In the early evening of fading light last night I visited a local shopping complex to purchase some simple necessities. In the sky just above some apartments I saw some small birds flying, too few to flock but just enough to exist in that liminal zone of groups of 3 or 4. Single birds would join and leave the nascent swarm but much as though skipping stones upon the surface of a deeper complexity. They quite naturally fell into and out of that which for a much larger number of birds would have been the swirling flow and flowering adaptive complexity of the murmuration. It made me wonder if we haven’t got this all wrong, if the patterned flow of information and energy systems is not the deeper goal (as much as causal force), and if in returning to the source the birds themselves each and all become smarter as though participating in a collective intelligence that lies here, obscured, just below the surface of appearances.

It would of course not be the first time we had mistaken superficial appearances for the counter-intuitive facts that sustain them. My visit to the supermarket was itself a little like the behaviour of the birds. I dropped into the contoured arc and channel of behavioural and material patterns that sustain both myself and my society and then, as ever, unwillingly detached to fly alone and home again in the darkness.

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