Are You the Crab Eye of God Turned Back to Gaze on Your Own Creation?

A striking quote from John Jeremiah Sullivan (paraphrasing botanist Constantine Samuel Rafinesque):

If we are conscious, as our species seems to have become, then nature is conscious. Nature became conscious in us, perhaps in order to observe itself. It may be holding us out and turning us around like a crab does its eyeball. Whatever the reason, that thing out there, with the black holes and the nebulae and whatnot, is conscious. One cannot look in the mirror and rationally deny this. It experiences love and desire, or thinks it does.

I like the feel of the quote, and I’m prepared to buy the first sentence outright. But, after that, the logic falters. Nature, for example, couldn’t intend, prior to consciousness, anything—most especially to “observe itself.” And it doesn’t follow that, because we are conscious, black holes are conscious.

So this passage really only works if, for nature, we trope the word “God” (which, for variety, I’ll designate as female):

If we are conscious, as our species seems to have become, then God is conscious. God became [more fully] conscious in us, perhaps in order to observe herself. She may be holding us out and turning us around like a crab does its eyeball. Whatever the reason, that thing out there [that created] the black holes and the nebulae and whatnot, is conscious. One cannot look in the mirror and rationally deny this. [She] experiences love and desire, or thinks She does [through us].

I like the idea that we are the means by which God looks on the particulars of her own body of creation (the universe) and experiences it from a particular vantage. It’s a pleasing theory. I wonder if it’s true.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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