of which no further internal objects can be found. While we will also ultimately see gaps between the participating objects of a connective, these gaps are not of a fixed size, and a moment later there may be a participating object in that gap, no matter how small or large a gap we are considering. Connectives are infinitely resolvable and architectures are not.
Waves too are infinitely resolvable, firstly in the sense that since a wave can be regarded as a superposition of multiple waves, every wave can be regarded as a superposition of an infinite number of waves. Secondly, a wave is infinitely resolvable in the sense that it travels smoothly and the motions or vibrations of the objects it disturbs are smooth.
The possibilities for architective complexity may be infinite but every actual architecture has a finite size. Connective phenomena are not limited in their actual sizes.
I say that connective phenomena offer an avenue of infinite subtlety in their capacity for infinite resolution and an avenue of infinite grandeur in their capacity for infinite extent. Infinity of resolution and extent are not available in purely architective phenomena.
The net effect of multiple influences on a purely connective phenomenon is the combination of all the influences on it. No relevant influences are lost – they all interfere to affect the result to some degree. Compare this to an architective contestation between influences in which some influences dominate an outcome and the remainder have no effect at all.
Interference as a connective avenue of play can be seen in the way planetary orbits are affected by all heavenly bodies (even though the nearest have the stronger effects). It can also be seen in the way we hear multiple sounds simultaneously even though they may be played out on a single ear-drum.
Interference as an avenue of play can also be seen in the way that multiple waves can occupy the same space at the same time, affect the same objects at the same time and pass through rather than exclude each other. Multiple radio programs, for example, can be broadcast through the same geographic region at the same time.
Integration as an avenue of play can be seen in the way that multiple connectives can occupy the same space at the same time rather than exclude each other.
The smooth periodicity of waves offers avenues of play. There can be play in the variation in their frequency, for example in the different sounds we can hear, in their phase and in their amplitude (loud and soft, for example). There is play and pattern in their interference, superposition and resonance.
Music plays on the smooth periodicity of waves for its sounds and its harmonies. It plays on architective progressions for its rhythms. Musical scores and recordings, in that they offer a capacity for exact reproductions, are architective rather than connective phenomena.
A complex phenomenon may be regarded as a composite of simple phenomena. For example, the simple event of a mirror changing the direction of a light beam can be made complex by having multiple mirrors re-reflect the beam, or by having the mirror surfaces shaped to distort it. The avenue of play for the complex event is a conjunction of the avenues of play for its component sub-events. Avenues may be joined into wider avenues or be divided into sub-avenues depending on the complexity of a phenomenon.
The actual thread of play running through a complex phenomenon is a sequence, in time or space, of the sub-threads of its component simple phenomena, causally or spatially linked at their junctions.
Sequential sub-threads may well share common avenues of play, but if they don’t then the play available to the sub-thread on one side of a junction will not be available to the sub-thread on the other side (and vice-versa) even though the threads are causally or spatially continuous at the junction.
As we have seen, there is a complete separation to the avenues offered by the architective and connective modes of play. This means that if a sub-thread of a complex phenomenon is purely connective on one side of a junction and purely architective on the other, the sub-threads will have no avenues of play in common even though they are linked at the junction. As the thread of a complex phenomenon crosses a junction between purely connective and purely architective sub-threads, it skips from one mode of play to the other.
As I sit and write I happen to look up and notice some passing clouds and the breeze on my face through the open window – I momentarily skip into connective play from the architective play of arranging words on a page.
Just as a complex causal interaction can ultimately be analysed into components that are either connective or binding, so the sub-threads of a complex phenomenon can ultimately be analysed into sub-threads whose play is either purely connective or purely architective. In the same way that complex causal interactions are mixtures of purely connective and binding interactions rather than being something in-between, complex threads of play are sequences of purely connective and purely architective sub-threads. As a complex phenomenon proceeds along its connective and architective sub-threads, it skips back and forth from one mode of play to the other.
The play of phenomena makes a major contribution to the meaning they have for us. The meaning that a chair has for me is different to the meaning that a table has. Both are figurate arrangements of timber but I use them in different ways. Their architective play in maintaining the stasis of their shapes is perhaps even more important. Similarly the usefulness of the connective behaviour of air is meaningful in many ways. Its free flow can penetrate the passages of my lungs and carry the oxygen I need while making way for me as I walk.
I use the term serial meaning to distinguish the contribution made to the meaning of things by their avenues of play (noting that it also includes the meaning we find in their patterns). Of course, there could be many other meanings, such as the prices of a table and chair influencing their purchase, or any sentimental value a family heirloom may have (though these too may be considered as games).
Two important features of serial meaning need to be emphasized. Firstly, since serial meaning is so closely tied to play, we can say that connective play by a thread gives it connective serial meaning while architective play gives it architective serial meaning. That is, we can speak of a thread’s mode of serial meaning, and these modes are completely independent. The significance of this is that a thread playing in one mode has no serial meaning to a thread playing in the other, that the serial meaning in one mode is not comprehensible in the context of the other. To a wave or a flood of water, the distinction between a chair and a table that it sweeps along is lost.
This is the case even in the situation of sub-threads of a single complex phenomenon skipping between modes of play – one sub-thread will have no context in which the meaning of the other can be understood. And this brings us to the second feature of serial meaning – that at such junctions of its sub-threads, the continuity of a complex thread’s serial meaning is broken even though the thread itself is causally or spatially continuous.
When sequential sub-threads all play in the same avenue, their serial meaning will be unbroken across the junctions between them. A continuity of serial meaning may sometimes be maintained when a complex thread crosses between different avenues of the same mode, since for example, games of rank and games of power have plays in common. But at junctions between threads of different modes their serial meaning is necessarily broken because the connective and architective modes have no plays in common.
With the emergence of a new object by constructive aggregation, new avenues of play may emerge with the new object because it may have new properties with which to play.
In an architective hierarchy, separate and likely different avenues of play may be evident at each level of the hierarchy. For example, people of different social classes within the same society may play different games among themselves. Different avenues of play at different levels of a hierarchy means that threads at different levels will likely have different serial meanings.
As atoms emerge from nuclear aggregations, so play in the avenues of chemistry becomes available to them, while the avenues of chemistry are not available to their component nucleons. Biology and its avenues of play emerge in turn from chemical aggregations. 3D vision and its avenues emerge from the biology of eyes, and the avenues of art emerge from vision, and so on. Threads at the level of art and threads at the level of vision have different serial meanings while threads at the level of vision and threads at the level of biology have different serial meanings, and so on. The entire suite of social gender games can be seen to emerge from the distinctions between male and female organisms at the more basic levels of biology.
We have seen the way in which objects at higher levels of an architecture hierarchically control the objects at their lower levels. But the play in a thread at a higher architective level will also govern the play of all its lower level threads in order to maintain the integrity of the play at the higher level and thus maintain its serial meaning – not replacing the lower levels of play and meaning, but constraining them as necessary. I say that the serial meanings of higher level threads in an architecture organize the play and serial meaning of threads in their lower levels. Objects at higher levels of an architecture hierarchically control the objects at their lower levels while the serial meaning in their play hierarchically organizes the serial meaning in the play of the lower levels, even though the higher levels have emerged from the lower ones. The avenue of art may emerge from the avenue of biological vision but the meaning in a work of art organizes the play and meaning in the vision that beholds it. It is the art that directs the eye to the picture.
Serial meaning in an architecture is layered in hierarchical levels of organization in the same way that its objects are layered in hierarchical levels of control.
In conjunction with their ability to code, store and copy information with fidelity, this capacity to create higher levels of serial meaning by emergence which then organize the serial meaning of the lower levels that created them, facilitates architective hierarchies developing into self-organizing functional structures such as living organisms.
Purely connective phenomena feature neither emergence nor hierarchical control. Levels in the play in a connective, if any, are likely to be indistinct. Even if they are clear, the different plays will interfere with each other rather than organize each other hierarchically. It could be argued that the modulation of one wave by another in order to carry a signal is a connective organization of serial meaning. However, such modulation is an interference of all the participating waves rather than a constraining of one by another, and it carries the serial meanings of all its contributing waves rather than having one serial meaning override another. As well, each contributing serial meaning can subsequently be extracted from the modulated wave by using suitable filters, whereas once a serial meaning has been organized by a higher level architective play, at least some of the spontaneous lower level serial meaning can never be recovered.
The new avenues of play emerging from a constructive aggregation could be architective or connective. However, an emerging connective avenue of play can only remain connective while the new object refrains from aggregating with another, that is, while it remains at the top of its hierarchy.
It may happen that when a complex thread skips back into a play whose serial meaning was previously interrupted, the serial meaning in that play can be resumed from where it previously left off. In this case I say that the thread continues a narrative of serial meaning across the interruption.
The serial meaning in a complex thread skipping between modes of play may well be skipping between ongoing narratives, where the narrative in one mode will be incomprehensible in the context of the other.
Of course it may also happen that when a thread returns to a previous play it cannot resume the serial meaning in that play because the conditions relevant to that narrative of serial meaning were changed during the interruption. In this case the narrative is terminated by the interruption.
Since the serial meaning of higher level threads in an architecture organize the serial meaning in its lower level threads, narratives in the serial meaning of higher level threads organize any narratives in the threads of lower levels.
It may also happen that, as an architecture progresses, the narrative of the resulting topmost thread is a continuation of the narrative of the erstwhile topmost thread despite the architecture itself having been replaced. That is, each progressing architecture and its identity may be disrupted but a narrative of the threads at the top of the progressing architectures is not. The progressing narrative has an integrity of its own. This would probably require that the architectures of each step have similar properties and that the differences in the progressing architectures are minor, but if the progression involves many steps the final architecture may bear little resemblance to the original. Since the narrative of the topmost thread of each architecture organizes the narratives of all its lower levels there is also a continuity of organization throughout the architectures even though they are metamorphosing. I say that the progressing architectures constitute an ongoing narrative organism _ having a _narrative of progression. As long as there is a continuing progression of its architectures and a narrative of progression to its topmost threads, a narrative organism persists.
This argument does not only apply to the very topmost thread of an isolated architecture. It applies to the topmost thread of any sub-architecture one wishes to consider. We ourselves are such narrative organisms since we each maintain a personal narrative even though the cells making up our bodies die and are replenished. And it is in a much larger narrative organism than the human that I will shortly look for a spiritual possibility.
Our minds have a capacity to comprehend both modes of serial meaning and we are able to consciously negotiate the meaning in phenomena of both modes. But our brains, as complex functional phenomena themselves, switch between the connective and architective modes in the course of their operation.
More interestingly, our minds would need to be operating in the connective mode in order to make sense of connective serial meaning in our environment and to be operating in the architective mode in order to make sense of architective serial meaning. Our minds switch between connective and architective modes, in their operation as well as in their negotiation of the different modes of serial meaning we encounter.
The serial meaning we absorb from our environment contributes significantly to our personal narratives and to our own sense of self-awareness. Whichever mode one’s mind is operating in, only the serial meaning of stimuli of that mode can be absorbed while the serial meaning in stimuli of the other mode is lost.
It is not only the absorption of serial meaning that can be affected by the mode in which our minds are operating – our subjective experience of sensation also requires that our minds and bodies be operating in a mode appropriate to the mode of the sensation. In many cases we switch to an appropriate mode involuntarily, as when we unthinkingly touch something hot and withdraw immediately, but we may also do so voluntarily, as when I look up from the page to appreciate the passing clouds as I write. Let us also not ignore that operating in different modes carries different sensations of how we are subjectively feeling.
Our intent, and expressions thereof, are also affected by the mode in which our minds are operating, and by the associated feelings we are experiencing. The mode of any meaning we express, and the intent behind it, will necessarily reflect the mode that one’s mind is operating in. The organs and tools we use in our expressions would also need to be appropriate to the modes of what we wish to express.
I use the word ‘sentience’ to refer to the capacity of a mind to comprehend meaning, experience sensation and express intent, and term our minds to operate in connective and architective modes of sentience. Whichever mode of sentience one’s mind is operating in, only serial meaning of that mode can be comprehended, only sensations of that mode can be sensed and only intentions of that mode can be expressed.
Being able to change our mode of sentience, involuntarily or at will, allows us to behave meaningfully in both modes of play, by switching between them. But it does mean that, whichever mode of sentience we have engaged at any one instant, we are oblivious to serial meaning in the opposing mode.
Sensations are connective when they are sensitive to play in avenues of interference rather than avenues of exclusion, when they are experienced as infinitely unconstrained, smooth, subtle or grand, fluctuate freely, are easily altered or are experienced in waves or vibrations. A large component of a brain’s function involves waves, vibrations and their interferences. I see our empathic social interactions in terms of constructive connective interferences rather than in terms of matching architective figures.
An architective sensation may be aroused by a good figurate fit, as a response to a loss or gain in contestation, as a sense of existence or a fear of extinction, a sense of marked progress towards a definite goal (whether constructive or destructive), a sense of distinct identity and of being different to others, in the exercising of control or in the subjugation to hierarchical control, and in playing games of rank and power.
Our personal senses of existence and our fears of extinction are architective sensations, for only architectures are subject to the possibility of demise and connectives are not. Our architective frailty necessarily imbues our lives with an architective sensation of insecurity.
We may share sensations with others when we are all participating in the same event, such as a good figurate fit or a dance. But an individual functional organism cannot directly experience the sensations of another functional organism, whether connective or architective, since the physical organs of each, by which we receive the sensations, are architectively isolated. However, we could indirectly share or exchange architective representations of individually experienced sensations, perhaps verbally or ritually or iconically – for example by wearing a souvenir tee-shirt.
