[this document is in process of assembly - l.e. 07.06.09]


Symbiosis as a term is used to refer to the character of interactions amongst dissimilar living organisms in intimate relation of some sort or other, specifically those between a symbiont (guest/invader) and a host (provider/prey). As a topic people could speak cogently about, the idea probably rose to common awareness in the 1970’s and 80’s with the work of academic pioneers such as Lynn Margulis and the team of Varela and Maturana. Their research revealed startling and unexpected depths to relations that were previously considered in a primarily mechanical light.

Though James Lovelock may have coined the term or brought it to common awareness with his book Gaia — it was the work of Margulis, the wife of the late Carl Sagan and mother of Dorion Sagan — that gave proof to a startling set of postulates. The strong implication of her research was that the concept of competition as the basis of the evolution of species is at best incomplete, and at worst devastatingly misfounded.

Her work and theories met with many years of ridicule, primarily because their implications could change evolutionary theory’s primary postulate, and shatter the existing towers of dogma in many simultaneous domains.

In time, her research generated models demonstrating that the evolution of the animal-cell (eukaryotes) was most probably the result of symbiotic mergers — which were the source of the complex cellular ecosystems that lead to animals and humans.

You could say that the ‘entity’ writing this text, and the one reading it are more ‘cellular hyperstructures’ than they are ‘human’ or ‘animal’ — and you’d be correct.

~ : O : ~

The ongoing reflective complexification of the available and embodied relationships in the primordial Earth eventually led to a sort of fusion-event — an ever-more explosive momentum was set up in a general domain of relation that could as easily be called biocognitive as physical. The opportunities thus potentiated led first to co-operation, and then ever-more complex mergers.

In the modern moment, we give value-precedence to the localized mergers, which we call animals — pretending that the distributed mergers (ecosystems) are not in fact the same kind of game. The truth of these matters is more startling than either of these positions however, and requires direct experiential contact and exploration to adequately understand.

Eventually, sub-organismal mergers (guest-in-host) became a powerful evolutionary lens, and this generated enough opportunity and momentum to cover the planet with millions of species of plants and animals — countless sizes, assemblies and scales of organismal co-evolution.

These mergers resulted in previously inconceivable spectra of cooperative sentience and opportunity lensing. In organismal unity, previous competitors or consortia were empowered to co-create and sustain something like a biorelational fusion explosion: they set up an exponentially expanding ‘standing wave’ of diversity and complexity magnification, the result of which was new ways of doing this more adeptly. The entire game was one of cultivating ever-more diverse and complex connectivity, through the vehicle of organismal relation and assembly.

These initial sparks ignited wave after wave of biological treasure: the opportunity to overcome impossible obstacles, while assembling ever-more relationally cogent complexity. Whether localized in a single organism, or distributed over multiple terrains and domains — the planet herself has been a sentient solar nursery for This ‘by-product’ of diversity grew ever-more adaptive with every sustainable symmetry of relation that was added in process.

Within these ‘new ways’ there were as yet unembodied branches that would lead out of simple organism entirely — to the locally-embodied hypersentience that was the precursor to and is still the living source of our human consciousness: animals.


The meaning of this is clear: the power of competition in nature is not as a basis or inspiration for evolution — it is instead merely one of myriads of elements that together allow for the diversification and prosperity of an entire organism. Whether we look at this organism in terms of an individual, a collective, an ecosystem or a planet — the only place competition acts omnicidally is in human ideologies.

The source of this is not our nature, or some demon pressing us on with whispered obligations — it is our ideas, their shape and what they arise in real service to — which is too often their own preservation.

The vast detriment visited upon of billions of populations of anciently conserved and preciously elaborated sentiences by our activity is a gesture fundamentally directed at ourselves in every instance.

Every malformed attack on the terrestrial environment and modern survivors vastly weakens and harms our own organism, our human and physical relations, and the living experience of our sentience in ways our science is not yet prepared to even glance in the general direction of.

