World Wide Web is an apt name.
I’m currently sitting on the canopied deck of a houseboat, anchored at four points to a sandy beach, floating upon the backed up waters of the Colorado River the make up the liquid portion of the reservoir known as Lake Powell.
The corners of this fucking boat, the edges and angles and…shit, everywhere I suppose, are covered with spiders of all sizes and shapes and habits.
We’ve got grey predatory spiders, with large orb-like abdomen’s and sleek and shiny legs, looking utterly predatory, and hopping around their webs with great alacrity. We’ve also got a brown spider with a tube-like shape continuum between head and abdomen, furry along body and leg, and mainly prowling the edges of the webs spun by the orb-spiders and others.
There are small skittering spiders, and large recluse-looking brown spiders that weave webs, and several more besides; this morning just as dawn broke, I noticed a small black spider dangling from a web descending and ascending a single rope of web, hanging just above my torso, which I had not seen the like of in the three days I’ve been here.
The ubiquity of the spiders has flavored my musings. Gods are often shaped from the clay of the environment within which the people who create them walk within, either that or from the qualities that are perceived to be lacking from the environment – qualities which are usually the embodiment of the hope of a better future to which the disappointments, and the poisonous effects such disappointments are so often want to wrought upon the mind of a people or person, are collectively neutralized (or buried) through the power of “for the greater good” – but either way, the environment shapes the Gods either through substance or void.
I’ve yet to even touch my telephone, or look at it with intention, since I got here. In fact, I didn’t even know where it was until one of the telephones was tossed overboard last night by one of the children, and everybody went to ensure their own devices were secure. It was, safely zipped away in the pocket of the very same bag which held this computer until I snagged it to write this musing, rambling offering.
This total disconnection from the online world, and from nearly everything in my life besides my family and the basic requirements of survival, has caused me to revisit my decision to enter the digital social world, in another instance in what must now number in the thousands, trying to understand this compelling desire to stay and offer up my own voice for the inspection of the masses.
Why would I, a man who eschewed such activities all throughout his twenties, care to jump into the fray and begin to sound my sounds into the cacophonous symphony of the online clownerary fracas?
Before I answer that…the spiders, yes, back to the spiders.
The WWW eh? Aye.
Some of the web-weaving spiders on this boat weave lovely geometric patterns, and then small flying insects fly into the web, jostling about for a time, until adjacent strands of web also attach to their bodies, twisting and knotting around them, until movement becomes nearly impossible across the entirety of their little insect bodies. Then the spiders, at their leisure – usually in the morning hours and across the evening after the set dips below the horizon dropping temperature to sub-dessicating levels – descend, and either eat the insects outright, or inject them with their digestive venom, enzymatically digesting the insects from the inside out, to return later for a refreshing liquid meal.
Some spiders lurk at the edges of webs spun by other spiders, reaching up on occasion to jostle the web once or twice, then once again, then twice more. When the curious owners of the web come to investigate the disturbance, perhaps hoping to secure another future liquid meal, the trickster spiders spring onto the unsuspecting web-weaver biting them and incapacitating them with what must be paralyzing venom, to then consume the weaver-spiders at the newly established order of leisure.
Other spiders, similar to a satellite bull-elk roaming the edge of the harem of the alpha-bull hoping for a quick fuck while the big boy is busy with a cow on the other end of the clearing, sit at the edges and margins of the web, jumping with a rappelling rope of web attached to their ass-ends onto flying insects that flew near, but not on, to the webs of the weavers.
Still others seem immune to the glue of other spider’s webs, scampering across them with ease to snag a bundled meal to carry along while removing themselves from the reach of the wealthy homeowner and their vengeance.
What you do not see in the spider world is charity. Spider’s ain’t intentionally helping their neighbors. Nevertheless, there are benefits rendered all around. The rappelling spiders miss, and the flying insects sometimes flee to their demise in the webs adjacent to the leapers. The thieving spiders don’t always escape, and often make a meatier meal than a mosquito. The spider-hunting spiders make room for a new generation of weavers to mature, keeping those responsible for the little ecosystems at healthy populations and ages.
All of this action takes place on a manmade construct which is aimed and increasing the ease and enjoyment of the survival process in a harsh place with remarkable traits which, if used thoughtfully and with proper precautions, can deliver a massive increase in happiness, enjoyment and opportunities for connection with the people you’re surrounded by.
There’re a few human roles that aren’t present in the spider world.
