I’ve just finished reading A World of Becoming by political theorist William E Connolly. I’m very grateful to whoever recommended the book – if I could remember who you were, I’d thank you!
I’ve found the book illuminating and re-assuring as Connolly explores some complex relationships between systems theory, philosophy and spirituality. That said, it is so rich, so dense, so multilayered, so exact and so nuanced, I believe I’ll need to return several times to not just ‘make sense’ of it, but to also tune in to the feel of it, the intuition of it.
But in the meantime, I feel moved to share the postlude which resonates strongly with me…
Do you know what the world is to me?
A colossus of diverse energies, without beginning or end, with each flowing over, through, and around others, generating new currents and eddies.
A play of waves, forces, and perceptions on different scales of complexity, endurance, and time, with some swelling as others subside, with perhaps long cycles of repetition, but none that simply repeats those preceding.
You and I are drops in the sea of flows, feelings, and surges, my friend. So, if you die before you wake, well I pray your God your soul to take.
And Yahweh, Hesiod, Jesus, Moses, Sankara, and Buddha? They send out ripples of passion that persist, sometimes flowing into each other, before melting into larger waves.
And that mosquito buzzing around, sensing you as heat, movement, and food? Are you a god to it? A demon?
It, too, perceives, hopes and acts, living long and intensely on its temporal scale and briefly on yours. It too makes a difference, as when it alters your DNA while feeding, or deposits a virus.
As does the the yeast fermenting into the dough.
And those bursts of laughter, bouts of sensual heat, workers’ movements, consumption habits, hurricanes, geological formations, climate patterns, contending gods, electrical fields, spiritual upheavals, civilizational times, species changes, and planetary rotations–they, too, participate in this veritable monster of energies, making a difference before melting down, to be drawn again into new currents, and again.
And the monster itself? It never completes itself, always rolling out and rolling in, with no outside or end-times, like a Möbius strip or Möbius current, never simply repeating, eternally evolving, and dissipating.
A monster that feeds on its own excretions, that knows no joy, existential resentment, weariness, or horror, even as it houses all these, and more.
Many strive and connect to others in such a world, seeking to amplify existential gratitude for the world as they comprehend it.
Others resent either this world or the different account of it they embrace.
That is the world to me. And you, my friend and rival?
What is it to you?