Unreal Nature

March 13, 2015

Fly On

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:39 am

… In such hope do all launched seeds participate.

This is from the essay ‘The Spore Bearers’ found in The Invisible Pyramid by Loren Eiseley (1970):

… The spore tower that discharges the Pilobolus missile is one of the most fascinating objects in nature. A swollen cell beneath the black capsule that contains the spores is a genuinely light-sensitive “eye.” This pigmented eye controls the direction of growth of the spore cannon and aims it very carefully at the region of greatest light in order that no intervening obstacle may block the flight of the spore capsule.

When a pressure of several atmospheres has been built up chemically within the cell underlying the spore container, the cell explodes, blasting the capsule several feet into the air. Since firing takes place in the morning hours, the stalks point to the sun at an angle sure to carry the tiny “rockets” several feet away as well as up. Tests in which the light has been reduced to a small spot indicate that the firing eye aims with remarkable accuracy. The spore vessel firing itself is equipped with a quick-drying glue as to adhere to vegetation always in the proper position.

… It is useless to talk of transporting the excess [human] population of our planet elsewhere, even if a world of sparkling water and green trees were available. In nature it is a law that the spore cities die, but the spores fly on to find their destiny. Perhaps this will prove to be the rule of the newborn planet virus. Somehow in the mysterium behind genetics, the tiny pigmented eye and the rocket capsule were evolved together.

In an equal mystery that we only pretend to understand, man, in the words of Garet Garrett, “reached with his mind into emptiness and seized the machine.” Deathly though some of its effects have proved, robber of the earth’s crust though it may appear at this human stage to be, perhaps there are written within the machine two ultimate possibilities. The first, already , if primitively, demonstrated, is that of being a genuine spore bearer of the first complex organism to cross the barrier of the void. The second is that of providing the means by which man may someday be able to program his personality, or its better aspects, into the deathless machine itself, and thus escape, or nearly escape, the mortality of the body.

… [Or, machines] might even be able to carry refrigerated human egg cells held in suspended animation and prepared to be activated, educated, and to grow up alone under the care of the machines.

[ … ]

… Not long ago, seated upon a trembling ladder leading to a cliff-house ruin that has not heard the voice of man for centuries, I watched, in a puff of wind, a little swirl of silvery thistledown rise out of the canyon gorge beneath my feet. One or two seeds fell among stony crevices about me, but another, rising higher and higher upon the light air, ascended into the blinding sunshine beyond my vision.

… Almost four centuries ago, Francis Bacon, in the years of the voyagers, had spoken of the new world of science as “something touching upon hope.” In such hope do all launched seeds participate.

My most recent previous post from Eiseley’s book is here.

-Julie

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