Tuesday, May 05, 2009

424. Poem / Song "Gaia-Medea" with a LOT of Backstory from Origins Conference (Arizona State University, April 2009) (EVOLUTION BY COLLECTIVE ACTION)

I know each poem is deserving of its own blog entry, but I was hunting for "Gaia-Medea" and accidentally stumbled upon two other poems/songs I was formulating in a car that I thought are worth "barfing out now" so that they can be worked upon and elaborated more consciously!

I formulated "Gaia-Medea" poem on the way down to San Diego (gone fishing!) but I was truly inspired by the works of an Earth Scientist (Dr. Peter Ward) at the Origins Conference (ASU University) who holds the perspective of the Medea Hypothesis (disastrologist, pessimist approach) over Gaia when it comes to Life on Earth as a happy-dosy-self-sustaining system. (I think water ultimately serves as a checks-and-balances character). This professor takes a unique stance in exploring the role of microbes in macro-scale ecological catastrophe in geological scales and I bet this dude will jive quite well with my undergrad advisor Armand Kuris (Parasite Prof). I talked to the moderator of the panel--I believe Dr. Manfred Laubichler (internal versus internal-regulation, serenity prayer conversation, I will discuss a later time)-- and I told him that I was concerned that Gaia and Medea are like bipolar-opposities of each other and are merely perceptual frames for research agendas. Essentially, the history of this planet shows evidence for cycles of origins, growth, shifts, decay, catastrophic ends, and cycles of rebirth, so on and so forth. The petri dish of planet Earth largely remains empty, oxygen came around, organisms explode in size and population size, like megacorporate mass production of life kicks in because efficiency of oxygen transport, then the petri dish gets full, shxt happens in a case of fullness vulnerability (combinatotion of various self-induced biotic and non-self-induced abiotic factors, density-dependent or density-independent), then the scenario is wiped blank slate again (like some kind of meteorite, toxic, anoxic event), and the meek scum rock-digesting bacteria shall always inherit the Earth. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I didn't tell Dr. Laubichler all of this, but I told him that why are there two bipolar perspectives when there are cycles of both Gaia-Medea. Wouldn't a more appropriate metaphor of A PHOENIX be more appropriate in terms of understanding coupled organismal-environmental systems? Human-envronmental systems? And he said very instinctively, yes, indeed, that would make a LOT of sense! And then I told him, that I am studying the role of metaphor and scale in conceptualizing human-environmental systems and science and society, as well as allowing the bridge of analogies and parallels with the natural sciences and the social sciences. Do you think this is a worthwhile agenda? And Dr. Laubichler also swiftly stated, that "Yes, this would indeed be a very legitimate research agenda, as long as the metaphors are not shallow-pass-off-analogies, but metaphors that are deeply embedded in the thought processes of the research and advances conceptual understanding of intra-and-interdisciplinary work. And I was very happy that he said this. I wore a gold star on my forehead for a couple of days :-). I felt legitimatized by someone with credentials I never met in my entire life until that moment in space and time. I love it!

The other issue I noticed is how disciplines borrowed terms from other rather remote disciplines. Geologists borrowed the term "incumbency," which is a word usually used in political contexts. What I thought was VERY interesting was use of the word complex--rival, non-rival (competitive-non-competitive for finite-space-time), excludable (elite club access), and non-exludable (access to all, socialist)--these traditionally-economics terms were borrowed TWICE through the entirety of the Origins symposium: once potentially by Dr. Steve Mojzsis (he's SOOO cool, I think he's and Earth Science prof based on Colorado), and once definitely by Dr. Steven Pinker (in linguistics--words as windows to the mind, who was clobbered by the skeptical ASU audience because Dr. Pinker was only measuring intelligence through word use and not spatial-problem solving and artistic outputs). I am SOOO excited simply because I witnessed this concept-word borrowing from disciplines, and it's also media-documented! Woohoo!

The other topic I did not mention to Dr. Laubichler but am now coming to vividly perceive as a REFLEXIVE SCIENTIST (a reflexive scientist [like me] is basically a scientist who has come to the conclusion that science is done by humans, and by default becomes a philosopher of science of sorts) is how the positive / negative mammalian taxis--or how OPTIMISM and PESSIMISM--ultimately shapes and frames scientific agendas.
In the parallels of the history of life on Earth, and origins of humans and their environments...

OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM AS INTRINSIC PSYCHOLOGICAL PHENOMENA ADDICTION / FIXATION / GROWTH / LOSS / WITHDRAWAL: (psychology of loss, whether your family member, friend, pet, a drug addiction, post-pardum depression after quarter finals at school, your job, or 20 years of scientific research overhauled by a young stud) (five steps on death and dying) EVEN PERCEIVED IN THE NOTION OF SCIENTIFIC PARADIGM SHIFTS / SCIENCE AS INCREMENTAL AND/OR RADICAL IN CHANGE OF PERCEPTION AND THOUGHT PROCESS (like for thousands of years we added knowledge to the universe of Sun Cycling Around the Earth, and then one day we came to perceive the Earth was cycling around the sun, it requires a knowledge overhaul and shifting-re-organizing entirety of accumulated incremental knowledge!) A BIRTH AND DEATH AND REBIRTH IN SCIENTIFIC THINKING!

LIFE ON EARTH DUALIST METAPHORS OF OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM:
MEDEA HYPOTHESIS (pessimism) -- Peter Ward
GAIA HYPOTHESIS (optimism) -- James Lovelock (I don't like the frame of Gaia at all!)

HUMAN-ENVIRONMENTAL DUALIST METAPHORS/ CONCEPTS OF OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM:
HISTORICAL OVERFISHING (pessimism, "policy dark side of forest") -- Jeremy Jackson, Boris Worm, etcetera... (not to specifically mention these people, but there was a whole cult of pessimist science research coming out... well, it was by default, pessimistic, without much "what can we do about it" type of perspective
FISHERIES MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS (e.g. catch shares) (optimism, positive search image) -- Steve Gaines, Chris Costello
GLASS HALF-EMPTY / GLASS HALF-FULL--Dr. Jared Diamond dichotomized the positive and negative search image for the growth and collapse of societies (human-environmental systems) in "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and "Collapse" without looking into the relationships of both sides of the coin
GLASS HALF-EMPTY / GLASS HALF-FULL also perceived in the "GLOBAL WARMING" issue Al Gore taking a glass-half empty appraoch with inconsistent backing, the positive and negative aspects of the global-warming argument, as well as the post-global warming positive and negative outcomes (e.g. deserts will be prime real estate and islands will be flooded, millions of humans moved)

SOLUTION-METAPHOR THAT INTEGRATES CYCLES OF OPTIMISM-PESSIMISM-ORIGINS-GROWTH-COLLAPSE:
The Phoenix (a la Lauri Green, with a phoenix and a huge jelly fish tattooed on her back), enduring through the passing her perhaps most dearest family member, talk about TWO DIE-HARD TATTOOES! I think Lauri Green and Milton Love are the two coolest marine biologists each with two really cool tattooes, I need to start a collection here! natural history tattooed on human bodies, what an absurd collection!) through the times, life and death is all about periods of shifting baselines (life is never in a static stable state, always shifting) punctuated by extreme events (whether personal, collective human-environmental, or life on earth); and such is about constructing universal narrative themes.

More specifically, the MEDEA HYPOTHESIS (term coined by paleontologist Peter Ward for the Anti-Gaian hypothesis) is that multicellular life, unstood as a matrix-like "superorganism" is "suicidal." Succeeding at suicide would return Earth to the microbial-dominated state that has been the norm for most of its history.

The above passage was derived from Wikipedia, and it bothers the hxll out of me. I don't consider there being a "superorganism" complex. I feel that all of life has similar properties such that it acts constructively and deconstructively in feedbacks and certain events shows COLLECTIVE MASS ACCUMULATION IMPACTS ON LIFE AS A WHOLE simply because all living organisms have certain properties in common (they're all ALIVE!). Living organisms are "not suicidal" ("suicide" is TELEOLOGICAL and ANTHOPOMORPHIC: organisms as a collective with "super-organismic properties" operate as a PROCESS not with PURPOSE--assigning purpose to phenomena that are process-oriented and not induced by any individual organism or individual mind). Instead of "suicide," I would use the term "SELF-INDUCED VULNERABILITY TO MASS EXTINCTION, EITHER THROUGH THE MASS ACCUMULATION OF UNFAVORABLE BIOTIC FACTORS, COUPLED BIOTIC-ABIOTIC FACTORS, AND/OR UNCONTROLLABLE ABIOTIC EVENTS."

