Friday, May 30, 2008

I Plucked a Cell of Me and Filled it With Yolk

I plucked a cell of me and filled it with yolk.
and folded in memories of my mother and father.

and i chose me a man to strip myself bare with.
and i chose him to become a suckling child with.
i chose me a man to become sweaty with
a man to incite my egg to grow.
and i became slimy inside, and he put himself in me
and we set to scratching our itches to swells of excitement
to set the passage ways squirting and yearning
and he thundershowered millions of raindrops into me
swimming little critters of himself into me,
mixed memories of his fathers and mothers into me
and I rippled with pleasure calling them deeper
to join with myself, my eggself if they could.
and they raced with each other and they with fought each other
and they swam for a day
till they landed on the yolky shore of my eggself
and she chose only one and she ate him
and they joined themselves to be you.

and all his other selves died, and i expelled them.

and you, the lucky one,
started out like a mushroom,
then you swelled to a jelly fish
then you folded into a worm and you almost died,
as your brother did when he folded the wrong way, and i expelled him.

but you rippled into a fish finally
swimming in my watery womb
behind my belly button memory of my mother.

but you weren't really a fish,
your gills didn't work to breath in my waters
couldn't breath the oxygen dissolved in my waters,
there was no krill in my wombsea to eat
so i wove myself to you again
and i bled into you and you bled into me. and you almost killed me.

then you became a newt.
then you became a mouse.
then you became a scratching kicking puppy and it was time to let you out.

so i pushed and you held on
and i pushed harder and you screamed silently kicking
and i pushed and i dumped out my wombwaters leaving you soggy,
and i screamed
and it was hell,
an all night wrestling match,
and i might have hated you for a moment or two
till i finally tore you from me bleeding placenta
and pushed you into the world all bloody and slimy, and i almost died again.

and our shared arteries were severed
and your muscles thought fast
and closed like fists around them forever
separating our bloodtides lest you bled to death
and your eyes blinked in the light for the first time
and you felt the cold dry air for the first time
and you had to cough the warm womb water from your lungs
to breath in the fiery oxygen for the first time
and you yelled your lungs into breath.
and i fainted.
and you woke up to your own long frightening journey.

and i grew great sweat pimples from my chest into breasts
and filled them with milk from my fat
and you swam, a fish again, on my belly
and you sucked my milky waters and i warmed you.

we tried to stay together, you,
my fish swimming in my breasty sea,
but dammit you kept growing.

first you were a fish,
then you were a larva with giant oggling laughing head,
then your eyes focussed,
then your hands grasped,
then you learned to eat
and my seeping springs of milk ran dry.

then your fingers became intelligent.
then you got on your feet and walked from me to explore the world.
and you imagined yourself into a separate being and feared the night.

and that's where you came from

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Khoshekayim v'khoshekhim: Primordial Darkness vs. Curtain Darkness

this is my ongoing notes on a discussion of yhvh talking from light and darkness in deutoronomy 5:19 to 23

moshe is recounting the scene at sh'mot 19, so we need to go BACK.

let's go to the beginning:

sh'mot 3:2
v'yera mal'akh %&$** 'alaiv b'labat 'esh mitokh has'neh. v'yar' v'heneh has'neh bo'er b'esh v'has'neh 'einenu 'ukhal.

v'yomer moshe 'asura na v'er'eh 'et hamar'eh hagadol haze, madua' lo yiv'ar has'neh.

v'yar' &*%$$^& ki sar lir'ot. vyikra' eleiv 'elohim mitokh has'neh, v'yomer moshe moshe, v'yomer hineni.

ok this is where it starts. how does *%%^& call? by peaking someone's curiousity. *^%%$ did not bludgeon moshe over the head, in fact you cant SEE a flame in broad dayligh! you can only see it in the contrasting darkness inside a bush! and even then, it is not obvious and &%$&% is pleased that moshe was WATCHFUL and CURIOUS!

so this flame in the darkness of a s'neh! That's the prefered mode of mal'akhei &%%^& fireflies in the night.

s'neh and sar (to turn) both with samekh.

a bush which is burning but is not consumed. this is an image for something. the heart? the jewish people? a coal? looking into burning coals is a confusing thing, various levels of contrast between light and darkness

now 13: 21 v#$#@ holekh liphneihem yomam b'amud 'anan (both ayin column of cloud) lankhotam haderekh, vlayla b'amud 'esh l'hair l'hem.

