the film
Numerical data in tables

Numbers & Separation

A Pamphlet to Consider
Distributed at Screenings of
RedFish BlueFish

What is the film about?

A strip of film is a sequence of still images played fast enough to fool us into believing that we are perceiving continuous motion; the mind is too slow to notice what is actually happening -- separate still images flashing in sequence. This is a clever trick for entertainment but to believe that separate events and things best model reality is a serious error. Our belief that numbers accurately describe reality, (as suggested by Isaac Newton) leads us into this error. Between zero and one lies the half, the quarter the eighth and sixteenth . . . an infinite barrier separates every number from every other. The complete connectedness of reality is hidden from us when we look at the world with numbers.

Why does this matter? Why is this subtle distinction worth our attention? When we apply our ideas of separation and stillness to a reality of loops and continuous movement, we disrupt the resonance that has given form to all that exists in the natural world. Three centuries ago, René Descartes supported the idea that “Nature abhors a vacuum.” In turn, technology took this insightful understanding and fashioned hydroelectricity, placing a stranglehold on Nature. We began to apply our simplistic, linear and numeric ideas to a reality in which they had no place.

On the Lower Snake River we built unmoving dam walls, creating still reservoirs that extend to the foot of the next dam wall. As we continue to accept these walls of separation and the ideas they represent we continue to disrupt the natural cycles on which the fabric of life depends. We encourage the ensuing decay.

Once we remove these barriers we will see the decaying world begin to recover, the interconnected loops growing on the resonance of truth and harmony. Again the rivers flow freely to the sea, the sun lifts the moisture to the snow-capped peaks and alpine lakes. The young salmon smolt flood to the ocean to feed and be fed upon, supporting the life cycles of many creatures in the sea. Once matured, the salmon swim upstream nine hundred miles, overcoming obstacles, climbing sixty-five hundred feet to the place of their birth. After spawning, they die and leave nutrients for creatures of the soil and forest to feed. If enough smolt survive their downstream journey, if enough survive their ocean life, if enough adults return to spawn, their population grows. The interconnected loops again resonate, rejuvenating the cycle of life.

The lesson to be learned is that true reality is a dynamic web of interconnected loops, each loop providing integrity to the fabric as a whole. Breaking any of these loops weakens other loops that weaken others and on and on. The whole fabric begins to unravel. When we try to shoehorn ideas that do no fit, e.g., numbers describing distance, emptiness and separation, we disrupt the natural flow of connectedness and the tapestry enters into a spiral of decay. But when we glimpse truth and try to live in harmony with this truth we allow loops to gain strength, to resonate and the whole fabric begins to rebuild.

Listening and thinking is the beginning of a process of change. Doing nothing allows continuance of the status quo. From notions to thoughts, thoughts to ideas, ideas to actions, we open our minds. What we think is what we become. Cogito ergo sum.

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