Monday, February 29, 2016


The genome.  Then the connectome.  The epigenome.  And now the hologenome, which is the creature plus all the other microbial life forms that cuddle down with us.  Maybe feed on us.  Insert their genes in among the spirals that we thought were only ours, because they were the plan for us.  We think of them as infections but they are elaborations.  The holobiont is the “whole shebang,”  connected and dynamic.  It’s all ecology: the logic of interactions and fittingness.

I suppose we ought to include the molecules we ingest as medicines, escapes, food, and — well, just accidental soak-ups from breathing, bathing, rubbing up against things.  This is an Age of Inclusion despite our complaints and rejections, our attempts to insist on boundaries.

So the docs talk about leverage, probiotic epidemics, niches, dysbiosis, protective commensals, and fecal transplants.  Mucus earns a new respect because it harbors so much.  Then there’s the “envirome” where the creature grapples with and seduces what’s around it on every level, including the emotional.  This is why I’m an “everythingist.”

Dr. Stan Rowe, U of Saskatchewan faculty

In 1988 in Saskatoon, Stan Rowe was one of my heroes.  He was proposing this point of view explored by Max Tegmark, as linked below, one of the constant attempts to unite science, religion, and human experience (philosophy included).  I think a lot of people think this way, quietly in order to avoid the yapping opportunist media.  Stan talked about “slices of space/time” and I tried to pass on his thoughts in Sunday sermons.

I copied and pasted these from, in case the US site doesn’t show them.

Home Place: Essays on Ecology, new revised edition  Oct 16 2002  by Stan Rowe

Earth Alive: Essays on Ecology
  Apr 15 2006  by Stan Rowe

Max “the braidman” says, “Some people find it emotionally displeasing to think of themselves as a collection of particles. I got a good laugh back in my 20s when my friend Emil addressed my friend Mats as an “atomhög,” Swedish for “atom heap,” in an attempt to insult him. However, if someone says “I can’t believe I’m just a heap of atoms!’’ I object to the use of the word “just”: the elaborate spacetime braid that corresponds to their mind is hands down the most beautifully complex type of pattern we’ve ever encountered in our universe. The world’s fastest computer, the Grand Canyon or even the Sun—their spacetime patterns are all simple in comparison.”

Articles like these two in make me dizzy with the joy of insight.  Dennis Overbye explains in this linked NY Times article that the ‘zine is a bit of a throwback to a time a few decades ago when there were more magazines like it.


At the time, mostly ’70’s, the one I went absolutely crazy over was “The Sciences” published by The New York Academy of Sciences.  I kept breaking my rule about not hoarding magazines because the issues were both so amazing and so beautiful.  In fact, my use of images on prairiemary is inspired by “The Sciences” though they used contemporary art and abstract impressionist paintings, very sophisticated.  This frame of reference that unites art with science is one of my affinities to Tim Barrus and Aad de Gids. I suppose it’s structuralist and deconstructive at once.  Open to argument and the startling.

Ralph Burhoe, founder of Zygon

These days I admire the online magazine Aeon, which is peripherally connected to through the Templeton Foundation, which gave its very first prize to Ralph Burhoe, then associated with Meadville/Lombard.  We weren’t very appreciative of Burhoe and his magazine.  Maybe because, in Gertrude Stein terms, there was no “there” yet in his attempt to unite science and religion.  In 1980 it was just early "process theology".  My problem was that I never could see the difference between science and religion in the first place and don’t appreciate math at all, but Burhoe loved all that stuff, all the apparatus of thought.

Spencer Burhoe, sexy male model

My complaint about Aeon has been that it’s too Anglican culture-bound.  They’ve never gotten down to the homonin layer because they are always in their pre-frontal cortex hobnobbing with respectable libraries.  I like a little porn in my spirituality.  They manage to talk about generations without ever really getting to full-frontal sex.   Less Buddhism, more Hindu!  More autonomic juice!

This vid is pretty seductive:    It’s Uma Thurman’s dad.  I love the short vids on Aeon.

In the end, in terms of congregations and the paranoid threat of being “religious”, or “institutional” or “dogmatic,” I think — not to worry — but some kind of “denomination” (group with a name, nomenclature) is forming now with many small starts here and there, maybe not understood as religious and maybe not much more than a “house church” that meets in someone’s home.  

Some will consider it “post-Christian” but that’s just because they are as Christocentric as they are anthropocentric.  They don’t frame life in cosmic terms yet.  Or even consider the planetary.  I think this nascent movement is simply a response to the Kuhnian phenomenon of re-organizing thought and belief because of the need to accommodate new information.  

This time it’s pretty extreme because there is so much knowledge and it’s so counter-intuitive.  But I do not think that anyone will be prepared to torture those who refuse to admit that there is a genome.  Well, maybe if they realize it’s a description of how we evolved from monkeys.

Just now in one of those Sharia nations a man who blogged about atheism has been condemned to decades in prison, 2,000 lashes of flogging and a huge money fine.  The people who have the power to do this are showing that they have no power except the power of fear and paranoia.  Their rifle has a barrel that turns back on their own faces.  I doubt they have enough time left in their regime to carry out the sentence to the end.  

Even if they do, their insane reaction will recruit many others to follow the informed man.  That’s the way human culture works.  You can’t resist the whole planet anymore because you can’t put up walls against ideas when people have smart phones in their pockets.  But I ache for the guy.  Like everything else, we’re connected.  Also to the floggers, of course.

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