Physical Spirituality

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Table of Contents

Part I:

Modes of Interaction

Interactions -->
Spatial Arrangements
Connectivity and Architectivity
The Relevance of Scale

Part II:

Modes of Meaning

Serial Meanings of the Architective Mode
Serial Meanings of the Connective Mode
Features of Serial Meaning
The Architective Dominion

Part III:

Modes of Spirituality

Spiritual Possibilities
Unimodal Deities
A Personal Perspective

Part IV:

Changing the Paradigm

The Unsung Virtues of Sublimation
Psychedelics in Perspective
Connectivity, Architectivity, Yin and Yang
Faith and Reason
Cosmic Consciousness in Perspective
To Sleep, to Dream
The Post Planetary Age

Appendices and References

Chapter 1: Interactions

Physicists tell us that all encounters between physical objects can be described in terms of four fundamental forces. Every physical encounter, no matter how complex, can be analyzed into smaller components, which in turn can be analyzed into even smaller components, until at some point every contributing component can be described using only one or more of the four fundamental forces. The four fundamental forces of physics are known as the electromagnetic force, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and gravity.

Gravity is the familiar force holding our bodies to our planet and our planet in orbit around the sun. While we are familiar with the electromagnetic force at work in our televisions and lighting, it is also the force that binds atoms into molecules which in turn make up our bodies and the physical objects around us. Atoms in turn are conglomerates of sub-atomic particles such as protons and neutrons which are held together by the strong and weak nuclear forces.

Newton and Galileo gave us a good understanding of the force of gravity, showing how it arose between objects having mass, such as our bodies and our planet, and that the strength of the force was dependent on how much mass each object had and the distance by which they were separated. The larger the masses of the interacting objects, the stronger the force, while the greater the distance between them, the weaker the force. Einstein later added greater detail to our understanding of gravity that enabled us to make predictions about its effects with extremely high precision.

Similarly, Coulomb demonstrated that the electric force arose between objects having an electric charge, and that the strength of the force depended on the size and polarity of the charge of each object and the distance by which they were separated. The larger the charges involved, the stronger the electric force, the greater the distances between the objects, the weaker the electric force, and whether they attracted or repelled each other depended on the polarity (positive or negative) of their charges. Later the phenomenon of magnetism came to be understood as a by-product of electricity and that forces between magnets were similarly describable in terms of the size and polarity of charges and the distances between them.

These forces all arise as interactions between objects. They do not arise in isolation. They are also universal in that they affect all relevant objects. Every object having mass gravitationally interacts with every other object having mass. My body is gravitationally attracted to everything that has mass, including your body and your dog's body, no matter where you or your dog are. An apple dislodging from a tree actually falls towards every planet in the universe, not only to planet Earth. More so, the apple falls towards every other object on planet Earth including every animal, plant, and stone on it. But because planet Earth is so much nearer to the apple than any other planet, and because Earth has so much more mass than any animal, plant, or stone on it, the gravitational force between the apple and Earth is the one that really counts. For all practical purposes, we only concern ourselves with the apple falling to the Earth. Similarly, the tides of our oceans are determined not only by the gravitational force of our moon, but by the gravitational force of our sun, and to far lesser extents (because of the greater distances involved), by the gravitational forces of the other planets of our solar system, by other suns and their planets, and even by suns and planets in other galaxies. But in calculating the times of the tides, we only consider the gravitational forces of our moon and our sun because the others are too small to have a noticeable effect.

This universality of affect applies to every fundamental interaction. Every object having an electric charge electrically influences every other object having an electric charge, with large distances rendering some influences negligible, and in this case opposite polarities also able to affect an outcome. The situation is a little different in the case of the nuclear interactions but a similar principle applies in that the strength of the forces are affected by the distances between the objects and the strength of their charges.