13:22 lo yamish 'amud he'anan .. liphney ha'am.

ok, they have &&*%%$ in a cloud (darkness?) by day and *&$$# in a fire (light) by night. $#$$@ is a pillar, a beacon, and it's primary property is contrast, to show the way. no araphel yet.

next installment, the scene at the split sea, HEAVY!

oh right here spelled out:

14:20 the 'amud moves behind the camp of yisrael to protect from the chasing egyptians:

v'yavo bein makhaneh mitzrayim 'uvein makhaneh yisro'el v'y'hi he'anan v'hakhoshekh v'y'ir 'et halayla v'lo karav ze 'el ze kol halayla

what it looks like depends on who's looking at it.

whoah! this is a heavy scene! the jews are encamped against the sea. they sea the egyptians coming at them. the pillar starts out as a cloud but then the text says night, night is falling. for the egyptians it remains a cloud of darkness, for the jews it becomes a pillar of light lighting the night. yhvh says to moshe, don't just stand there! split the seas! this is birth! run.

24: v'yhi 'ahsmoreh haboker (this took ALL NIGHT) v'yashkeph *&$#% 'el mukhana mitzrayim b'amud 'esh v'anan 'et makhana mitzraiym.

woah here he's looking through to the egyptians throgh a pillar of fire AND cloud.

v'yaham 'et makhana mitzraiym. threw them into a tumult.

this is so dense! and there is the kheved elohim going on too. making the chariot wheels too heavy to turn, but egypt will know that i am yhvh when i'm 'heavyified against pharoa. damm i still don't understand this kheved concept.

then there is the yad gadol image.

the water swallowed the egyptians to death. and then right afterwards in some kind of penance, the waters refused to give the israelites life, they went thirsty and couldn't find water to drink. so much rich imagery tangled up!


ok, 19:
now they are at sinai, the har at khorev (khet resh vet, but the protectors are kheruvim, khof, resh vet hmm..)

moshe goes up, but no burning bush anymore or is that at the top? by now the little burning bush is a huge thunderstorm of fire atop the mountain? it's got to attract a whole swarm of people!

curious that yethro begins this scene. he brings zippora back to moshe. only when zipora is with him can he go up to yhvh?

so he goes up, then yhvh tells him what to tell the people so he goes down and tells them. then he goes up agaiin to tell yhvh

19:9 yomer %$^% el moshe: ba 'eleikh b'av he'anan (both ayin) ba'avur yishma' ha'am b'dabri 'imakh v'gam bkha ya'aminu l'olam. (ooh curious switch in genders for moshe)

so then yhvh tells moshe to go down and prepare them. yhvh will come down, keep the people from going up.

( b'moshekh hayovel. at the blowing of the horn. in 18:17 jetrho says to moshe why are you b eing counsel for ALL the people youu will naval tival yourself out wear yourself out. and cain's brother who dissipated into the soil is hevel.)

16: b'hiyot haboker v'yhi kolot 'uvrakim v'anan kaved 'al hahar v'kol shophar (different word for horn) khazak m'od

v'yoze moshe 'et ha'am likrat ha'elohim min hamakhana.

v'yityatzvu' (?) b'takhtit hahar.

v'har sinai 'ashan (ayin) kulo miphney asher yarad 'eleiv yhvh b'esh.

v'ya'al 'ashanu k'eshen hakivshan v'yekherad kol hahar m'od. smoke went up like smoke of a furnace and the har trembled.

this is remeniscent of b'reishit 15:17 when yhvh makes the covenant of split animals with sleeping abram. but it uses different words: v'hine tanur ashan (different word for oven) v'lapid 'esh (different word for flame than at the s'neh at s'neh it's labat for flame similar sound) 'asher 'avar bein hadzarim ha'ela.

UP DOWN UP DOWN, this whole scene.