Our mindful actions, intentions and preferences may also be described as connective or architective according to the avenues they play in. For example, intentions can be considered architective when occupied with strategies for power and the imposition of certainty, and our actions can be considered architective when utilising control. Our intentions can be considered connective regarding our spontaneous affections and desires, and our actions can be considered connective when following a wave or participating in the uncertainty of a flow, as when playing sport.
We may have connective preferences regarding degrees or styles of subtlety, grandness or smoothness of a motion, perhaps preferring one dance over another. Preferences we have in the avenues of interference, such as enjoying one music or artwork rather another, are connective.
Our architective preferences may be in regard to the straightness of lines and strictness of visual forms, clarity of distinction, correctness in social interaction, comfort of fit, winning in contestations, the soundness of constructions and in the reasonableness of an argument. A rational and logical comprehension and expression of meaning is an architective one. In the architective mode of sentience we may appreciate expressions of exactness and perfection while the idea of perfection would be meaningless in a purely connective pursuit. Architective preferences may also develop for destruction, existential angst, physical and emotional discomfort, greed, or oppressive control and constraint.
We may develop a preference for one mode of sentience rather than the other. We may prefer to see everything in its proper place, have well-charted avenues of social interaction, enjoy certainty of expectation, fidelity of information, clear categorisations, respect for rank, and take pleasure in expressions of strength, control or subservience. Alternatively we may relish the connective interplay of feelings, colours and sounds, the excitements of resonances, and the surprises of uncertainty. Of course we may enjoy both. However, actions we may take that serve an intention in one mode of sentience may well serve against an intention in the other.
When we encounter plays having serial meanings of different modes at the same time, we choose (consciously or subconsciously) which mode of sentience to view them from.
This is not a trivial decision, for depending on the mode of sentience we engage, it is the serial meanings of that mode, and of that mode only, that we comprehend at that moment.
We construct our narratives, and the narratives of the people and things around us, on the basis of the meanings we comprehend. The mode of sentience we choose can determine the mode of the serial meaning in which the reality we are responsible for unfolds.
Our lives are dominated by architective serial meaning.
There are good reasons for this.
Chief among these is our bodily placement in the figurate window, where as functional objects we have an overriding concern for our bodily and social security and are compelled into architective strategies to preserve them, while connective matters appear to be of much lesser urgency.
In the social sphere, connectivity is evident in the relations between individual humans but offices in the ranks of social hierarchies display no connective behaviour at all. Social offices may well promote connective sociality but only as a means of maintaining their architectures. Governments do not provide grand theatrical or musical events with the intention of pleasuring their citizens – they do so in order to unify the citizenry, perhaps promote the values of the society, convey a message to the populace or promote the election prospects of a political candidate. A political party will always put its own survival above any principles it may espouse. Societies actively promote themselves to themselves in order to maintain their identities. In doing so, they elevate the preservation of identity to be the highest good among their citizenry at every level.
We can communicate amongst ourselves connectively with music, dance and colour, and physically and emotionally caress or agitate each other, but our repertoire for connective expression is limited when compared to our repertoire for architective manipulation. This is not only due to social reinforcement, for by their very nature, architective techniques can be precisely codified and stored, faithfully passed from generation to generation, built on and accumulated; while connective skills are not easily codified or handed down. Our societies and traditions reflect eons of accumulated architective knowledge (much of it faulty!) while a personal lifetime of connective nous and charisma is usually buried with the person.
The architective domination of our social and cultural environment means that our personal connective behaviours receive significantly less of our conscious attention than do our personal architective behaviours. Even in the realm of love, we often align our personal satisfaction with our performance according to social norms rather than in the transitory and vague experiences of romance. Our connective behaviours tend to melt into a subconscious background while our conscious attention is used overwhelmingly for the cultivation of our social identities.
An architective mode of sentience tends to enforce its own exclusiveness – it is much harder for one to consciously switch to a connective mode of sentience from an architective mode than the other way round. This leads us to see the world with architective eyes only – rather than participate directly in our connective experiences, we attempt to grasp them architectively. Then, confounded by the impossibility of capturing them with architective means, we clothe our connective experiences in architective texts, icons and rituals, as, for example, we ritualize love in marriage. Doing so makes them more amenable to our control but it frustrates their connective meaning.
Nowhere is the frustration of connectivity more evident than in our social attitudes to sex. Sex is rarely socially exalted or promoted for its own sake, yet as individuals we are obsessed with it. One would have thought that if it played such an important role in our individual lives, it would have been explored in depth and developed into a sophisticated social interaction, yet it is hidden in shame by almost every society. On the one hand it is the fundamental existential process by which we as architective objects reproduce, but on the other, sexual orgasm is our most intense connective experience. We are socially unequipped to cope with its connective enormity. In desperation we confine it to an architective straitjacket until there is nothing left but a soulless rite of species propagation and a lure for selling motorcars.
This preoccupation with architectivity is not a failing of the human character. It is the natural result of our placement in the figurate window. Our architective discomforts do not arise from moral laxity but from the necessity of coping with enormous architective pressures. Our individual lives are so pressured by the constant effort to maintain our bodily and social identities that we have little time and little motivation to appreciate what each other’s lives are like – our capacities for empathy and compassion are severely but naturally constrained.
Our lives may be dominated by architectivity but they are not totally controlled by it. Ultimately, we do have a choice as to whether to maintain our functional bodies, though most of us take the will to live as an absolute imperative. Socially too, we may be rebellious against hierarchical control, though this usually occurs in the context of replacing one hierarchy for another (as in a contestation). Even within social constraints there is always room for some freedom of personal expression, though it is always limited to some degree. And we freely express ourselves connectively when not hampered by architective constraint.
Our cultures, history and traditions have been overwhelmingly shaped by the architective dominion. So much have we been conditioned by a past confined in a figurate window that we unquestioningly accept that stasis is the natural “rest state” of physical phenomena and that movement only arises when energy is imparted to an object that is otherwise naturally at rest.
This discussion has shown that a state of motion is at least equally entitled to being considered the natural state of things, one in which stasis only arises when constraints are imposed on objects that are naturally in motion.
Since connective phenomena are neither confined to a window of scale nor inherently isolated in separate pockets of space, a state of motion (being the natural state of connective phenomena) could well be regarded as the primary state of things with stasis (being confined to a window of scale and isolated in pockets of space) being a secondary state.
Our shaping by a history exclusively within a figurate window means that we have come to regard stasis and constraint as the default condition of the world more generally. For example, we regard poverty, as a constraint on energy and resources, to be the natural state of affairs, one that can only be overcome by conscientious and hard labour. Many cultures believe suffering to be humankind’s natural condition, only to be overcome by great effort or ingenuity or a benefice of the gods. If we were to see an unconstrained movement of resources as the primary state of affairs we would understand that our poverty and suffering arises out of our being cornered and constrained within a figurate window, and be more compassionate towards each other, for ultimately we all suffer through no fault of our own.
That said, all connective phenomena, even those outside the architective window, are dependent on the presence of (architective) objects at some lower scale even though that lower scale may be restricted and the objects locally confined. So even if we did consider connectivity as the primary state of things, architectivity remains an essential ingredient of the connective cosmos. Confined to a scale and isolated in spatial localities, architectivity attains its cosmic significance as a contributor to the connectivity of the cosmos rather than through its local and compulsive confinement of connectivity.
At every scale, connectivity dances using whatever objects architectivity provides.
An understanding of connectivity and architectivity should inform our spiritual speculations.
In the same way that a spiritual reality should conform to the scientifically verifiable patterns of our material world in order to be materially relevant to us, it should also conform to the peculiarities and limitations of the connective and architective modes of play and serial meaning.
For spiritual entities to have any effect on the serial meaning that plays such a vital role in our lives they too must take account of its peculiarities. They must negotiate the flows of connectivity and the structures of architectivity, at least in their dealings with us.
I need to define some terms I will be using regarding spirituality:
I use the term spirit to describe a mysterious but coherent being, principle, process or object that is considered to influence us but is either perceptively hidden from us, is unknowable to us or is beyond our possible control. Spirits may be natural or supernatural, sentient or mindless.
I use the term mundane to describe anything that is not considered a spirit.
I see religions as collections of architective objects associated with, or representative of, one or more spirits, allowing the enigmatic spirits to be identified, addressed and architectively engaged with in general. These objects comprise the religion’s dogmas and myths, temples, symbols, texts, procedures, relics, clergy and administration. In particular, a religion’s dogma specifies how its mysterious spirits are to be conceived of, how they are to be addressed and the rituals through which engagement can take place.
Empathic engagement with a spirit cannot be circumscribed by a religion and remains connective.
I speak of a sentient spirit as a deity, having an awareness and intent of its own.
I include as spirits not only the traditional deities of the world’s great religions, but also the deities of natural religions and ancestor worship, the vague personal deities of individual agnostics and even a simple awe of nature.
While religions are purely architective, spirits and deities, whether or not they are associated with a religion, may have architective or connective characteristics or both. Characterising spirits and deities as being architective or connective is not straightforward, so I rather say that spirits, deities and their associated religions are architectively active if the spirits and deities display any architective behaviour at all and they are purely connective if the spirits and deities display none.
In elevating the discussion to the spiritual I may be speaking of things that are necessarily hidden or unknowable, so I need to qualify that when I use terms such as ‘the entire universe’ and ‘universal’ I am referring only to the universe that we know in a mundane sense.
The distinctive markings of the great religions betray the presence of architectivity. Each can be identified by a distinct mythology, a defining dogma and an iconic symbolism. Each has a hierarchy of administrative office and spiritual authority by which it is controlled. The hierarchies have crystallized into social institutions and their mythologies have been enshrined in rigid social traditions. Religions are usually sanctioned by their host societies and are often major contributors to the identity of a society.
The main attraction of religion is their offer of solace in the face of bodily demise, often in the form of a promise that our personal identities will not be disrupted with our bodily deaths. Such salvations from the dilemmas of architective existence are usually conditional upon our obedience to a religion’s administrative and spiritual authority. Religious dogmas usually provide punishments for disobedience and incentives for obedience and they often extend their hierarchies into a supernatural realm, where spirits, angels, demons and gods are able to provide interminable punishments and incentives to haunt the indestructible identities they offer us.
Connectivity in the great religions encapsulates the empathic aspects of their practice. Foremost among these is the heartfelt emotion that genuine believers bring to their practice, usually in the form of a love of their deity. There is also a comfort for the lonely in the presumed presence and reciprocal love of a deity, as well as possible empathic engagement with fellow adherents. The revelations that lie at the source of most great religions would have been overwhelmingly emotional for the originating avatars, as they are for anyone experiencing religious epiphany. But note how all these connective experiences are relevant only at the individual level of religious practice. Practices performed in roles higher up the religious hierarchy have only an architective significance.
Religions can be denoted as architectively active when their spirits and deities display distinct identities, reside in hierarchies or require obedience to a dogma. They are architectively active if their spirits and deities require an exclusivity of veneration, take interest in our human contestations or are themselves engaged in contestations or games of power. Architectively active religions are often beset by struggles for power among their deities or with other religions.
For most people, a purely connective religion, one that does not have identifiable spirits or a specific dogma for example, would be purely hypothetical. However, such religions do exist, but they are not prominent in the public eye since they are generally esoteric offshoots of the great religions and actively suppressed by them. I am thinking for example, of the Sufis associated with Islam, Zen Buddhists, Jewish Cabbalists, Tantric Hindus and Christian Mystics. They are not fundamentalist for they do not take the dogmas and mythologies of their parent religions literally. Rather, they see the parental myths as allegories pointing to a secret that is not knowable in any dogmatic sense and so must be alluded to by parable. This secret knowledge can only be attained by direct engagement with their spirits, so all indirect representations of them, including any iconic and dogmatic representations, even those of their parent religions, are considered to be a barrier to their direct revelation. These esoteric sects do not fit the category of an architectively active religion as, for example, rather than claim an exclusive correctness for their techniques of bypassing the intellectual barrier, they generally acknowledge that the revelations of direct experience can be attained by all seekers, regardless of sect or religion, who have the necessary ingenuity.
The esoteric sects offer techniques for focussing one’s consciousness directly on spiritual engagement and not being distracted by representations. They are suppressed by their parent religions because they do not take the parental mythology literally and because the direct spiritual experience they advocate eliminates the need for intermediate representation that is their parents’ architective livelihood.
For a dogma to comply with the idea of connectivity and architectivity, it would firstly need to recognize that a lasting identity and invulnerability are mutually exclusive. Anything maintaining an architective identity is necessarily subject to the possibility of disruption. This means that the dogma should not make any promises (or curses) of an eternal personal identity, for as long as one maintains an identity the possibility of demise remains. The perpetuation of oneself, say as an eternal soul that is separately identifiable from any other eternal soul, is not consistent with these ideas, nor is the eternal perpetuation of a spirit or deity that is uniquely identifiable from any other spirit or deity.
A narrative of progression continuing for a person beyond their death is consistent with these ideas, but it progresses through their children, through a lasting legacy such as a theory of relativity or even as a skeleton or tombstone. And even a narrative of progression remains susceptible to a discontinuation of its progression (no more offspring, for example) or to a break in its narrative. A personal narrative of progression can continue beyond one’s physical death only through the success of what one leaves behind.
The idea of connectivity and architectivity does not rule out the possibility of a purely connective spirit lingering after death, but, being connective, it could not maintain a lasting identity. As well, any interventions by such connective spirits in our earthly lives could only be of a purely connective nature.