There is no self-delusional spider. No spider spins a web to fool itself into thinking it’s something that it is not, only its prey or enemies get the deceptive treatment. Modern deceit is a luxury, for politics and global power struggles are luxuries of abundance.
The spider that weaves a web and then gets caught in a trap of its own devising is a spider that does not survive. Creatures that demonstrate solitary behavior have a much harsher survival reality than do those displaying group and especially community behavior… at least insofar as the group or community.
An ant hill will defeat one or even several spiders in a direct confrontation every time, even at the cost of many members of the colony – each of which would be happy to donate their life in the defense of the greater good – but their own lives are not full, for these communities are super-organisms which think and act in unison and display behaviors – greater in scale, diversity and complexity – than any individual or small group of ants could perform without the signaling-pheromones creating an overmind very similar across a variety of individuals as our own mammalian brains create – with the help of neurochemicals, axons, and neurons – inside the cranial cavity.
Even so, a spider will rarely confront an entire ant hill by itself, but will rely upon its superior power, intelligence and experience as an individual hunter to confuse, ensnare, entrap, surprise, lure – or any other number of predatory behaviors – a single or small group of ants into conditions favorable to their (the spiders) digestive satisfaction.
One of the beautiful bounties of humanity is the ability to negate some of the harshest of the selection tools which nature pares down populations with in a process of sharpening the edge of the remaining members of the category.
Of course, there is no escaping the fact that when we remove factors which promote the direct viability of the species, we then ipso facto promote traits and behaviors which do not promote direct viability of the species. It then follows that some of these traits will have a directly adverse effect on the viability of the species.
For example, if a certain spider or species of spider were a web-weaving spider, and did not make effective webs, then that individual or species would be faced with two basic decisions; in survival settings, a behavior that isn’t effective is either altered or the host of the behavior suffers from both short term inconvenience and long-term decreases in viability.
If you can’t eat, you can’t live. If you can’t fuck, you can’t breed.
But uniquely high – insofar as I can tell, uniquely high across the spectrum of all species and throughout the course of all the evolutionary unfolding unto this very moment – generalized and self-aware intelligence is a survival tool of such vast disproportionality and power that we humans, the possessors of just such an intelligence, have been able to create breeding viability approaching 100%, and which will likely be within decimals of that figure within the next decade, have created a very interesting and essentially unmatched level of survival complexity to the game of evolution.
On the one hand, you’ve got the original genetics which have come about from – in what are the current best estimates, estimates which seem to move unidirectionally backwards, that those who study such things can afford us – multiple hundreds of thousands of years for the species itself, but almost all of the behaviors that humans display in the developmental process and indeed, though with lower levels of complexity, in adulthood are represented elsewhere in the animal kingdom, both now and historically, and many of them are represented almost everywhere in the animal kingdom across all known iterations.
But on the other hand, you’ve got a traditionally small but still quite significant feature – though now this particular facet of the ever shifting gemstone of evolutionary-intelligence has presented as quite large and significant indeed – of novel genetic sanctuary.
In a coruscating and turbulent river of self-perpetuation and defiant action – all actions taken with purpose are defiant in the face of entropic decline – in something perhaps akin to floating detritus or maybe more like a spiral pool in a momentary crook of the riverbank, dampening zones have been created to allow for the invention of an uncommon, and maybe even new, manner of living.
This is where that balancing mechanism comes back with force, however, because there will be a recalibrating of the survival metrics at some point
Inside these meadows in the forest of evolution, new species of behaviors and genetic clusters have flowered and fruited, perhaps true species divergence, perhaps true vital-mechanism divergence – carbon-based and mostly oxy-hemo recyclers may not be the only ways in which LIFE can function – but I cannot help but think, and time has yet to fail in bearing this out, that most of these new species, behavioral or otherwise, will not survive the first great wildfire of societal collapse, much less the near-world-ending natural disasters always just around the corner on a geological street map.
One of the alarm bells that goes off in my head when I think about these things is just such a disastrous scenario. The genes and behaviors that have kept humanity alive for countless thousands of generations have partially, in the case of the genetics, or mostly, in the case of the behaviors, gone by the wayside. How would humans fare in a world which had all of our modern conveniences and contrivances disabled, destroyed and/or deleted?
The obvious answer is, of course, that most people would die within the first couple months. The less-obvious answer – one which remains unknown – will be in response to the question of whether or not the remaining population will have enough of the genetic and behavioral tendencies in place to survive after that.
