Ecological Awareness (Part 3)


When Alan Watts talked about the ‘mystical experience’ among scientific circles, he preferred to call it ‘ecological awareness’—referring to a state of mind in which a person ceases to feel separate from the environment in which he or she exists.

References:
00:01

In yesterday’s session—two sessions—I covered first the ecological conception of an organism’s relationship to its environment—and thus, of course, of the individual’s relationship to the universe—and I was trying to show you that this is not a question of two systems that are separate, acting upon each other or interacting. It is a question, rather, of a single system of energy expressed with great complexity which is one process, one activity. It is possible to become aware that this is so, not simply theoretically, but as a matter of sensation. And when one becomes aware of it in that way, the feeling is at first curious and is apt to be misinterpreted. It can be felt either as if you were sort of floating—that is, completely passive: not doing anything, not making any exertion of will, but as if all your behavior was simply happening. That is one way of feeling it. Another way of feeling it is the sensation that you are God and making everything happen. These are the polar opposite ways of feeling the same thing. And when people, for one reason or another, slip into this kind of sensation—and it can happen by accident—they may jump to very strange conclusions depending on their background, their religious upbringing—because it is that background which gives them a language in which to express to others and to themselves how they feel. But you must be very clear about this and understand it theoretically thoroughly—just in case this ever happens to you—so that you won’t be accused of being crazy.

02:30

It is not, you see, that your own individual organism is the puppet of everything else, responding to it as a billiard ball responds to being hit by a cue. It is not also that you, as an individual, are an independent source of energy which pushes the world around. Both these views are based on a false assumption that the individual organism is really separate from the world; that’s the false assumption. And we think about this situation by analogy with billiards because Newton thought that way, Descartes thought that way. And Newton and Descartes have molded the common sense of the average person living in the 20th century, even though our science has abandoned the mechanics of Newton—it certainly has in physics, it certainly has in biology. Although I find that, in psychology, people still talk and think in a Newtonian way. That, for example, Freud structured the organism of psychology, of the human psyche, by analogy with hydraulics. So you must call Freudianism a form of psycho-hydraulics: the unconscious is the deeps, sexual energy is represented like the flow of a river which can be dammed up, repressed, it has to be provided with outlets—these are all hydraulic terms. And hydraulics is a form of Newton’s mechanics. Because, you see, in Newtonian mechanics—which is based, really, on billiards—the balls are standing for atoms, and they bang each other around. And so everything is explained, the movement of ball A, is explained by the behavior of balls B, C, D, E, and so on insofar as they impinge against it. And you have to go back, and back, and back, trying to figure out how it all started. Who pushed it first? And who pushed him? You see?

04:57

Well, this model won’t do anymore. Things just don’t behave that way because they are not separate from each other in the first place. This is the point I wanted to make clear in this first round of discussion that we had yesterday: that the differentiation of the world is not separation anymore than when you see many waves on the ocean, they are different waves but it’s all the one ocean waving. And you can’t have half a wave, for example: a wave that is crest without trough. That’s—half-waves are just not found in nature. And so, in the same way, you can’t find solids except in space, and you won’t find space except where there are solids because they are aspects of each other in rather the same way as in magnetism: the positive and negative, or north and south poles, are always found together. You can’t have a purely north-poled magnet. And in order to have a current—an electric current—flowing, it must be polarized. It will not flow until both poles are hitched. So, in the same way, there is a polar relationship between the individual and the world. They are both aspects of a single energy. And so, there is no question of things being controlled, and moved, and pushed by other things as billiard balls are, or billiard balls appear to be from a certain superficial point of view. We’ve just got this huge being—although ‘being’ is not quite the right word because existence is composed of being and non-being, corresponding to solid and space, crest and trough of wave. Because, fundamentally, the energy of the world is vibratory. It’s on and off, and there is no off without on, no on without off. To be or not to be is not the question, because to be implies not to be as much as not to be implies to be. So in the Taoist Chinese philosophy it is said that being and non-being arise mutually. It’s like the egg and the hen: you don’t find eggs without hens, nor do you find hens without eggs. A hen is, as a matter of fact, one egg’s way of becoming other eggs. It all goes together.

