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Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Have Married Once



BRETON,ANDRE:
"Existence is elsewhere."— André Breton, The Surrealist Manifesto.

When my wife and I are shopping, I will go off and get chips, beer, coffee, select a dinner wine and thumb magazines while she remains in the dreary grain aisle. I'll go back and try to help.

"I'm looking for brown (something-something) basmati," she'll say, and I look too, then give up after ten seconds.

"There's no such thing." I tell her, "It does not exist."

I do not say, "existence is elsewhere", because that means another grocery store, another search, one that somehow becomes even more futile because she's added "jasmine" to the name of what is not.

Pretending to know an unknown allows me to go home, read my new magazine, refresh myself with man-groceries in a way Andre Breton could not.

M. Breton was married three times.
 Forgive me for posting so late at night and so sketchily --a word? I no longer know. At 10 p.m. I found my computer had been hacked. My fingers have been flying like enraged  hornets for an hour and a half. At least 100 Normaphotos are missing from my files and replaced by a mediocre seascape. Yet, I have not given up! I shall type faster than the malfeasant miscreant who authored this outrage. I have cleared the monster from my computer but it required the sacrifice of a folder to do so, as well as 2 deep circuit scans of all my poor old HP's systems.

Ah, I have recovered her photos! You are safe to view, yes, to read this bit of triumph. All scans turn up negative as I write and retrieve. The machine is clean. Surely, M. Breton, surrealist as he was until I was well into my teens, predicted such outrages. My fingers are tired. I triumph! It is almost Dimanche --my sermon! Go in peace!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beeing An Individual

I was admiring a zinnia when I heard a tiny, buzzy sort of snore. I leaned closer.

"Hello Bead."

"Huh? Wha? Oh, it's you. Did you call me Bead?"

"Yes, I know you're a bee but my daughter used to call bees "beads" when she was little and I guess it stuck."

" 'Sokay. Charming. I was just resting my eyes. Gimme a moment."

I stepped around the flower bed and admired its progress, but kept glancing back at Bead to see if he was all right.
He fluttered and flapped and propped himself up onto 3 elbows to look at me with sleepy curiosity.

"What?" He said.

"Well, I was just wondering if honey is really bee poop."

"Ha! If it was, we'd teach you how to do it and human cities would smell a lot better. But no, it's an entirely separate process --nothing to do with our digestion. You can see --yes come close, I won't sting..."

You sure?

"Of course! If we sting, we die, a system most conducive to tolerance and pacifism, I assure you. Observe my fur."

"Beautiful."

"Yes, and practical. It gathers pollen from flowers and transfers it to other flowers. No flowers, no horticulture, no vegetation without us furry bees. But that's hardly half our job. We gather nectar to make honey, remember where we got it, then fly it back to the hive to store it in cells. Other bees evaporate its water content down to 18% by flapping their wings, then seal it up to cure for a while."

"To feed us?"

"Secondarily, yes, but first to nourish our young. Not really feeding either, as honey is not digested by anything that eats it, not even humans. It goes right into the bloodstream without modification."

"Wow! Who figured that out, Bead?"

"Well, uhm..."

"Name's Geo."

"Well, Geo., it was really a corporate development. I mean, look at me --yes, look at my head. Do I look like I have enough brains to think that up?"
"I...uh."

"Geo., I'll say it for you: I have a brain the size of a grass seed. It's under this black shiny cap in front of my wings. Foraging bees solve traveling problems every day, visit flowers at multiple locations and, because we use lots of energy to fly, we find a route that keeps flying to a minimum."

"And you say this is due to a corporation consolidating your species? Good heavens, Bead, what of individualism?"

"Geo., the strength of individualism is in taking a nap in a flower and telling the corporation whatever I want. Meanwhile, I get to meet people like you and have adventures on the job. You're human and only beginning to understand the rise of corporate evolution and corporate ultimacy. A million years hence, you too will be snoozing in the nearest zinnia and discussing your private thoughts."

"You mean?"

"Yes, I mean individualism requires no more brain than a grass seed, and maybe someone to call you 'Bead'."

"Instead of bee?"

