Posted by: chrismaser | March 9, 2010



All we humans do—ever—is practice relationships because the existence of everything in the universe is an expression of its relationship to everything else. Moreover, all relationships are forever dynamic and thus constantly changing, from the wear on your toothbrush from daily use to the rotting lettuce you forgot in your refrigerator. Herein lies one of the foremost paradoxes of life: the ongoing process of change is a universal constant that, much to our dismay, we have no control over.

Think, for example, what the difference is between a motion picture and a snapshot. Although a motion picture is composed of individual frames (instantaneous snapshots of the present moment), each frame is entrained in the continuum of time and thus cannot be held constant, as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius observed: “Time is a river of passing events, and strong is its current. No sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”1

Yet we, in our fear of uncertainty, are continually trying to hold the circumstances of our life in the arena of constancy as depicted in a snapshot—hence, the frequently used term preservation in regard to this or that ecosystem, this or that building. Yet jams and jellies are correctly referred to as “preserves,” because they are heated during their preparation in order to kill all living organisms and thereby prevent noticeable change in their consistency.

Insects in amber are an example of true preservation in Nature. Amberization, the process whereby fresh resin is transformed into amber, is so gentle that it forms the most complete type of fossilization known for small, delicate, soft-bodied organisms, such as insects. In fact, a small piece of amber found along the south coast of England in 2006 contained a 140-million-year old spider web constructed in the same orb configuration as that of today’s garden spiders. This is 30 million years older than a previous spider web found encased in Spanish amber. The web demonstrates that spiders have been ensnaring their prey since the time of the dinosaurs. And because amber is three-dimensional in form, it preserves color patterns and minute details of the organism’s exoskeleton, and so allows the study of micro-evolution, biogeography, mimicry, behavior, reconstruction of the environmental characteristics, the chronology of extinctions, paleo-symbiosis,2 and molecular phylogeny.3 But, the same dynamic cannot be employed outside of an airtight container, such as a drop of amber or canning jar. In other words, whether natural or artificial, all functional systems are open because they all require the input of a sustainable supply of energy in order to function; conversely, a totally closed, functional system is a physical impossibility.


Related Posts:

• The Law Of Cosmic Unification

• Principle 2: All relationships are inclusive and productive.

• Principle 3: The only true investment is energy from sunlight.

• Principle 4: All systems are defined by their function.

• Principle 5: All relationships result in a transfer of energy.

• Principle 6: All relationships are self-reinforcing feedback loops.

• Principle 7: All relationships have one or more tradeoffs.

• Principle 8: Change is a process of eternal becoming.

• Principle 9: All relationships are irreversible.

• Principle 10: All systems are based on composition, structure, and          function.

• Principle 11: All systems have cumulative effects, lag periods, and           thresholds.

• Principle 12: All systems are cyclical, but none are perfect circles.

• Principle 13: Systemic change is based on self-organized criticality.

• Principle 14: Dynamic disequilibrium rules all systems.


  1. <span style="color:#000000 Marcus Aurelius. BrainyQuote.
    aurelius.html (accessed 30 December 2008).

  2. G.O. Poinar, A.E. Treat, and R.V. Southeott. Mite Parasitism of Moths: Examples of Paleosymbiosis in Dominican Amber. Experientia, 47 (1991):210-212.

  3. The general discussion of amberization is based on: (1) George O Poinar, Jr. Insects in Amber. Annual Review of Entomology, 46 (1993):145-159; (2) Anonymous. Scientist: Earth’s Oldest Spider Web Discovered. London. In: Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR. December 16, 2008; and (3) Enrique Peñalver, David. A. Grimaldi, and Xavier Delclòs. Early Cretaceous Spider Web with Its Prey. Science, 312 (2006):1761.

Text © by Chris Maser 2010. All rights reserved.

Protected by Copyscape Web Copyright Protection

This series of blogs is excerpted from my 2009 book, Social-Environmental Planning: The Design Interface Between Everyforest and Everycity, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 321 pp.

If you want to contact me, you can visit my website. If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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