Found this morning, alone in an unsaved, open text document on my computer:
I have come to a compromise with the leopard. Last night I came home, checked my mail, ate cheese, wrote that and went to bed. What was I thinking? What does it mean?
The leopard is a symbol of nature, but not the green grass and brown cows kind of nature. There's the That's How The Universe Works kind of nature, How Things Happen. Tendencies. Inherent potentials of becoming. The way things fall. I'm reluctant to say processes and I'm reluctant even to say lines of flight, because I'm not talking about a constructed production line, and I'm not just about the individual tendency of an individual thing. There's a kind of commonality between different happenings. Analogies are real things. Okay, here's an example: The edges of X tend to get repurposed by use, the systems expand, and they recentre. This pattern is evident in any X which exhibits evolvability, so we have heat-trapping feathers being used for flying, and exaptive features in public spaces (a wall becomes an ad hoc seat, and is replaced by a real bench). Or another one: long feedback loops tend to get shorter, or to disappear. So you can see that in software and hardware where an single application or computer will be chunked up and commoditised, or get more tightly coupled. Some things are stable, or unstable. There are patterns like loops which generate (metabolic cycle, puffers in Conway's Life), and the generated stuff builds up very slowly and provides a surface (eventually) for something new (chewed up coral by fish becomes sand, eventually becomes an island; oxygen dumped into the air makes an atmosphere). Side-effects don't disappear, in other words. Then there's digestion, another one, the transformation between two meshworks entails a linearisation and dehumanisation in the interim step, which isn't actually a step because it's a period of adding addressibility (whether that's with tags or receptors shapes in the metaphorical stomach or language parsing modules). Entropy is another.
Whatever. Patterns and patterning. The way of the world, from those abstract happenings and tendencies, to human interactions, to very specific things (a small plate so I don't have to wash the teaspoon so often; the fridge door that swings closed because your hands tend to be full; the ability to distribute intelligence leading to something else). That's what the leopard represents. Flow.
We pretend the leopard doesn't exist, so often, that we can make a world of steps and processes and manufacture, edges and borders, industry, abstractions. We think that if we have a map, it's just a matter of walking there. It ain't so; beware the leopard.
The trick's to find the middleground. Don't go with the flow, passively, but garden it. The flow is part of the self. Who was I talking to who told me how fish swim? They use the water around themselves, the vortices and turbulence, they use the properties of the water to propel themselves. They get more than 100% mechanical efficiency because they don't swim through, they just swim.
I think I was wrong last night, because it's not a compromise. It just is. It's a matter of stopping pretending there is a you and there is the leopard, but it's also not pretending that you and the leopard are the same. Things may be distributed, intertwingled, and blurred into one, but that doesn't mean that things individually don't exist (they're still pointable). Being, living, is a matter of doing and thinking against, with and of. Fighting but not fighting. A fish is of the water, and where it goes is a collaboration between the fish and the water, but there's still fish, and there's still water. I'm trying to find that place, and the first step is trying to let go of the right things, and trying to understand. I think that's what it means.