Secondly, a religion complying with the idea of connectivity and architectivity would recognize that architective activities are limited to a window of scale not much bigger than planet Earth. In particular, they would recognize that the sphere of any spirit’s or deity’s exercise of architective control would be limited in this manner. A conforming religion would not make any claims for control or any other architective activity at a cosmic scale. It is, of course, only architective activity that is so limited – connective influences could well be cosmic.
Below I suggest some spiritual possibilities consistent with the ideas of connectivity and architectivity, as well as not being in conflict with current scientific thinking. Ruling out the spiritual concepts not consistent with connectivity and architectivity means ruling out most of mankind’s traditional spiritual pantheon, leaving us with a small selection of more unusual spiritual concepts…
We can regard the laws of nature as spirits because they have an essential influence on us while we cannot control them. We may have learned to manipulate them for our convenience but we cannot alter the laws themselves. In this sense, for example, the fundamental forces of physics can be regarded as spirits – they affect us and there is nothing we can do to alter their affecting of us or the ways in which they do so. We can also, for example, regard the phenomenon of emergence, say of atoms from subatomic particles, as a natural spirit since there is nothing we can do to prevent emergence happening under the appropriate conditions. In fact, all natural processes that constitute unavoidable parameters of our being are spirits to us in this sense.
Our pantheon of natural spirits is of course not restricted to fundamentals such as gravity and emergence. We are confined to a planet (or perhaps in the future to a spaceship), to breathe air and search out or produce food and water. All these are effectively natural spirits to us. Our biological processes, including such diverse processes as endocrine systems, gender expression and DNA replication, are also unavoidable parameters of our being and can be regarded as natural spirits. Much of our social interaction also follows unavoidable natural guidelines, such as our family relationships, many gender roles and our subservience to or dominance of others. Jungian psychology has enumerated an extensive range of psychic ‘archetypes’ considered to parameterize the behaviour of all humans, and I see these archetypes too as constituting natural spirits. (Many religions also offer spirits devoted to particular natural aspects of our lives – like Venus as a spirit of love and femininity – but these often have features contrary to the limitations of this discussion.)
Architective wholeness was described as the emergence from architective interaction of an object that is separately identifiable from its constituent objects and from any external objects it interacts with, having the ability to participate in external interactions as a single object in its own right. Such wholeness is not available to connective phenomena. Now although a connective in its entirety is not such a whole, the motions of any one of its participating objects cannot be fully described without considering the influences of all the other objects participating in the connective, together with the influences that all the other objects have on each other. Furthermore, these influences vary as the objects move or change, whether in response to each other’s motion or in response to disturbance. That is, the motion of any one participating object in a connective cannot be completely described without considering an effective influence of the connective in its entirety, including any waves that may be passing through it. To make the distinction with an architective whole, I say that a connective has a holism rather than it being a ‘whole’.
A connective participates in external interactions as the collection of the individual external interactions of all its participating objects. But once again, the net effect on an external object cannot be completely understood without recognizing that the individual participating objects of the connective are all influencing each other and these influences are changing. So the influence on an external object can also not be fully described without recognizing an influence by the connective’s holism. The holism of a connective affects its external interactions as well.
Though a holism has an influence on the participating objects of its host connective and any external objects they are interacting with (and they influence it), the influence is not that of an interaction since an interaction takes place between perceiving objects, and a holism cannot be perceived as an object. For convenience I say that a holism is in apprehension of its affected objects rather than being in interaction with them.
A holism is not perceivable as an object, it is not a participating object of the connective, it does not emerge as an object from the connective interaction, and it is not able to enter into interaction in its own right. A holism is not perceptible or identifiable.
Furthermore, the apprehensive influence of a holism on an object will always be less than the interactive influence of the nearest other objects in the connective, if not less than the interactive influences of all objects in the connective. It is likely to be so small as to be extremely subtle. The apprehensive influence of a connective’s holism on any of its participating objects will always be a lesser background to the foreground interactive influences of some of the connective’s other participating objects.
As a participant in the affairs of its host connective, a holism is essentially hidden.
For those who are familiar with them, the n-body problem of physics and Mach’s Principle illustrate the essential hiddenness of a connective holism.
The apprehensive influence of a holism interferes with (rather than contests with) the interactive influences between any of its participating objects. While an architective whole has hierarchical control over its internal objects and organizes their serial meaning, a connective holism has an influence on its participating objects but does not control them or organize their serial meaning.
In the sense that I described spirits as both influencing and being hidden from us, the holism of any connective we participate in is a spirit. In this role I refer to holisms as holistic spirits .
For example, the atmosphere of our planet has a holism that is a holistic spirit to me. Why? Because that holism influences me through my collected connective interactions with the air – through my body being moved by the wind, through the air warming or cooling me as it passes, through the fragrances the air carries to my nose and the sound it carries to my ears, through it filling my lungs and pulsing with my breath. That holism is hidden from me – it is not in interaction with me in the way the air itself is, and it is certainly not an object that I can architectively manipulate. Many have conceived of the air as a natural spirit, but few (if any) have conceived of the holism of the atmosphere as a spirit. (This incidentally is a nice example because the word ‘spirit’ is derived from the Latin for ‘breath’.)
Similarly our solar system and galaxy have holisms that influence us (much more remotely of course) and do not interact with us (though their planets and suns do, albeit negligibly) and so are hidden from us, so we can consider them too as holistic spirits. When swimming in a lake or ocean, we could consider the holism of the lake or ocean to be a holistic spirit, and the fish that inhabit it could also consider the holism of a lake or ocean to be a holistic spirit, were they capable of that consideration.
Of course, the objects they apprehend also influence a holism in return since they contribute to it. As in an interaction, an apprehensive influence is mutual. My body may be moved by the wind but I may also voluntarily wave my hand to make wind and so affect the holistic spirit of our atmosphere.
The play of holistic spirits is purely connective, for holisms are not able to engage in interaction in their own right and specifically cannot engage in architective interaction.
The Gaia hypothesis comes very close to regarding our planet not only as a holism, but one that acts – as a spirit with intent – to provide an environment optimal for the maintenance of life. However, the Gaia hypothesis differs from this concept of a holistic spirit in that it includes architective elements as well.
Since connectives are not perceivable or identifiable as objects in their own right, I earlier described them as being ‘discernible’ rather than ‘perceptible’. In the light of the holism of every connective, I need to refine their description as ‘discernible’ as follows: “A connective is discernible in the way that all its participating objects respond, and respond as separate [_but interacting _]individuals, to a disturbance.”
It was noted earlier that at very large scales (larger than say the size of Jupiter) cosmic interactions are devoid of architective behaviour, and that we may speak of a window of scale in which only the connective modes of play and serial meaning are evident.
In this cosmic purely connective window, all entities susceptible to gravity are joined in a single connective interaction, though they may be grouped in visages such as solar systems and galaxies. But many of these entities will be participating connectively in non-gravitational interactions as well (such as plasmic interactions in and around suns) so these non-gravitational connective interactions are also indirectly joined to the gravitational interaction in an even larger connective system. Thus, in the purely connective window, all components of all the contributing connective interactions may be regarded as participating in a cosmic connective system, having discernible clusters appearing and disappearing with its flux.
This conjecture need not be confined to the cosmic scale. Even in its connective purity, the cosmic connective system has tendrils into scales smaller than the purely connective window. For example, objects such as asteroids, spaceships, interplanetary free-floating molecules and plasmic protons may all be considered to be participating in the cosmic connective system. In fact, any unbound object in any incompletely contained connective is participating in the cosmic connective system, including all the unbound molecules of planetary atmospheres, the unbound plasma particles of suns, all aircraft and birds that are flying (rather than grounded), the rocky planets themselves (as including their grounded aircraft and birds), the dust-motes floating in the air around us, the water molecules in all the oceans and the fish swimming in them (to name but a few!).
What may not be participating in that cosmic connective system are all their architectively constrained and contained components, such as the cells and molecules of which the birds and fish are constructed, or the molecules bound in rocks, and any connective systems that these bound components enclose completely. They can however be said to be participating indirectly, because their containing architectures are ultimately limited and those containing architectures are participating in the cosmic system. Architectively constrained components may also participate partially if they respond to limited extents within their bounds of constraint, as for example, trees and grass connectively wave in the wind to the limits of their ranges and my lungs inhale what air they are capable of. Such partial participation still permits an enormous capacity for connective play as the trees and my lungs may vibrate and resonate in their participation. They may also participate fully if they are sublimated, but then it is not them that are participating but their constituent objects. Waves can sublimate architectures if they have a sufficiently small amplitude and so can connect the constituent objects of the bound components and their contained connectives to each other and into the cosmic connective system. It is quite possible that all architectively internal objects are vibrating at some sublimate level within their host architectures and so are participating in the cosmic connective system.
So even in the figurate window of scale that is our home, the cosmic connective system is present and accessible to us. My breath, the flow of air in the room and out the open door into the garden with its trees and grass waving in the wind, the flying birds above, the clouds drifting in the sky, the other planets, suns and galaxies, all these are participating in the cosmic connective system.
The cosmic connective system encompasses the entire universe except perhaps for those pockets of architecture, some having connective systems inside them, that are constrained from fully participating in it. My body as a whole, as an object in itself, is not fully participating in the cosmic system when I am sitting on a chair and am in figurate contact with the earth. It is the earth-including-me-on-a-chair, as a whole and unbound object, that is participating fully. Alternatively, should I jump up off the chair and interrupt my figurate contact with the earth, then for that brief moment my body is participating fully in the cosmic connective system. However, even when not participating as a whole body, I participate through the connection of my breath, through my connective senses and through my connective responses to my senses. And of course I participate fully through my bodily movements when not in figurate contact with the earth. (Oh, how I yearn to fly!)
The cosmic connective system has a holism. I call it the cosmic holistic spirit. The cosmic holistic spirit spatially permeates the entire universe at every scale but its influence is limited inside isolated pockets of architecture.
The holisms of lesser connective systems, such as of individual galaxies or solar systems, suns, oceans or lakes, or even of our brains, are participants in the cosmic connective system and contribute to the cosmic holism. They can be considered visages of the cosmic holistic system. The only holisms that could be considered isolated from the cosmic holism might be found inside pockets of architecture.
The relationship between a country’s government and its citizens is architective. The offices of government are ranked in a hierarchy with its governed people at the bottom and its head of state at the top. Government officers control and organize its people and not the other way round. That is not to say that government regimes cannot be broken or changed – democracy offers mechanisms whereby the individuals holding offices can be replaced according to the votes of its people and a regime can be broken by a superior military force or changed from within by sufficiently powerful individuals or groups; but any person exceeding the bounds of government control on their station and not able to muster the necessary power to change the regime could lose their office, be ostracized, imprisoned or even executed.
In the sense that I described spirits as both influencing us and being beyond our control, people can consider their governing offices as spirits. This may seem a little bizarre at first, but consider that social objects do not interact with, and therefore do not perceive and are not perceived by, other objects in their social hierarchy that are not at their same rank. Higher offices emerge from and control objects of lower rank rather than interact with them. This is not to say that the people occupying higher offices than one’s own should be considered as spirits, only the offices themselves, for we can interact with the people occupying higher or lower offices and even be friends with them, but our official roles are ones of subservience and authority.
Similar regimes of subservience and authority can be found in business corporations and religious institutions, and we could really consider all institutional offices of a higher rank than our own as spirits. In this way a church leadership can be regarded as a spirit in its own right regardless of the spirits the church’s dogma may advocate.
We are not only organized socially. Our serial meaning is organized by our environment, by our planet, by our houses and buildings, by the architecture of our bodies, by our languages and by our technologies. All these have hierarchical levels of serial meaning to which we are organizationally subservient.
In fact, all architective wholes can be considered spirits by their internal objects (assuming they are capable of such consideration) because they control and organize them while not being subject to their authority. In this role I call architective wholes hierarchical spirits. A human body could be considered a hierarchical spirit by that body’s gut bacteria were they capable of that consideration. Looking down the tree of a hierarchy, those who consider an architective whole to be a spirit I call the spirit’s hierarchical venerators.
Architective wholes cannot be considered as spirits by objects they interact with externally or as peers, because there is no element of control in the interaction (though there is of influence) and they are not hidden from them – they are mutually perceived in such interactions. Architective wholes can only be spirits to those within their hierarchies that are subservient to them. When we perform our official duties in an institution we do not interact with that institution as a whole – we do not perceive it and our relationship with it is one of subservience and authority. We only perceive institutions as objects in their own right when we personally are not part of their hierarchy. A business corporation, a church or a government can be considered a hierarchical spirit by an employee of that corporation, a member of that or church or an inhabitant of that country but not by people who are not employees or members or who live in other countries.
What we are also seeing here is a possible ranking of hierarchical spirits: Architective wholes that we regard as hierarchical spirits may themselves have architective wholes ranked above them which they regard as spirits and which regard them as hierarchical venerators; all the while interactions with peers are mundane. That is, objects at any level in an architective hierarchy may regard higher ranked objects as spirits, regard peer objects as mundane and regard lower level objects as venerators (if they are so capable).
While hierarchical spirits can interact mutually with their peers in their hierarchy and with objects external to the hierarchy, influence within the hierarchy is necessarily architective. All the possible connective plays of a hierarchical spirit are external, and in external interaction its plays are also necessarily mundane.
The organization of the serial meanings of its lower echelons by a hierarchical spirit becomes particularly interesting when the architecture progresses as a narrative organism , that is, when the narrative of the topmost hierarchical spirit in the architecture continues even though the architecture itself (and its topmost hierarchical spirit) has metamorphosed into another. That continuing narrative organism can be regarded as a progressional spirit by the lower levels of all the metamorphosing architectures since it organizes their serial meaning to the one ongoing narrative. Narrative organisms and thus progressional spirits can be associated with architective phenomena only.
