“We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
— Henry David Thoreau, in Walden
We agree with Thoreau, but we go father. Our Practice of Continuing Creation is “Based on Nature, Reason, & Science.” We look to Nature, and we look to Reason and Science, but we look most of all to the interracting Union of Nature, Reason, and Science. That Union, that Whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. Nature, when illuminated by Reason and Science, provides far greater meaning and inspiration for our lives than does Nature alone.
For example, consider the octopus. With eight arms, two big staring eyes, and the ability to move quickly, they are naturally frightening to human children. At the center of their eight limbs is a powerful beak for tearing appart and eating crabs and shellfish.
But close observation and scientific studies show octopuses to be amazing creatures. They can disappear in a cloud of ink, change color to match their environment, and they are extremely intelligent.
Wikipedia says: “Maze and problem-solving experiments have shown evidence of a memory system that can store both short- and long-term memory. Young octopuses learn nothing from their parents, as adults provide no parental care beyond tending to their eggs until the young octopuses
“In laboratory experiments, octopuses can readily be trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. They have been reported to practise observational learning. Octopuses have also been observed in what has been described as play: repeatedly releasing bottles or toys into a circular current in their aquariums and then catching them. Octopuses often break out of their aquariums and sometimes into others in search of food. The veined octopus collects discarded coconut shells, then uses them to build a shelter, an example of tool use.”
Octopuses will also wrap themselves into a ball, tum their suckers outward, and roll in a bed of discarded seashells. The suckers hold on to the seashells, giving the octupus a coat of “camoflage armor” that dupes their predators into swimming on by them without attack.
In the magnificient, critically acclaimed documentary, “My Octopus Teacher,”** Craig Foster, the free-diving naturalist narrator, manages to actually make friends with an octupus! This film combines Nature (the octopus), our scientific knowledge about it, and a good deal of cinematic art to create a viewing experience, a Whole, that is much greater than the sum of its parts.
** The film, My Octopus Teacher is currently available on Netflix. The short film-trailer is on YouTube, and Wikipedia has an article on the film.
— J.X. Mason is the author of Continuing Creation, completely viewable for free and without ads, at www.continuation.org.
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