1. It’s absurd. It’s important to stay absurd. Otherwise you start taking things seriously, and inquisitions start happening.
2. It is a reference to a scene/philosophical argument in Ishmael: a novel, by Daniel Quinn. The main character is talking to a gorilla (it makes sense in context, sort of) and the gorilla asks what creation story he believes in. The (human) main character insists he has no creation story — he believes in scientific truth. The gorilla then asks the human to explain that scientific truth as best he understands it, and the human does. He describes the Big Bang and the expansion of the universe and the development of our solar system and planet Earth and microbes and plants and animals and finally human beings. To show how the human’s account is, in fact, a story, the gorilla repeats back the same concepts, only from the perspective of jellyfish, who of course place their evolution at the climax. When human beings talk about the world, we tend to put ourselves at the center.
I found the book to have many interesting and compelling ideas in it, most importantly the idea that the massive devastation we are dealing out to the environment and to indigenous people is morally equivalent to, or at least comparable to, the genocide perpetuated against the Jewish people in the Holocaust — arguable our contemporary culture’s strongest example of atrocity. In other words, that the genocides of indigenous people around the world that are currently going on, and the ecocide of the ecosystems of planet earth, are as bad as or worse than anything else that has happened in all of human existence, with corresponding ethical implications for all of us.
3. It references two of my major interests, religion and biology.
4. Jellyfish, or more correctly jellies, in phylum Cnidaria (the c is silent) are awesome. They do not have bones, blood, or brains. Their stomachs and their genitals are the same structure. Despite their size, they are officially classified as plankton because they can’t swim, only drift. They have a multi-phase life cycle, like amphibians. Their life cycle includes a phase where they are tiny and sedentary and live far longer than they do as an adults. (Anemones are essentially the opposite: their larval phase is free-floating, like jellies.) The adult form is called a medusa — like the snake-headed woman out of Greek mythology. Some jellies are poisonous enough to kill humans. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. They are a major food source of certain types of sea turtles. The Portuguese Man ‘O War, which is not actually a jelly but is similar, is actually four organisms in one. That’s awesome.
On the other end of the multi-appendaged boneless underwater animal spectrum, octopuses are the most intelligent of invertebrates. (It’s not octopi, I’m afraid, due to the language of origin. If you want to be pedantic you’ll have to go with octopode.) They have blue blood containing hemocyanin rather than the hemoglobin that makes our blood red (better for the low temperature and high pressure conditions of the ocean) and three hearts. They can taste with their tentacles. They only mate once, dying soon after mating for the male and soon after the eggs hatch for the female. There may be hundreds of thousands of offspring from one set of eggs, most of which die before reaching adulthood. They rarely live more than five years. The primary way to tell males from females is that on the males one of the tentacles is modified into a spoon-like shape without suckers at the very end. This special tentacle is called a hectocotylus and is used for mating. Octopuses are nocturnal and very shy. Their color changes depending on their mood.
Did I mention I like biology? Ask me about starfish some time.
What I expect this blog to be about: Whatever interests me at the moment. Specifically, I expect I’ll be writing a lot on gender issues, on sexuality (both in the sense of GLBT issues and in the sense of sex), on the environment, on oppression and privilege generally, on compassion, on the good life and how to find it, on “Is Truth Beauty” old-school philosophical questions, on commercialism, on globalization, on antiracism and indigenous peoples’ rights, on mental health, on the natural world, on fat acceptance, on relationship styles (polyamorous, monogamous, monogamish, etc), on classism and labor issues and homelessness, on really cool animal facts, on mathematics, on particularly inspirational people and movements, on critical thinking and challenging assumptions, on democracy, on direct action, on creating sustainable systems, on earth-centered spirituality, on atheism, on popular psychology, on vegetarian food, on fantasy and science fiction, and on anything else that I want to write about.
As someone who aspires to have people read my work and consider it worth reading, I swear to do my best to keep my writing interesting, engaging, and varied.
As someone who aspires to have my writing contribute to making the world a better place, I swear to do my best to speak truth as best I understand it, to be aware of possible consequences of what I write, to be accountable to criticism, and to recognize the input of other writers and thinkers, especially ones who have less privilege than I do.
I acknowledge that it is easier and more enjoyable to follow blogs that update regularly; as such, I will attempt to update frequently provided I have concepts worth sharing and if I am on hiatus for a time I will post a notice to that effect. I do, however, intend to prioritize quality in my writing. If I don’t have anything meaningful to say I won’t say anything, and if what I want to say is rough and unresolved I may wait until my thinking is more clear to share any of it.