The serial meaning that such a progressional spirit could participate in would be architective due to its progressions, but it could also be connective since it is that of a topmost thread which may well engage in connective external interactions. Internally however, the expression of a progressional spirit in the lower levels of all its metamorphosing architectures would be architectively organized.
Here we have the possibility for all the architective processes in any one cosmic architective locality to be organized by a single overarching progressional spirit, even though the contributing architective processes are not aggregated into a singular architecture. Thinking globally, we have the possibility of a singular planetary progressional spirit organizing the serial meaning of an entire planet without losing the variety and narrative of architective aggregational structure on that planet.
Many of our natural spirits display complex mixtures of connective and architective play, but some can be understood to play in only one mode. As well, the play of all holistic spirits would be purely connective, for holisms are not able to engage in interaction in their own right (and specifically not in architective interaction), while the internal play of all hierarchical and progressional spirits would be purely architective.
I will refer to spirits whose play is purely connective as connective spirits and to those who have any element of architectivity in their play as architectively active spirits.
It is worthwhile noting that many architectively active spirits arise through a process of architective emergence, emerging either from their venerators or from their venerators’ environment.
It is also worth noting that since the physical sizes and scopes of control of architectures are spatially limited, every architectively active spirit is confined to a limited spatial locality in the cosmos, and, since the events by which it emerged may have been different or sequenced differently to the events by which spirits in other localities emerged, their natures and identities will likely all be different. Together, the multitude of architective localities peppering the cosmos host a plethora of different architectively active spirits in a manifold of limited and isolated occurrences. The cosmic holistic spirit, on the other hand, is spatially universal and universally scalable – it can be manifest everywhere and anywhere.
The influences of holistic spirits are extremely weak in comparison to the influences of other spirits. The interactive influences of natural connective spirits could be comparable in strength to the constraining influences of natural architectively active spirits, but the apprehensive influences of holistic spirits would be extremely weak in comparison to both. As well, the interactive influences of natural connective spirits would interfere with the apprehensive influences of holistic spirits, but the constraining influences of natural architectively active spirits could actually negate them. The apprehensive influences of holistic spirits would also be extremely weak in comparison to the controlling and organizational influences of hierarchical and progressional spirits.
Overall, the disproportionately greater strengths of architectively active spirits would mean that the influences of holistic spirits would only be discernible in the absence of relevant architective influences. Practices such as meditation specifically aim to provide an environment free of architective intrusion, where the extreme subtleties of holistic influences may be more easily discerned.
So although the cosmic holistic spirit is manifest everywhere, its influence is comparatively small, especially inside the pockets of architecture. The cosmic holism as a perennial background to everything else means that the universe does not have an emptiness as its ultimate background – it has a holism as its ultimate background. Total emptiness can only be construed in a singularly architective sense. Even a vacuum hosts waves.
Our appreciation of any unimodal spiritual influence would also be dependent on our own mode of sentience at the time. Our default mode of sentience is architective, thanks to the architective dominion, so our capacity to consciously appreciate apprehensive influences of holistic spirits would be enfeebled not only by their relative weakness in comparison to architective influences (spiritual or otherwise) but by our own predilection for an architective mode of sentience.
When discerned, however, our participation in the cosmic connective system permits us to share in a sense of cosmic infinity that architectivity just cannot offer. Our participation in architective activity is always a contained experience due to the ultimate limitation of every architecture.
Pure connectivity offers an arena from which all contestation is absent and where bodily extinction is irrelevant. It also offers a sense of infinity and universality. In death our architecture is destroyed, but an underlying connective behaviour continues, as does an underlying cosmic system and holism, if only through the free molecules that constituted our erstwhile bodies. Many religious myths converge on a state of connective purity.
Most of the spiritual possibilities mentioned above are unimodal. Only the natural spirits might display mixtures of connective and architective play, while the play of all holistic spirits would be purely connective and the internal play of all hierarchical and progressional spirits would be purely architective.
As unimodal deities, sentient unimodal spirits will display some very specific features by virtue of their singularly connective or architective natures:
Connectively unimodal deities would be capable of connective sentience only. They would comprehend only connective serial meaning and play only connective games. Architective activity of any kind would be meaningless to them. However, being sentient, a purely connective deity may realize that events sometimes unfold in ways it cannot understand, especially when its narratives are unexpectedly and meaninglessly interrupted by architective play. Being sentient, it would sense that it is missing something.
A connectively unimodal deity could possibly be embodied in a connective like the wind, the sun, a fire, an ocean, a gaseous planet like Jupiter, or the entire universe, but not in anything having an architecture such as a stone, a book, a person, an animal or a bird, the moon or a rocky planet like Mars, nor in any social institution. It could be symbolically represented by such objects but not embodied in them. Of course, it may not be embodied at all.
In the absence of architective organ-based bodies, connectively unimodal deities, though sentient, could not have organ-based senses such as sight, hearing and touch, as we have, since these all have architective elements.
In the absence of an understanding of architective serial meaning, concepts such as existence and extinction would be meaningless to them. The same can be said of contestation and a fixed identity. No circumstance could be considered necessary to their existence, though they may have a preference for one connective circumstance over another. This does not mean that their being would be unproblematic, for storms may rage (and harmonies sing) through connective systems.
There could also be no hierarchy among connectively unimodal deities, nor could games of power be played among them. Some connectively unimodal deities may exert stronger influences than others (for a while, in some localities), but none is innately superior or subordinate to any other. Their influences would all be fully expressed and interfere with each other rather than negate each other.
Connectively unimodal deities could influence events but could not control them. Their influences could be negated by architective constraints or controls.
The uncertainty inherent in their activities and their lack of precise control means that connectively unimodal deities would be players with an uncertain future, much as we are, rather than dictators of destinies.
Denizens of a figurate window, such as ourselves, experience and understand connective play, so the activities of connectively unimodal deities, purely connective as they are, could be meaningful to us, though they would not cover the full gamut of our experience.
An architectively unimodal deity would only be capable of architective sentience. It would comprehend only architective serial meaning and would play only architective games. It would be occupied with matters of existence, identity, contestation, rank, power and control. It would be emoted by births and deaths, by clear category classifications, and by victories and defeats. All connective activity would be meaningless to it. However, being sentient, it too may realize that it is missing something when its narratives are unexpectedly and meaninglessly interrupted by connective play.
An architectively unimodal deity could be embodied as a physical object, as an organism, a person, a social object such as an institution or an office in an institution, but cannot take on a purely connective embodiment such as a wind, a sun, a fire or ocean, or a gaseous planet like Jupiter. It may be embodied in a book, an icon, a moon, or a rocky planet like Mars, even though these may contain connective fluids at their core. It cannot be embodied as the entire universe, for interactions at that scale are purely connective. Of course, it may not be embodied at all.
A hierarchical deity may participate in interactions that are architective or connective but it participates in these as a mundane object, for its peers in interaction can perceive it. However, a whole emerging from an architective interaction could be regarded by the hierarchical deity to be a hierarchical deity, if it considers the emerging whole to be sentient. Hierarchical deities may thus be tiered in hierarchies in which the objects at one level regard higher ranked objects as deities, regard peer objects as mundane and regard lower level objects as venerators of itself.
An architectively unimodal deity would organize the serial meaning of all its subordinates in its hierarchy (or progression of hierarchies). Within its hierarchy, its controls and organization would be capable of constraining the influences of any connective spirits and deities, and be capable of negating or constraining the interactive influences of its subordinates, among each other or with external objects.
Being an architective whole, a hierarchical deity is subject to the possibility of demise. In the light of its sentience and the architective predisposition to preserve identity, a hierarchical deity would have a sense of existential insecurity and act intentionally to avoid its own demise. A progressional deity, though also architective, is not as vulnerable to demise since it is able to persist across reconfigurations, and may even relish its progressive destructions and reconstructions. However, it too would strive to ensure the continuation of its narrative, so that it too persists as a narrative organism.
Unauthorized interruptions to its narrative would heighten a hierarchical deity’s sense of insecurity and elicit from it attempts to prevent further interruptions. Interruptions may come from contestations with other architective plays or from interruptions by connective plays.
An architectively unimodal deity at the top of its architecture is not subject to any architective control or organization, while it controls and/or organizes all its internal interactions. Within their hierarchies, top architectively unimodal deities are able to indulge their intents without recrimination.
Architectively unimodal spirits and deities control us through the constraints they subject us to. They act on us by constraining, controlling and organizing the interactions we are involved in, while they themselves neither interact with us nor apprehend us. Connectively unimodal spirits and deities would interact with us or apprehend us but would not control us or organize our meaning.
The apprehensive influences of holistic deities would be extremely weak in comparison to the controls and organizations of hierarchical and progressional spirits and deities. Our appreciation of holistic influences would also be handicapped by our predisposition to the architective mode of sentience (courtesy of the architective dominion).
A connectively unimodal deity cannot be embodied as a human being since humans are architective functional objects. An architectively unimodal deity can be embodied as a human being, but only if it is not a deity to other humans. An architectively unimodal deity can be represented by one human being to another, as when an institution or an office is a hierarchical spirit to us, in which case the person holding that office represents the spirit (but is not an embodiment of the spirit). People cannot be spirits or deities to other people because people are peers in interaction rather than spirits to each other. Our own deities, if embodied, could be represented by but not embodied as people.
A connectively unimodal deity could not talk to us directly using a language such as English (or any other human language) for it has no speech or writing organs (since these are architective). As well, a connectively unimodal deity would have difficulty constructing meaning by architectively structuring words into a sentence, and its communications could have no architective meaning. Architectively unimodal deities could conceivably be embodied as super-human organisms having speech organs of their own but they would more likely be hierarchical or progressional deities communicating with us through the speech organs and pens of their office bearers or of the humans they have organized to do so.
Though without organ-based senses such as sight and hearing themselves, connectively unimodal deities might participate indirectly in our own organ-based sensations when we respond to these sensations connectively, for example if the sensations set up vibrations in our brains. I also imagine that, being sentient, a connectively unimodal deity could have non-organ-based sensations of its own, which we in turn would not experience directly but which we may experience as a mood, perhaps.
Being architective wholes, hierarchical deities emerge from their lower echelons. Our hierarchical deities emerge from us as their constituent objects. They in turn control us and organize our serial meaning. Thus the deities of many of our religions could be understood as having emerged from our own religious activities. The deities of our religions are not the only hierarchical deities to have emerged from us – hierarchical deities emerge from our political and corporate activities as well. Our hierarchical deities are the self-sustaining institutions we as their members create, and their sentience is reflected in our activities as their members, where these activities would have been different or organized differently in the absence of our membership of their institution.
Our hierarchical deities organize our serial meaning around their own existential security. We might experience a sense of existential insecurity not justified by our own perceivable circumstances, perhaps suffering contestations and social frictions organized for a hierarchical deity’s existential security rather than our own. A progressional deity, being relatively invulnerable and suffering no immediate existential threat, may well organize contestations and social frictions among its lower echelons simply for its amusement.
A hierarchical deity’s lower human echelons are not purely architective in the way that it is, and they may play both architectively and connectively and have both architective and connective modes of sentience. A hierarchical deity may feel threatened by the uncontrolled connective activities of its lower echelons and would likely attempt to curtail them.
A hierarchical deity would have an expectation of obedience from its subordinates and if it was insecure would demand not only obedience, but demonstrations of obedience, perhaps even worship, from its subordinates. Failure to deliver these may invoke acts of vengeance from the deity, to whatever degree of control and organization it can muster. Demonstrations of obedience would likely occur through the regular performance of prescribed rituals (like reading the instructions even when one knows how to perform a task!).
An architectively unimodal deity at or near the top of an architecture is not likely to dispense power or control in the service of an inferior. It is much more likely that it will sacrifice its subordinates, and do so with the subordinates’ consent since it organizes its subordinates’ serial meaning.
Obedience, worship, ritual and sacrifice would be meaningless to a connectively unimodal deity.
Being sentient, deities would express themselves – architectively unimodal deities through the control and/or organization of their lower echelons, connectively unimodal deities through their interactive influences or apprehensions as holisms.
Being sentient, deities may also have preferences and express themselves with the intention of serving their preferences.
An architectively unimodal deity may develop ethics of strength, charity, chivalry, correctness, propriety, soundness and reasonableness. It may develop an aesthetic appreciation of constraint, of its mechanics and of the strategies to achieve it. But it may alternatively develop a taste for power, challenge, destruction, corruption, deceit and trickery, and develop or exploit an aesthetic of fear around existential insecurity.
The preferences of a religion’s or institution’s deities become evident in the activities of their human members, since the members express a serial meaning organized by their deities. For example, acts of charity carried out by a religion’s adherents in the name of their religion reflect an ethic of charity in the religion as an institutional hierarchical deity (and probably an ethic of the deities advocated by its dogma), while atrocities committed in the name of a religion are also a reflection of the aesthetic of the religion as a deity (and probably of the deities of the religion’s dogma).
A connectively unimodal deity may express a liking for harmonies of motion, responsiveness to stimulation and the resonances of constructive interferences. A connectively unimodal deity may alternatively express a preference for dissonance, instability and turbulence.
An architectively unimodal deity might enjoy the profundity available in the complexities of architective play, while a connectively unimodal deity might enjoy profundity in the subtleties and grandeur of connective play.
An architectively unimodal deity may develop a taste for exactness and perfection while a connectively unimodal deity may develop an enjoyment of surprise and uncertainty.