08:02

But we don’t see this for the simple reason that we are primarily involved in using a method of perception which is analytic, which spotlights various features of the world and does so with the aid of naming, or giving symbols to, those features of the world which we consider significant and, therefore, ignoring features of the world which we don’t consider significant and for which, therefore, we don’t have names. Haven’t you noticed how often children point at something and say, “What is that?” And you can’t make out exactly what it is they’re pointing at. They are pointing out something they’ve noticed but which adults don’t consider important, and they want a name for it. We don’t have a special word for dry space. We don’t have a special word for the inside surface of a tube. But American Indian languages have such words. Eskimos recognize five different kinds of snow, but the Aztec language has one word for snow, rain, hail, and ice. You can see the geographical reasons for that. So, according to what you consider important, you have names. And according to naming, you identify separate things. But they’re only separate in a purely theoretical way. They’re not materially separate, not physically separate.

09:53

And so it’s immensely important that we become aware of this fact, because if we’re not aware of it we do the most stupid things. We try to solve problems by altering what are only the symptoms of problems. We try, for example, unilaterally to abolish mosquitoes, forgetting that mosquitoes go with a certain kind of environment and play a very important part in it—not to mention other insects which are killed when we kill the mosquitoes. And so, in this way, we are doing things without recognizing that they’re going to have unpredictable results in unexpected places. Same way if you put certain drugs or certain operations in the human organism: you’ve got to be very careful of what you’re doing and you have to study the organism very carefully in order to know what consequences this will have. If you farm in a certain way without due respect for the ecology of the whole area in which you’re working you can get the most appalling results. And, characteristically, our technological civilization is much too heedless of these ecological connections.

11:30

Therefore, in order to overcome our characteristic sense of hostility to the external world—and to stop conquering nature with bulldozers, or conquering space with rockets—we have to realize that the external universe is just as much ourself as our own body. That we have—each one of us—an inside and an outside. And if the inside of your skin is your inside, what is outside your skin is your outside. And the two are inseparable, they are polar. Because you can’t have an inside without an outside or an outside without an inside—except [if] you construct something like a Klein bottle that is a sort of freak. Maybe the universe, as such, is a Klein bottle; who knows.

12:43

However, the second point I was making, which arises directly from this—and this was the burden of the second session—was that this ignorance (or ignore-ance) of the inseparability of all different things goes hand in hand with a bad relationship, or an inadequate relationship, to the material present. I was showing that the material present is the only time there is. Other times—past times, future times—are abstractions; there never is anything but the present. But you mustn’t, of course, think of the present as a split second. That’s an abstract view of the present. You tend to think of the present as a split second because you’re used to looking at a watch, and the watch is marked out with hairlines, and the idea of watchmakers is to make those lines as thin as possible consistent with visibility. And therefore, as the hand sweeps across the hairline, you’ve hardly time to say “now.” And we begin to think that the present is that. Well, of course it isn’t. Present time is rather like the field of vision, where you’ve got, as it were, a fairly clear center: the field of vision is an oval and you can run your fingers ’round it just at the point where they start to become invisible. And you realize that the edge of the field is fuzzy. And so, in the same way, we have a vision of movement in time as having fuzzy edges. Just as when you are listening to music: you don’t hear music a single note at a time, you hear it in phrases. You anticipate what’s coming and you remember what has been played. And so you have a kind of wide but fuzzy-edged view of what is called the present.

