G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Spider Deserves to be Vishnu’s Incarnation

The table where I have kept my PC is a workplace of spiders. They build their webs faster than we remove them. So much so that I have learnt to respect them! Every time I see a spider rushing away, I don’t feel like killing it. I just chase it away.

No wonder Henry David Thoreau was moved to say: “If I were confined to a corner in a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts.”

It’s significant he chose spider and not any other life form.

Reuters
on August 31, 2007 reported from Texas, USA:
“…A monstrous network of sheet-like webs covering several acres has been spun over trees in this state park 50 miles (80 kms) east of Dallas, baffling scientists who say it is an almost-unheard-of occurrence in the region.

"The dominant spiders here seem to be long-jawed spiders but this is unusual. Social spiders build communal nests in the tropics but the longjaws are not social," said Mike Quinn, a Texas state insect biologist.

"We still don't have a clear answer for what is going on here," he said as he stood beneath the ghostly canopy of webbing which shrouded a patch of oak and juniper trees.

The eerie scene evoked a B-grade horror movie. Thunder rumbled in the distance as spiders skittered across Quinn's wide-brimmed hat.

He was collecting samples by using a metal rod to thrash branches over a "beat sheet" -- a sheet nailed to criss-crossed pieces off wood into which bugs would fall.”

I was not surprised because I had watched, sometime in 2004-05, on Discovery channel, a film called “The Future Is Wild “. It projects, 100 million years from now, in “Hothouse World”, large spiders will build webs across canyons to farm the last mammals on earth. (Humans would be long gone before that!)

No insect is in the list of Vishnu’s incarnations that include fish, turtle, boar, man-lion, and dwarf. They, I always think, represent evolution. Spider deserves to be the first in the list.



Artist: Robert Kraus The New Yorker July 31, 1965

Civilization Exists by Sun-Eating Weed’s Consent Too

Will Durant has said: “Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice". It isn’t the only consent we need.

Guardian, Georgina Ferry, on September 29, 2007 has reviewed the book: “Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet” by Oliver Morton.

We all are taught photosynthesis is very simple. Carbon dioxide plus water plus energy from the sun equals glucose plus oxygen. It’s not that simple.

Scientists were not satisfied with this cookery-book approach from the earliest years of the 20th century. They finally discovered

“…the number of molecules of the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll that it takes to produce one molecule of oxygen in full sunlight is not one, but 2,480. Trapping energy, storing and releasing it is all about transferring electrons along chains of molecules,..”

“…To make use of the energy locked up in our food we need oxygen. For more or less the first half of its life, the Earth had very little oxygen in its atmosphere. By around 2.4bn years ago, oxygen produced by photosynthetic bacteria was beginning to build up in the atmosphere in quantities that could support animal life. In an astonishing evolutionary short cut, some of the first multi-celled organisms then engulfed these green bacteria and incorporated their photosynthetic machinery into their own cells. Result: an explosion of green plants that covered the planet in (relatively) short order…”

Astrobiologists tend to agree that whatever forms life might take, on Earth or elsewhere, it will always need oxygen. The trick, then, is to develop telescopes that can detect oxygen in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars. How many of these there might be, in Morton's view, is "the biggest question that we currently have it in our hands to answer".

Therefore, when you next pass by an ordinary weed, you may like it or not, just bow a little.


Artist: James Stevenson The New Yorker May 18, 1963