The fundamental interactions between objects are also mutual in that they act equitably on all the objects involved. The force of gravity between a ball and the earth acts on both the ball and the earth, and is of equal strength on both objects regardless of their relative size or their relative mass. Only the direction of the force is different - the force on the ball is opposite in direction to the force on the earth. Both ball and earth would experience a stronger force if either object had greater mass, and both would experience a weaker force if the distance between them was greater, but the strength of the force on the ball is always the same as the strength of the force on the earth. When objects mutually influence each other, the influence of one on the other is of the same quality and strength as the influence of the other on the one, as it were. One of the objects cannot be said to be the cause of the force and the other only to suffer its effect.

At less fundamental levels, encounters between objects are often not mutual. One object can be said to be a cause and another to suffer an effect, as we often see in everyday life. For example, when a person kicks a ball, we can say that the force of the person's foot on the ball is the same as the force of the ball on the person's foot, but we cannot say that the ball is as determined to kick the person as the person is to kick the ball. The person is the obvious cause and the ball flying into the goal-mouth is the obvious effect.

Connective and Binding Interactions

I start my story with mutual interactions between objects, such as those involving the fundamental forces.

It is important to understand that objects participating in these interactions are responsive to each other. They may respond, for example, to changes in each other's masses or charges, to changes in the distances between them or to their orientations to one another. If one changes its situation relative to the others then the others will all make suitable adjustments to their relative positions and motions.

But in some situations an interaction will lock into constraint, whereby it restricts the responses of its objects to a specific range or probability distribution. The constrained objects can no longer respond completely freely to each other. For example, if a proton and an electron (interacting using the electromagnetic force between them) get very close to each other and are not moving too fast they will lock into constraint. With their responses constrained they can't stray too far from each other so the constraint has bound them together, and in this binding they have become an atom (of hydrogen).

(Locking into constraint is not the same as being captured to an orbit, as will become clear shortly.)

A constraint on an interaction is not imposed from outside the interaction but is intrinsic to the interaction itself, in the above example, to only this proton and that electron. No other forces or objects are involved. And once constrained an interaction will remain constrained even if the arrangement that eventuated its constraining passes.

Why constraints happen I don't know, though the Pauli Exclusion Principle is often invoked to explain them. I myself see constraint (and Pauli exclusion) to be as fundamental a phenomenon as the fundamental forces themselves.

An interaction will always lock into constraint when and where its arrangement is conducive. If only some of its objects lock into a constraint, the interaction differentiates into two interactions, one constrained and the other not. When many objects lock into a constraint, a number of ranges may be utilized - a carbon atom, for example, constrains six electrons and six protons in two different ranges.

When an interaction locks into constraint its nature is significantly altered. The force utilized in the interaction remains the same but its objects' responses are noticeably stifled. Indeed, if their range of constraint is very narrow the objects may appear to not be responsive at all.

Not all interactions between protons and electrons are constrained (because a conducive arrangement has not arisen) so not all interactions between protons and electrons constitute atoms. When protons and electrons interact outside atoms they are free to respond to each other without constraint. In the sun, for example, protons and electrons interact freely in what is called a plasma - a sort of soup of interacting individual protons and electrons that do not constitute atoms (though many do).

There may be other sub-atomic objects in an atom besides protons and electrons and many layers of complexity to their interaction. But delving into these complexities does not add to my story - all I want to do here is convey the idea of an interaction being intrinsically and fundamentally constrained.

When an interaction is not constrained, as when protons and electrons are in a plasma, I call the interaction a connective interaction, or a connective for short, because the objects are connected to each other through their interaction. When an interaction is constrained, as when a proton and electron constitute an atom, I call the interaction a binding interaction, or a bond for short, because the interaction also binds them together.

Objects participating in a connective respond freely to the forces they exert on each other while objects in a bond will only respond to the extent that their constraint permits. Objects in a connective will also respond freely to any external forces acting on them, while the responses of those in a bond will be restricted by their constraint. So a bond not only constrains the responses of its constituent objects to the forces between them, it also constrains their responses to external forces. A connective on the other hand imposes no constraint on its participating objects they respond completely freely to each other and to all relevant external forces.

Interactions between objects are either binding or connective they are either constrained or they are not. Interactions that appear to be constrained in some ways and unconstrained in others are compound mixtures of connective and binding interactions. In the same way that every encounter between physical objects can ultimately be described in terms of one or more of the four fundamental forces, every encounter between physical objects can ultimately be analyzed into interactions that are connective or binding.