Consider what would happen in your own body if the entirety of the most complex cells suddenly ‘got some new ideas’ and began erasing every other type and instance of organism or organismal terrain at their whim, replacing it with what ‘they thought should be there’ — such as machines and transports of mechanical power. Were something like this to happen to an animal it would be dead before having had any hope of understanding what was going on.

Luckily, Earth is slightly more resilient than this. For the past 1000 years, at least — our planetAnimal has been in precisely this position. I believe that the entirety of the conserved organismal sentience of Earth stands at this moment in the direct path of a vast variety of threats we as a species are either inventing and nurturing, or ignoring.

In order to understand why, we will benefit from deeper explorations into organismal purpose and relation. The meanings we will arrive at are far more poetic than scientific: they are living languages of meaning that value hearts before minds, and content before structure.

~ : O : ~

guest = self

An implication of Margulis’ work in the evolution and meaning of endosymbionts (inward guests) is that animal cells (eukaryotes) evolved from bacteria-like (prokaryotic) precursors who formed intrinsic and consortial alliances. These new forms of relation afforded participants the power to assemble synergistic lenses capable of translinear magnifications of organismal effort, opportunity and general prosperity.

The startling underneath of this is easily overlooked: the historical and evolutionary path of complex animals is symbiogenic; that it to say — elementally co-operative to the point of assembling animals out of dissimilar animals for the sake of mutual preservation, prosperity, and reproductive success.

If this process is what is assembling the ‘competitors’ we see through the pseudo-Darwinian lenses of our current understandings it means that what we formally believed and acted upon as being competition was never anything even related to what we modeled it as.

~ : O : ~


An idealized model of the polarities of organismal relation. In this model each primary element is comprised of sub-assemblies from other elements, as well as circumstance (environment).

From within the perspective of any element, the map and significance of the elements changes dramatically. It would be difficult indeed to locate a better source or schema for the communications games animals and humans are constantly elaborating.

~ : O : ~


Symbiont and host function as a biocognitive and biorelational unity. They are no longer formally discrete.

This is the physical peak of probiotic endeavor. What was at first unified (in the beginnings of life on Earth), and then divided (and complexified), is now re-unified to grand effect.

Symbiogenesis is the emergence of a new organism as the result of a merger between formally dissimilar organisms.


Participants enjoy mutual benefits from association with minimal or nonexistent detriment to either.

Trophobiosis is a form of mutualism where a symbiont-provider receives food-care from a protector-host organism.


The symbiont is afforded shelter, benefit or protection by the host with no effect upon the host.

Symbiont dwells on a surface of a host.

Symbiont dwells in the host’s shelter.

Symbiont utilizes the host as a vehicle of transport.

Symbiont dwells within the host, treating it as shelter. The larger organism is generally presumed to be the host.

An indirect relation. The symbiont utilizes a product of dead hosts, without causing harm or death to those hosts.


The term comes from ancestors meaning ‘sharing the table’ and refers to the sharing of resources (primarily food) amongst organisms without detriment to participants due to sharing.


There is judged to be no appreciable effect because the organisms are not in contact, or at least not in any way that would meet our standards of qualification.


The symbiont negatively impacts another neutral organism, with no resultant gain for either.


A relation in which the mutual presence of organismal entities is detrimental to each other in terms of terrain needs, resource acquisition, reproductive process, and transports related to these elements.


A relationship where a presumably undesired symbiont gains benefit from close interaction with a host who is primarily harmed in the process.

Parasitoids: Parasites which commonly result in host death.

Hyperparasites: Parasites which parasitize themselves, such as a female organism who is a hunting parasite, yet is herself parasitized by an obligate male of her own species.


Primarily phagic (eating-motivated) relations between predatory organisms and various or singular species of prey. The relationship is lethal to the prey and nourishing to the predator. The predator is commonly larger than the prey. In some forms co-operative hunting results in wider access to prey.


Functionally suicidal relations with other organisms organized toward omnicide. The result is autophagic since any participant is in effect a participant in a single animal.