Perhaps using the word ‘intent’ with respect to a connectively unimodal deity’s sentience is misleading, for ‘intent’ suggests a view to a definite aim while the purely connective outlook of a connectively unimodal deity would be less specific. Perhaps the words ‘yearning’ or ‘desire’ may be more correct when applied to the intent of a connectively unimodal deity.
While connectively unimodal deities could compete amongst each other in the sense that one may have a stronger influence than another, the result of their competition is an interference of the influences of all the competitors rather a selection of some and a negation of the others. All the competing deities would have their intentions expressed. Contestation with or among architectively unimodal deities, on the other hand, would result in some competitors having their intentions expressed in full while others find no expression at all.
The resources that connective and architectively unimodal deities might utilize to promote their intents would be entirely different. Architectively unimodal deities would have available to them the avenues of control, certainty, organization, contestation, categorization and power to achieve their ends; while connectively unimodal deities could utilize the avenues of uncertainty, disturbance, interference and empathy.
In a conflict of intent between architectively unimodal deities alone or between connectively unimodal deities alone, the competitors would be utilising resources and strategies that each other would understand. But in a conflict between an architectively and a connectively unimodal deity neither would be able to comprehend the serial meaning of the other or understand the value of their competitor’s resources. Both would be competing in the dark as it were, against an invisible and incomprehensible opponent. Being sentient, however, they could develop an awareness of each other by each recognising that their own serial meaning is being interrupted unexpectedly.
An architectively unimodal deity might frustrate the intent of a connectively unimodal deity by constraining or containing motions. A connectively unimodal deity may yet achieve its aims, perhaps by forcefully overcoming the binding strength of a constraint, by directing its intent around a constraint or by making its effects most significant at levels sublimate to a constraint.
Conflicts between architective and connectively unimodal deities may result in terrifying contradictions for lower echelon organisms, like humans, who can comprehend both modes of serial meaning and who find themselves in situations having conflicting meanings and perhaps having to choose between behaviours which appear equally sensible but whose meanings are contradictory.
Conflict between an architectively and a connectively unimodal deity is not a conflict for existence, it is only a competition for expression. A connectively unimodal deity does not comprehend the meaning of existence while an architectively unimodal deity is not capable of destroying something that does not ‘exist’. For the connectively unimodal deity, getting its way does not require the elimination of its rival, only that its own expression not be negated. The connectively unimodal deity would be just as satisfied with a response from a hierarchical deity as a whole as with a response from the hierarchical deity’s internal objects. On the other hand, a hierarchical deity would likely see this as a contestation for its internal objects and be in fear of demise. For a hierarchical deity, getting its way would likely mean attempting to eliminate its rival – which is not possible, though it may succeed in constraining or containing it.
I think that there is no question regarding the presence of spirits as I have defined them. The big question is whether any spirits are actually sentient, whether any of the spiritual possibilities I have outlined are actually capable of experiencing sensation, expressing intent or comprehending meaning.
The only direct evidence we have of any sentience at all is in the earthly organic life-forms of which we are the prime example. Designating a known sentient life-form such as a human as a deity (for example to a dog or to that human’s gut bacteria) may not be too controversial, but the attribution of sentience to an institution such as a government or to a holism must remain a matter of personal inclination. Up to this point I have attempted to restrict my comments to impersonal and hopefully value-free observations. Now I must jump in the deep end and demonstrate my personal inclination – to see sentience among these spirits. Again, all I can do is present some viable possibilities. Proof – verification – of any of these would be too much to ask.
Firstly, most importantly, and seemingly trivially, I acknowledge the vastness of possibility offered by an infinite world. We may argue over whether infinity is only a mathematical concept, whether the universe is spatially or materially infinite or whether an infinite count can be made of anything in a universe that had a specific beginning. But consider that there is no theoretical limit to how high a vibrational frequency can go. Electromagnetic gamma-rays may display the highest actual frequencies detected so far but there is no reason to preclude the possibility of finding higher frequencies. Infinitely high electromagnetic frequencies imply infinitely small wavelengths, and in the context of this discussion, the spatial resolvability of connective phenomena such as a wave is indeed considered to be infinite. Consider too that, though the extent and resolvability of any one object is finite, the ways in which objects can possibly aggregate, embrace and produce newness is infinite. In the farthest extents and depths of these infinities, beyond the extents of our current scientific knowledge, we cannot preclude the possibility of strange and counter-intuitive phenomena, as our recent revelations in the fields of quantum mechanics and non-classical relativity have shown.
What I am hoping this discussion has also illuminated is that an infinite reality does not mean that absolutely anything is possible. It has shown that our world comprises connective and architective interactions regardless of its extent or resolvability, and that the limitations of these modes apply. Infinity is not an excuse for a contradiction of empirical observation or of the limitations of connectivity and architectivity.
Secondly, I see a possibility of spiritual sentience in the natural patterning of things, more specifically in the recursive patterning of things, that is, in the patterning of patterns in what I call orders of pattern. And it is not only fixed patterns that can display patterns in their patterns, but patterns can morph from one to another to another, where the change happens according to yet another pattern – which may also be changing, and so on. The ordering of pattern can be mind-bogglingly complex.
Both the connective and architective modes permit patterning of their patterns. The motions and waves of connectives are ordered by their interference with each other as the pattern of one patterns the other; while the patterns in one hierarchical level of an architecture order the patterns in the levels below it. (Interestingly, the patterns in connectives may be fixed or varying depending on the nature of the connective, but an architecture cannot change its patterning without progressing.) We often measure our own intelligence by the depth of order we can bring to, or are capable of detecting in, the patterns around us. The cosmic connective system hosts infinite possibilities for connective patterning as well as infinite possibilities for orders of pattern; while our architective locality hosts infinite possibilities for architective patterning. In the natural patterning of our world, I have on occasion seen such stupendous depths of order, especially under the influence of psychedelics, that in the majesty of the moment, I have felt it appropriate to acknowledge the presence of a super-human sentience.
I also see possibilities for spiritual sentience in the natural capacity for wholeness – connectively in holisms and architectively in emergent wholes. I am not inclined to attribute sentience to a holism such as a lake or a constellation but I am inclined to attribute sentience to the holism of the universe in the form of the cosmic holistic spirit, which I call the cosmic holistic Deity. I am also inclined to attribute sentiences to the hierarchical spirits of many social institutions as architective wholes, even though their sentience is manifested through the expressions of their human office-bearers.
For me the crux of sentience is the presence of a narrative – a continuity of meaning in a thread of play despite any interruptions the thread may suffer. The ongoing narratives I discern in the play of our social institutions qualifies them as hierarchical or progressional deities. I have also convinced myself of the presence of narratives in the play of the cosmic holistic Deity, largely through my use of the I Ching. Most controversially, and with a great degree of reluctance on my part, I have come to accept the narrative of our planetary progressional spirit to be a signature of sentience and acknowledge it as a planetary progressional Deity.
I see no reason to imbue any natural spirits with sentience as they seem too straightforward or single-minded to be sentient, even though this would be in accord with the ideas of connectivity and architectivity.
In summary, I see our lives as being parameterized by a host of essentially dumb natural spirits, as being governed by hierarchical deities expressing themselves through us via their social organization and control, while we participate in a more profound apprehension with the cosmic holistic Deity and a more profound organization by a planetary progressional Deity, these latter two concealed in the higher orders of patterning and narrative of our material reality. It is these latter two that constitute the greater spiritual mystery for me.
Of course this is all presumption on my part – I cannot prove any of it – but it runs foul neither of the ideas of connectivity and architectivity nor of scientific possibility.
Significantly, all the deities I have suggested are unimodal, allowing us to evaluate them according to their mode of sentience.
In the previous chapter I outlined some general inferences that can be made about unimodal deities by virtue of their connective and architective features. In this chapter I want to describe features of the cosmic holistic Deity and our planetary progressional Deity that I have come become aware of through personal experience rather than being directly deducible from their connective and architective natures. I offer these personal insights not as matters of fact but as something against which you may compare your own experience.
Generally speaking, connectively unimodal deities might equally express a preference for turbulence as for harmony. My experience is that the cosmic holistic Deity has a preference for harmony over turbulence and that it takes pleasure in the resonances of constructive interference. In particular, it takes great pleasure in the profundities of harmony and constructive interference, while it bears dissonance and turbulence with equanimity.
My experience also tells me that when its narratives are interrupted by architective play, the cosmic holistic Deity is generally undisturbed by them, even though it cannot understand them. It appears to be quite happy with things even when they don’t make sense to it. The only times I have seen it distressed is when a great profundity in a connective play is interrupted, since these are relatively rare, and nobody, not even a cosmic holistic Deity, can produce them at will. It may employ its influence to promote profundity of harmony but it does not have the precision of control to ensure it.
Even though scale is irrelevant to a purely connective behaviour, I suspect that it has some relevance to the profundity available in connective play. I mentioned earlier how connectivity dances with whatever objects architectivity provides at every scale, and that a connectively unimodal deity would likely be just as satisfied playing with a whole object as it would be playing with the object’s internal objects. However, I’m guessing that connective play within the architective window, and probably even more so within the figurate window of scale, would offer a greater variety of opportunity for profundity. I suspect that the cosmic holistic Deity finds a very rich field of profundity in the human scale of reality and the opportunities human and animal interaction offers.
Generally speaking, architectively active deities might equally express a preference for propriety and reasonableness as for deceit and trickery. My experience tells me that the planetary progressional Deity of our own cosmic locality has a preference for challenge, to which end it exploits the complexities of isolation and fear over any appreciation of profundity in construction.
My experience also tells me that our planetary progressional Deity has a need for the world to make sense to it at all times, which requires that the architective mode of serial meaning not be interrupted. Unlike a hierarchical spirit whose priority is the perpetuation of its own existence, the priority of our planetary progressional Deity is to ensure an architective mode of serial meaning in any form rather than the promotion of any particular architective object or cause. It does not care who wins or who loses a contestation, only that the event be an architective one, that it be a contestation. To this end, it avoids, and develops strategies to avoid, interruptions to the architective mode of serial meaning at all costs, by organizing the contesting, constraining or containing of any activities it finds incomprehensible – which are invariably connective. Its priority appears to be to maintain a seamless architective serial meaning absolutely free of connective interruption. Of course, such an aim is not achievable, especially at any scale greater than the planetary, but that does not deter it from trying.
From an earthly point of view, I see our planetary progressional Deity organizing a fierceness to our social isolation and frictions even beyond the requirements of the architective dominion. Were it of a different mindset, we might well enjoy a greater degree of civility and reasonableness in our dealings with each other without contravening the architective dominion. Were it of a different mindset, it might even recognize the impossibility of achieving a seamless architective serial meaning and permit our dalliances with connectivity rather than organizing such a fierce interdiction.
So I see a conflict between the cosmic holistic Deity and our planetary progressional Deity, in that the planetary progressional Deity aims to ensure an exclusively architective mode of serial meaning while the cosmic holistic Deity aims to enjoy at least the more profound expressions of connectivity the world has to offer.
This is a very sad state of affairs for us, for there may well be more enlightened planetary narrative deities at other localities in the cosmos. We simply have the misfortune to suffer under a tyrant. Perhaps in spiritual terms this tyrant is yet a child and might mellow with age.
What this has meant for me personally is that many attempts to redress the architective dominion in my own life have been thwarted, significantly in a number of crucial situations, by a twist to the architective dominion that I can only explain as perversity on the part of our planetary progressional Deity. Against such a powerful adversary I have no counter other than to lick my wounds and stand my ground as best I can.
Our planetary progressional Deity’s human venerators are not purely architective as it is. We may play both architectively and connectively and employ both architective and connective modes of sentience. Our planetary progressional Deity would be aware of any connective expressions on our part (through meaningless interruptions to its mode of serial meaning) and would make every effort to curtail them through whatever architective control and organizational mechanisms it could raise, be these political controls, social customs and frictions, physical contrivances or threats of eternal damnation.
Our own mode of sentience has significance in the spiritual world – it is a prize both for our planetary progressional Deity and for the cosmic holistic Deity. For our mode of sentience dictates the mode of serial meaning in which our immediate reality unfolds, and through it we may be promoting either the intent of the cosmic holistic Deity or that of our planetary progressional Deity (in our personal locality at least). They are in competition for our attention, for our mode of sentience.
Our mode of sentience is also a prize for us, firstly since our own appreciation of spirituality is dependent on it and secondly because it affects the reality we experience. Employing a connective mode of sentience is an essential pre-requisite for our appreciation of connective profundity while employing an architective mode of sentience is an essential pre-requisite for our rising to the challenges of contestation.
For most of the time there is no significant connective profundity available to us and for most of the time we are likely to employ an architective mode of sentience anyway (courtesy of the architective dominion). So for most of the time there is also no conflict between the Deities and our own mode of sentience has no spiritual significance.
Our veneration of the cosmic holistic Deity would be a matter of assisting its promotion of connective profundity, perhaps by putting the ingredients in place for it to occur, by preventing our own architective activities from interrupting a profundity when it does occur, and by employing a connective mode of sentience at these significant moments. In doing so we can also achieve the personal enjoyment of a conscious participation in what is a cosmic profundity.
Our veneration of a hierarchical deity is a matter of obedience and ritual, of sacrificing ourselves for that deity, and serving that deity unremittingly and perhaps exclusively.
Our veneration of our planetary progressional Deity is a matter of maintaining our sentience to the architective mode and submitting to the architective dominion at all times, in order to effect an exclusively architective mode of serial meaning.
Unthinking submission to the architective dominion, which is our default condition as denizens of the architective window, is a de-facto veneration of our planetary progressional Deity. Veneration of the cosmic holistic Deity requires a conscious re-directing of our attention to connectivity at the appropriate times.
