My favorite idea thus far, from my deepening appreciation of actor-network theory, is picturing everything as assemblages of interests. I've just come back inside from watering and weeding all the flowering plants and bushes. I came up with a great example of this from my friends in possession of green leaves and roots in the ground.
Plants are interested in water and nutrients in the right proportion which allows them to dry out between cycles. I am interested in their growing lots of healthy looking foliage and producing plenty of beautiful blooms. As I become enrolled in their interests, I become mobilized to fill the water can, add some diluted plant fertilizer and make the rounds. My interests get translated into the plants' interests in water and nutrients. There interests in drying out between cycles mobilizes me to stop watering and wait days between watering.
This also gives us a way to see what Gregory Bateson defined as mind (in nature). When I am watering the flowering bushes, there is a complete circuit functioning for all of us in it:
- the news to me of a declining difference in the plants' moisture level
- my interest in increasing that moisture level
- pouring water on the plants from my watering can
- the plants getting news of a difference in their moisture level
- the plants activating growth cycles with that moisture difference
- the news to me of an increasing difference in the plants moisture level
- my loss of interest in increasing that moisture level until the news changes
Combined together, we comprise an actor-network. Every component of this assemblage receives roles from our gathering, gets mobilized in our own ways and makes a difference to all the other components. We are interacting to such an extent it seems realistic to say that: "interacting is all there is".