In my previous post I talked about how we humans are made of trillions of smaller lifeforms such as cells and bacteria, and that those lifeforms are completely unaware that they are part of this indefinitely more complex structure we call human. If you haven’t read my previous post, please read it before this one, as it provides an introduction to some of the concepts I’ll be discussing here.
If the cells are aware of only other cell sized constructs, similar to us being aware of things that hold meaning to us and that exist in the world in which we operate, could it be possible that we are also just a part of a much larger organism? That organism would be indefinitely different from us and existing in a different world from ours. We would have no possible way to comprehend it or see our part in its existence.
And what if that organism has a completely different form of life than we humans do? We have defined life from our perspective, but could there be life that is so incomprehensible to us that we automatically choose to ignore or overlook it?
Take a city or a society as an example. You could say, that a city works with an intelligence of its own that is way beyond the intelligence of any single person. If there’s a blackout in the city, someone knows how to fix it. There is a system for finding the person to fix it and a system to find the system that would find the person. And there is a force holding these systems together. People run the transportation systems that enable the city to operate, work on jobs without which the city – or parts of it – would fall apart, and create new constructs that shape and enhance the city. To me this sounds eerily familiar to what the cells are doing within our bodies.
Think of the way a city devours the lives of its inhabitants for its own purposes: A higher organism that is feeding upon a lower one, and by doing so accomplishing more than the lower organism can accomplish alone.
These ideas are from Robert M. Pirsig’s book Lila, and Pirsig says that people have a habit of thinking that a city is a “work of man”, but what man invented it? Was there a group of people who jointly decided how it should all go together? And if “man” invented societies or cities, why are all societies and cities so repressive of “man”? Why would “man” even want to invent internally contradictory standards and arbitrary social institutions for the purpose of giving himself a bad time?
We are used to think, that evolution stops with the highest evolved substance; the physical body of man. We perceive cities and societies as subordinate creations of man. But the problem with this line of thinking is, that if a city is a creation of man then the same thought pattern dictates that man is just a creation of the individual cells that constitute human body. And that those cells are a creation of protein and DNA molecules, and DNA is a creation of carbon and other inorganic atoms. In the end this line of thinking would dictate, that individual electrons contain the intelligence needed to build cities all by themselves.
If, on the other hand, you accept that there are evolutionary patterns that are not dependent on biological substance, cities start to make a whole lot more sense. When societies, cultures and cities are seen not as inventions of “man” but as higher organisms than biological man, it becomes much easier to understand the phenomena of war, genocide, and other forms of human exploitation. “Mankind” is not inherently interested in getting itself killed, but this organism that is a pattern of values superimposed on top of biological human bodies, doesn’t mind losing a few bodies to protect its greater interests.
Consider the way you are expected to live your life; you study, graduate, work and then retire. And by doing that whose interests are you serving? Who is the beneficiary? It’s not going to be you. Not in this modern world. More than anything it’s going to be the organization that employs you. And the organization can be seen as a social organism that converts the accumulated biological energy into forms that serve itself. It uses your energy throughout your life to grow stronger, and when you have become too old and weak to be of use, it excretes you and finds another younger person full of energy to take your place and do the same thing all over again.