Of itself, a conscious directing of our attention to connectivity is not necessarily advantageous, neither to us nor to the cosmic holistic Deity. However, connectivity is awash with patterns. We can use the sensibility it affords us to expand our awareness of any ambient connective patterning and to harmonize our senses and actions with it. In doing so we may sometimes harmonize with patterns of great connective profundity, with patterns that echo throughout the cosmic connective system, and even with expressions of the cosmic holistic Deity. It is these moments of personal integration into cosmic connectivity that we experience as epiphanic.
The combative nature of our planetary progressional Deity constitutes a hazard for those who consciously direct their attention to connectivity or employ a connective mode of sentience or seek to redress the imbalance of architectivity and connectivity in their lives, for though such tasks would be supported by the cosmic holistic Deity, they would be opposed by the much stronger planetary progressional Deity. A pursuit of connectivity is not without risk.
It is interesting to note that from this perspective both our own human sentiences and those of these deities are features of the material world. Our own sentiences, whether architective or connective, emerge from what might be otherwise dumb functional organisms while the sentiences of our hierarchical deities emerge from our own. The sentience of the cosmic holistic Deity is an apprehension of the cosmic connective system of the material world while that of the planetary progressional Deity is a narrative occurring within in the material world. The sentiences of these deities did not preceed the material world. From this perspective, the fundamental forces of physics are dumb natural spirits, the phenomena of connectivity and the architective constraining thereof are dumb natural spirits, the entire basic material universe is itself a dumb natural spirit while all sentiences, even spiritual sentiences, have arisen in it.
We may also regard our own connective sentience as a visage of the sentience of the cosmic holistic Deity and our architective sentiences as irredeemably separate but orchestrated by the sentiences of architective deities.
Regarding spirituality in terms of connectivity and architectivity permits a resolution of some age-old questions. For example, the essential hiddenness of holistic spirits and the internal imperceptibility of hierarchical and progressional spirits may explain why spirituality has always been so thoroughly hidden, while a cosmic holistic spirit coexisting with localised architectively active spirits makes sense of our urge to a unitary spirituality while following a multiplicity of different religions.
These questions can of course be dismissed by regarding spirituality as hallucinatory or as an intellectual misconception. Such dismissal is generally based on the absence of certain and repeatable proof of spirituality. But we have seen that in the connective mode of serial meaning the concepts of certainty and exact reproduction are meaningless, so a denial of spirituality based on the absence of repeatable proof values only the architective mode of serial meaning.
It is interesting to return to the distinction made much earlier between encounters in which there is no differentiation between cause and an effect, such as occurs as mutual encounters facilitated by the fundamental forces of physics, and encounters in which some objects can clearly be distinguished to be causes and others effects.
Consider that the line-up of objects going into, and those coming out of, an architective event will not be the same. Some objects will have been disrupted and/or some will have been created. This distinct before-and-after difference allows the definite identification of the objects that went into the event but did not come out and those that came out but did not go in, as being either causes or effects of the event. The definite before versus after distinction also gives us a specific direction to the event.
Contrarily, consider that the line-up of objects going into and those coming out of a connective event such as a meeting of waves or an integration of connectives does not change. Sure their arrangement and the visages thereof may change but there are no new objects created and no old ones have disappeared. No identities have changed. No object can definitively be said to be the cause of the event and none can be said to be the effect – all the participating objects, visages or waves, are both causes and effects – that is, the event is causally mutual. As well, depending on how the play of visages works out, it may not even be possible pin-point what has been changed by the event so it may not even have a direction.
Many physicists and chemists assert that everything can ultimately be described in terms of the four fundamental forces of physics, in the sense that understanding the fundamental forces of physics allows us to understand the behaviour of atoms which then allows us to understand the behaviour of molecules which then allows us to understand the behaviour of biological cells which then allows us to understand the behaviour of people, and so on. This line of thinking is known as ‘upward causation’. Upward causation can be described in terms of this discussion as architective constraints on the fundamental forces giving rise to sub-atomic objects, the architective interactions between these giving rise to atoms from which molecules emerge and so on. The physicists and chemists assertion can be understood in terms of rising levels in an architective hierarchy.
But many biologists say that we cannot understand human intelligence and free will in this way. They argue that upward causation must be complemented by a downward causation, one in which a person’s mind or brain can control its own organs such as its hands and feet. In terms of this discussion, the downward causation that biologists propose can be seen in the control and organization that higher level objects in an architective hierarchy impose on the lower levels of their hierarchy.
Perhaps more significantly, this discussion has demonstrated that both upward and downward causation are relevant only within architective contexts. In a purely connective context there is no direction to causation at all.
Questions of justice require that someone or something can be identified as the perpetrator or cause of a crime. In a purely connective context identifying a cause is not possible. The concepts of justice, guilt and punishment are relevant only within architective contexts.
What about crime? What about Good and Evil? Certainly moral values can be architectively codified in a system of justice or social convention, but what about in the vagueness of purely connective situations? I personally believe in a cosmic holistic Deity that has a preference for harmony but does that mean that turbulence is morally wrong? Is there an absolute morality of what is right and what is wrong? Unless one is an adherent of a religion, its morals would appear to be arbitrary. For 17th century Europe, the realization that the morality of the Judeo-Christian religious complex was dogmatically defined rather than an absolute tenet of reality was traumatic for that society. Since then the prevailing opinion of Western philosophy has been that there is no absolute morality.
Of course there are moral consequences for us in our choices of action, for example we may act with regard to charity and propriety rather than self-interest and deceit, but these are morals of our own making rather than morals imposed by reality itself.
As I see it, the connective and the architective modes of meaning themselves do constitute absolute moralities, in that we are required, as an absolute condition of reality, to act either with regard to architective serial meanings such as stasis, certainty, and control, or to act with regard to connective serial meanings such as flexibility, uncertainty and interference – and their consequences may be contradictory.
For purely connective and architective deities there is no such moral choice, for connectively unimodal deities would necessarily follow the connective morality while architectively unimodal deities would necessarily follow the architective morality. But humans are sometimes faced with having to choose between an action whose serial meaning is architective and one whose serial meaning is connective, and when their serial meanings are contradictory there is a moral significance in their choice. Every time we choose between an action whose serial meaning is architective and one whose serial meaning is connective, we actualize only one serial meaning and we are then personally responsible for having chosen the narrative – and absolute morality – of the serial meaning that manifests in our locality. If, in addition, these meanings were significant to a deity, our choices would have spiritual consequences as well.
Not understanding that we have such a choice, and actualising the architective morality by default of the architective dominion is also, for me, a moral failing (but in this case a human moral rather than an absolute one). I am not implying that choosing the architective rather than the connective morality is a moral failing, only that doing so habitually or unthinkingly is, for we have the sentience to choose and the intelligence to discern between them.
The human moral pickle is thus far more piquant than that of any unimodal deity, for while they may have choices within their absolute moralities, say between construction and destruction for an architectively unimodal deity, they only have choices within their own moralities. We on the other hand may have similar choices within each absolute morality, but we may also be able to choose between absolute moralities, and whichever absolute morality we choose we are then guilty of neglecting the other. Choosing between these absolute moralities requires a moral balancing act of which the gods have no inkling.
Even though as humans we are pressured by the architective dominion to prioritize our own welfare above that of others, we do not need to do so in order to comply with the architective morality, for within that morality we may validly choose to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of a greater cause. That is not the case with a topmost hierarchical deity, for there are none greater than them in their hierarchies. The architective morality as it applies to a deity at the very top of its hierarchy has no place for self-sacrifice.
In the light of an understanding of connectivity and architectivity, propositions of all-powerful and all-knowing deities can be seen to be misleading.
A cosmic holistic Deity, universal as it may be, would be limited, for the serial meaning of architectivity would be beyond its comprehension. Furthermore, a purely connective deity could influence but not control outcomes. Connectively unimodal deities, cosmic or otherwise, would be riders of change much as we are, adventuring in an uncertain universe. Connectively unimodal deities, cosmic or otherwise, would be neither omniscient nor omnipotent.
Architectively active deities, on the other hand, might be omnipotent, but only within their hierarchies. They too could not be omniscient for there is a world of connectivity beyond their comprehension.
Autonomous, conscious organisms such as humans, though subject to hierarchical control, may be rebellious. We may have opportunities to switch from one hierarchy to another, say by changing religions. Perhaps more significantly we may choose a connective activity over an architective one and thereby disregard the primary directive of our planetary progressional Deity. So architectively active deities too, would be riders of uncertainty, but reluctant ones. They’d rather constrain the world to the certainty of their control and to the wishful certainty of their own permanence.
From the perspective of this book, our deities are of this world and parameterized by the same physical principles that we are. They, like us, are players, albeit grander players, in the natural free-for-all that is the universe. There is no designer of the underlying physical principles. Whatever these principles happen to be, spiritual sentiences arise from and play with them just as we do.
From the perspective of this book, the idea of a Creator of the universe is a contradiction in terms. The creative process by which new objects emerge into existence is an architective one and therefore limited in scale to isolated, non-universal occurrences.
While the idea of a universal but non-creator God is feasible from this perspective, it is not feasible as an all-encompassing Godhead (even as advanced by the proponents of non-duality), since a godhead that is universal would necessarily be purely connective and therefore not encompass architective meaning. To a god that does not encompass architective meaning, the concept of exact enumeration and therefore of a very specific singleness is meaningless.
From the perspective of this book, any idea of a single all-encompassing Godhead or a Creator of the universe is a myth.
Though not a moral necessity, this book reveals a need for us to relieve the architective dominion of our lives. Our preoccupation with architectivity condemns connectivity to a subconscious background of our awareness while we actually have a need to consciously negotiate both modes. Directing the bulk of our conscious attention to architectivity results in an imbalance in our psyches which we are unconsciously motivated to redress.
Even when individuals recognize their overwhelming architective preoccupation, attempts to consciously explore connectivity have to be mounted in the face of an enormous social inclination to repress them (and from my personal perspective, a pointed discouragement from our planetary progressional Deity). Nor does an exploration of connectivity bring any architective benefit, while explorers have little to show for their effort, making social recognition very difficult. Religions often attempt to offer a haven from architective pressures where connectivity can be addressed, but their havens are limited by the confines of their dogma. These limitations may be far more severe than the havens they offer, so while initiates may be drawn to a religion by a promise of unconditional love, for example, they may then be shackled into its exclusivity, its dogma and its authority.
Where then can we turn to broaden our connective participation? The quietude of meditation is a tried and trusted technique for tuning one’s attention to the connective subtleties of one’s own breath and blood flow. Nature offers a wealth of connective entertainments in the play of wind and leaves, the dissolution of clouds and the interlacing of waves on a beach. Human interactions like song and dance offer opportunities for connective play. Music offers a cavalcade of connective patterning while our sense of touch, especially when reciprocated with a loving partner, can open orgasms of connective sensation.
A mindful pursuit of connectivity, even when balanced by a healthy respect for architectivity, isn’t going to make one wealthy. All that can be expected from the experience, apart from the value of the experience itself, is a greater appreciation of life, a contribution to the profundity of connective spirituality and a greater awareness of one’s participation in it.
Many people turn to drugs as a means of overcoming the architective dominion. This is justifiable in terms of the suggested need to bring connective experience into consciousness and is a reason why drugs can be so attractive. Interpreting the drug experience in this way suggests that compulsive drug use can be alleviated by accepting it as a valid means of connective exploration when accompanied by an awareness of the necessity of maintaining one’s architective capacity as well. Drug use that cannot be appropriately moderated can then be seen to be self-defeating. Enforced prohibition leads to a rebellious rejection of all architective behaviour by many drug users, including a rejection of the risks of cleanliness, dosage or even survival. Perhaps more can be achieved by assisting the re-habituation of a drug abuser to an architective sociality that permits careful drug use, rather than to one dominated by prohibition.
The question of architective compliance is a complex one for us. We are usually so conditioned that our own choices only echo those of our architective organizers. Even when we are rebellious, the choices we usually discern are between one architective motivation and another – such as a switch from one hierarchy to another or between construction and destruction (as good vs evil). No matter which we choose, the result is likely to be architective. It is only when we choose a connective activity over an architective possibility and thereby interrupt the architective mode of serial meaning that we are seriously rebellious.
I am not advocating a single-minded pursuit of connectivity. Our reality is dominated by architectivity and there is nothing we can do or say to avoid it, no matter how much we may dislike many of its facets. Any attempts to suppress our architective natures would result in an equally unhealthy psychical imbalance.
When presented with an unavoidable architective obstacle, our natural reaction is to try and forcibly overcome it, to disrupt it so that we will be free to penetrate it and perhaps harness its constituent objects to our cause, if that is our intention.
But there is another, subtler way to achieve this (though it is not always appropriate). If instead of attempting to apply overwhelming force to break an object, one sublimated it instead, applying only a very small force, one that was so small as to not challenge the internal constraints of the obstacle. The obstacle is therefore not perceived as a whole and its constituent objects respond instead. While this approach may not have very dramatic effects, if the sublimating force carried a vibration the constituent objects could connectively mimic the vibration and any signal it carried, while the obstacle as a whole remained unaware of, unresponsive to and possibly unthreatened by it.
I have found, for example, that touching someone who is agitated – say by holding their hand – sometimes allows a gentle bodily vibration of my own to calm them down and assist their agitation to subside.
Meditation can also be understood in these terms – that as one eliminates extraneous factors from one’s consciousness and allows one’s mind to calm down, the gentler mental vibrations that arise can sublimate one’s own body so as to allow one to experience one’s body in purely vibrational and connective terms.
