Paths and Lines

 

Manuel de Landa “A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History” Individual paths intersecting, creating a particular history which itself is a braid, track or path. He demonstrates this in geology, chemistry, biology and sociology. He shows how new “things” are brought about by emergent reality. Completely new dimensions suddenly arising from complexity. An example in the coming together of individuals to make societies – which have their own life.  (Of course humans themselves are emergent properties of the cells that constitute them, and the cells of the proteins, the proteins of the atoms etc).

Robert MacFarlane “The Old Ways” A book about paths, their singularities and particular effect on the individuals who stamp them out and tramp them. He brings to life the rich diversity and potential within each of us and in relation to the universes we choose to inhabit.

There is both coincidence and divergence in their writing. Both are academics, of different persuasions certainly, but with an intersecting message. The track shapes the reality, which is at least two-dimensional (the path not the place). The “Old Ways” is dizzyingly beautiful. Prose poetry as amphetamine. MacFarlane affects where de Landa effects.  The “History” is of the head – where “Old Ways” is a potion which jolts your heart and spins the compass by which you travel.

New, higher order spheres of existence are constantly emerging from the web and intersection of our paths. Existence is a braid woven together.

It matters how we travel. Everything is relevant – our thoughts, faiths and relationships – in shaping the emerging collective realities. It is the world of our celtic and anglosaxon forebears (beautifully brought to life in “The Way of Wyrd” Brian Bates, again academically inspired). We are at the same time the Three Sisters, spinning at the foot of the tree Ygdrassil, and sailors charting a course over the warp and weft of the seas of realities that they create, and in the face of the winds that result.

One obvious conclusion is that we should at least travel.

The aborigines have their creation story as songlines made by ancestors running through the dreamtime. Travelling, purposeful motion, is an imaginative act. All of MacFarlane’s achingly vibrant stories – journeys at sea, across and through mountains – arise because he, himself, set out. Contrarily, even if we are stationery, we move. The world turns around us and turns us around. It’s just that we are jostled at hazard by and in the oceans that we occupy. At least when we align ourselves and step forth we create a wave, an impetus which allows the rudder of our boat to have purchase and by which we can steer.

It’s the journey that matters. The destination is our object – our guiding star – which patterns the travel that is our actual existence. We never arrive, because we’re already here. Together. Treading out the path. In a ship. Sailing.

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