Extensive examples of connective and binding interactions will be given in Chapter 3 when their features have been more clearly distinguished.

The Wholeness of Bonds

The fact that objects are tied together in a bond becomes evident when an external force acts on them and they do not respond individually but the bond responds as a whole so as to allow its constituent objects to remain within their range. The bond responds and its constituent objects remain relatively unmoved within it.

For example, in the case of a proton and an electron, it becomes evident that they are bound together in an atom when an external force that should affect them individually affects the atom as a whole instead.

Now that external force also takes place in the context of an interaction - with one or more external objects - and when the bond responds as a whole the external objects respond to it as if they were interacting with the whole. As far as the external objects are concerned, the bond as a whole is the object they are interacting with rather than its constituents.

A bond may thus participate in external interactions as a single object in its own right, while a connective always participates in external interactions as the collection of its individual objects. The objects of a connective may respond similarly - as a group - but not as a single unified object. The participating objects of a connective are free to respond without constraint and so always respond individually.

Since a bond may participate in an external interaction as a single object in its own right, any object may in fact be a bond. Protons, for example, are bonds of quarks utilizing the strong nuclear force in their interaction.

Contrarily, when a bond is disrupted (as described below), it may break into smaller bonds.

Bonds can be Disrupted

Bonds have limited strengths, known as their binding strengths, beyond which they become unstable and break down. A relevant external force more energetic than a bond's binding strength will break the bond and release its objects from their constraint, in which case I say the bond has been disrupted.

(Bonds sometimes offer a number of possible ranges for constraint, with each range having a different binding strength, so that an external force may cause a bond to switch to a constraint range having a binding strength able to withstand the external force. But should there be no range available with a strong enough binding strength, the bond is disrupted.)

Once an external force has disrupted a bond, the bond's objects can respond completely freely to each other and to what remains of the external force, for their interaction is now connective. But breaking the constraint will have drained some if not all the energy of the external force. Bonds require energy be expended to disrupt them.

For example, it is possible to exert a force on an atom that is so energetic that its electrons and protons are freed from their bond. Those electrons and protons continue to interact with each other (courtesy of the electromagnetic force between them) but now interact connectively, moving without constraint in a plasma, and respond freely to each other and to what remains of the force that disrupted their bond. But the atom they constituted is no more - the bond between them, the bond that made them an atom, has been disrupted.

Bonds do not disrupt spontaneously. Once constrained a bond can only be disrupted by an external force since its constraint is intrinsic. There is nothing that a bound proton or electron can do unassisted to escape their atom. Bonds last until something disrupts them. (The spontaneous disruption of radioactive isotopes can be viewed as the stronger electromagnetic forces that repel their protons violating the constraint of the nuclear interaction binding them.)

Removing an object from a bond violates a constraint and so disrupts the bond. When removing an object from a connective there is no constraint to break and the connective persists. Though their objects may attract each other, connectives are not constrained and do not disrupt when objects are removed.

It is important for my story to stress that for a bond to be disrupted a constraint must be broken. Only then can the erstwhile bond's objects respond to each other completely freely as they would in a connective.

We often picture an electron and proton in an atom orbiting each other in the way that the Earth orbits the sun, but there is a significant difference: An electron and proton in an atom are locked in constraint while the Earth is not locked in constraint with the sun. The Earth may have settled into a regular orbit around the sun but it is not constrained to that orbit. The Earth could imaginably be moved to any other orbit, or even removed from the solar system entirely, say by the gravitational force of a rogue planet passing close by, which need only exert enough force to shift the Earth without having to break a constraint as well. Electrons and protons are locked in atoms but planets and suns are not locked in solar systems. The presence of a rogue planet would affect each planet individually rather than move a solar system as a whole. An atom exemplifies a bond while a solar system exemplifies a connective.