Anyhoo, I am so GLAD I found that the Medea Hypothesis exists because my father spoke with Dr. Martin Kennedy quite a few times about Snowball Earth the the global shutting down of a Photosynthesis Pump associated with certain abiotic factors--and I made a comment to my father on how "early organisms were self-inducing their own mass extinction, much like humans" and be both laughed our xsses off in the UC Riverside geology loading dock at the comment. And much to my glea, my own once-impromptu joke is actually the research agenda of a renowned paleontoloist I unfortunately was not exposed to at the time... yet. Now that my mind has marinated quite a bit, I even appreciate more the work of Dr. Peter Ward. I hope to run into him again and share with him my thoughts on his "controversial wording," at least in my own opinion.

One more tidbit: past "suicide attempts: include (1) methane poisoning (3.5 billion years ago), the oxygen catastrophe (2.7 billion years ago, what in the hxll is this?), Snowball Earth twice (2.3 billion years ago and 790-630 million years ago), at least 5 hydrogen-sulfide-induced mass extinctions (anoxic events?) such as the great dying 251.4 million years ago... and of course... NOT ON WIKIPEDIA, the HUMAN SET-UP to COLLECTIVE MASS EXTINCTION. Yet, as a wise fisherman in San Diego says, "When all collapses and the house of cards caves in, I will become a hero, because I know how to row my boat and catch fish. I will still be able to feed myself and my community." Amen! The world is going to hxll... and I'm not going to let me take it down with me!

Gaia-Medea

Gaia-Medea (repeated 8 times with a specific melody)

(So) Medea perceived the Planet Half Emtpy
and Gaia viewed the World in Half-n-Half Full
The Phoenix still rose from his few-gathered ashes
Of Death and Rebirth of the Cycles of Both.

Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
The Phoenix still rose from his few-gathered ashes.
Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
Construction still 'merges from blows of collapses.
(repeating chant)


Some Reconstruction from Collapsed Reduction
Are Carvings of Sculptures Could No Longer Endure
Irr'ducible Existence of Phasing Decay--
No longer a toy Evolution's ensured?

Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
The Phoenix still rose from his few-gathered ashes.
Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
Construction still 'merges from blows of collapses.
(repeating chant)


Such is the Powers and Motives of Gaming
Of Scientists and Sleuths in Narrative Framing
But how humans see, but do we really see?
In the cloak or the realms of objectivity?

Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
The Phoenix still rose from his few-gathered ashes.
Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
Construction still 'merges from blows of collapses.
(repeating chant)


I can't believe one short poem has so much BAGGAGE and BACKSTORY!!! Geez! Like SHOOT ME! I still think the poem needs a LOT more work... and a few more ideas placed inside the existing matrix of concepts. At least I am throwing the poem out there as a work in progress!

KEY WORDS: Gaia, Medea, phoenix, poem, song, Dr. Peter Ward, Dr. Manfred Laubichler, metaphor, scale, tattoo, Lauri Green, rival-nonrival, excludable-nonexcludable, reflexive scientist, optimism-pessimism, Dr. Milton Love, disease in the fossil record, suicide, narrative framing, collective suicide, mass accumulation effect, teleology, anthropomorphic, purpose or process, extreme events, shifting baselines, Steve Gaines, Chris Costello, Boris Worm, Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, Jeremy Jackson, James Lovelock, positivisim-negativism, logical positivism, Steve Pinker, Steve Mojzsis, good enough list for now... geeze!

11 comments:

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

There are three times I have documented in which economic/political terms have transferred into the realm of Biological and Earth Sciences concepts. One word is "incumbency." A second word suite is "rival-nonrival-excludable-non-excludable." And a third word is WHAT I WILL PROPOSE VIA THE MEDEA HYPOTHESIS. It's not evolution by natural selection. It's evolution by COLLECTIVE ACTION. The summation of individual behaviors can lead to an overall ecologically catastrophic result.

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
The Phoenix still rose from his few-gathered ashes.
Gaia-Medea, Gaia-Medea
Construction still 'merges from blows of collapses.
(repeating chant)

Evolution of systems/stories
through Collective Action.

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