Part I : Modes of Interaction
"There are two kinds of people in the world" my late friend Wally used to say, "those who squeeze their teabags and those who don't." I suspect he meant to distinguish people who wrung every ounce of flavour from their experiences. Wally squeezed his teabags and most of his friends did too.
People have been putting each other in categories since the year dot. Every which way we can, we do it. Friend or foe? Us and them. We label each other by religion, by nationality, by region and by town; by wealth, by ancestry and by power; by political affiliation; by taste in clothes, music or football team. Are you a cat lover or a dog lover? Do you smoke the same cigarettes as me? If we tried hard, we could create more categories than there are people.
For some people categorization is important - they don't know who you are until they've ticked or crossed every box in their mental questionnaire - while others don't give a hoot about your status or pedigree as long as you're pleasant to be with.
It's not only people that we categorize - we categorize books, music, rocks and plants - everything around us. Categorization helps us get a quick overall idea of what we are dealing with and manage our world more efficiently - it's an essential part of being human.
But things are not equally amenable to categorization. Some things are more easily distinguishable than others while some distinguishing characteristics do not last. It's significantly easier to distinguish a cat from a dog than it is to distinguish say your dog from my dog, especially if it is the same dog that has merely changed owners.
Things that are amenable to categorization have some unique and unchanging properties. Parts of a motor car can be relied on to maintain their functionality for as long as they are not broken, so we can categorize them as being tyres or seats, or front-left doorhandles and front-right doorhandles, for example. Sure there may be many front-right doorhandles that all look the same but each is on a different car.
Contrarily there are things that are a nightmare to categorize - things that have no unique properties or their properties change at the slightest disturbance. No testing of water of the Nile at Cairo could tell whether the sample originated in the Blue Nile or the White Nile. A cloud in the sky may be categorized as cumulus or stratus, but no cloud can be pinpointed as being the same one that was there yesterday.
These contrasting extremes of susceptibility to categorization illustrate the two modes of interaction I will explore. Differences in susceptibility to categorization are only one of the contrasts between the two modes. Categorization is a feature of the mode I call architectivity, which is also characterized by certainty, exclusiveness, separation and endurance. The mode I call connectivity is characterized by uncertainty, indistinctness and a penchant for change.
To grasp these modes more clearly, to understand how deeply they are embedded in our reality and how significantly they affect our spirituality, I need to start with the fundamental forces of physics....