The influence of a holism at any spatial position is always less than that of the nearest participating objects of its connective as well as being less than any architective influences in that vicinity. The cosmic holistic Deity, being so very mild, is therefore capable of sublimating every and any object.
Religious endeavour is often couched in a dichotomy between spirituality and materiality, where the defining element of spirituality is the absence of material substance. The great religions variously describe a spiritual deity living in a separate non-material world with the power to intercede in our material world, and it is to such a non-material world that we might proceed after death. The esoteric religious sects remove the separation and say that the spiritual world is coincident with the material world and is directly accessible by the living. This regime suggests that the spiritual world is neither separate nor non-material, just hidden.
The esoteric sects, in their search for directness of spiritual experience, tend to overshoot the mark. They teach that the human psyche is swamped by material distraction to the point that we are unable to perceive the spiritual world. They promote techniques that assist devotees to recognize their psychological attachment to these distractions, which gives the devotee the power to see through them. Their ultimate aim being to eliminate all material distraction until one cannot but perceive the spiritual world. In deeper and deeper self examination, the devotee reveals and overcomes his/her attachments to wealth, pleasure, status, family, ego and even life itself, in pursuit of freedom from materiality. From the point of view of this discussion, these techniques for overcoming material distraction are well suited for overcoming architective distraction as well. However, not all material experience is architective. Overcoming the architective distractions of wealth, status and ego are indeed helpful in bringing connective experience into consciousness, but denying connective sensation, pleasure and life itself is to throw the baby out with the bath water.
A physical basis to spirituality does not preclude a post-mortal spiritual participation. Relinquishing expectations of a graduation to a separate non-material world after death does not necessarily imply an absence of post-mortal spiritual participation, and need not be a cause for concern. The material world hosts pattern in vast profundity whether we are alive or dead. As living beings we are both architective narrative organisms and visages of the cosmic connective system, enjoying both architective and connective meaning in material pattern (though our connective appreciation is largely eclipsed by the architective dominion). Our bodily deaths (and those of every architective organism) involve only the end of our local architective participation and sentience, while our connective sentience to the material patterning of the cosmic connective system continues, now free of the architective dominion, as a visage of the cosmic holistic Deity.
Many religions teach that our suffering is a result of our own immorality, a neglect of our spirituality or our ignorance of some absolute truth, while many non-religious people put it down to our stupidity. All these outlooks involve a guilt on our part. From the cosmic standpoint of this discussion, though we are responsible in some part for our own suffering, by far the major contributor is the accident of our placement in the figurate window and our consequent architective dominion. Most of our suffering is not of our own making.
Though they may aim to alleviate our suffering, architectively active religions prioritize their own well-being above our own. Hierarchical and narrative deities control us – our prayers do not control them. Holistic deities neither understand our architective dilemmas nor are they able to assist architectively.
From the point of view of this discussion, devotion to a deity or the following of a religion cannot bring us salvation from bodily suffering while we yet have bodies that are architectively vulnerable. No matter how assiduously we follow a dogma and no matter how ardent our devotion to a deity – of any kind – we remain subject to bodily demise. Our only successful recourse has been to our own technological skill and political civility.
We are also vulnerable to connective, non-bodily suffering in the sense of storms and turbulence in our connective interactions with our environment and dissonances in our interactions with each other. Our darker moods may also reflect discomforts among our connective spirits. In these situations a holistic deity may well be able and even inclined to assist us while architectively unimodal deities would remain blind to our emotional distress. We are also less likely to be aware of these discomforts, thanks to our architective preoccupation and to our social customs providing architective channels that constrain or distract from their impact.
Death is a salvation from bodily suffering but at the cost of our architective existence, though from an architective point of view death is a loss and not a salvation. It is a salvation from a connective point of view because our prior connectivity continues, having subtle repercussions through the cosmic connective system and perhaps manifesting in different visages. Death as a salvation comes to us all, regardless of our architective identities, regardless of whether we were devoted to a deity or followed a dogma, regardless of our achievements or failures in life, regardless of our preparation for death or disregard of it, and regardless of the moral choices we made while alive. Connectively speaking, we are all saved.
Architectively speaking, we are spiritually helpless.
So what can we get, here, now, from an active pursuit of spirituality?
I won’t even consider the misinformed promises of eternal life or god-given material wealth (though our planetary progressional Deity may exploit these expressions of our spiritual and material greed).
Certainly there are immediate psychological and social benefits to participating in a religion, particularly valuable for people who would otherwise be lonely. But spiritual benefits? Well yes, these benefits could be regarded as spiritual if the religions themselves are regarded as hierarchical spirits. These psychological and social benefits are indeed the benefits of submission to their authority.
Would we benefit in any way from appeasement of our planetary progressional Deity, primarily by refraining from connective activity? I think not. But we would avoid being victimized for not refraining from connectivity. This we do anyway when we accept the architective dominion unquestioningly.
Do we benefit in any way from consciously choosing a connective activity at moments significant to the cosmic holistic Deity? My own experience is yes – at such moments I have experienced a hugely increased sense of empathic harmony with my environment, with other people and with the cosmic holistic Deity. Do these moments have any long term benefits? Probably not. It is the kiss itself, the profundity of the moment, that counts.
Even without looking to spirituality and religion, this discussion suggests that our suffering is inherent in the scale of the world we live in rather than being a moral or intellectual failing of humankind (though these failings do exacerbate it). Not only our suffering, but our personal and social dichotomies, our knowledge systems and our spiritual speculations all reflect the figurate scale of our presence in the cosmos. Outside our little corner of scale, the pressures of existence are meaningless. This discussion has compared the finite reach of architectivity to the universal reach of connectivity, giving us a larger perspective of our place in the cosmos. It has highlighted the natural bias towards architectivity within the window of scale that is our home, hopefully enabling us to be more conscious of our choices and to work towards redressing the imbalance.
This discussion has pointed out the immense effectiveness of architectively active spirits and deities while the influences of holistic spirits and deities are subtle in the extreme, having little or no architective effect at all and likely only to become noticeable in the absence of architective forces. Every societally motivated act we make is controlled and organized by the hierarchical spirits of our society, while every physical architective act we make (such as putting on a pair of shoes) is dictated by natural architectively active spirits (such as which shoes fit our feet). The complex architective contestations between (the hierarchical spirits of) corporations and governments may put people who don’t even know each other at war. On the other hand, the milder relevance of holistic spirits and deities is in the subtlety of their play (which we can access through activities such as meditation) and in their possibility for grandeur beyond the limited scale of architectivity (as revealed since the invention of the telescope). Understanding the architective ineffectiveness of holistic spirits and deities could also avoid them being used as bait for architectively active religions.
I have highlighted our architective spiritual helplessness. Can we cope without architective spiritual salvation? Of course we can – many people don’t even look for it – but an absence of connective satisfaction is a recipe for depression.
Conscious experiences of cosmic connectedness offer occasions when everything appears absolutely worthwhile, but these experiences are extremely rare. Yet the grand and subtle thrills of connectivity that they bring to the fore would be available to us even in a mundane state of mind were we to recognize and pursue them. Our possibilities for connective satisfaction may be severely limited by our architective constraint and we are distracted from connective adventure by a very pointed architective dominion yet our connective possibilities can never be entirely eliminated. Even under the severest constraint there is room for connective exploration through a keener appreciation of the opportunities of connective subtlety. We can find value in our lives by dodging the architective bullets as best we can, without hope of salvation, while finessing the connective opportunities that do arise and stealing the occasional kisses.
With this strategy in mind, I consciously choose a connective behaviour whenever an opportunity arises rather than habitually taking the architective default. I give the architectively active spirits of my environment, my planet and my society due respect for my survival depends on them. I take pleasure in appropriate architective complexity and avoid architective destruction. I avoid unnecessary architective encumbrance for it often prevents connective participation, and profundity in connective participation is my gateway to the infinite. By accepting the unavoidability of the architective dominion I avoid apportioning blame, to myself or to others. I understand the inescapable suffering of the architective condition and offer support to (and accept support from) others in this condition. I develop and maintain empathic relations with my peers, for they offer direct participation in the profoundest connective adventures.
A kiss to you, helplessly, from Mike.
My experiences with psychedelic drugs have significantly informed this perspective. Direct spiritual experiences such as they often sometimes make available are otherwise rare under normal circumstances. When we do occasionally intuit a spiritual presence what is to say that we aren’t guessing? We cannot prove them to ourselves let alone to others. Yet a sense of being at one with the universe, of identifying oneself with a cosmic consciousness, is a common report from psychedelic explorers.
Earlier I mentioned drugs as a means of overcoming the architective dominion. My own experience suggests that even a mild psychedelic like marijuana offers an enhanced appreciation of connective subtlety while a major psychedelic like LSD offers opportunities for profound connective exploration not otherwise available.
I explain psychedelics to myself in terms of connectivity and architectivity as follows:
I suspect our minds have an operating frequency or mind speed, much like computer CPU’s have a clock speed, setting the maximum rate at which we can sample our environment. Anything in our environment changing at a rate faster than our mind speed cannot be adequately sampled for us to perceive all its changes. For example, if my mind can take samples at a rate of say 100 samples per second I could clearly perceive signals in my environment changing at a lower rate of say 25 changes per second but I would not be able to distinguish all the details of a signal changing at say 300 changes per second. According to this idea, the range of detail I could clearly perceive would be widened if I could increase my mind speed to say 1000 cycles per second.
An increase in mind speed implies more than a widening of one’s range of sensitivity to change, for there may be patterns in the changes and widening the spectrum of one’s sensitivity also means being better able to distinguish the patterns, being able to see more patterns, and being able to discern patterns in the patterns. In other words, a widening of one’s range of sensitivity to changes can be accompanied by a deepening appreciation of both architective complexity and connective subtlety.
I see that one’s mind speed is not fixed. Many factors affect it, such as genetic predisposition, training, diet, comfort and mood. I believe that my experience of meditation has developed a capability to voluntarily flex my mind speed to some degree, while psychedelic drugs appear to forcibly induce mind speed changes.
In the case of meditation or a minor psychedelic like marijuana the experience is quite manageable. A modest increase in mind speed allows one to perform conceptual architective manipulations at a higher rate. Language and mathematics can proceed more quickly. Architective ideas can progress more quickly, conceptions of control can be realized more clearly, and strategies for contestation can be thought out more comprehensively. An increase in mind speed also increases my sensitivity to connective subtlety and allows me to be aware of and manipulate ever slighter amplitudes of interaction, thereby also allowing architective constraints to be more easily sublimated.
A major psychedelic like LSD propels one’s mind speed so far beyond normal experience that the flood of new information renders one’s usual mental controls ineffective and conscious conceptual architective manipulations become difficult if not impossible. The experience can be terrifying until one adapts to the impossibility of maintaining one’s mental architective controls. One’s connective experience is not based on maintaining control and the increase in connective information is much easier to cope with. LSD is so powerful a psychedelic and our connective capacity so fluid that one’s appreciation of connective subtlety may become sufficiently fine as to allow a conscious awareness of the cosmic connective holism.
Even with only a modest increase in mind speed, the architective advantages can be overshadowed by a much larger increase in one’s connective sensitivity, thereby diminishing the architective dominion of one’s consciousness. Psychedelic drugs can be a powerful tool for overcoming the architective dominion. However, our hierarchical deities do not take kindly to activities that diminish their authority and will employ what social interdictions they can to prevent such practices, while our planetary progressional Deity will go to extraordinary lengths to distract psychedelic explorers from relinquishing their architective sentience, primarily by organizing situations demanding attention be paid to architective affairs. Opportunities for distraction can be reduced by preparing a quiet setting for the psychedelic session to take place.
We must also consider that one’s mind speed may serve as a reference frequency against which other vibratory signals are compared, and this comparison can result in subjective feelings that contribute to one’s mood. Other vibratory signals may also interfere with, and possibly resonate with, the frequency of one’s mind speed. Changing one’s mind speed may therefore change one’s subjective experience of the external world, and different mind speeds, perhaps achieved by ingesting different classes of drugs, could display quite different subjective effects.
Even in our normal states of mind we would each likely have different mind speeds, and have different subjective experiences of the world while sharing a common objective reality. I suspect that one person would find another more empathic when their mind speeds match or harmonize. Perhaps a feat of great art is to tune the mind speeds of an audience to that of the artist.
In the early days of the psychedelic subculture, no guidance to the psychedelic experience (other than prohibition) was offered by any of the western religions or by western science, while Hinduism and Buddhism appeared to offer not only an understanding of cosmic consciousness but very detailed roadmaps of how to do it. In particular, they offered spiritual practices that would allow one to develop one’s consciousness to be permanently cosmic rather than having to rely on the ingestion of a strong psychedelic to provide a temporary experience. Besides, drug ingestion did not guarantee a cosmic experience every time, each journey involved an uncomfortable battle with one’s ego, a drug induced high was considered unnatural, and the forces of prohibition were intense. In the 1970’s many westerners sought out a guru from the east who could provide them with a permanent, natural, legal high.
This discussion suggests that an experience of cosmic consciousness is meaningful only in a purely connective context, as a participation in the cosmic connective system or engagement with the cosmic holistic Deity. Although normal architective bodily function continues during the experience, it does not contribute to its significance. In fact, the battle with one’s ego could be regarded as the difficulty of overcoming the architective dominion of one’s mind so completely as to allow the attainment of a purely connective consciousness.
A state of permanent cosmic consciousness, being purely connective, would not feature any architective awareness at all so we could not perform the conscious functions needed to maintain our architective sociality and possibly even those conscious behaviours needed to maintain our bodily function. To continue as functioning architective organisms we would need to regularly come down from the purely connective consciousness to manage our bodily architective needs.
