I want you to imagine a science-fiction-like scenario that produces a visual metaphor our place in nature, and, perhaps, something of the actual nature of our intelligence. My hope is to generate some insight and perhaps effect an ongoing correction of a portion of the models we are given and with which we try to understand ourselves. These models are badly distorted and far too impoverished to be habitable, and our minds and intelligence cannot survive them. The models of human identity and function we are given are not only crude, they are crippling, and our cultures are not prepared to show us anything much like our actual nature and potential. But nature is, and, indeed, must.
I would like to suggest that, unless you are uncommonly insightful, you have only a crude idea of what it means to be human because we are not much like -any- culturally celebrated model of ‘humans’ and are, in fact, fundamentally an exceptionally exotic and astonishing phenomenon. The sort of phenomenon we are is affected by what we perceive of it and how we model it, and thus we should take great care not to make choices that become impoverishing rather than effective. What we are is not completely stipulated, and therefore, can never be described. But it can be implied. This ‘toy’ of perspective, may help to ‘re-imply’ something more like our actual biological, intellectual, evolutionary, perspectival, creative, and transcendental identity — and, perhaps, potentials.
I want you to imagine something rather unusual. You are in a transentient (actively hyperintelligent) spacecraft from another dimension. It is not an object. It is approximately a (celestial) teacher-ally, and responds to you as though your awareness and intelligence belong to its own as member-elements.
Obviously, this craft has many unusual capabilities unheard of on Earth. Some of the ‘ways of travel’ it may undergo do not merely involve time or distance… they involve perspective and relation. This vehicle can ‘travel’ in perspectival space, a form of travel that establishes, links, and relates, spatializes, and meaningfully correlates a variety of perspectival vectors in an ongoing cascade whose progression is intimately linked to the changes in your mind and awareness that results from your experience of this mode of travel.
Your adventure begins in space, about one-third of the way to the moon from Earth’s surface. Looking out on the stars and and Earth, you reach down and trace a form on the control surface. You become disoriented as the view transforms unexpectedly. The results are startling; the ship’s shell seems to evaporate, and far beyond it you see a vast, exotically colored and peculiarly layered sphere. Within the layers, which you can see through, there are unusual structures apparent. You are at the center of the sphere, whose surfaces seem distant, and swarming.
What is this? As you begin to adjust your perspective, you are taken through a brief and provocative tour through the sphere’s structures. They are, approximately, layers of organisms organized according to different criteria such as form, relation, evolutionary history, and so on. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that you can change the structural organization or view of the sphere merely by desiring to: that is, by forming a question about the sphere, and/or your relationships with it.
You then realize that the ship is actively eliciting and intelligently manipulating an unusual representation of the entire active structural body of the planet’s organismal resources. It is now functioning as a perspectival vehicle, which allows, or rather causes you to travel within this structure as you would traverse the peculiar possibilities of a living metaphor. You are have become the living focal point an active ‘duplication’ of every existing organism on earth — and they are constellated meaningfully in the structure of the sphere and its ‘orders’ or layers.
The sphere is now a learning-mirror that not only reflects, but directly develops and catalyzes your own intelligence and awareness, moment-to- moment, and represents an active learning prosthesis of unthinkable power and sophistication. What it teaches about is not a subject but the bases of subjectivity, in ways and with means that strongly imply that this sphere is the actual basis, moment-to-moment, of your mind and awareness itself.
From your unique perspective ‘at the center’ you sense as your own the profound implications of the entirety, you begin to understand your own relationship with the endless symmetries of living form, purpose, and relation in otherwise impossible ways. And as these perspectival understandings begin to dawn upon you in cascades, the structure advances the depth of the lessons that it constellates in reply, showing you new and more advanced aspects of its potential purposes, meanings, histories, and implications. It is educating you by your participation in it, and that process is, in turn, modulating the way it structures and relates the orders, elements, and their visually represented relational synergies. Your mind and this sphere are actively inspiring each other’s structural, relational, and perspectival development.
The diversity and depth of the spherical web surrounding you is breathtaking, and alive. Every organism appears to be alive and ‘doing’ whatever it is actually doing on Earth at that instant, but is held in a stable position within a structure whose organizational criteria comprise self-educating perspectives on the relationships of these organisms. At the periphery of the sphere, ‘behind’ the porous wall of organisms, there are the metaorganisms. The ‘living places’ of Earth, which form the foundation of her biocognitive hyperstructure. ‘Above’ these, closer to you, in the ‘space’ between the outer surface of the sphere and the core, where you are, there are layers of life, from the least sophisticated to the most. Above the ‘islands’ formed by the living places are clouds of microlife and tinylife. Then the smallest plants, fungi and organisms. In layers, organized by form and species, you see the entire library of Earth’s living constituents arrayed around you in meaningfully organized ways. But you can change what you see. You can move your arms in ways that highlight any substrate, and demonstrate intensely constellated structural and relational connections amongst the participants, orders and forms.
As you adjust your views, you can see each aspect of the forms of living beings. A question about fishes, transluces all the layers and highlights the fish in question. Another shows their most intimate relationships, and their natures, lighting up more structure, in different orders. Any set of constellations is not only possible, but can be animated through developmental shifts in perspective or aspect.
Your view also easily zooms in and out, highlighting and connotating peculiar relational intricacies, or showing broader, more simplistic aspects of relational and biocognitive integrity. The entire planet’s life, in real time, arranged around you (while still actually existing on Earth), instantly updated for every creature and change. With such a model, you would begin to see how clearly and uniquely you are integrally emergent from this sphere, and that, as in this strange illustration, your actual relationship is more like ‘an instance of the entirety’ than it is ‘an instance of a separate human form’. And as this dawns on you, suddenly, a new mode of connection that includes you in it emerges, and you can directly see the orders of your personal relationship to this web. Other astonishing perspectives follow. Your perspective changes in such a way that the sphere can now either replay or advance time, with the peculiar caveat that doing either affects the structural histories and futures of you and the sphere in potentially unexpected ways. But you begin to see not only the momentary identities and storms of expression that are biocognitive reality, you see the streams of it throughout evolutionary history and the future. what were previously ‘layers’ now have a dimension in which you can travel in time. The ‘temporal body’ is now available.
Suddenly, without warning, your perspective rushes toward the sphere’s most distant layer, passing through all the others, and penetrates it. Now, you are in an unusual mode of space that represents a domain of rarefied relational intimacy. In this mode, worlds appear as floral effulgences in linked nets of lineage and distant yet profound relational synchrony. You are now at the center of a sphere of these constellated structures you you realize that your identity is neither human nor alien. It is entirely nonordinary, and can no more be classified than it can be captured. You survey the expanses, and begin to learn an entirely new array of transits in the extensional metaphor of the relations of organisms throughout timespace. There is an intelligence that is to worlds in timespace as bees are to flowers in a garden. But you will soon return to the world that is the living body of your mind, and then perhaps, to the ship, and your dimly recollected ‘physical distinctness’. Your ‘human body’. Your name. Your cultural identity.
But not for long. Because your own human mind is actually far more than this ship’s relatively modest hints. Not the representation of it, as we examined here, but its living body. And when you begin to discover that, you will immediately realize that representations are, at best, just toys. And they have to be. Because reality is far stranger, deeper, and more unexpectedly intelligent than any or even the sum of the models we may assemble to assist us in understanding and relating with(in) it.