Yesterday morning, hot sun and hot pavement, I found a dead bee. I can't remember the last time I saw a dead bee - not since I've lived in a city, I guess - and this one was still brightly coloured, fuzzy and fat. I poked it with a piece of leaf for a while. That knot of complexity! The desk my computer is on now looks vulgar in comparison, so vast, so selfish, squatting over a million bees-worth of space, and doing nothing: one piece of the desk is much like another, and the whole like any desk, anywhere. But this bee, white black and yellow, I bet every single element of it had purpose: every particle, every force, every relative position and potentiality of it, oh and more and wider than I have space here to say, all the way down to the substrate of the universe itself. Not like my desk, built on top of all these layers, in the highly stacked and abstracted world of people -- which is, in fact, just like London around me, there at the west end of Fleet Street, a human construction, a deeply nested virtual machine really, that's all it is -- there with our precarious artifact around me, I witnessed a bee, not built on top of reality but part of reality itself. Indivisible from it. A window to the true reality so far from me. "Auspicious event! Going to be a good day" I texted Es, excited. "Not for the bee" she replied. I'm not sure, it's still there, more real than any of us. Thank you, bee!
A few things to say:
Just as important (or more!) as the internals of the bee are its connections [they aren't 'connections' though] with the wider universe, its history, its species history and adaptations to bits [although there aren't really 'bits'] of the environment [although there isn't really an 'environment'], how it's used when it decomposes, the signs it is (its bee-ness) that are imitated by other things, the patterns it follows. And when I say 'purpose' I mean maximally used/intertwingled.
By virtual machines I mean that we've introduced attributes to the universe that aren't there: my desk has a 'whole', it is distinguished from other things. That bee isn't and can't be so divided. We've done this repetitively, and now we live in a world of calcified assumptions/expectations.
What's more, I'm not sure I can sufficiently emphasise the sheer lucidness of the moment: the hot stone pavement, the sun on my back, the leaf fragment between my fingers, the physics of the bee itself being moved by the leaf. All of this more concrete and real and completely there than anything else, and me there with it - in the thisness of now - as real as the single beat of a drum, anchoring the universe to a single here-moment, or as when, as a child, you dug and found, underneath the warm earth, cold dark soil on your fingers.