"Precisely, but tell nobody, Geo."

"I will compose myself in silence."

"Thanks, Geo., silence is good but it's ok to buzz a little bit."


Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Great Beer Question!




I have read several articles in which archaeologists and anthropologists combine to opine that beer served to unify prehistoric savages into cohesive, diplomatic, social and political groups. The collection, cultivation and preparation of grains purely for food may not have been the entire object. Brewing and fermentation resulted in great parties at which intra-and-inter-tribal friendships were forged. Civilization followed.

Reverse could be equally valid. When humans discovered brewing and fermenting they needed social stability in which to do it properly without having to move their crocks and vats around with every nomadic episode. Savagery is very aerobic and one's things jostle and chip. Getting civilized was the obvious solution.

We can imagine a typical prehistoric domestic exchange:

She: I'm having neighbors over this evening for pot-luck.
He: Good! Oh wait, you haven't invited the Savages, have you?
She: You always ask that but always compliment what they bring over.
He: Well, yes, I like roast enemy as much as the next fellow but enough's enough!
She: Then you'll be pleased to hear the Savages have lately got civilized.
He: Great! They can help with beer then.

So the question is: does the eons-long, astonishingly arduous ascent of humankind into civilization owe its success to the fact that guys will do anything for a beer, even become civilized?

Friday, October 3, 2014

How We Dream

As I gain in age and experience, I find myself getting more polite in dreams. Do you? Why is that?
Above is a Normaphoto of a sunbeam entering our garden. What is a sunbeam, really? It is a visible wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is made of photons, irreducible packets (quanta) of electromagnetic energy that carry a kick. They kick leaves and cause them to make plant food. They kick solar cells and make them produce electricity. Photons with a big kick defy the static idea (Law) of Matter-Energy Conservation and don't last long. Photons with a little kick can travel real far, which is why we see distant stars. Photons are what we see when light subtends the eye and kicks electrons in our retinas.

We receive no information  about the universe smaller than a photon.

This is not a subject upon which I can deliver a professorial lecture with a closed mind. Nobody can talk about atoms with a closed mind. So I won't. I will doodle:
I doodle a sunbeam of visible light above. It has a wavelength of about 10 centimeters peak to peak. It arrives at the eye after about 7 minutes travel --big kick-- and kicks atoms in our retinas, which send electrical cascades up optic nerves to the brain and we see things.

But here's the enigma: we are what we are --omnivores who eat plants and animals that eat plants-- and see what we see because of photons, photons in the visible light part of the spectrum. What  about when we're asleep and our eyes are closed? Visible light can barely get through a piece of paper, much less closed eyelids. What are we seeing when we dream of light? When we dream of anything, it is as though we see it in light. Is dreamed light light, and if not, what? Observe doodle:

There are light wavelengths that pass through paper, eyelids --like x-rays-- but I shall go for something stronger, quanta that pass through bone, roofing, Tupperware --if you sleep in Tupperware for its preservative qualities like I do-- and even lead. Our grandchildren all went through a stage of calling Norma "Gamma Namma" --which not only evokes memories of 1950's giant city-destroying-monster movies but also suggests Gamma Rays. Gamma rays go through everything, especially our brains at night. Compare upper and lower doodles:
Gamma rays have a much tighter wavelength and travel any old distance pushing themselves to a mighty kick. They get in your head at night and your brain perceives them as light. Why? Because they bypass retinas, bones and kick off electrons in your visual cortex. These are some badass photons. The sleeping brain processes them as light.

Light.

They induce an electromagnetic charge which, like all charges, is surrounded by virtual photons. These are photons that exist for a short time after virtualization, unreality. Your brain responds by navigating the images they create, and that is your dream self --accommodating the disturbed verges of reality.  Is it real? I can only quote Mr. Spock from Star Trek [season3, episode6, "Spectre Of The Gun"]: "Physical reality is consistent with universal laws. Where the laws do not apply, there is no reality." This, of course, forces us into accountability even in the virtual photons of dreams*. Another enigma for another time, possibly when I am awake.
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                 *Click for further discussion on the OK corral on prior post.