As I was floating upon the artificial-infinity-soup that the waters of Lake Powell embody, I had a thought occur to me:
Imagine being out here, in this environment where all that is required is survival and enjoyment in tune with your natural rhythms, and thinking to yourself, I need to change my body parts…
It was unfathomable to me that such a conversation should even be taking place, especially on the national scale. Like, uh, folks…who gives a fuck? There are no more than 1 in 1000 and probably more like 1 in 10000 who legitimately struggle with some sort of untreatable psychological divergence which causes them to believe that they’re permanently stuck inside the body of the wrong gender.
Same for non-dimorphic genitalia at birth.
The people who live the lives behind these numbers should be treated with the same amount of respect, and perhaps a touch more kindness, as everybody else, but the idea that an issue affecting less than 1% of the population should be taking the top spot in the news at least once per week should really begin to spark your sense of narrative manipulation.
Then you might want to ask yourself why it is being shaped that way, and what the effects of the shaping are bringing about.
That’s just about all I have to say about that, for now, you can do your own thinking.
The last thing I will say on these non-immediate-survival related genetic and behavioral – yes, Roman, I know, their Venn diagram looks pretty close to a circle – divergences is this:
All the threads are necessary to complete the perfectly proportioned geometry of an untarnished web. I don’t have any hate within me for people choosing to take the clay of their own life into their hands and shaping it how they please, I just don’t appreciate when powerful tools are used to suggest, push and coerce other people into behaviors and opinions that are not conducive to the survival of their happiness nor the viability of the species.
After all, just as missing threads will bugger the beauty of the web, so will intentionally botching the weaving.
There is another type of human who acts upon and around the WWW and is not present in the spider world – these are they that might just be the most important kind – and they are the ones who climb or leap upon the web and begin to shake it.
The shaking has its own rhythm, and encased within that rhythm is a message, and that message is meant to be shared with others.
Some of these web-shakers have simple messages:
“There are spiders who will poison you, dissolve you from the insides, and consume you! Watch what happens when I shake it like THIS…”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of spiders while plotting to eat the messenger –
“If you eat right, exercise and fulfill your responsibilities then you’ll live a much more rewarding and satisfying life.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of cause-and-effect health outcomes while plotting to poison the messenger –
“If you can master the way that you act in the world, and the way to react when the world acts on you, then you’ll be more successful, wealthier and more capable of building a meaningful life.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of free will and mental mastery while plotting to ensnare the messenger –
Some of them have more complex and nuanced messages:
“There are not Republican spiders or Democrat spiders, just Snake Spiders, and Snake Spiders will always crawl and slither, poison and snare, bind and constrict, prey on the weak and ignorant, consume and digest everything they can get their scales and mandibles around.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of conspiracy and cabal while plotting to entrap and liquidate the messenger –
“There are certainly more ways of seeing the world than through a purely scientific view, especially given the flawed weavers of the scientific method and the fundamentally limited understanding of the rules binding the infinite web together, but there are also spiders who offer a cloyingly sweet scent of simplistic understanding to lure in unwitting gnats into an esoteric weaving that merely serves to aggrandize the spider and slowly siphon off the vital essence of the ensnared gnats, even as they continue to buzz in obeisance inside their death hammocks.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of complexity and depth while plotting to spin a comfortable and ignorant death for the messenger –
“There are fundamental building blocks of reality, of every facet of reality, including human existence. Some of them are physical laws, others are biological and environmental and still others are cultural and psychological, but – even with the diversity of possibilities and combinations contained within the nearly infinite potential iterations of these foundational rules – if any of the fundamentals are missing, then the species will wither and fade from existence.”
– Suddenly a spider appears to deny the existence of reality or truth other than those of power and perspective while plotting to convert, reshape, and repurpose the messenger –
Yet all of them share a couple common messages:
“This is a web, and webs are connected, and you can use those connections to create a better and more harmonious web – which will both improve the strength of the web while increasing the beauty of the woven tapestry – and weave your legacy into the permanent fabric of existence.”
“Here’s some useful shit I’ve learned to help you do it.”
You can choose to listen to the web-shakers or not – I am such an one, and you’re reading this, so there’s that – but there are spiders out there, and they are interested in consuming you for their own gain <shake> they will lie and cheat and steal <shake> they will sell you false hope at the cost of true potential <shake> they will poison you in any way they can <shake> and they will seek to obstruct your progress at every opportunity <shake>.
If you become mentally sharp, physically strong, morally committed, spiritually fulfilled and benevolently oriented then they will have a much harder time tearing you down, luring you in, and eating your dissolved essence.
– Suddenly a spider appeared to deny…-