Existence is continuous -- there is no beginning or end because the beginning and end are in the observer, which at this point is us -- “me” -- and I DO have a beginning and end, in fact many of them, overlapping.
The continuousness is interrupted by divisions, boundaries. In the case of “life” in the sense of living creatures, it begins with a vacuole -- that is, a bubble in the flow of whatever is fluid. As soon as there is a bubble there is an “in” and an “out”, so the bubbles can continue on their processing flow separately from the fluid.
The bubble, to keep from collapsing, develops the equivalent of a “mouth”, to take things in. Pretty soon, to keep from exploding, it has to push things out through an “anus”. Then these activities lead to patterning inside the vacuole, which gets more complex until it has to have some kind of plan, which is the nucleus. Now the bubble is a eukaryote: “An organism whose cells contain a nucleus surrounded by a membrane and whose DNA is bound together by proteins (histones) into chromosomes. The cells of eukaryotes also contain an endoplasmic reticulum and numerous specialized organelles not present in prokaryotes, especially mitochondria, Golgi bodies, and lysosomes.”
I watch “CSI Miami”. Even viruses have their little screws of DNA, which are fingerprints that tell us which part of the jungle the HIV and Ebola and Marburg and Lassa came from and when. They can map the progress of smallpox across the North American continent. They tell a whole other genealogical story than the one about a human family with all the little tales that must be hidden or pushed out. Nevertheless, all their instructions are hoarded in some genealogical vortex. Recently someone used a data base of old DNA and discovered that between 10% and 20% of babies decades back did not have the DNA of the recorded fathers. That red-headed mick guy with the knotted up face is always saying DNA doesn't lie.
Even a family has a mouth and an anus. The excluded know they have been separated and pushed away, but can’t tell whether they are really shit or "finished" products. But shit is full of DNA and there are lots of bubbles in the world, vacuoles waiting for a nucleus to power them up.
When one social cycle ends, another has already begun. Some day, when all these wars in the Middle East are over and we’ve run out of iron ore, we’ll go back to collect the ruined battle machinery, nicely arranged by roadside explosions along strips. When the buffalo had all been killed for their hides, the new farmers brought in by the railroads went back to collect bison bones for fertilizer. Almost a century after the Spanish Flu nearly killed my mother, the scientists exhumed someone else's mother far to the north and isolated the DNA of the virus. It wasn't Spanish, nor was it Inuit -- it was American, a product of war.
It took a long time to get telephones into every house. The phone book was a derived tool of great value, and the reverse phone book was useful for law enforcement. Once, it wasn’t easy to get. Now it means little in a world where phones tell you who’s calling before you pick up. The cell phone means you can be anywhere, and there is no phone book because there is no address, but the cell tower knows where you are and puts you on a moving map, which is very useful for law enforcement. Cell phones are throwaways unless they are made extremely valuable collectors of data one needs for oneself, that can control one's belongings over the Internet. Implantable cell phones are coming. Numbers tattooed on arms are useless in a world of sleeve tattoos and where the stigmatized are black -- unless someone invents white ink.
There is another whole world of vacuoles waiting to be filled. In fact, there are many. One kind is social, new groups always forming (because all these things are processes), because they have mouths and anuses, so that the denomination I once found comfortable and nourishing is full of shit to me and I to it. I’m out the back. Where's the mouth of the next movement?
But here’s the next and most precious "eukaryote", always moving ahead in the search -- if it’s healthy: the mind. New understanding in, old useless ideas out. But the bubble's crap detectors may be broken -- they may be eating shit, they may be starving for certain histones (proteins), steps in the process may be missing, creating holes where ideas fall in instead of expanding.
There is a new prototype spaceship just launched with success. Its power is not jet fuel or batteries or even solar panels that change light to electricity. This time the process -- as process -- reached back to the windjammers that coasted across the seas. It sails on solar wind with a mylar sail that uses the great resources of space itself to stretch out.
We have a new creature: the cloud mind. It has a million mouths. So far, very little shit except wiping out privacy. Is it a sail pushing us somewhere?
Back to the eukaryotes: they are capable of partnership, even multiple collaborations so long as they don’t tear through the skins that protect internal circulatory systems from viruses and other infections. We know how dangerous that is. The parallel emotional systems and skins are even more dangerous because they are hard to see. Viruses can be stigma and witchcraft and theologies that seep through the cracks or even penetrate membranes like institutional boundaries or ethnic origin.
I love this kind of rather obscure metaphor crossword play because sometimes it’s so useful in life’s strategies, like reading the I Ching or Machiavelli or Sun Tzu or the Bible. The electricities and secretions of thought start flashing and surging around in the bone palace of the brain.
Soon the UUA will be staging their General Assembly in Portland, OR, where the denomination was created by fusing the Unitarians with the Universalists in 1961 in Portland, OR. They looked different then: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/history The secret not told is that by the Sixties, people had left the farms that sustained small-community Universalist thought so their denomination was going broke. Merging or death. The Unitarians were as arrogant as ever, but as they saw their high-intellectual notions of privilege by character get thin, they began to take their boundaries down. Pull in minorities, women, the disadvantaged, the less educated, the more needy, the sexually freeform. Move out of the historic birth places, put the seminaries online. Now they are doomed unless someone finds a compelling flame-in-the-chalice.
http://www.uua.org/beliefs/history Note how the genders have shifted.
My Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor tried to punish me by assigning me to the neurology ward because he assumed I lived in my head and was a “high brow” who would look down on him unless he put me down first. I’d been down, I’d been around, I’d seen and done things he’d never imagined. There’s a fine line between punishment and education. A hickory stick can be a fishing pole.
So now the small bunch of human entities I value most is pre-occupied with their growing bodies and their shaky relationships in the most direct way: sex, extreme sex, the consequences of loveless sex, the impossibility of making sex replace anything else except reproduction, though you can tinker with that quite a lot. Mouth and anus, mouth and anus. Drugs and suicide. The reproduction of diseases. All diseases are social diseases. Tell that to the Transcendentalists, that Unitarian heresy (because it recognized emotion). So many of them died of TB, including Thoreau.
Street boys are unlikely to write about wilderness and civil disobedience -- their wilderness is the sidewalk, their disobedience refusing to die. Their nucleus? Multiple. They let me have an ear and a voice, which is all I need. I love them for it.