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Excerpt from Dreams

We Are Not the Point (p. 330)

From chapter "We Are Not the Point"

You as a subjective being are incomprehensibly complex. You are mind-blowingly confusing. But now let’s drop you into a community of other incomprehensibly complex beings who are also human. In other words, their complexity at least slightly resembles yours. The complexity has just grown exponentially. Now let’s add all of the immeasurably complex relationships between all of you, and the complexity of the universe has just grown exponentially again.

Now let’s add in others, nonhumans of all forms (and nonforms), and presume for a moment that each and every one of these is as complex as you are, but the complexity of each and every one of these is profoundly different than yours. Some have black bear sensibilities, preferences, and needs. Some have Pacific lamprey sensibilities, preferences, and needs. Some have Western lily sensibilities, preferences, and needs. Some have granite sensibilities, preferences, and needs. Some have fire sensibilities, preferences, and needs. Some have muse sensibilities, preferences, and needs. Some have dream sensibilities, preferences, and needs.

And each individual—gnat, ant, river, star—is an individual. On its most basic level, this concept is not so hard to grasp, but the reality of it is more complex than it is possible to even begin to comprehend or explain. And of course the point has never been to attempt to comprehend it in its entirety, but rather to enjoy and live with and marvel at this complexity.

I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that this form of confusion is another way to talk about part of what some have traditionally called the Great Mystery or Mysteries, or the Great Liturgy.

Happily (except for those who are afraid of complexity, and who attempt to truncate or otherwise deny it), the universe is even more complex than we have so far been hinting at. Here’s another layer of this complexity. Not only is it the case that you are you, with your subjective existence, and not only are you in a community of other humans with their own subjective existences, and not only are you in a myriad of other overlapping communities of nonhuman others whose subjective existences are incomprehensibly different than yours, but it is also the case that right now you are alive, and someday you will be dead. Today you have one less day to live than you did yesterday, and tomorrow you will have even one day less than now. There was a time when you did not exist in this form, and there will be a time when you will not exist in this form. Where, if anywhere, did you come from, and where, if anywhere, will you go? And what are you supposed to do in the meantime?

There are those who say that these questions—of the infinite complexity of your own subjective existence in infinitely complex communities of humans and nonhumans, formed and unformed; the miracles and mysteries of life and death; and how we shall live while we’re here—form the heart of most if not all religions (including science), and that in one way or another all religions are attempts to help us navigate (however poorly or well) these mysteries.

Science’s response to the Great Mysteries is to disrespect and deny them. Science does this, first, by attempting to say they do not exist, by saying that mysteries are just what we don’t know yet, and by attempting to explain away mysteries instead of attempting to live with and in them. And why explain them away? For predictability, of course. For control. Second, science truncates them wherever possible. How? Quite often by saying that subjectivity does not exist, most especially in those to be exploited (I mean, managed). If the others are objects to be exploited, without subjectivity, how much less complex the world might seem to be. It might even seem to be so not complex that we might just be able to control it, if we just get enough funding, and if we just have enough time before the whole world collapses. And how does science deal with the complexity of the existence of life and death? That one’s easy. Before and after life on this planet, nothing. Boom, boom, out go the lights. And in the meantime? We become sociopaths, flesh-eating zombies: we live in a universe filled with pitiless indifference, in a culture where truth is determined by the ability to enslave, in a culture that is destroying the planet.

Science lops off a great universe of complexity simply because it cannot understand it; because it cannot predict it; because it cannot control it; because that complex universe dares to disobey, dares to not come, dares to not disrobe on command; because it deviates from or ignores the rules science has created and attempted to impose on it; because it is far more complex than these rules; because science finds it convenient to ignore this complexity; because to do so makes it so much easier to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command (and to make Africans jump through hoops on command, and to make women jump through hoops on command, and to do the same to rivers, trees, salmon, and others this culture wants to enslave: using the euphemism “matter and energy” for living beings reveals a fundamental problem with this culture, and one of the reasons it is killing the planet); because members of the scientific cult are socially rewarded for truncating this complexity; because members of the scientific cult have been inculcated into valuing those social rewards (and the power to enslave) more than life and life’s (and death’s) complexity; because acknowledging and most especially reveling in this complexity would disallow full participation in this destructive culture (and falling in love with this complexity would necessarily lead one to forcefully confront this culture, to stop it from destroying this beloved and life-supporting complexity through any means necessary); and finally because so many of us in this scientific cult have (and I think frogs, salmon, cod, rivers, heart pines would agree) been turned into flesh-eating zombies who no longer have the capacity to perceive this complexity, but who need to undercut and destroy this complexity. First they lop off this complexity intellectually, and then in all physical truth.


Don’t you ever get tired of being so damned special?

Don’t you ever get tired of being so damned smart?

Don’t you ever get tired of being the one and only meaningful intelligence in a world of dead matter?

Don’t you ever get tired of being so damned lonely?


Don’t you ever get tired of being the point of all creation/evolution? And yes, I know some scientists will say evolution has no point, but these scientists can talk all they want—their protestations don’t count for much when science as a whole is helping to destroy the planet. Their protestations don’t count for much when science can cause a reasonably intelligent person to say that his “scientific upbringing tells him” a river can’t speak, or when another can write, “I’ve been floating along in a fantasy world where everything is living and deserving of my respect.” How horrid this culture is when it convinces us that the understanding that everyone is alive and deserves our respect is a fantasy. Instead of this extraordinarily beautiful “fantasy,” this culture of zombies has pulled the whole world into its nightmare of disrespect and domination. Their protestations don’t count for much when you can see a clear line of thought proceeding from God giving man dominion over the earth to science now basing its claim to truth on its ability to dominate matter and energy.

But the truth is that these notions of being so damned special, so damned smart (if we’re so damned smart, why are we killing the planet? That seems pretty damned stupid to me, and to polar bears, and to my muse, and to the Columbia River, and to every other thinking being), of being the one and only intelligence, of being the point of it all, are nothing but damned lies.

And they lead us nowhere but to being damned.

There are many reasons it can be difficult to break people’s addictions to these lies. One is that it is certainly narcissistically flattering to believe that the world belongs to us. It is narcissistically flattering to believe that it is our right (and even responsibility) to enslave others, to make them jump through hoops. People are physically rewarded for believing in and living these lies; part of the point of enslaving others is to receive physical rewards (of course a far greater point of enslaving others is to feed power addictions, even when these power addictions ultimately harm us physically).

We must never forget: we are not the point. Say that again: we are not the point.

And again: we are not the point.

Say it until you finally understand it.

When you finally understand it, then it will be time to ask a dream, or a muse, or a river or tree or someone else: what is the point?