15:08

But it’s what is always there, you see? And if—in a culture—we are brought up not to see this, we start to living for the future. And we live for the future mainly because our present is inadequate. And it’s inadequate because we are not seeing it fully; we’re seeing it in terms of abstractions. And if your present is inadequate and is, matter of fact, only an abstract version of life, you’re like a person with a non-nutritive diet. You always, therefore, feel hungry, and you keep eating because you want more! So, in the same way: “More life, please!” “More time, please!” More! More! More! More! Because sometime or other, it’s gotta be alright; the thing I’ve been looking for must happen—I hope! But, of course, it never does. Not if you live that way. Because when all your goals in life are attained and you are at the top of your profession, or you’ve got beautiful children, or you—whatever it was you wanted—you feel the same as you always felt. You’re still looking for something in the future. And there isn’t any future! Not really. Therefore, I often say that only people who live in a proper relationship to the material present have any use for making any plans at all. Because then the plans work out; then they’re capable of enjoying them. The other people aren’t.

16:55

So people, then—who aren’t here, fully, but whose minds are off somewhere else all the time—are always starved and always rushing to get there. And there’s nowhere to go—except here. But I qualify this word ‘material present’ because of the fact that the word ‘material’ is a very much misunderstood word. It’s a word you can use in a lot of different ways. As generally used, we say the body, the earth, the rocks, the trees, the animals, and all that are material. And we set over, against that, the spiritual or the mental as if that were some kind of vaguely gaseous world permeating the material world. Or perhaps not gaseous, but rather abstract: a world of ideas, a world of principles. But it’s so curious that, when people do that, they debase both the material and the spiritual domains of life because these domains of life have vitality only when they’re together. When you see the material as the spiritual and the spiritual as the material. And then both of these concepts tend to vanish because what we call the material world in this put-down sense of the word ‘material’ is only a concept. If you want to conceive the world as material then that means, really, people who do conceive it as material in that sense of the word ‘material’ haven’t got a good relationship to it. But if you have an immediate relationship, if you really are aware of the present, then your vision of the material world is transformed and you see that it isn’t material, it isn’t spiritual, it’s indefinable. It’s what there is. And there is no way of saying what that is because you can’t put it into a particular category. And you can only define what you can classify.

20:15

Now, I know that is perhaps a little bit of a difficult idea to master because of our confusions of language. We could—if I might try to put it in one more way: I would say, probably, that the correct use of the word ‘material’ is to mean something like ‘metered,’ ‘measured.’ When we say something is immaterial, we can mean both that it doesn’t matter—that is to say, it doesn’t measure up to anything, it doesn’t meter—or that it’s spiritual, non-material, immaterial. So I would say the correct use of the word ‘material’ is: “the world as measured:” the world as represented in pounds, miles, decibels, photons, or whatever. And that, of course, is abstract. Because when you measure the world you don’t really make any difference to it, just as the equator does not cut the world in two pieces.

21:42

So what is the world that is existing upon which our measures are imposed? What is it that underlies the network? The network of measurements, of classifications, of quantification? Well, you can’t say. You can point to it, but you can’t really say what it is. It’s not a what. But that is what’s here, I mean, that’s the world we’re actually living in, you see? What Korzybski called the unspeakable world. And so when I said the ‘material present,’ I was using the word ‘material’ in an incorrect sense. Not the measured present, but the physical present of actual nonverbal being. And people, therefore, who do not relate well to this become incompetent in the practical arts of life. They become bad cooks, bad lovers, bad architects, bad potters, bad clothiers, because they really have no love for anything except abstractions: money, quantities, status, symbols. And people become absolutely bamboozled by symbols, and so want the symbol rather than what is signified by the symbol. But, you see, however, if you want what is signified by the symbol, then you’ve got the universe by the tail because every thing that is symbolized by a symbol is inseparable from the whole universe. When you, in other words, you catch a fish, it’s not just a thing called a ‘fish’ that you’ve got, you are being fed by all oceans when you catch a fish. You are being sustained by this colossal life. And everything, of course, that goes with the oceans. It’s as if the ocean reached out and fed you. And that’s why the real reason for giving thanksgiving at meals that… of course, in the West people thank God, but it’s a more concrete expression to thank the fish. But then, of course, you’re thanking the ocean and so on.

