The Living Cosmos


Genesis. Gummi Big Bang, Chandra Bocci, 2006

by Bill Benzon

As I understand it the modern conception asserts that the cosmos is fundamentally inanimate. Dead.

And then, somehow, life evolved. Miraculously. Except that we moderns don’t believe in miracles. So life isn’t a miracle.

It’s merely a puzzle. One we have yet to solve. That non-miracle puzzle remains a mystery.

Like consciousness.

I have a suggestion: Let’s declare the cosmos to be fundamentally animate. Or at least fecund. Brimming with abundance. But not dead.


Not dead.

In urging such a declaration I do not intend, thereby, to dissolve the mystery, solve the puzzle, explain the miracle. As if by magic.

Word magic.

Spells. Incantation. Enchantment.


Who do the voodoo that you do so well?

Not at all.

I just want to reframe the question, you know, the question that Chas. Ives was always asking. The unanswered one.

It’s not an idle suggestion, nor unmotivated, nor even unreasonable. After all, that big bang, or whatever it was/is, was/is enormously productive. Wasn’t it? Well then, what sense does it make to say that it was/is dead?

No. It’s alive. Animate. Fecund. Abundant.

Which means that our story is no longer one of heroic struggle against and defiance of a dead universe. It is not a story of us against them. Of fragile conquest, belligerently maintained in the face of a hostile universe.


It is simply a story of us.

All of us.

bosons quarks Sappho cathedrals atoms Sam Clemens molecules V2s RNA Buddha DNA cells slime molds yurts c. elegans mushrooms Joan of Arc peacocks jelly fish Tezuka Osamu ants adding machines worms manga soup wheat Richard Pryor rabbits submarines Florence Nightingale buffalo fetishes ice bergs streams braids cocktail napkins Mt. Everest Joan of Arc Sun Yat-sen

and so forth

Piece originally published at New SavannahCreative Commons License