Subtle is the Lord — Te Nave Nave Fenua

I have [P]interests, too. Mostly, I pin things to my Litboard and write a few lines about them. Sometimes, these different Internet places where I’m invested strike me as tiny parallel universes. They’re too tiny to be fully grown or able to do much for you. They never assume full responsibility for their content. You spend perhaps only seconds or a few minutes in each of them, but all of them together (Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Fictionaut, Twitter, ScoopIt, Storify, WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous, Weebly etc.) manifest something more than just a bunch of sites. I don’t really know myself yet how exactly this works, but the totality of alternative electronic worlds is subject to an evolutionary process not unlike the physical universe as such: …these platforms can be grafted upon one another (mash-up, merger) or compete with each other (Facebook, Google+) and so on, with a profound difference to the biological arena being that we, little me and little you, are not just standing by but we play with them and inside them (always the danger of losing ourselves in the process), we worry about them, we recommend them, we kick them like dirty old habits. This means that we’re like gods in the midst of these informational universes that we’ve made (and I mean all of us, because only where people to go play and pin and post and palaver will there be life). Maybe this is also what other, larger, invisible gods do to our planet and all the other planets. Perhaps the green trees, all of them that I see and can’t see, the whole planetary network of trees, is a community platform of divine gardeners.

When I was a boy, I had this idea first, as soon as I’d grasped the unreal reality of atoms: what if there was a giant child somewhere within, our world nothing but an atom in the little finger of this giant child. Just like perhaps an atom in my little finger was a complete world with a child looking up at me in this moment having the same thoughts. Dr Seuss and T Pratchett must’ve had this thought, too. It’s the Cosmic Turtle for beginners.

This whole linked chain of thoughts makes me feel like a spark with notions of my own divinity. It was set in motion really when I pinned a lovely post by anonymous blogger and writer Beachsloth to my Litboard: it reminded me that I’m a physicist by training, something that lingers in my mind like a mirage on a desert road behind me rather than ahead of me. I’ve not used this fact much in my writing but perhaps I’ll do more of that. Right now I’m working on a little story that involves Einstein and I’m happy to feel just a little closer to him than if I wasn’t a physicist. Not that it’s really possible to feel close to a cultural icon: they hang on the wall. They’ve been pinned there by history (did you know there’re more than 116 Million images of Einstein on the Web?). To close, let’s remember that we’re sparks and gods at the same time. We’ve created this digital Garden of Eden and we copulate in it at the same time. We put ourselves here and we toy with banning ourselves from it, at least I do, all the time.

Earlier in the week, a group of students asked me a question that I’m often asked: how do I find the time to do all that I do?I told them that I try to be efficient on a day-to-day basis (as I’m sure we all do), and that I only survive in digital Eden because every once in a while I take a solid break from it. Usually, this cycle follows my teaching term. When I’m on a media break, I pay a lot more attention to my body. I look at my hands and I notice new lines on them. I sit with my hands in my lap rather than on my laptop and look out the window. I read to my loved ones. I roll words around in my mouth and swallow them whole, or I chew them for long periods. At the end of it I can do all kinds of things with words that I couldn’t do before. And that’s only a fraction of it. When I’m done with that, I resurrect myself and return to the Delightful Land to play some more with you guys.

6 thoughts on “Subtle is the Lord — Te Nave Nave Fenua

  1. I have often asked myself more or less the same question, about you, as your students have.
    Even though, rather than actually wonder how you do ALL  that, I wonder how you manage to do it  so WELL.I think I hate you.

    • I get along. I’ll probably have to pay a terrible price at the end of a long, effective life. And then there is the power of afternoon napping, which helps enormously…

    • Thank you, but the honor goes to Einstein (“Subtle is the Lord”) and Gauguin (“Te Nave Nave Fenua”)…when I use existing expressions, I always feel bad, somehow. Usually I suck at titles. I don’t think there’s any other part of writing that I linger as much over as titles. The possible titles for this post were, in this order: “Pinterested?”; “Spark and God”; “Gourd and Spark”; “Divine Gardening”. And on it goes…there ought to be writers/publicists who don’t do anything but come up with the best titles…there probably are!

  2. Lovely. I try to be efficient too. But mostly I try to lie on the couch and watch sitcoms. Is this OK if I’ve convinced myself I’m on a break? 

    • You have my permission to delude yourself and more: I think watching sitcoms is both pleasant and educational-when you’re a writer, anything can turn into material, and sometimes there’s more to learn where entertainment fails to entertain…but more to the point: what’re your favorite sitcoms?

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