animal promptings and foreshadowings (1.2)

At every level of life one trades mobility for security …. immobility for adventure.

We know the experience of this to the individual. Moving to a new place means losing the security of friends, family, a job, possibly a language. The threat of mobility on any size community is by a similar exercise neither hard to imagine. Human mobility threatens security along several lines. Some will say it threatens health security, economic security, or political security. It would be better if everyone stayed in one place.

Certainly the incentives are there for people to stay in one place. Television brings adventure to the home. Shopping malls bring the city to the suburbs. Online retailing and reliable global shipping means I’ll likely have better luck finding a unique handmade piece of jewelry from a Swedish metalsmith online than if I were to actually fly to Sweden, bringing damage to my pocketbook and the environment.

On the other hand, mobility is becoming a solution to some of our insecurities. Climate change will mean that people will find security in moving. Telecommunication security is moving data from the security of one place – the local hard drive – to the highly agile and transferable cloud environment with its distributed networks. Security for increasingly ubiquitous computing may be found in mobile nodes and devices.

But then security in mobility is nothing new. Many Americans moved to the suburbs for security. The permanent settlement in early North American history meant communities increased their vulnerability to illness borne from poor sanitation – a hard ironic end for anyone who left the Old World for greater economic security.

So then, we might conclude that security is rather to be found somewhere between movement and settlement? That motivations to movement or settlement are guided by the principle of security? And this doesn’t break with the animal or insect precedent. A species of ant found in the malaysian rainforest, will move its settlement of ten thousand worker ants and herd of mealybugs to wherever the food is.

But security in movement or settlement is based on regulatory systems that depend on information and interpretation. Whether hurtling through space or sitting on one spot, something within stays put. The object in motion stays in motion, the object at rest stays at rest. The stay in homeostasis. Stay … from ester … “to stand” … a position from which one can either sit or walk. Unless, that is as the law goes, an external unbalanced force is applied. Even then, the rupture is only new information to be processed as a signal to a new course of stable action. For even within the moment when the standing posture is to be converted by the collision of force into a reaction of fight or flight, stillness is the move.


  1. Agreed, whether we share the movement or not. The village without permanent settlement restrictions.

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