As xenophobic modes of relation proceed into manifest activity at the species-scale, the result is an exponentially receding access to previously available resources, transports and relations — particularly in terms of reproduction and cognitive opportunity.

In effect, every act of biocide is occurring in the estranged organism’s own body, relations, lineage, children, ‘mind’, and future. Not in a ‘cause - effect’ spiral, but instantaneously.

~ : O : ~

Here are a few other terms related to our explorations of symbiosis which it will prove helpful to be generally familiar with:

host / guest
host / symbiont:

Usually the larger organism is considered the host, and the smaller in the relation the guest, or symbiont. Thus an animal cell might be modeled as the host of the organelles it exists in obligate endosymbiosis with. From the position of the organelle — the host has become a living universe — a sort of penultimate ectosymbiont. We might speculatively dub this a macrosymbiont.

ecto / endo symbiosis:

An endosymbiont relates from within an organism. An ectosymbiont relates with the surface(s) of a host. (on or within the surface). Environmental symbionts such as a cat and its prey-species appear to be outside of these classifications, although all terrestrial organisms could be said to be endosymbionts of Earth.


The relationship is required for the survival of the participant organism(s).


The relationship is based on conditional factors subject to cyclic or circumstantial change.


Some forms of symbiotic relation are permanent, some temporary. Not all the permanent forms are obligate.


Most formal discussions of symbiosis would not account these modes of relation as being of equal significance to more obviously repetitive relations. Nonetheless, this domain forms a vast garden of potential and momentum from which the formal relations may themselves take their inspiration and shape.

~ : O : ~


If we begin with a perspective which asserts or implies that all individuals are discrete, we can be easily encouraged to join the active and theoretical proponents of the ‘evolutionary fact’ of competition as the formative basis of organismal relation and activity.

Yet such a choice would be ill-advised for a number of obvious reasons, perhaps foremost amongst which is that our initial perspectives will tend to enforce themselves as fact in our experience. This is due to the often maddening truth that the way we perceive the terrain will tend to define the character and adeptness of our own relations with it — thus shaping it toward the expectations implicit in our perspective. So too will it color our understandings and access to the real transports and opportunities of relation, however they may be actually arrayed.

The living fact that assembles organismal sentience at the animalian, ecological and planetary scales is a simple thing to state: explosive magnification of relational potentials in unity. This is the source of sentient complexity on Earth and in our species. While the outcomes of this game may be skewed into an interpretation that implies competition is the motivator, there are invisible forms and modes of competition we must examine clearly before we decide what our observations about competition mean.

The symbionts of Earth are no more in competition than the cellular constituents of the biospheres we call our bodies — and that competition is for the opportunity to ever-more adeptly insure survival of the whole assembly — not for the position at the top of some imaginary pyramid. What’s more, ‘pure competitors’ are in action and fact the enemies of the environment they arise with(in).

~ : O : ~

The range of symbiotic behavior amongst terrestrial organisms requires that we simplify to a degree, and also that we pick out specific form-aspects of relation between organisms. Biology encourages us to select the physical aspect, and thus the relations explored involve food, shelter, transport and terrain control. When classing a given relationship between organisms, the most generally accurate character of the relation is what is primarily taken into consideration. Thus a given organism may be generally predatory, yet may also maintain a variety of non-predatory relations with other hosts and symbionts. Of course, any complex animal is already host and symbiont...

At the upper polarity of our tree-diagram is a place we might liken to marriage — organism. Endosymbionts become internal elements in the host they were once discrete from. Obligate endosymbionts are a functionally unified organism, because neither host nor guest can survive without each other. All animals (and many other forms of life) are really just complexly evolved ecological vehicles existing as the result of precisely these sorts of mergers.

The lower polarity of our model is omnicide. At this position a given organism takes an actively abiotic stance toward lifeForms and assemblies in general, including their own kind. Homo sapiens is the only openly omnicidal participant in the biosphere that we are aware of. Viruses and cancers are parasitic — but they are a vast distance up the ladder from omnicide, which serves no purpose but the arbitrary and hateful extermination of organismal sentience, relation and opportunity.

