“At the most basic level, we are made of the same stuff as the stars, the trees, the air, the ocean. Having come from the same source, we are all connected in the most intricate ways, both visible and invisible. This belief is expressed by the transposition of objects, the overlapping of transparent images, and by forms that seem to become something else. I’m constantly searching for more effective methods of revealing this mystery.”
– from my artist statement
I often write about mystical interconnection. I refer to it in my blog posts, product descriptions, and even the titles of my art. But I realized that you may be a bit unsure of what I’m talking about. Both of those words leave a lot of room for interpretation, if you know what I mean. Or maybe you don’t know what I mean at all. So I’m going to try to shed some light on my personal understanding of this phrase – in other words, what it means to me – by way of introducing a new piece called Butterfly Effect. Because, to me, it’s not just some vague new-age expression; it really goes to the heart of what I believe and attempt to communicate through my work.
Holistic, or ‘Wholistic’
I call myself a holistic – or wholistic – person, because I’ve come to see that everything is literally connected to everything else. It’s made it very difficult to draw the line, so to speak, between one thing and another. I can’t exactly say when I first became aware of this, but I think Carl Sagan probably had something to do with it.
Through years of personal spiritual experiences, and exploration of scientific ideas ranging from particle physics to ecology, I concluded that science and spirituality are not separate from one another. In The Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra makes a compelling case for the overlap of quantum physics with eastern religions such as Buddhism and Daoism. Gary Zuchov’s Dancing Wu Li Masters explores similar ideas.
Some years ago, I was contacted by Daniel Strain of the Spiritual Naturalist Society. He thought my work fit in well with their vision statement, and after some investigation I became a contributing member. Jay N. Forrest has written a credo for them. It’s his own personal viewpoint, and not an official credo of the society, but I think it helps to clarify what they – and I – believe. “Nature is my Ultimate Concern, evidence is my authority, evolution is my big narrative, expanding consciousness is my real happiness, and working for a wiser and better world is my mission.”
mixed media collage on vintage book cover, 8.5 x 5.5 inches
ingredients: vintage book cover fragment, antique engineering drawings and blueprints, vintage ephemera, image transfer, metallic ink, pressed flowers, stitching
You probably wondered when I was going to get around to introducing my new collage. As a principal I once worked for used to say, “Now, I said all that to say this…” OK, never mind. I think you had to be there.
You may be familiar with the concept of the ‘butterfly effect.’ It is, I think, a very interesting analogy for ‘mystical interconnection’. In a long but fascinating article on the Farnham Street website, it’s described like this:
“The butterfly effect is the idea that small things can have non-linear impacts on a complex system. The concept is imagined with a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a typhoon. Of course, a single act like the butterfly flapping its wings cannot cause a typhoon. Small events can, however, serve as catalysts that act on starting conditions.”
It turns out that the butterfly effect is meant to be an illustration of chaos theory, which was created by mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz. After doing extensive research to find out why linear models weren’t effective in predicting the weather, he found that “without a perfect idea of initial conditions, predictions are useless—a shocking revelation at the time….Lorenz always stressed that there is no way of knowing what exactly tipped a system. The butterfly is a symbolic representation of an unknowable quantity.”
So there we have it. ‘Mystical interconnection’ is actually science.
I made a book about it once:
A Few More Thoughts About Mystical Interconnection
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
— Herman Melville
“There is no clear distinction anywhere on the Earth’s surface between living and nonliving matter. There is merely a hierarchy of intensity going from the ‘material’ environment of the rocks and the atmosphere to the living cells.”
– James Lovelock, What is Gaia?
“Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves.”
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”
~ Chief Seattle
This all-sky view of the entire near-infrared sky reveals the distribution of galaxies beyond the Milky Way. The image is derived from the 2MASS Extended Source Catalog, which contains more than 1.5 million galaxies, and the Point Source Catalog, which holds nearly 500 million stars within the Milky Way. The galaxies are color coded for distances obtained by various surveys.
“A diverse ecosystem will also be resilient, because it contains many species with overlapping ecological functions that can partially replace one another. When a particular species is destroyed by a severe disturbance so that a link in the network is broken, a diverse community will be able to survive and reorganize itself… In other words, the more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more resilient it will be.”
— Fritjof Capra