(is this what yaakov saw when he dreamt the angels going up and down the ladder?)

shophar gets louder, moshe speaks and yhvh answers in a kol, or outloud.

then yhvh came down to the top of har sinai,. called moshe up, and moshe goes up. he tells moshe to go down. (it's comical, no? the marx brothers could have done this!) warn the people in case they break through. but let the kohanim approach.

but moshe says the people is not able to go up because you said hagbel the mountain, limit it. (confusion is setting in)

yhvh said lekh red go go down, then you come up you with aaron with you. but don't let the kohanim and the people break through. It's CHAOS it's BIRTH! push pull push pull!

and moshe went DOWN.

finally delivery: and god says the ten commandments.


v'kal ha'am ro'im 'et hakolot v'et halapidim (ah here are the lapidim from abram's animal kiln) v'et kol hashophar v'et hahar 'ashan

and the people saw, and moved and stood at a distance and said to moshe, YOU speak with us so we may listen but let 'elohim (they percieve god as 'elohim here not as yhvh!) not speak with us or else we'll die.

v'moshe nigash (?) 'el ha'araphel (here's the araphel) asher sham ha'elohim.

then yhvh tells moshe to say some curious stuff one more time: you have seen that i've spoken from the skies (?) so don't make gods of silver with me and dont make gods of gold for yourselves. but make an alter of adama and if you do make a mizbe'akh of 'avanim don't cut 'em with a metal impliment (sword). and don't show your weenie to them either!

that's it. then reams of laws for pages.

no, there is more, at 24, more weirdness:

yhvh says to moshe come up with aaron, nadab and abihu and seventy elders (not kohanim) and moshe will come over ALONE to yhvh and they shal not come over tand the people shall not come up.

then moshe came (down?) and told the people all the reams of laws and the people in one voice said we'll do the things that yhvh has spoken.

then moshe wrote them.

then the next day builds 12 pillars, sacrifices reads the document again, the people say we will do and we will listen.

ok, now the wierd stuff, the people are below at the 12 pillars and moshe and aron nadab abihu and 72 elders (6 per tribe half of 144 curious) go up and they SAW god.

v'takhat ragleiv k'ma'aseh livnat hasapir (resonant with dont let your privies show above the alter stones and here we are describing GOD's alter stones below his privies!) 'uk'etzem hashama'im latohar.

and he did not put his hand to the chiefs. v'yekhezu 'et ha'elohim (hey i thought it's not supposed to be i -it but i -thou! 'ET elohim. odd that they let this pass) and ate and drank. envision?

then yhvh says to moshe come up and i'll give you stone tablets... and moshe and joshua his attendant got up... and to the elders sit for us here until we come back down. (this is remeniscent of the akeda!) and moshe went p to the mountain and the cloud covered the mountain. and k'vod yhvh settled on mt sinai and the cloud coverd it six days. and he called to moshe on the seventh day from inside the cloud.

24:17 'umar'eh k'vod yhvh k'esh 'okhelet b'rosh hahar l'einei b'ney yisra'el. (consuming fire, DID it consume the mountain? moshe saw that the fire did NOT consume the s'neh)

and moshe was in the mountain 40 days and 40 nights
and he tells him how to make the mishkan. ending with shamar hashabat. and gave him the lukhot ha'edut.

meanwhile, 40 days is too much and the people forget themselves and demand gold images of gods from aaron, who appeases them.

and yhvh spoke to moshe go, go down because YOUR people whom you brougt UP from egypt has shikhet. (ah, there is another use of the word shakhat! maybe not breed lustily, maybe it merely means deteriorates. or maybe it means do something hatefull, or turn back on a promise...)

v'yikhar aphi b'hem v'akhalem. his anger will fire at them and consume them. there is that consume thing again, now it is the people israel who will be consumed by the flame. but NOT SO, the flame keeps burning in israel, but has YET to consume them fully.

THAT'S the image! the flame is our struggle, our attempts our failures our reaching our falling yet we are not consumed by it but refined. THAT'S god.

and that's the primordial darkness.

and moshe parries

v'yikhal moshe: conciliated, saved the people who shakhat, JUST AS NOAKH CONCILIATED AND SAVED ALL FLESH WHO SHAKHAT!

what men and women these are, christians are such wimps with their fawning before not even god but his seet son! turning the other cheek so groveling before an all powerful god! hah!

so moshe and joshua come down the mountain. this time joshua comes down with him unlike yitzkhak with abraham, however unlike with abraham, moshe fights god and says, "no, don't kill the children"

then odd: they hear sound, singing not of victory not of defeat but just singing they hear. odd commentary!