The composition of a bond remains unchanged until it is disrupted. Removing an object from a bond disrupts it while adding a new object can be viewed as the establishment of an additional bond with the new object (as will be described shortly). A bond thus persists with the same objects it was initially established with until it is disrupted, with no objects entering and no objects leaving for as long as it endures. A connective, on the other hand, persists, and its composition changes, as objects join or leave.

The Separateness of Bonds

By binding together, the objects in a bond have been separated from the rest of the world:

By binding to each other and not to any other objects, they establish a special relationship that distinguishes them from other objects.

Prevented from venturing beyond their constraint range, there is a boundary between a bond's constituent objects and the rest of the world.

By responding to external interactions as a whole, a bond shields its constituent objects from external objects, effectively keeping the external objects out of its interior. A bond has a spatial volume from which the objects it is interacting with are excluded. Since the bond interacts as an object, we can say that interacting objects do not occupy the same space at the same time.

(At very small scales, where quantum effects prevail, it is not possible to say exactly where an object is so it is also not possible to say with certainty that objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. However, atoms are known have measurable volumes from which they exclude other atoms (see Van der Waals Volumes) so we can say with certainty that interacting objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time at scales larger than the atomic. (It is also at very small scales that we might find elementary objects, such as quarks, which are not bonds of smaller objects.))

A connective does not interact externally as a whole object and so does not have an excluding spatial volume of its own - only its participating objects do, from which they exclude each other (and any external objects they interact with).

Bonds/objects collide but remain separate when they meet because they exclude each other from their volumes. When connectives meet they merge into a shared volume and may even pass through each other, though their participating objects may collide in the process.

Sublimation of a Bond

It may happen that a bond does not respond to an external interaction as a whole. When an external force is so weak that a bond's constituent objects can respond completely freely without approaching the limits of their constraint, the bond need not respond as a whole in order to maintain its constraint. As far as the weak external force is concerned, the bond's constituent objects respond to it rather than the bond-as-a-whole and they are responding freely, as if in a connective.

In order for a bond to respond as an object in its own right, an external force must be strong enough to challenge the bond's constraint and make it behave as a whole. When an external force is too weak to make the bond behave as a whole I say that the external force sublimates the bond, acting only on its constituent objects, which respond freely and individually as if in a connective, even though they are constrained in a bond.

In such a sublimating external interaction, a bond is not apparent to the external objects because it does not respond to them and they do not respond to it, so as far as they are concerned, the bond, as an object in its own right, does not exist. On the other hand, when a bond does respond to an external interaction and its constituent objects do not respond individually, then, as far as the external objects are concerned, the bond exists and its constituent objects do not. (This is a very simplistic description but is sufficient to convey the general idea. If you want to go there, some complexities are addressed in Appendix 1.)

In a sublimating interaction, external objects are not excluded from a bond's spatial volume since to them the bond does not exist. (They are of course excluded from the spatial volumes of the bond's constituent objects - assuming they are not also sublimated.)

It takes an external interaction strong enough to challenge a bond's constraint to imbue the bond with wholeness, while a weaker interaction will sublimate the bond, treating it as the collection of its constituent objects, just as if they were in a connective. An overly strong interaction will of course disrupt the bond.


The object that is a bond-as-a-whole can be very different to its constituent objects. An atom, for example, has a volume much greater than the volumes of its protons and electrons added together.

As an object in its own right, a bond has properties of its own, and some of these may not be displayed by its constituent objects. Water, for example, comprises molecules that are bonds of hydrogen and oxygen atoms and is a liquid (at room temperature), while hydrogen and oxygen are gasses. A mixture of say 50 litres of hydrogen gas and 25 litres of oxygen gas has a mixed volume of 75 litres, but get them to bond (with a spark) and they magically get squeezed into about a tablespoon of water.

The properties a bond displays in its own right are termed its emergent properties. It is the emergent properties of water that makes it different to an unbound mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. We can say that water emerges from a bonding of hydrogen and oxygen. Some of the emergent properties of a bond may be entirely novel - not displayed by any of the bond's constituent objects - while some may be shared with its constituent objects, or there may be properties of the constituent objects missing from the bond's display.

