Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Cosmic Ecology







“Insects and plants can look alike.  Science calls this ‘camouflage’ and ‘mimicry,’ constructing a paranoid fantasy of bug behavior.  The camouflage theory says moths, beetles, mantises, and so on are so steadily menaced and so wily that they must disguise themselves as twigs, sticks, leaves, buds, pods, blossoms.

Perhaps they did learn or selectively breed to adapt; perhaps, however, they like to dress this way, or perhaps the plants have put on the insects’ clothing; or perhaps the bug and the plant share a common habitat and climate, and so both present themselves in a manner fitting to it.  Suppose the bug doesn’t know that it’s not a plant, doesn’t follow our classifications into ‘animal’ and ‘vegetable,’ never read Linnaeus or took Biology 101.  Suppose its dress, its mask, its body habits were so vegetative that mimicry is not only of the one kingdom by the other, or of each other, but of a third factor that requires them to accommodate with one another in a sympathy with all things, a cosmic ecology.  Perhaps it is love that attracts these life forms to each other and inclines them to look alike.”

James Hillman, Dream Animals, 1997;  Chronicle Books, San Francisco


6 comments:

steven said...

wow! what a piece of writing dan. steven

Ruth said...

What a beautiful, sweet thought.

neighbor said...

Oh, Hillman's the best. Such juicy writing. And indeed, just because we've classified the world up into tidy bits, doesn't mean there isn't actually a lot more fluidity than we think.

Dan Gurney said...

Yes, it makes me wonder the extent to which I allow "scientific" interpretations in the world to shape my thinking without first considering their inherent bias. "Survival of the Fittest" is a good example of a "scientific" idea that's based more in the observer than the observed.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks, Ruth.

Dan Gurney said...

Exactly, neighbor! I think there's a good deal of fluidity that we ordinarily simply don't see.