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Reply To: The Air We Breathe

Richard Sumpter


I was so pleased to see your references and quotes of Brian Swimme.  I count him and Campbell as the two most formative sources in my education.  Several years ago, as an adjunct instructor, I created and taught a course called “Cosmology for the Non-Scientist.”  It was built on Swimme’s book, “The Universe Story” and his Canticle to the Cosmos.

We have, throughout this discussion chain, alluded to the need for new myths, and how we might go about creating them.  For good or for ill, whether consciously or unconsciously, I believe we are actually doing it.  I would cite one of my favorite Swimme quotes to illustrate:

“That which fascinates the human imagination will become that which shapes life.  We are a space that enables the future to act in the present in a major new way.  We transform the life process into a teleological process.  What goals, purposes, aims, are we going to choose as human beings?  What we choose will become the central shaping power of the life process.
At a personal level, that which grips your imagination will determine your life and character.  That’s why it’s important to guard your imagination from pollution.
At a species level, that which fascinates the human imagination is already that which life is becoming.” – Brian Swimme

A great challenge for me is the rather constant oscillation between the macro and the micro viewpoint – from the cosmos to the quark, from our U.S. Constitution to a silly Executive Order, from a global pandemic to a virus so small it isn’t even a single celled organism.  This change in perspectives necessary to understand things really demands the kind of transformation of consciousness Campbell so often speaks about.  In a pragmatic sense, it gives truth to this quote by Alan Kay: “A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”

But it was Brian Swimme who enabled me to go from microscope to telescope and connect all the dots in-between.  So thanks for introducing him into this discussion.  It’s always good to find a kindred spirit.

Pilgrim 1