knots of silk

This time of the summer is always teeny tiny spider time in my yard. Sometimes we find them in the house and toss them back outside.

Teeny spiders make me think of this breathtaking passage from David Abrams'
The Spell of the Sensuous, as he describes being in a lushly mossy little cave, refuge from a tropical torrential downpour in a valley in Bali:

"Soon I was looking into a solid curtain of water, thin in some places, where the canyon's image flickered unsteadily, and thickly rushing in others. My senses were all but overcome by the wild beauty of the cascade and by the roar of sound, my body trembling inwardly at the weird sense of being sealed into my hiding place.

And then, in the midst of all this tumult, I noticed a small, delicate activity. Just in front of me, and only an inch or two to my side of the torrent, a spider was climbing a thin thread stretched across the mouth of the cave. As I watched, it anchored another thread to the top of the opening, then slipped back along the first thread and joined the two at a point about midway between the roof and the floor. I lost sight of the spider then, and for a while it seemed that it had vanished, thread and all, until my focus rediscovered it...Whenever I lost the correct focus, I waited to catch sight of the spinning arachnid, and then let its dancing form gradually draw each new knot of silk as it moved, weaving my gaze into the ever-deepening pattern.

And then, abruptly, my vision snagged on a strange incongruity: another thread slanted across the web, neither radiating nor spiraling from the central juncture, violating the symmetry. As I followed it with my eyes, pondering its purpose in the overall pattern, I began to realize that it was on a different plane from the rest of the web, for the web slipped out of focus whenever this new line became clearer. I soon saw that it led to its own center, about twelve inches to the right of the first, another nexus of forces from which several threads stretched to the floor and ceiling. And then I saw that there was a different spider spinning this web...The two spiders spun independently of each other, but to my eyes they wove a single intersecting pattern. This widening of my gaze soon disclosed yet another spider spiraling in the cave's mouth, a
nd suddenly I realized that there were many overlapping webs coming into being, radiating out at different rhythms from myriad centers poised--some higher, some lower, some minutely closer to my eyes and some farther--between the stone above and the stone below.

I sat stunned and mesmerized before this ever-complexifying expanse of living patterns upon patterns..."

This is the image that came to my mind also when Dan Leahy and I chatted recently about all the professional + personal networks of conversation and practice and collaboration and collective exploration that we know about or are involved with, and how we might imagine them visually or map them. Of the several models that we have played with--geodesic dome with glowing nodes, living cells in organic or organismic relationship, a fluid territorial map where any two or more spots can be become instantly contiguous, and others--I am drawn to Abrams' powerfully-related experience of the spider world, to see it as a metaphor for all of the many kinds of world-soul restoration work that's being done everywhere I look. I love the sense of incredibly complex beauty and order that arose from the independent spinning of each individual spider, overlapping (and intersecting?), each web originating from its own center and radiating outwards. I enjoy my own anthropomorphic interpretation, as an aspiring web-spinner, that we can relax into trust, and rely on each other to come from our own centers to create an inevitably perfect and "ever-complexifying expanse of living patterns..."