the window as bridge, the window as revelation

To say that everything in our world is interrelated to everything else does not mean that everything is directly connected to everything else. In fact, anything we identify as a “thing” has a limited number of direct connections, and even these connections vary according to the way we look at them. The tree outside my window is connected to the soil, to the birds that are perching in it and the insects crawling around its leaves, to the neighboring trees whose branches it touches, and even to me who happens to be looking at it. I was struck by this late one afternoon as the sun was setting and I saw my own faint image in the window pane superimposed on the scene, as if I were suspended in the middle of the tree. 

There before me was the fiction of the phantom spectator, the self, that imagines itself looking objectively, when in fact it is no more than a pale haze overlaying and obscuring the real connections I have with the tree. But if I focus on any part of the tree, I see that it is a web of connecting parts that make those first connections indirect. And so on, down to the subatomic level. And if this is so, then the tree is also, in some distant sense, connected to everything else, right down to the last jar of honey in the corner grocery store. No “thing,” at any level, from whatever perspective we look at it, subsists on its own.

from: James W. Heisig, Nothingness and Desire

(for erin)