The properties displayed by a connective on the other hand, are not any different to those of its participating objects. A connective does not have emergent properties. A connective displays the properties of its participating objects, perhaps summed as a group, but does not have emergent properties of its own. In the above example, the mixture of two connectives, 50 litres of hydrogen gas with 25 litres of oxygen gas, is itself a connective gas, having a combined volume of 75 litres - the simple sum of 50 and 25 - and the properties of the mixture (in the absence of the spark) are not any different to the properties of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas mixed together.

Though molecules of water are bonds (of hydrogen and oxygen atoms), a collection of water molecules is a connective - a liquid - at room temperature. Simply because hydrogen and oxygen atoms have bonded does not preclude the emergent water molecules - as objects in their own right - interacting connectively. Freezing the water would indeed cause the water molecules to bind together into crystals of ice, which would have emergent properties very different to those of liquid water.

Similarly, many properties of an atom, being a bond of protons and electrons, are different to those of its protons and electrons, while a plasma (not being a bond) remains just a bunch of electrons and protons even though they are interacting. A plasma may display an overall electric charge different to the charge of any one of its participating electrons or protons (and perhaps even no charge at all if they all happen to cancel each other out) but in any external interaction the force arising from its overall charge will be no different to the combination of forces arising from the charges of its individual electrons and protons.

A connective cannot participate in external interactions as an object in its own right or have emergent properties. A connective can engage in external interactions only as the collection of its participating objects, utilizing their individual properties to do so, while the emergent properties of a bond endure for as long as the bond endures, just as the objects it was constituted with stay with it for its duration.

The Identity of Bonds

It's relatively easy to distinguish things that are separate from each other - and bonds/objects are - while distinguishing merging connectives can be very difficult. Sorting a puff of smoke from the air around and between it would be impossible without some very sophisticated technology, and ultimately only becomes possible because each particle of smoke has some properties different to those of air.

The collection of properties (and their values) that may be displayed by an object in interaction constitute what I call its identity. The properties of a book, for example, would include its shape and size, its title, the colour of its cover, its subject matter and author, the price that was paid for it and who owns it. Many of these properties could be shared by other books, for example if they are by the same author, but at least one property of every book will be unique - exactly where it is at any one moment - simply because no two books can occupy the same space at the same time. Generally speaking, every object's identity is ultimately unique if only because objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, though there are likely also other points of difference. The uniqueness of an object's identity persists for as long as it is not disrupted.

Even when connectives are distinguishable from each other, they do not display properties in their own right. They may also occupy the same space at the same time. So connectives do not display a unique and lasting identity as objects/bonds do, but their participating objects, being objects, do.

The Aggregation of Bonds

Objects can bind in many different combinations, and by binding in different combinations objects with different properties emerge. Even when binding different numbers of the same object, objects with different properties emerge. A molecule of water, for example, is a bond of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, while a molecule of aspirin is a bond of nine carbon atoms with eight hydrogen and four oxygen atoms.

And what distinguishes a hydrogen from an oxygen atom? Both are atoms but each has emerged from a bonding of protons and electrons in different combinations. An atom of hydrogen is a bond of one proton with one electron while oxygen is a bond of eight protons with eight electrons. All the chemical elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, phosphorus and uranium, are bonds of differing numbers of protons and electrons (as well as differing numbers of other subatomic objects such as neutrons).

A cornucopia of difference, novelty and variety emerges when objects bond in different combinations.

The explosion of novelty doesn't stop there. Bonds, being objects in their own right, can then bond with other bonds. It's not just that objects create something new when they bond, or that bonding in different combinations gives a variety of newness, but the new objects so created can then bond with others to synthesize even greater confections of novelty. Protons and electrons bond in different combinations to create many varieties of atoms. The atoms so created can bond with each other - again in many different combinations - to create molecules of even greater variety and complexity, and the molecules can bond with different molecules to create extremely complex structures such as the proteins we are made of. A plasma, on the other hand, being a connective, is not an object in its own right and so cannot engage in a bond. It may merge with another plasma, but plasmas of plasmas are just bigger plasmas and do not become anything significantly different when they merge.

