Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|On NPR yesterday, I heard an interview with an entomologist about recent ant research. As I remember it, the researchers briefly anesthetized ants and painted different colors on their backs with fine bristled brushes. This permitted tracking individual behavior. Observations revealed a large portion of the ant colony do nothing. They are still. Observers expect this serves some function for the colony, but to date, don’t know what function. Fascinating! It makes me want to get one of those ant farms we had as kids and paint the little buggers bums and watch. Perhaps, it would be equally interesting to observe the scientists, sitting perfectly still, wearing t-shirts with different colors and numbers apparently doing nothing as they observe the ants.
I can see the previous paragraph as a prose poem. At this point, poetry may be the most productive approach to the problem as it opens thought processes enhancing creativity. We often talk about creativity as a trait and a creation is seen as the product of the trait in action. What if inaction is actually the essential foundation of creativity? What if those ants that are still are the artists? What if they are a huge choir singing their hearts out in some very high frequency energy we have yet to discover in connection to ants? What if they generate ant poetry as a communal activity rather than the solitary context in which much, probably most human poetry emerges? What if creativity is not a trait, but is instead a form of energy available to and utilized by all living things like light and sound? Perhaps they pray.
It is clear to me that some basic assumptions about labor, about community organization and about how community gets expressed may be challenged by this extraordinary human activity of placing team member IDs on the backs of ants. Perhaps we will discover that it would be much to our advantage to have human individuals sitting on the sidelines. The fact is, we have long set aside people as priests, monks and nuns for the very purpose of reflection and attention to the invisible force we call spirit. We have excluded people designated as outsiders, but then in emergencies, turned to them for help as the USA did with African Americans during WWII.
Obviously, I will not know any more by asking these questions than I did before. I eagerly await news of the ongoing research project with ants. While I’m waiting, I wonder what would happen if I paint the various letters in my writing and watch to see what happens. They seem very still…..