There's a relatively new branch of evolutionary study known as Emergence, one that focuses on the whys and wherefores of the arrival of completely novel processes in nature. The first novelty, of course, is the manifest universe itself, apparently appearing out of nothing - or at least,, nothing we can currently comprehend - about 13.7 billion years ago. There's a clear series of novel emergences that science has identified arising after that creative leap, from pure energy to sub-atomic particles to hydrogen as the first atom, followed eventually by helium and so on down the periodic table, and much later gas clouds to stars to planets. Each of these stages was the emergence of something new, something never in existence before. And as each of these stages emerged the physical laws that governed them emerged - there was no law of quantum physics before subatomic particles appeared, no law of the behavior of hydrogen before hydrogen appeared, no law of gravity before gas clouds and stars and planets appeared. All of this novelty just kinda happened, one after the other, until after billions of years we had what is known as the physiosphere, the sphere of matter, and all of the laws of physics that hold it together.
And then, at least here on planet Earth, something entirely novel emerged out of the physiosphere - life, and the emergence of what was to become the biosphere, the sphere of life and living systems. How the hell did that happen???? You might remember back 30 or 40 years ago a hot topic in science was the attempt to duplicate the emergence of life from the primordial soup, the optimism that it was most certainly possible and in fact inevitable to create life in the laboratory from chemical processes. Well, guess what? It still hasn't happened, not even close! However, once it emerged here on Laboratory Earth it took off, from single cell organisms to multi-cell organisms, from fish to reptiles to mammals to.....us.
It's estimated that the human brain reached its current level of biological development about 200,000 years ago. What's so interesting about this is that the human brain, though physically developed, was still immersed in the animal world. It had all of the physical potential in our ancestors that you or I have now, yet it remained relatively dormant until that marker I referred to in the last installment of this blog, the emergence of art and other novel developments in human activity about 50,00 years ago that seems to indicate the arrival of human culture on the planet. And with that something novel emerged from the biosphere, namely the noosphere, the sphere of mind.
So here we have a series of nested emergences - from apparently nothing the physiosphere emerged, then somehow here on Earth the biosphere emerged from the physiosphere, then somehow the noosphere emerged from the biosphere. In other words, rocks (physiosphere) to roses (biosphere) to Rumi (noosphere, and for those who don't know, Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet and mystic -I needed an R name). And with the emergence of the noosphere, the sphere of mind and culture and art, an entirely new game-changer appeared - the ability to build evolutionary structures in the realm of the noosphere that in themselves were new emergents, novel and entirely unknown in evolution, through the cultural interaction of humans. What was the agent of this ability? Webs of interlocution, of course!!!!!
Whew....gotta catch my breath here.
Those studying the science of evolutionary emergence usually confine themselves to the physiosphere and/or the biosphere, those aspects of emergence that can at least be contemplated in the realm of material observation. The noosphere, however, is a little trickier. It's abstract, intangible, hard to grasp. It doesn't sit still long enough to be observed in the laboratory. Or so it seems to the empiricist. But to the artist, and to the philosopher, the noosphere is quite tangible, quite concrete in experience. It's where the action is! And I would propose, it's where questions arise, such as...what are we, why are we here, what are we doing here? And of course, why art? Which is why, going back to my original thesis, art and art-making has a deeply moral dimension, and I would now say as well a deeply moral determinant guided by evolution itself, through the myriad webs of interlocution that we create constantly in human culture through the arts and creative acts in all walks of life. And I'm going to suggest here that the creative impulse, through its agent the web of interlocution, is now for humanity the very essence of evolution itself.
And, to pull this whole blog series together (I hope, I hope), I'm going to inquire into how Kundalini, a biological process arising from the biosphere, and creativity, a mental process arising from the noosphere, are somehow intimately connected, somehow part of the same web of interlocution that is evolution itself expressing itself mysteriously, ecstatically, endlessly .
To be continued...