Try, fail and try again. Trial and error is the basis of evolution. But is the concept limited to biological workings? I want to divulge my own perspective on evolution and its siblings, who as a family relentlessly brings the world into states of greater complexity.
To do this, I reuse the term evolution and let this new evolution have two characteristics
- For each version of evolution, there is a group of subjects that manifest and disappear (live and die).
- Transcending those lives, is a concept which is made more complex by this process.
The eternal evolution
Take stars, for instance. Brown dwarves live long lives, blue giants short lives. They all explode eventually and spread dense matter that ends up in other solar systems. That is their interaction. The concept that evolves, is the distribution of elements. Our solar system is of the third generation, which means the elements we are made out of, have been involved with two stars before. Otherwise, there’d only be hydrogen and helium. This evolution of matter made life possible.
On our own planet, then, you eventually got the biological evolution, the prime example. It started out as evolution of structures: inevitably, only the stable ones remained. Then, when life was truly starting to form, producing bodies and movement, competition took over. The changes that evolution made on its subjects, varied greatly as the complexity rose. At first, you would see genes multiplying, forming two body parts where there used to be one. In time, the genetic “programming language” was extended, and changes could happen in more ways. More interestingly, they could surface as preferences, desires, feelings, things that were previously unknown and irrelevant for early evolution.
A lot later, with the introduction of communication, evolution could work on ideas. Human beings introduced complex language, and soon, the new lives of evolution were governments, empires, religions, and art. Ideas have been growing and multiplying beside us humans ever since we started having them. At some point, they started acting on their own and having great impact on our short lives. Our ideas have long since outgrown us.
Sure, we designed them and we keep them alive; but the systems, functions and institutions of our society move us around like puppets at times. Evolution can only work so fast to change them, and the momentum of these titans is undeniable. We enter into these abstract organisms and take on roles that are different from our own nature, working for their cause because they, in turn, give us the food we need to survive. Sadly, with no central consciousness, it is hard to let these lives be subject to the ethics we ourselves live by, as they seem to exist in a more brutal environment than the one they have provided us with: our safe, wealthy society distant from nature. In time, the evolution of ideas might change this.
Other ideas stay in the abstract realm and give birth to small, curious lives. Science is one of these; like ants on an anthill, we swarm over it and add our little correcting bits, planting new seeds, resulting in all kinds of technology and knowledge.
The idea of art
The ideas I find most interesting, are those of art. It is the most broad and varied, the most changing and the most impacting of all our ideas. All art borrows subconsciously from other art, configuring it in new ways and adding as much new as the artist can manage. In effect, most art is greater than any one human being. It is the best parts of many. But more importantly, it survives them and it survives the artwork, waiting for the next artist to pledge his alliegiance to the cause of artistic evolution.
Still, what art does and has ever done, is to show us what we are. So it should have an upper limit of evolution. We like to deconstruct, and we love to rediscover old and “lost” art. The later years have seen a change in art and its expressions that is due to science’s evolution, and not art’s own. Furthermore, whereas the evolution of science brings us far beyond humanity, and into the depth of things we can never fully understand, the evolution of art would have to converge. Its evolution is to give gradually better insights, lessons and explanations of ourselves and the things we know.
But no two days are we the same. In a changing world, what we are changes as well, as we become ourselves through interaction with the surroundings. Thus, art is given more to express. Possibly, one day the evolution of other ideas will have given art the power to keep up with that change. What would that mean for us?
A whole darn lot, I daresay.