24:53

So this attitude, now, of a new vision of nature: not as something chopped up into bits so that we could look upon the universe as an assemblage of things, as if somehow or other there’s all this collection of galaxies and stuff floating around—where would they come from? Well, they’ve sort of been washed up like flotsam and jetsam, and have come together by some sort of gravity, and here they are, spinning around. As if it was a collection in the sense of something gathered, that formerly hadn’t been gathered. Of course, astronomically, this isn’t taken seriously. People think, rather, that it all blew up, that all the galaxies expanded from a center and are still going. It’s far more likely. Maybe they’ll come back together again and then blow up once more. Who knows? Maybe they’ll all fade out. But then, things will be where they were before it all started. And what happened once can always happen again. Pulsation, you see, is the very nature of life. Big pulses and tiny pulses. Pulses within pulses, forever and ever.

26:25

So, this point of view is one which has flourished in the Far East, where the relationship of man to the physical world has been very different from our idea. And this raises some curious problems because the great civilizations of the Far East, particularly the Chinese and the Japanese, did not—until coming into contact with Europe and the United States—did not evolve a technology. And because they didn’t evolve a technology, they had all kinds of problems for which we say that made them backward. They had problems of disease, and famine, and poverty. And we say, “Well, the poor benighted Chinese! We have nothing to learn from them because their civilization didn’t do the things we’ve done!” But what we don’t realize so readily is that this technology which we’ve produced is very recent. It was only in the middle of the 19th century that we really got going with this. And note that, before that date, we permitted as perfectly ordinary procedures judicial torture, slavery, child labor, filth of unspeakable proportions, and plagues, and all that sort of thing was just the way it was anywhere else in the world, in Europe. But we’ve forgotten it; we have short memories. We could sing in church:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.
28:49

Now that verse is, today, eliminated from the hymn. Because it’s saying, you see, that the stations of life—fortunes and misfortunes, riches and poverty—are God-given and nothing can be done about it, and people tend to accept states of affairs about which nothing can be done. And nothing could be done about it until the industrial revolution. And then, of course, the minute that starts everybody wants it. The Chinese want it, the Indians want it, the Japanese want it, and so on.

29:26

But the Chinese—for some reason or other, you see—did not develop technology. Now, why didn’t they? And why did we? There isn’t any simple answer to that question, but one thing that we should note: there are various geographical reasons, and this is not the only reason, but when you look at the map of Europe you will notice that it’s very wiggly. It’s full of inlets, harbors, and all like this, see? China, by contrast, is a great solid landmass. So is India. The Europeans were preeminently sailors, and it is highly possible—to begin with—that all the great early technical discoveries were the work of seafaring people. This is one of Buckminster Fuller’s theories. That, in quite ancient times, there were rather independent seagoing people who had their own culture, who knew that the world was round, who had great navigators, and from then we learned such things as the hoist cranes, that the first real houses were overturned boats, and that trade and the cross-fertilization of different civilizations and different cultures was a work of sea travel. With the machinery necessary for sea travel. You’re not depending on a horse, you’re depending upon something a human being has made, and upon a very high form of technology. Because sailing is a direct exemplification of man and nature in cooperation. Rowing is different. Rowing is a rather unintelligent way of propelling a boat because it requires a great deal of effort. But sailing is so skillful because you are simply using the energy of nature to move the boat. You are flowing through nature, effortlessly, by using the forces around you in a clever way. When you want to go against the wind you tack, you get the wind to blow you into it.

32:04

And this is what is called in Chinese wu wei, meaning literally ‘non-interference’ or ‘non-agression.’ Sometimes translated ‘non-action,’ but that isn’t quite correct. Wu wei is acting in accordance with the field of forces in which you find yourself. Therefore, in splitting wood, you split with the grain because that is the way, the course of things, the Tao, is arranged. So any skillful person will therefore always inquire: “What is the nature of the field of forces in which I find myself?” The Chinese would ask, what is its ? And the word means: what is the organic pattern of this situation? And then, act in accordance with it. Don’t ever force it. Suppose, then, you are sawing: you will find that if you push the saw you will make a jagged cut. And you get impatient. When any people saw wood impatiently they always make a mess of it. But the saw has its own weight, and if you get the sensation that the saw is doing the work, you see—that’s not quite true; your muscles are involved—but you get the sensation of the saw doing the work, then you will make a good cut. See that the saw is sharp and let it do the job for you. You will find in all crafts that the same kind of thing happens when anybody develops consummate skill. When you sing well, you get the sensation that the song is singing itself. When you drive well, somehow, the car and the road are carrying you along, but in a very skillful way. This is this thing I was remarking on at first, this new feeling of a relationship to the world. And what you’re doing when you do anything skillfully, you see: you are expressing the total power of the field of forces which is expressing itself in the form of skillful action through the agency of you as a human organism. But it requires intelligence to do this.