When bonds bond with bonds, I say that they aggregate. The resulting aggregate is an object in its own right, having emergent properties of its own and an identity of its own; that is able to bond with yet other objects to aggregate into more complex objects, and so on.

An aggregate is just a more complex bond, so the term aggregate is really also equivalent to object and bond (and from here on I may use the terms interchangeably).

Aggregates are constructed in a series of discrete, singular events, each being the establishment of a bond.

Aggregates may destruct rather than construct. When an aggregate is disrupted, it leaves behind smaller bonds that were the aggregate's constituent objects. These smaller bonds may disrupt into even smaller bonds, and so on. Each step in the destruction of an aggregate is also a discrete event, being the disruption of a bond.

It is the emergent properties of atoms as different to the those of their component protons and electrons that opens up the entire arena of chemistry - by which we distinguish one kind of atom from another, by which atoms bond with atoms (using their atomic properties) to create molecules, and by which molecules bond with molecules using their molecular properties.

The Architectures of Aggregates

As bonds aggregate they can be seen to build in levels. In the example above, the protons and electrons are at the lowest level, the atoms they comprise are at the next level up and the molecule that the atoms constitute is the topmost level of the aggregate.

The levels of an aggregate are thus arranged in a hierarchy, and every object within the aggregate can be allocated a rank according to its level in the hierarchy.

With each aggregation event the number of levels rises by one. With each aggregation event a new object emerges at a new topmost level, having an identity different to those of its constituent objects on the level below (and different to those of their constituents on the level below them, and so on). The rank of any two objects in the hierarchy can then be compared, according to whether one object is internal to the other, is bound to the other, or has emerged from the other.

I call the hierarchy of an aggregate/object/bond its architecture or architective hierarchy. The architecture of an aggregate offers a clearly defined map of all the bonds used in its construction.

I speak of an aggregate s internal objects being its constituent objects at all levels, so as to include the constituent objects of its constituent objects and so on.

Disrupting a constituent object of a bond will disrupt the bond itself, since a bond persists with its same constituent objects until it is disrupted. Disrupting any of an aggregate's internal objects will destroy the whole aggregate.

The ranking of an aggregate s internal objects cannot be changed without disrupting one or more of the aggregate s internal bonds, which in turn would disrupt the aggregate as a whole, so an aggregate s architecture persists unchanged for as long as the aggregate exists. An aggregate s architective hierarchy forms part of its identity.

Objects of a lower rank in an aggregate s architecture are more numerous, while those of a higher rank contain more internal objects than those of a lower rank. There is only one object at the very top of an architecture and it contains all the others.

There is a time-line implicit in an aggregate's hierarchy, for the object that emerged most recently is always at the top of the hierarchy, and those of the next level down are the next most recent, and so on.

Again, this discussion of the aggregation and architecture of bonds is overly simple but is sufficient to convey the gist of my argument. If you are interested, some complexities are discussed in Appendix 1.

The Integration of Connectives

Connectives are not objects in their own right and so cannot interact with each other - but their participating objects can. The participating objects in one connective may bond with those in another or may interact with them connectively.

When the objects in multiple connectives interact connectively, the connectives effectively integrate or merge into a larger connective. It matters not whether all or only some of the objects interact, for if only one object from each connective is involved then all the objects of all the contributing connectives will be interacting at least indirectly with each other.

The participating objects of one connective could alternatively bond with those of another, to form a connective of different, larger objects, or they could all bind together to form a single large object; but the connective itself cannot bind with another object or connective.

The capacity for external interaction of an integrated connective is not any different to the capacities of its contributing connectives, which is the capacities of their participating objects. One plasma integrating with another creates a larger plasma that is not any different to the sum of the integrating plasmas in its capacity for external interaction.

Each object in an integrated connective directly or indirectly interacts with every other object in the integrated connective, no matter which of the contributing connectives each object originally belonged to. The contributing connectives may become indistinguishable once integrated, or their original groupings may be maintained, to some degree, or for a while. If more connectives join in, the merged participating objects may pass through so many arrangements that it may be impossible to discern the original contributing connectives or any sequence to their merging. In fact, the arrangement of objects in a connective may change so much, even without any integration taking place, that discernible groupings of its participating objects may simply appear and disappear with its flux. In a connective there are no constraints to hold the groupings in place. Lasting identification of groupings or of the contributing connectives is impossible. It may not even be possible to say whether a connective is the result of a prior integration.