so now moshe flares out like the raging bull as if the fires of his own rage burn the golden calf and he himself stomps it to dust!

then an accusation of aaron as in gan eden to khava. and a harsh punishment, he does not wipe out the people but he does execute many. harsher than the punnishment at gan eden!

then moshe goes BACK UP and asks god to bear their sin. what exactly does that mean? he says wipe me out rather than bear their sin, but god says he will only wipe out those who sinned against him. and he struck them.

then they go.

ugh there is so much.

the amud anan is still at the mishkan where moshe sees god. then they have a little love fest where moshe finally yells out let me see you! and god says ok, and moshe comes up and god passes so moshe can see his back his kavod passing and gets new tablets and when he comes down his face is burnt to horn and it horrifies the people so he has to wear a veil over his face when the people come to see him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Killing A Mouse

at the deli today we found a mouse trapped in a sticky trap. i think all people who have ANYTHING to do with sticky traps should also have to experience the slow and disgusting death on a sticky trap. so what to do? i didn't have the frame of mind this time to put it out of it's misery, say by chopping it's head off, or smashing it's little brains in. so i put him in the freezer better way to die than a day and a half starving frightened shitting on herself stuck to a sticky trap.

a few years ago i was battling with some mice in my room for the right to sleep at night. i set a trap for them to wake me up in the middle of the night and would catch 'em and dump them out the window. (1st floor). one morning i can't remember what but i shut a drawer and crushed one. it was awful. probably she was someone's mother, a mammal, sensual, caring for her kids. i don't know how to build new mice, the best i can do is produce sperm who don't last very long after swimming.

when i want to learn obout some insects, i have to freeze them, or bust open a gall to see what grubs live inside it. sometimes i don't do this then. it is difficult. the main thing about life on earth is that life eats life to live, anyway.. but i find it difficult to take life.

when i was a kid, i heard some radio interview about people who grew and slaughtered their own animals, so i thought i would try it that summer, i caught, killed and cooked a frog. wasn't pleasant, hard to tell when a frog is dead.

i'm mostly vegetarian for a number of reasons.

but i'm never perfect. alas.

i think yhvh too, is horrified about the fact that the life he created eats life to live. I think that's what a lot of halakha is about. what do you do with this fact that we are life that eats life to live and are eaten also (in one way or another).

and rakhmanut? you know, the rekhem (womb) is a very dangerous place. somewhere between 15% and 50% of all conceptions end in spontaneous abortion! life constantly experiments with ITSELF and in the process often gets it wrong.

now humans in general are appalled by the fact that delicate amazing craftsmanship of living beings like dragonflies are also MERELY FOOD! this appals most of us and makes us desire a heavenly existence. much religion is a result of this horror.

animals eat animals. in fact at root life is a cycle: molecules come together with high energy bonds, then molecules come apart and release energy and back around again. life always cycles building, tearing down. it is the way.

otherwise you are an eternal quartz crystal. not so interesting.

so the point of Judaism is not to try to fly off into peter pan world, but to engage in this embarrassing and difficult world of life.

Buzzing Sphinx Moth Caterpillar: sketch from my gradeschool nature notebook

buzzing sphinx moth

Abbot's Sphinx moth larva on Grape vine. Sphecodina abbotti. 7cm long .8cm wide, 4 prolegs and one at end. 11 segments each having 2 green spots on each side. [then something i can't read] rest is brown. eye shape thing instead of horn at tail. real eyes are colored dull green and brown. eats grape leaves. shits grubby looking pellets.

Very quick acting and vicious when bothered a lot. will curl up like a cobra except its head held underneath and the tail with eye/horn waving up. buzzes nicely when mad.

I definitely remember many sphinx moths from my youth, the feel of their musculature, and the way their skin felt. But alas, i don't recall this buzzing one. Wonder if I can find one again...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Conversation On Narrative Versus Image

--The Winner Is...
The Golden Compass: $25,783,232

Prince Caspian: $56,573,000

garbage. remember the tora says: NO IMAGES these movies get lost in image making and forget to tell a story, deeply. so far there are so few movies, novels even that match the depths of tora story telling.

i just saw the narnia movie. another boring orgy of digital battle scenes. where the hell is the story telling today? rap music? do have to listen throgh that clatter to get stories?