The Hindu and Buddhist idea of a spiritual development by which one’s consciousness gradually becomes more cosmic until there is no ego consciousness left means that to achieve its end of permanent cosmic consciousness one must also be willing to forego one’s architective existence. So although these religions offer an understanding of cosmic consciousness they are on a par with western religions in the sense that their promises of salvation also come at the price of one’s earthly existence.
Cosmic consciousness as a human, earthly experience requires that we continue to consciously negotiate the architective dominion between temporary bouts of cosmic consciousness.
This discussion has also been significantly informed by my use of the Oracle of Love (website and ebook). It has relevance for users of the Oracle of Love in that it it offers insights into some of the philosophy underlying that work.
The physical mechanism whereby users of the Oracle of Love cast their hexagrams is a random toss of coins. The instructions for using the Oracle specifically state: “The essence of the oracular procedure is chance, so the tossing of the coins must be free of all conscious control. That the fall of the coins be totally unpredictable is the only condition on the use of the Oracle.” This reliance on randomness ensures that architective serial meaning plays no role in which way up the coins fall.
The hexagram interpretations of both the Oracle of Love and the I Ching on which it is based laud the virtues of being flexible. For example, both regularly praise the ability of water to flow around any obstruction. However, the I Ching also reflects a Confucian liking for strict social structuring of family and state which the Oracle of Love does not. In fact, the value of the Oracle of Love is its much stronger focus on connectivity. The absence of architective serial meaning in both the casting of a hexagram and its interpretation means that the Oracle of Love refines the connective meaning out of a situation, allowing us to judge our situations in terms of both the more obvious architective dominion as well as the connectivity whose subtlety we are likely to overlook.
The Oracle of Love significantly differs from the I Ching in another important respect – the Oracle of Love acknowledges that it is not omniscient while the I Ching does not. My many years following the I Ching as a spiritual guide showed it to have a blind spot. While its messages were often uncannily relevant to my experience, it also appeared to take no interest in some experiences that were of major significance to me. I put great effort into trying to delineate where and when its messages were relevant and the result that I came to was that it had a tight focus on love. With this realization I developed the Oracle of Love in which all matters other than love receded into a background.
In a commentary to the Oracle of Love I warn: “The Oracle is not all-seeing. I have found that there are many situations it is blind to, as if its world does not coincide exactly with our own. Its preoccupation with Love appears to be out of step with our own overwhelming experience of material suffering. It does not understand any of our socially developed institutional structures and imperatives, in much the same way as a baby does not. It cannot respond to culturally based humour, or take account of social convention, or negotiate the intricacies of business and politics. One should be aware of these limitations when accepting Oracular advice. But, like a baby, it is very sensitive to direct sensual and emotional engagement.”
I continued to search for a more precise context of its relevance. In another commentary to the Oracle of Love I explore the relationship between Yang and Yin. I describe how Yang provides the motivation for things to change while Yin allows the changes to occur. The image given is of Yang initiating a constant stream of initiatives which Yin cannot but accept. I describe how Yin’s willing acceptance of an initiative can result in a fluid sinusoidal oscillation which the Oracle regards as “great”, while a reluctant acceptance results in the confinement of an initiative within static boundaries, which the Oracle regards as “obstructive”. It is the fluidity of the sinusoidal oscillation that forms the basis of the Oracle’s concept of Love (and to which most of its hexagrams are devoted) while the obstructive result appears to hold little interest for the Oracle.
That static, neglected, obstructive result germinated the idea of architectivity. From a mental image of a motion that is hyperbolically confined within a fixed range as opposed to a sinusoid in a continuous flow, I eventually envisaged the entire suite of architective behaviours. I could then see that the philosophy of both the Oracle of Love and the classical I Ching favoured the benefits of fluidity and flexibility over stasis and certainty. It also resonated with the idea of the I Ching as a “Book of Changes” rather than say a book of fixed laws (as many religions are), and appeared to validate my removal from the Oracle of Love of the Confucian predilection for rigid social structure. The spirituality that the Oracle advocates is a purely connective one.
This, however, is also its weakness, for the Oracle of Love is insensitive to the reality of architective serial meaning. By focussing on the sinusoidal oscillation of Yang and Yin the Oracle effectively misses an entire hemisphere of their interaction.
This discussion also gives a clearer picture of how the word ‘love’ is used by the Oracle, for we can see that the Oracle uses the word in a connective sense. It is used by the Oracle to describe harmonies of motion, feeling and vibration rather than any lasting devotion. An unremitting devotion can perhaps be seen as an architective sense of the word ‘love’. We can see ‘love’ in an architective sense to mean altruism, kindness towards one’s inferiors and using one’s strength for the benefit of those architectively less privileged than oneself, rather than a blind implementation of the architective dominion.
I have just returned from a visit to my friend Pat, having had an insight. Pat has been going through a hard time. She is in her late seventies and has been nursing an ankle she broke when jumping out of a window in order to escape from an orphanage as a child. On the run, her ankle was never repaired and she has been suffering repercussions to her hip and knee from accommodating the ankle for so long.
She has been waiting for surgery on her hip for some twenty months now and is in great pain – and she stubbornly refuses to take any but the mildest painkillers. Living in pain for that long has affected her mental state as much as the physical disability has affected her capacity to get things done.
But this morning she was smiling and laughing in spite of her surgery being postponed once again. Her son-in-law had given her a cheap mobility aid, a sort of chair come shopping trolley on wheels, and she was whizzing around her kitchen nimbly preparing coffee, chucking the odd twirl and bounce off tthe kitchen counter as she went. Even when she stopped, she was gently rocking herself to and fro on the smooth kitchen floor. What a difference this mobility had made to her demeanour. Baby likes to rock – and roll!
It came to my mind while watching this that she had been given an avenue to enjoy some connectivity, in which she could experience and express the subtleties of motion, and that this access had contributed to her positive state of mind.
As the day passed, other examples came to my mind – the pacifying effect of a baby being rocked in its mother’s arms, or rolled around in a push chair or even taken for a drive in a motor car to get it to sleep. We probably have a similar response to dance or music generally. Even the appeal of a motor car – what makes driving a car sexy? What makes driving some cars more pleasurable than others? The variety, responsiveness and speed of their movement – their capacity to indulge in connectivity! In sport as well – some may enjoy the challenge of outwitting an opponent but there is always pleasure in the underlying motion and the avenue it opens to express a connective skill.
Another interesting afterthought: What if scale is itself a dimension independent of space? That is, what if scale was an absolute and separate physical dimension of reality much as space and time are?
Look at it like this: If scale was in some way absolute and independent of space, then at the time of the Big Bang, and for a brief time thereafter, the universe would have been so small that it would have fitted within the scale of the architective window. In that case the universe could have begun as a single architective whole. But with no other objects around, the cosmos of the time would have been devoid of connectivity.
As the space of the universe expanded, it would have got to a size where as a single object it became too large to fit into the architective window of scale and so split into two or more objects that would fit. Subsequently these objects would also have expanded until they too became too large to fit in the architective window, and they split again, and so on. This process of expansion followed by sporadic splits would have continued to this day, delivering the distribution of objects and object sizes we see in the universe today. In the distant future, today’s largest objects (which I think are the rocky planets) would also eventually need to split since space apparently keeps on expanding. Talk of the universe eventually reaching a thermodynamic equilibrium would need to be accompanied by talk of shattering objects in a world of ever-increasing connectivity.
Starting at the first split, the levels of splitting might be evident in the large scale intergalactic structures we see today.
Perhaps each galaxy we see is the remnant of an ancient but single splitting event.
From this point of view, the ‘bangs’ in the unfolding of our universe would have taken place as a sequence of smaller, gradually more scattered bangs, rather than, or in addition to, a single big one at the beginning.
I have made my argument in simple, stark, black-and-white terms in order to convey it more readily. No special cases, no ifs-and-buts were addressed and someone with a knowledge of physics would probably be aghast at my brevity. I ask you please to read between the lines. For example, I have not used the term ‘force’ in its strict physics textbook definition nor should the constraint of a bond be understood to apply only to the distance between its constituent objects – it could well be their momenta or energies that are the subject of their constraint – and so on.
I am happy to address questions you may have by email (my email address is on the title page of this book), and would rather you email me than abandon the main argument, for the argument may deliver overall outcomes that are not dependent on the missing details.
However, there is one matter of detail that I feel should be covered here: I have conveyed the idea that bonds are completely rigid and connectives completely flexible, but things are not quite so simple. Bonds do have some flexibility – but only some.
The main text describes how a bond prevents its constituent objects from participating in external interactions because the bond’s constraints negate the forces of the external interaction. The external interaction then affects the bond as a whole instead of affecting the bond’s constituent objects and perceives the bond as an object in its own right rather than perceiving its individual constituent objects.
Now the constraints of a bond hold its constituent objects to a range of values rather than to a single value, meaning that, if the constituent objects have properties that respond to a particular external interaction, there will always be some response by the constituent objects to the external interaction within the range allowed by the constraints. In this case, the bond does not completely negate the effect of an external interaction on the constituent objects. The external interaction affects both the bond’s constituent objects and the bond-as-a-whole, and perceives both the bond’s constituent objects and the bond-as-a-whole. The bond-as-a-whole only responds to the external force to the degree that it negates the force on its constituent objects. The more that the effect of the external force on the constituent objects exceeds the constraining range of the bond, the greater is its effect on the bond as a whole.
The degree of the negation may of course be so great, or the range of a constraint so narrow, that for all practical purposes, the bond’s constituent objects are comparatively undisturbed by the external interaction and the bond appears to respond fully to the external force. On the other hand, if the constituent objects are significantly affected by the external interaction, then both the bond and its constituent objects are disturbed by the external interaction.
Every perceived object displays a spatial volume from which it excludes all objects that perceive it. So in this case a perceived bond displays a spatial volume of its own (as an emergent property) as well as the spatial volumes of its constituent objects (and perhaps those of their internal objects if they are perceived). The other objects participating in the external interaction are excluded from the spatial volume of the bond-as-a-whole as well as from the spatial volumes of the bond’s constituent objects. In this case the total volume from which the external objects are excluded is neither fixed nor rigid since the the bond’s constituent objects are moving within their constraints. But it is limited to within the bond’s constraints.
We must also keep in mind the alternative scenario for perception of a bond, where if the interaction by which the bond is perceived utilizes a new emergent property of the bond, that is, it utilizes a property that the bond’s constituent objects do not have, then the constituent objects are not affected at all by the external interaction and only the bond is perceived. A bond that is perceived by virtue of a new emergent property is perceived to have a completely rigid spatial volume.
While there may be a degree of flexibility in the spatial volume of a bond, it is only a degree. The group volume of its constituent objects may vary but it is ultimately limited by the bond’s constraints. A bond can never be as flexible as a connective, for in a connective there are no constraints at all, meaning that the flexibility of a connective is limitless while any flexibility to a bond, even when sublimated, is limited.
Objects may participate in more than one interaction simultaneously. It may happen that objects are linked in a network of different interactions rather than all being participants in the same interaction. Though there may be a causal connection between all the objects in a network, the connection between some may be mediated through others. Objects may thus be in indirect rather than direct interaction.
While the constraints of a bond are preventing its constituent objects from participating in one external interaction, they may not be preventing them from participating in another, different external interaction utilising different properties, and in particular may not prevent them from establishing another binding interaction (as long as the multiple binding interactions do not conflict with each other). That is, a bond may also be indirect, where its constituent objects are bound to each other through intermediate bonds, rather than each being bound to every other through the same interaction. An indirect bond is a chain of direct bonds.
An indirect bond too can be perceived to be an object in its own right with its own emergent properties.
But the constraint of an indirect bond is a composite of the constraints of its component direct bonds. The greater the number of direct bonds involved, the more the composite constraint widens. An indirect bond can be very flexible indeed, like a rubber band or a long organic molecule, but its flexibility remains ultimately limited.
An indirect bond can also be regarded as an aggregate of direct bonds, but in this case the aggregate is a horizontal chain of peers rather a hierarchy of superior and subordinate levels. Since an indirect bond can be perceived as a single object in its own right, as a whole it may be a constituent object of another direct bond and reside within its hierarchy, while the whole hierarchy of a direct bond may be just one link in the chain of a larger indirect bond.
As each lower level of an aggregate is perceived by an external interaction (such as in an observation), the constituent objects at each level become identifiable, so the architective hierarchy of an aggregate offers a clearly defined and fixed map of all the direct and indirect bonds in its construction, for however far down the observer is able to perceive. Indirect bonds may be more flexible, but their architectures remain fixed.
An aggregate‘s architective hierarchy can only be perceived to the depth that its constituent objects are perceptible. External observations utilising emergent properties of an aggregate cannot perceive its constituent objects, so the aggregate’s internal hierarchy is not perceptible to them.
This book offers a bridge over the divide between science and religion. It finds all the splendour of our spiritual imaginations here in our physical world, describing a spirituality better suited to today’s wider understanding of consciousness and technology. Science has given humanity a new perspective of the cosmos but we have yet to make the leap of imagination that would let that perspective come alive with a spiritual presence. The author demonstrates how we might find a viable context for spirituality in the physics of our everyday world, a context which not only accords with a scientific outlook but uses science as a guide to what is spiritually possible. The physics is elementary - there are no equations - and relates to our everyday physical experience rather than to counter-intuitive concepts like quantum mechanics or relativity. Spirituality too is dealt with in a very general manner. The book does not propose any new or pseudo-science. It simply views established physical principles from a slightly different perspective so that opportunities for spirituality are not lost. For those following the progress of either science or spirituality, this book is a must-read.