When connectives meet they may pass through the same space whether or not their participating objects interact.

The 'Visages' of Connectives

Since objects in a connective always respond to a relevant external force, whether or not the arrangement of the connective will be disturbed by an external force is not dependent on the strength of the force. The arrangement of objects in a connective will be disturbed to some degree by every force that acts on any of its participating objects. And if one object changes its position relative to the others then the others will adjust themselves accordingly. While a connective is not identifiable as an object in the way that a bond is, I say that it may be discernible in the sense that all its participating objects respond to a disturbance even though each responds as an individual.

Though subgroupings of its participating objects may appear and disappear with its flux, the subgroups are sometimes distinguishable from each other. We distinguish constellations in our galaxy and swirls in streams and rivers, for example. I call any distinguishable subgroup of a connective a visage of the connective. A visage describes a temporary or arbitrary arrangement of the participating objects in a connective, like a cluster or a swirl, rather than a lasting identity. A visage may last a long time as in the case of a stellar constellation or pass quickly as a swirl in a water stream.

While a bond has a lasting unique identity by which it differs from every object it interacts with, connectives may or may not offer distinguishable visages and may not even be distinguishable from each other since they do not exclude each other from their volumes. Even when visages are distinguishable, the distinction may not last since the participating objects are free to move in response to any disturbance.

So identity is meaningful to a bond in a way that a visage is not meaningful to a connective. A bond s identity emerges with its establishment and disappears with its disruption. A bond s identity remains unique for the term of its existence, while a visage of a connective is ephemeral.

By enforcing its constraint, a bond actively preserves its identity. As long as a bond lasts, it maintains a unique identity even in the face of external disturbance. As long as it is able to avoid disruption, it maintains its identity no matter how many interactions it engages in. Connectives do not act to maintain their visages. Their visages are incidental and easily changed. In fact, any connective having more than two objects can be arbitrarily divided into visages at the whim of an observer.

A connective has no persistent architecture mapping its contributing connectives or its visages. Visages may temporarily display a hierarchy, in that some may be larger than others or some may be spatially contained within others, but these arrangements are not fixed.

Here we begin to glimpse the charm of connectives. They are unremittingly dynamic and responsive. So much so that they cannot be held to any sort of specificity or precision. They are changeable, unconstrained, flexible, vague and ephemeral. I really appreciate the way air makes way for me as I walk through it.

Winners and Losers: The Contests of Bonds

There is effectively a contest going on between a bond and any external force acting on it. For under the external force, a bond either holds its constituent objects to their constraint and thereby keeps itself together, or its constituent objects are forced beyond their constraint and the bond is disrupted. The contest is decided on a test of strength between the binding strength of the bond and the external force.

Now the external force is taking place in the context of an interaction with external objects and the external objects may themselves be bonds, in which case they are being tested in exactly the same way and under the same force under their mutual interaction. If any bond disrupts under the strain, it might happen that one or more of its erstwhile constituent objects then aggregates with one of the other bonds. In this case the other bond has not only preserved itself in the contest but has aggregated and created a new object - while the disrupted bond is no more. There can be clear winners and losers in such contests between bonds. A winning bond both maintains its identity and creates another, while a losing bond loses its identity, its emergent properties and its ability to enter into interaction. Losing a contest is catastrophic for a bond.

A contest between interacting bonds can also be seen as a contest between their binding strengths, because all contestants are subject to the same forces under their mutual interaction - and it is the bond having the greater binding strength that wins.

A chemical reaction in which an atom that is a component of one molecule exits that molecule - thereby disrupting it - to aggregate with another molecule is an example of such a contest.

