You could read the words of Simone Veil from Gravity and Grace,
Let the soul of the man take the whole universe for its body. Let its relation to the whole universe be like that of a collector to his collection, or one of the soldiers who died crying out “Long live the Emperor!” to Napoleon. The soul transports itself outside the actual body into something else. Let it therefore transport itself into the whole universe. (140)
You could read Aldo Leopold’s definition of “The Land Ethic,”
All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).
The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.
You could read Wendell Berry in “The Stones,”
I owned a slope full of stones.
Like buried pianos they lay in the ground,
shards of old sea-ledges, stumbling blocks
where the earth caught and kept them
dark, an old music mute in them
that my head keeps now I have dug them out.
I broke them where they slugged in the dark
cells, and lifted them up in pieces.
As I piled them in the light
I began their music. I heard their old lime
rouse in breath of song that had not left me.
I gave pain and weariness to their bearing out.
What bond have I made with the earth,
having worn myself against it? It is a fatal singing
I have carried with me out of that day.
The stones have given me music
that figures for me their holes in the earth
and their long lying in them dark.
They have taught me the weariness that loves the ground,
and I must prepare a fitting silence.
And some say that soul is intermingled in the universe, for which reason, perhaps, Thales also thought that all things are full of gods.
That in particular, and as a whole, the things of this world manifest change and motion, beyond that which is human, and that the world on all levels is alive and bears and dwells in experience and being.
You might read “The Pianist And The Lobster” by Errol Morris. Morris considers the beautiful and awful experiences of the pianist Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter and Jeremy Denk. Both have an intense relation to music and pianos emphasizing the very lived and aware experience of notes and keys. Both employ objects in the world to navigate soul-crushing fears. Both wish and need the conscious of other beings around them.
ERROL MORRIS But when you know something by heart — a late Beethoven sonata, for example — are you consciously aware of what you’re doing while you’re playing it? Is it nonconscious? Is it mechanical? What is it? Not that it has to be one thing rather than another.
JEREMY DENK Usually there’s some conscious thread that I’m following. And sometimes, that’s somewhat physical, like I want to bring this finger down with this level of intensity and then this one. You’re just following the notes, calibrating the attacks of each finger so the phrase unfolds the way that you want it to.
But then while that’s happening, a lot of stuff is happening subconsciously around the perimeter that you can’t as much consciously control. And sometimes things go wrong in the perimeter there and you have to redirect your conscious forces to that place and then come back to the thing you originally wanted to focus on.
And then sometimes, it does feel as though the whole thing is running and you don’t have to particularly do anything. That’s nice.
Walking on the top of a hill, stepping through wet grass and feeling rain fall on my face, I look out at reeds and water and the gentle slope of hills in the distance. There are perceptions in and around me denoting objects themselves, the curl of grass blades, the brightness of pink-purple petals, and metamorphic and igneous rocks.
Each has an experiential history. And in connection to each other, an elaborate and constellated story and awareness without end. Moss and fungi-algae sandwiches called lichens live on the surface of that which has been compressed for ages, that which has boiled and bubbled out of the earth and then cooled. Each responds to each. Each has a perception, a view on things such as the hill descending toward the sea and the wind whipping in from the south and then curling back around to take another pass.
Think with Sviatoslav Richter performing Maurice Ravel’s Miroirs and consider the inherent consciousness of this music–as notes, as called forth by a piano and a pianist both existing and aware of each other. Sláinte!