Take freely of what is given freely. Give when you are ready. Give too soon, and you sacrifice your own vitality. Give too late, and the rhythms of the whole begin to choke. The whole will adapt, of course; a gift is never mandatory. Even death of an individual is an adaptation of the whole, and nothing is wasted. When an individual dies, it ceases to behave as an individual, and the sea of its component parts -- which have always been present, operating together, participating in what to them is "the whole" -- become individuals, released from the bonds of an agreement. Death and birth are words for the releasing and forging of bonds en masse, as Consciousness explores the abstractions of agency. "People, they come together; people, they come apart" (Moby). Think of this line as the ebb and flow of community, but also as the ebb and flow of composing an individual. Humans come together to form a nation, and in diaspora new nations may form. Biological elements come together to form a life (human, and also all others), and in diaspora new manners of life may form.

Software programming is constant navigation of these abstraction levels -- the chutes and ladders of concept -- and so these thoughts are deeply familiar to me, even comfortable. As I move through my work (and also everything else) I am constantly asking, wordlessly, "is it more useful right now to think of x, y, and z as individually moving parts? or is it more useful to group them together and treat them as one? what personalities do they have as individuals? what personality does their collective demonstrate, as one?" These questions rarely have measurable answers, and often it is a matter of taste and intuition. There is no single correct path across the game board here, and the ladders and slides may be navigated randomly, aesthetically, or deterministically (I argue that intuition belongs in this last category) as the mood* strikes us.


*An exercise for the reader: what place does a mood occupy on our abstractive taxonomy? What is it made of? How does it come together, and what becomes of its component parts when it dies? What collectives may a mood join, forming new and larger composite individuals in the process?

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