Friday, June 19, 2015

Bottom feeders versus the Chemist in the Age of Progress

When we humans really want to verbally wound another human being, we call them 'bottom feeders' or 'slime' but it is not at all clear, at least at first glance, why these should be so abusive a term.

It is true that some lifeforms, much like the esteemed chemists who practise total synthesis, are greatly admired for making food out of the most basic of small molecules.

Others - like humans - are mere parasites who kill other animals and plants to obtain food (in the case of oysters scooped off the shell, we even eat our prey alive !)

We say we admire this behavior, but only, I suspect, because we feel compelled to publicly love everything about our species.

In fact, most of us would dearly love one day to make all of our food out of rocks, water and air --- and then eat it in the form of little white synthetic pills.

But still other lifeforms, the subject of today's post, are the bottom feeders of life.

They are Nature's bone and rag men, the garbage collectors of the ecosystem, cleaning up our collective mess by consuming dead beings and their excrement.

This feeding activity - saprotrophic nutrition - is absolutely vital to the re-cycling of the strictly limited resources of this Earth and thus the continuation of Life.

(Only daily sunshine and a light dusting of space dust is ever added to this world's resource base. Against this, every day lots of matter and energy successfully leaves this planet's gravity hold.)

It is dirty work but someone has to do, if we are all to go on living in our shiny clean suburban homes.

Nevertheless, because these detritus-eating creatures are often slimy in form and tend to live on dark, dank basement walls or in the dark dank soil, we hold them in particularly low regard : bottom feeders - slime.

Why ?

Go ask the writers of Gothic novels why - I really don't know why for certain.

Perhaps it is partly nothing more than the fact that some adults retain a childhood fear of the dark unknown.

That fear, and another dislike/fear, among those of a conservative mind,anyway, for the 'indecisive in-between liquidness and solidness and uncertainty' of things like mud and slime.

Perhaps though, in all of us, the unpleasant truth that the lifework of fungus slime presents an all too visible indication of the fact that all life ultimately dies.

And that all beauty does not just fade away and dies away but then also rots away.

We seen this Lovecraftian vum Gothic horror on the faces of the film and TV detective and the victim's families every time the loved one's body is exhumed from their grave.

The coffin top opened, the once beautiful child is nothing but an oozing mess of bones and slimy mold.

Maybe that film and TV image alone accounts why most of us so hate the fungus ---- for simply reminding us thus.

Small, weak, stupid, simple and despised ---- why in God's Name, did He allow them - and not the chemist made in His Image - to bring for the divine boon of penicillin ?

Why would He ever make the last first and the first last ????

Jesus Christ Almighty and Matthew 20 --- who knows ?

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