34:53

Now, what is intelligence? Well, I’m going to reserve that question. I just want to go back a bit to the Chinese. Why didn’t they evolve technology? Well, they knew an awful lot of things. Joseph Needham is writing a seven-volume history of science and civilization in China. Telling us all about their mathematics, their astronomy, their physics, their husbandry ideas, everything in the way of techniques that the Chinese evolved. But there were two reasons why they didn’t go on to technology as we have it. One of them the bad reason—I think—and the other a good reason.

35:33

Confucian thought is not interested in nature. It is humanistic—interested in human relations—but very scholastic because it’s based on a literature. In other words, the great Confucian classics exercised a rigidifying effect upon Chinese culture even though they were a great principle of order, of social order. But just in the same way as when you get any scripture—the Bible, the Koran, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, anything like that—and people say that that’s the authority, then you’re stuck. And then you get the situation of the theologians who said to Galileo, “We won’t look through your telescope because it already says in the Book how the universe is working, and the book can’t be wrong. We know!” And people who get stuck on books always think they know. And it’s happening today. When somebody advances an absolutely outrageous proposition for science, lots of scientists are so blind they say, “Well, that’s impossible. It couldn’t be.” Because many scientists aren’t true scientists. They are rigidly defending a conception of the universe which requires that everything be as dull as possible. That the universe be absolutely boring, and stupid above all. And therefore, anything that reveals something that science can’t account for—all events that science can’t account for are simply ignored. And Charles Fort was a man who devoted his life to collecting records of events and occurrences for which there is no reasonable scientific explanation as yet. And the trouble is: all these events are rather unusual because science only studies the usual. And you have to have an event happen several times in order to study it scientifically. [You can] say, “Well, it happened. And we all saw it.” And then the scientist comes in. It’s like, you know, when you get sick and you call in the doctor, and all the symptoms vanish. And so—or your car goes wrong, and you take it to the mechanic and nobody can make it make that funny noise it was making, and so on. So, in the same way, a scientist comes around and says, “Well, you say you saw this thing happen. Well, I’ll observe it.” Well, it won’t happen!

38:24

So, this is the problem, you see: the Confucians got too hung up on books—that is to say, on a theoretical system—in just the same way that we are hung up on our abstract concept of nature, and are operating in terms of an abstract concept of nature which is taught to us in school, and which we are brought up so much so that we are absolutely hypnotized by it, and we can’t experience things which our conceptual system doesn’t provide for. When the concept system stops working because it no longer fits the constantly changing pattern of reality, we’re in trouble. Well that, of course, was the trouble for the Chinese. Their Confucian concept system had very serious limitations.

39:09

Now, that was the bad reason. There was another reason why they didn’t evolve a technology, which was Taoist. The Taoists were really interested in nature. If you read their writings—in Lao-Tzu and Zhuang Zhou—they are full of natural illustrations. The behavior of water, of insects, of the elements are all used as illustrations of the art of life. Now, the Confucians—in contrast [to] the Taoists—were lexicographers. They believed in what’s called the rectification of names. The language, in other words, mustn’t get out of hand; there must be very clear and rigid definitions so that we use words the right way. Now, the Taoists had a critique of this. They said, “With what words will you define the words? And with what words will you define the words that you used the ones to define with?” Obviously, this situation is circular. Every dictionary is really a vicious circle because it’s words defined in terms of other words. And they’re all the words in the dictionary. So that, say, you take a dictionary that has no pictures in it: to someone who doesn’t know the language it’s absolutely a closed system that you can’t penetrate.

