Dylan vs. Saint Augustine

November 18, 2010


Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)


In fact, from the moment a man begins to exist in this body which is destined to die, he is involved all the time in a process whose end is death.  For this is the end to which the life of continual change is all the time directed, if indeed we can give the name of life to this passage towards death.  There is no one, it goes without saying, who is not nearer to death this year than he was last year…

City of God – Book XIII, Chapter 10:     The Life of Mortals:  Should it be Called Death?

Here’s a link to Bob Dylan doing his song, I Dreamed I saw Saint Augustine.

Spring for me

April 3, 2010

Not flowers, sunny weather, birds singing – that’s not the image of Spring for me, although those things are all part of it, and are nice.  When I think Spring, I think of the disappearance of the snow, the ice, the cracking up of the soil’s hard surface, and the sudden appearance of…life, like green sprigs popping out of the blasted surface of a volcanic lava flow, or bubbling slime showing up on the hitherto dead surface of the earth, 3.5 billion years ago.

And while I muse on this, the strangeness of life is impressed on me again by a visitor to my window sill, a mourning dove, cooing.

The meaning of life

August 24, 2009

And on a related note, this.

Into the Real World

November 22, 2004

Day by day we become more familiar with our view of things, but microscopes are a good antidote to that. I had one as a kid, but it wasn’t very good, so now that I’m a grownup with my own cash, I bought an educational model on eBay – a really good deal! The optics are excellent, and I can clearly veiw all the little critters that I wanted to see when I was young.

This specimen here (photo by others) is a rotifer. It’s a multicellular organism, and I happen to have a thriving colony of them in the tank that houses my son’s African Clawed Frog, aka “Killer.” Note the fuzzy things on the top of the main stalk – those are twin ‘propellers’ that are always whirring and sucking food into the thing’s mouth. It can also lurch, leach-like, about in its micro-world.

This is the real world, where most of the biosphere’s mass exists – in the micro-realm, out of our notice. Actually, this rotifer is already pretty darn high up the evolutionary scale since it is multi-cellular. Looking at the thriving protist-eat-protist world that exists in every drop of water can give you a different perspective on life on earth. As conservationists, we tend to focus on the big, spectacular animals such as lions, tigers, and whales. But they, beautiful and deserving of our support as they are, aren’t what make the world go ’round. As philosophers plumbing the meaning of life, we should think more about bacterial and protozoa, and less about homosapiens. We might get our ideas out of their current rut.