Miyazaki, i suppose. you seen his movies?

--the key: ask yourself this.... why are we so addicted to image in this society, when story not only sufficed 3000 years ago but was an immensely powerful vehicle?

part of our modern disenchantment with old scripture...and part of our misunderstanding of rooted in our addiction to image...also a concern of the Tora, yes.

your always erudite thoughts would be appreciated....

this is VERY complex. and you've studied some psychology, so you know there is complexity here.

i'm trying to think first of all which acts more like a drug... for sure the flashing colorful images on the flat screen is one of the most powerful drugs we've created yet! and even back 1000s of years ago, idols with big eyes were also used to induce trance and hear the voices...

no, inducing THAT kind of trance is different than the oblivion of watching tv..

nevertheless, hearing is very powerful, drum beats can induce trance, we can close our eyes to images but not to voices...

so what's the diff between zoning out in front of a flat screen full of images and under headphones of music? i don't have enough data, i think my experience is too ideosyncritic.

one interesting point is a lecture i once heard by jonathan miller. he discussed that language is LIGHTYEARS more complex than visuals. the novel is ALWAYS more complex than the movie.

the movie is linear, the images have to obey certain laws of geometry.... language can and does EASILY transcend these logical structures. you can run rings around logic and geometry with langugage.

in fact this is essentially what mathematics is! with linguistic structures (mathematics) we can transcend the simple euclidean geometry of our everyday experience and invent some reall sick stuff...

the resonating networks that you can create with language transcend our everyday experience of time and space much greater than visuals can.


run with it!

Why is story so different, given how powerful visuals can be...what is the basis of story's power? it resonates to something within the listener...what?!

as biology, we aren't static pictures we ARE narratives. parent zygote infant adolescent adult parent...

off to the side, death..

narrative is the reality. it is a fault of our visual consciousness that stills the narrative of experience into false OBJECTS.

vision creates things wrapped in surfaces where there is primarily EXPERIENCE: no object/subject!

of course this is the CORE of judaism. don't kill the divine experience of life by instantiating it in a visual idol.

this idolatry making is the essence of the evil of pornography. i've got a page out of playboy with the shell of a naked woman standing there and behind her is a STATUE which has more PRESENCE in it than she has. frightening! turning women into empty shells with holes to fuck.

then there is participation. when watching a movie, we can't do much on our part with the images. we can't sketch as we watch, i think it's hard to imagine our own images while watching.

but if you merely listen to someone tell a story, then you have to ADD to it. you have to make your own images and connections and...

now tora is primarily written. so what does that mean? what if it were a picture book? could we sit around the table and perform drash on it? hmm... SOME would be able to.. but most of us don't have graphic skills, but we CAN ALL tell stories.. more part of the puzzle...
images provide ready-made paradigms, they supply a framework.

stories stimulate us to be partners in the creative process of the telling...we become an appendage of the teller, do we not?

appendage of the teller? part of the vine §

finally: many animals can play with pictures! look at fish and butterflies! they communicate with visuals.

one of the DEFINING features of Homo sapiens is that he tells long winding narratives. i think this and addiction ARE his defining features.

but NO! honeybees do narrative too:
honeybee cultural memory and narrative


Does Natural Selection Act On Honeybee Colonies?

Thomas D. Seeley in the intro of his book "honeybee ecology", points out that various situations result in individual workers competing with each other rather than cooperate in the nest, and there is no evidence of colony level selection. Selection is on individuals and because of the unique genetics of honeybees this often coincides with the interests of the colony as a whole.

but i thought of this: the first question is what would be a unique hereditary component for the colony as a whole? as the workers have on average about 11 parents! their mother mates with 10 guys on average, so the workers are a very mixed population.

it dawned on me that the NEST itself cold be a part of their heredity! If scout bees preferentially choose new nests that are reminiscent of their old nest, this would be an example of cultural transmission in honeybees! and it would be a heritable feature of colonies as a whole (all the bees share it) that can be selected for, after all choice of nest characteristics could play strong role in survival of colony. and different lines of honeybees might preferentially choose different kinds of nests!

i like it. now to find data to see if colonies choose similar nests as their old ones.