40:31

I once thought, as a little boy, I was going to write a fundamental book which would contain the necessary fundamentals for knowledge. And the first thing I naturally did, therefore, was to write down the alphabet. Then I wanted to write down how it was pronounced. And I saw that I couldn’t possibly write down how it was pronounced. I needed to know from the living world how to sound “A, B, C, D.” And that could never be written down. So I was stuck at the start. I abandoned the project at once.

41:19

So the Taoists laughed at the Confucians on that account. But also, they felt that nature was organic. It was—they saw, so vividly, that it was a single living organism of immense complexity. And thus, they never thought of it as consisting of separate parts. Just as the head goes with the feet, and as a stomach goes with a brain, they arise mutually; together. They are different but not separate. And therefore, they were very cautious about interfering with anything.

42:04

Furthermore, their theory of politics was quite different from the Confucian. Confucian politics is based on the idea of rulership. There is the emperor. There is the family, which is strictly hierarchical structure of authority from above which must be followed and obeyed by those below. But the Taoists, when they—the first book, the Tao Te Ching, is a manual of advice to the emperor, among other things. And what it says to the emperor is, “Don’t rule.”

Because the great Tao flows everywhere,

both to the right and to the left.

It loves and nourishes all things,

but does not lord it over them.

And when merits are accomplished

it makes no claim to them.

Therefore, the emperor is to be retiring, to disappear, to be rather more like—in our own local government—the sanitary engineer than the mayor. To have a kind of anonymous quality of being underground, and of being the one who allows a democracy. Because the Taoist feeling is that you get cooperation-people from people best by letting them cooperate rather than compelling them to.

43:34

Now, then, contrast this with a Western theory in which the world is seen not as an organism, but as a mechanism. Now, what’s the difference? A mechanism has replaceable parts. It is fundamentally an assemblage of parts. An organism isn’t. Furthermore, a mechanism has a governor. And an organism apparently doesn’t. It may have a network of governors, all working together in a kind of reticulate pattern. But take, for example: does the brain run the body, or does the stomach? Which is the more important? Well, there are two schools of thought (of course). The stomach people say, “Well, stomachs are really fundamental. They were what was there at first. Because an organism… really, eating is the important thing. But the brain helps the stomach find food. That’s what it’s really doing. It evolved in order to develop eyes and ears to sneak around and find out things to swallow.” So that’s the stomach theory. Then, the brain theory is that “It’s true that the brain is perhaps a later development than the stomach. That means that the stomach was just the forerunner for the really important character to arrive on the scene. And all the stomach does is it gives fuel to the brain. And the operations of the brain, in terms of culture and all that sort of thing, are what life is really all about.” Now, actually, both theories are right and both are wrong. The arrangement between the head and the stomach is mutual. They arise together.

45:29

Now, in a system which has a boss, it’s different. When you’ve got the mechanism, and the chauffeur or the engineer who puts it together and operates it, then you have a government. You have a monarchical world order. And when you have government, and things can be viewed as happening in a mechanical order, you can say, “Change it! I order you to behave differently. Do it this way instead.” And how do we do that? Why, we apply mechanical techniques: chop off heads, or force people to do this, that, and the other; I mean, just separate these things up and rearrange them. So then, because—in the West—we went through the phase of Newtonian mechanics, which arises out of the theory that the physical world is an artifact, that it was made by an architect or a super-cosmic engineer, and governed from above by law, we thought up the idea of explaining the behavior of things by mechanical causality. And this led to technology. To steam engines. To automobiles. To hydraulic systems. Everything. Electricity.