We could talk of competition between connectives but not of contests in this sense. For example, one might say that two solar systems are competing over which will capture an approaching comet to its orbit. But competition in a connective sense does not involve the undoing of any competitor, and all the competitors' influences continue no matter what the outcome. There are no outright winners and losers, only a change of visage. In a competition between connectives the outcome is a proportional sharing of all the participating influences even though some may be stronger, while in a contest between bonds there is a selection and possible enhancement of one and the destruction of another.

Contests cannot occur between connectives alone - at least one of the contestants must be a bond.

The Hierarchical Authority of Bonds

In a chemical reaction in which an atom switches from one molecule to another, the atom s internal protons and electrons necessarily go with it to the other molecule.

When a bond is in a contest, there may be uncertainty over how the bond will cope and which way its constituent objects will go, but it is absolutely certain that, whichever way a constituent object goes, its internal objects will go with it. If a bond holds its constituent objects it also holds the constituent objects' constituent objects, and so on. If a constituent object breaks free or is absorbed into another aggregate, its internal objects go with it.

I say that a bond has hierarchical authority over its internal objects to take them with it in decisions under contest. A contest can thus also be seen as a tussle for the allegiance of a bond's internal objects.

Put differently, bonds of higher rank have authority over those of lower rank, while those of lower rank are subordinate to those above, at least in decisions of hierarchical allegiance. The bond at the very top of a hierarchy thus provides a central point of control from where a single decision under a contest may direct the allegiance of every bond in its architecture.

By contrast, the idea of hierarchical authority has no relevance to connectives. In a close encounter of galaxies, for example, some stars of one galaxy may well be absorbed by the other, and vice-versa, but many might remain with their original galaxy.

Value Bias in Bonds

The bond at the top of an architective hierarchy can control more than the allegiance of its internal objects - it can control the values of their properties as well:

When an external force acts on a bond it may happen that the force continually acts in the direction of one boundary of the bond's constraint range rather than another, so that the constituent objects of the bond are biased, possibly strongly so, to one boundary of their constraint. For example, when a proton approaches an atom, the electrons of the atom will likely spend more time on the side of the atom closest to the approaching proton by virtue of the attraction of their unlike charges.

The same can be said of the constituent objects constituent objects, and so on, meaning that all of an aggregate s internal objects may have a bias to one boundary of their constraint rather than another. It may even happen that all the internal bonds of an aggregate are biased in the same direction so that, by the topmost object in the aggregate's hierarchy entering into an interaction, a bias to a particular value may be imposed on all its internal objects.

Bonds and Control

We begin to see the depth of a bond's capacity for control: A bond not only controls the motions of its constituent objects by constraining them, it controls their ability to participate in external interactions, their hierarchical allegiances and may even impose a bias to their values. None of these controls are evident in connectives.

The controls in a bond operate between the levels in the bond's architecture. Objects at the same level in an architecture do not control each other while higher ranked objects control those of lower rank. The relationship between objects at different levels in an aggregate is not an equitable one - it is one of subservience and authority. The higher levels control the lower levels and not the other way round. Higher levels of an architecture control their lower levels even though the higher levels have emerged from the lower ones. The objects at higher levels are however structurally reliant the objects at their lower levels to maintain their integrity since the disruption of a lower level object would disrupt the objects above it.

Stasis and Change

The outstanding feature of bonds is a capacity for stasis. Strictly confined within ranges, a bond's constituent objects can appear to be motionless relative to each other, especially when their range of constraint is narrow. Bonds have identities and architectures that do not change and they can compound into more complex architectures that are just as static and enduring. They preserve their identities and architectures with absolute fidelity even in the face of disturbance (as long as they are not disrupted).

The outstanding feature of connectives, on the other hand, is their extreme susceptibility to change.

Processions and Flows

The internal arrangements of bonds don t change. Their constituent objects at every level remain confined within constraints for as long as the bond holds. Yet there are ways by which bonds can be considered to change. They can be considered to change when a bond disrupts or is established, they can be considered to change when they switch from one constraint range to another, and they can be considered to change when an aggregate grows or shrinks. In this sense I say that bonds process (rather than change), stepping from one static architecture to another in a procession of discrete reconfiguration events.

In contrast, connectives flow through their changes in a smooth, unbroken stream.

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