I'm talking about cultural transmission, the
'type' of nest they like is STORED in the nest itself, as we might store culture in an library. this bit of culture might be passed on by memory, the scout bees looking for the next nest remember their old nest and choose a similar one.

the nest is a composite of a LOT of choices: hight above ground, internal volume, entrance characteristics, humidity, surroundings... These effect the evolutionary success of the colony. they are factors that can be selected for and against regardless of the 11 odd genotypes an average colony posseses.

seeley says that scouts spend an hour each crawling the walls of the cavity then flying around it outside then crawling then flyiing till they synthesis a lot of info about it. he says they are selecting sites based on at least 6 or 7 parameters! when the scout comes back to the swarm and does his waggle dance about the site somehow he synthesizes all this motion into the dance i THINK! i really got to go watch.

and about 100 scouts are doing this nest site selection! some large fraction of these scouts finally visit the winning site before they all fly to it. these scouts have spent about 30 days plus overwintering in the old nest site so know it well. bees have good memory! they can even remember flower patches over winter. they can remember what times of day half a dozen patches come into their nectar flow and go to them at the right times...

thus i say if scouts DO choose nests like their old ones, this is a source for selection at the COLONY level, as opposed for selection of one of the 11 genotypes of the competing workers in the nest.

bees are the bees knees!

Monday, May 5, 2008

On Boundary Crossings In Biology: Red Imported Fire Ant Colony Founding

While thinking of various forms of boundary crossings in biology, i remembered Carl Zimmer's story of marmoset chimeras inseminating their mates with their brother's sperm..


and that got me thinking of the way Fire Ants found their colonies. Their mom works hard to raise 'em up in a new colony and what do they proceed to do? They go and carry off their sisters in pupa from their mom's home and bring them to another colony, another mom, to help HER raise up more kids, their line dying out if their mom doesn't come along for the ride too and take over eventually.

Actually the story is complicated. We are talking about the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invictus. Read all about them in Walter Tschinkel's "
The Fire Ants", which is my source for all of this. A luscious book.

What happens is that freshly inseminated fire ant mothers from dozens of colonies will land higgledy piggledy on a field and then over the next few weeks they'll dig little burrows and start raising kids. The kids then start a seemingly ridiculous free for all, taking the kids from nest to nest back and forth feeling out which nest is going to make it best until only a few robust nests are left with all the kids in them because most become abandoned as the ants bunch up. The ants in these communal nests are not necessarily related, and some of the kid ants are helping to raise families of queen-mothers not related to them, even allowing their own queen-mother and family line to die out.

Then those mothers that still got some spunk to 'em, try to get into these nests too. Eventually only a few robust nests each with one mother laying eggs survives. Daughter ants from MANY of the other mothers may have helped to build up those nests. eventually each nest with one mother comes to be inhabited by HER children only.

This is a curious cooperative phenomenon between perhaps distantly related ants/colonies. A kind of Superduperorganism. A curious way to feel out the landscape and best find the patch of soil that will support a thriving nest in the face of environmental hardships and competition between already mature fire ant colonies, which DON'T cooperate this way...

Unless they happen upon a mutation that makes them go polygyne...

These polygyne S. invicta (which can also mate with the monogyne ones) are complicated. the genetics is complicated, the reproduction is complicated, the interactions with the monogyne S. invicta is complicated, not to mention there is also hybridizing with S. richterii (which also have polygyne forms...) Life is messy indeed. Speciation is messy.

(Not to mention I have EIGHTY MORE PAGES of text on this topic to take notes on.)

The polygynes have unrelated mothers in each nest and the nests spread by budding, a mix of daughters taking a mother with them to found a new nest. Not the usual flight of a single newly mated queen mother to found a nest by herself. The nests remain connected. unrelated workers can move from nest to nest at will. nests will adopt new unrelated mothers... The mothers compete for all the daughters' attentions. the ones that get the most attention will raise up the most new mothers and therefore get to reproduce new nests.

Polygyne colonies spread like amoebas across the landscape. They don't produce as many winged reproductives that travel far. (whereas Monogyne colonies only reproduce by winged reproductives and they spread in a more scattered fashion.) The polygyne population densities become twice as high as monogynes, ant for ant. Twice the ecological impact!

Where is the organism? Where is the superorganism? Where is the superduperorganism? Where is the species?

Boundary mixing!