47:00

But when we reached a certain point in that development we started wondering. We started discovering all kinds of processes for which the mechanical analogy was not adequate. It did us well up to a point, but now, in quantum theory and in biology—in these two things in particular—an organic way of looking at things is clearer, is nearer, to the way they’re operating than a mechanical way. And therefore, say, the philosophy of Whitehead—he’s probably the greatest organicist in the West—reads just like the philosophy of Zhuang Zhou. It’s the same view of the world. So that, somehow, just at this moment of the development of technology—when we suddenly see it’s a lot more complicated than we thought it was, and that our project to change the universe is not going to be as easy as even H. G. Wells imagined—it’s just at this moment that this Chinese wisdom becomes available to the West. And we can understand it because it’s now talking our language. It’s talking of the language of relativity. The whole Zhuangzi book starts out with an absolutely marvelous chapter on relativity: relativity of the opposites, the interdependence, the mutual interpenetration of everything that happens. And we’ve discovered it.

48:52

So, there is [the possibility], then—isn’t there, at this point in history?—of civilizing technology. Let’s put it that way. You could almost say naturalizing technology. Technology came in as a barbarian. A very competent barbarian: all steely, all glittering with force of arms. And technology is busy transforming the face of the Earth into its own image, which is the image of a machine. Covering the Earth with concrete. But technologists know that these freeways will be obsolete in the not too distant future. Grass will grow up through the cracks and they will vanish. Because we shall take to the air like insects. And all our wires and cables; all that terrible stuff will vanish because we shall be able to transmit electric power without using them. We shall abandon telephones. Suddenly, as it were, the whole mechanical structure will vanish because it was only a step; what de Chardin calls a peduncle—that is, you know, when you’ve got an amoeba separating, it goes apart and there’s a thin little—like an hourglass—a neck joining them, and then they separate, and so there are still two little pear-shaped tops facing each other, and gradually withdraw and they’re balls once again. And that little neck, and the two projecting pieces, those are peduncles. And the peduncle disappears in the course of evolution. Like an umbilical cord is a peduncle. And so all this contraption that we’ve devised, technologically, is a peduncle. And it will vanish because, as we really go about it, we’re going to get so that we don’t need houses, practically. We’re going to find ways of, you know, just altering the temperature in the air and living in a grass hut, or an invisible plastic dome. And spread it all so that we don’t concentrate in cities; don’t have to, because you can just sit and you can dial any book in the Library of Congress and read it on a screen in front of you. All sorts of things like that to be done. So that this, also—Toynbee, in the Study of History, pointed out that we will become increasingly independent of tracks, roads, wires, and so on, so that the civilization becomes airborne. Maybe it’ll even go so far—and here I’m getting into science fiction—as abandoning the electronic method of communication; we may get a telepathic one instead. Who knows? Be a funny world, wont it, when there’s no private thoughts. Everybody’s completely transparent to everybody else. Sure have to get along! Although, as a matter of fact, this distribution will facilitate privacy. Because the thing that really militates against privacy is the city. And the controls of huge traffics of human beings going about their business; this is a real problem. This is invasion.

53:00

So then, this, however—this technical type of development, in order to go along those lines, requires that people who are responsible for technical development be well-imbued with an ecological philosophy and see the direction of things so they will not keep perpetuating anachronisms. If—for example, the automobile is a hopeless anachronism with a gasoline engine. But it’s going to be very difficult to get rid of it because people want to sell oil. Or because machine tools would have to be completely made over. It would be terribly difficult for the industry to change. Therefore, we get anachronisms which blind us to ingenuity and ability to see what could be done instead. You may think that sounds communistic. It isn’t at all, because nothing is more of an anachronism than a bureaucracy. A collectivist state, in other words, is the most hopeless thing to change because nobody has any responsibility. It is not organic, it’s a monolithic machine. That’s the pattern that we see in so-called communist countries. And they have just as tough a time producing an innovation as we do. We have to think of new political ideas altogether; ideas that’ve never been heard of. But the way of thinking about politics, as of thinking about technics, is by an organic model instead of the mechanical model. The world as one body. But a body, you see, is a highly diversified system with all kinds of division of function, and yet, all one. It is not like an anthill. It’s much more differentiated. And that is the human image as distinct from, say, the insect image or the machine image.



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