Any terrestrial lifeForm represents a unique and irreplaceably invaluable living vessel, containing and elaborating a record of infinite conservations, mergers, histories and stories of relation. Delicate and priceless beyond all possible exaggeration, each organism is a living book, older and more complex than the entirety of human technology and knowledge. This we have long known and discussed, even if the degree to which it is true is commonly misapprehended. The more accurate model is a seemingly incomprehensible extension of this however: The entirety of the local organismal biosphere is embodied in each participant completely and uniquely. Change the container ever-so-slightly — and all participants suffer or prosper in ongoing exponential co-reflection of the change. Remove a single complex animal from the biosphere, and you change every complex animal in that biosphere accordingly. The seed of this change grows so explosively that models of it would seem absurd.

~ :O: ~

Any individual organism represents the complete and unique organismal moment of a thread that leads all the way back to the genesis of Life on Earth. A species is an explosively growing library of such entities.

To understand more deeply the sources of the problems with our species and our environment, we must reveal the understandings that lead or encourage us to misvalue our own organismal natures, sentience, lineages and progenitors. In doing so we will inevitably discover that a loss in the complexity-diversity of Earth translates instantly to a scalar magnification of that loss in human potential, experience, consciousness and opportunity.

The reason is simple: the ‘planet’ we call ‘Earth’ is not a planet — it’s a transentient organismal hyperstructure. It’s thousands of billions of years old — in every participant at every scale... not merely ‘as one thing’. Earth is ‘more animal’ and more cognitively miraculous than any of her constituents could possibly make accurate models of — but we aren’t supposed to be imagining it. We are supposed to have direct experiential access to this. Not as metaphysics or religion: as the living fact of our animalian birthrights, purpose, and experience. We were made for direct participation.

~ : O : ~

For thousands of billions of years, a planet-animal of a complexity that would render all of our fictions into absurd understatement has been assembling itself right here, with(in) its children. The animal we call Earth is a living hypersymphony of anciently conserved co-elaborative organismal relation. Her children and lineages comprise a library of distributed sentience with powers and potentials beyond the all sums of the wildest fantasies of human technology, speculation, or knowledge.

Yet for some reason we must rapidly discover, her first cognitively representational children cannot yet allow themselves to admit that we ourselves are organelles in an alien sentience that renders the sum of human science-fiction ’aliens’ entirely unimaginative in comparison.

The toyLike models and metaphors we’ve been delivered into conceptual servitude to have so little to do with what and where we are — as well as why. Somehow, the ways we come to know and credential what we know are effecting a subterfuge: they are binding us into becoming something we cannot become. In process, they are laying waste to our human liberty, understanding, knowledge and environment.

How do ways of knowing come to rule the entirety of an animalian biosphere with an often omnicidal fist? Part of the answer lies in the roots of organismal relation — and our cursory understandings of symbiosis can be fashioned into a unique vehicle that will allow us to more adeptly expose these questions, their roots — and the unimagined opportunities that lie in reframing what we believe we understand about Life, our Universe, and ourselves.


Human Knowledge is a ‘species’ of organismal participant in the symbiotic basis of Earth:

Since ways of knowing result in active modes and commonly shared or replicated lenses of relation in our species, these ‘ways of knowing’ comprise fully functional organisms, even though they are non-physical, and could be proven in nearly every instance to be entirely imaginary.

Our species is unique in that ideas largely shape the character and outcome of our organismal and conscious activity. If the ideas are generally accurate


~ : O : ~



1. Hypersymphony: A symphony with multiple scales, domains, assemblies, speeds, and forms of participant. This form of symmetry is atemporal, and has translocal organs, transports and embodiments. Intricately co-creative transports arise as the ongoing activity in the whole gains ever-increasing velocity in the creation, assembly, and activation of new symmetries, and ways or places in which to embody and ever-more complexly express the opportunities of sentience-lensing.