Monday, January 9, 2012

I.T. - 2-03 - Organism as Society, Society as Organism

2-03 – Organism as Society, Society as Organism

There was a large mixed herd of Zebra and wildebeest grazing in the meadow, among the widely dispersed acacia trees and what looked like sandstone spires up to 20' tall. The landscape was so bright it was brilliant. The air was so silent it hissed. On the African savannah he was automatically silent, and whatever he said to anyone, principally himself, was done in a whisper.

And he whispered, "This is truly the holy of holies. It's no St. Peter’s Cathedral, only infinitely greater. The least of God's creation, so to speak, is greater than greatest production of man."

And I whispered back within him, "Ultimately, the Universe Itself is the supreme cathedral, the Earth is one of Its innumerable chambers of worship, and life is the act of worship itself."

He fell down on his knees in whatever humility a human being was capable, and in this attitude, he received a glimpse of perceptual pliancy in the 4th dimension.

"Take a mental time-lapse movie of this meadow covering a hundred years, then play it back in a hundred seconds. Tell me what you see after you have seen it," I instructed him.

He looked intensely at the meadow for what seemed like a hundred years, then said, “Yes, I saw what I think you wanted me to see. But I don’t see what point you’re trying to make.”

“What did you see?”

“Well, first, I saw the grass covering the meadow. It was like a shimmering carpet alternating green and brown once every second, that is, once every year in real time.”

“Good start.”

“Next, the trees. They sprouted from the ground, mushroomed to full stature, then suddenly collapsed, and eventually crumbled to nothing, all within a few dozen seconds, decades that is, each in its own time of course."

"Go on."

"And while they live, they give off once-per-second flowering flashes.”


“And the animals. They're individually invisible, because they move too fast. Instead, they formed a ground-hugging probability cloud, with a thin aerial probability haze for the birds.”

“Excellent. Now that the stage is set, let's bring on the living spires.”

“The living spires, yes. They behaved just like the trees. They sprout from the ground just like the trees, mushroom to full size just like the trees, then suddenly dying and eventually crumbling to nothing, just like the trees, all within several dozen seconds just like the trees, each in its own time of course, just like the trees. And while they live, just like the trees, they also give off once-per-second flashes, which in their case comprises the release and swarming of reproductive units from all the spires simultaneously. This is what you want me to see, isn’t it?”

“And what do you make of it?”

“On the understanding that these spires are in fact termite mounds, I surmise that your point is that a termite mound is as alive as a tree."

“Yes, but not far enough.”

“I would have thought that to call a termite mound alive is already going a little too far, since only the termites are alive, but not the shell of the mound.”

“Is this like saying that calling a crab alive is going a little too far, since only its cells are alive, but not its shell?”

“But a crab is a bona fide organism – a certified living thing.”

“Aha, now we’re getting somewhere.”

“You’re not actually saying that a termite mound is a bona fide organism, are you?”

“Isn’t it?”

“Well, there is one test I learned in high school that can answer this for certain. I can run it through the gauntlet of classical biology’s Seven Vital Functions. A candidate entity must possess all seven vital functions to qualify as a bona fide organism.”

“Sure. Do it.”

“Okay. The First Vital Function is Nutrition. A bona fide organism needs to ingest materials of some kind, be it solar energy, water, oxygen, carbon dioxide and certain minerals in the case of plants, and plants and other animals in the case of animals. The termite mound does need to ingest materials, which includes grass, leaves and dead wood.”

“Do the termites themselves ingest the grass, leaves and dead wood?”

“Actually, they do not.”

“What do they ingest?”

“They ingest a specific species of fungus that grows on a substrate composed of mulched grass, leaves and wood.”

“So, what exactly is the food for the termite mound?”

“Grass, leaves and wood.”

“And the fungus?”

“An intermediate product of the mound’s physiology.”

"Move on.”

“The Second Vital Function is Excretion. An organism needs to remove waste material from itself. The mound does discharge waste material, such as exhausted fungal substrate, uneaten fungal parts, miscellaneous debris and dead termites.”

“And the termite’s own excreta?”

“It is used as a cement for the shell and internal partitions of the mound."

"So the termites’ own excretion is not the termite mound’s excretion?"

"Looks not. The termites' own excreta is the internal secretion of the mound for building the shell of the mound, equivalent to the secretions of those crab cells which builds the shell of the crab.”

“Go on.”

“The Third Vital Function is Reactivity. The mound does react to external stimuli. If attacked, e.g. by ants, ant-eaters, etc., it defends itself - by means of its soldiers. If damaged, it heals itself - by means of the major workers.”

“Go on.”

“The Fourth Vital Function is Movement. Movements of the termites within the mound notwithstanding, the mound itself can send out a stream of termites, like a tentacle, to procure food. So, in fact, a termite mound as a whole has more power of movement than a tree.”

"Go on."

“The Fifth Vital Function is Growth. The termite mound does grow, as our virtual video demonstrated, in physical size as well as its internal termite population."

"Go on."

“The Sixth Vital Function is Homeostasis. The termite mound can maintain its own core temperature to within one degree year round regardless of external air temperature. If heated, it cools itself by having the minor workers to go down to the water table via tunnels dug by the major workers, sometimes meters down, each bringing back a droplet of water in its jaws, which they would then stick onto a partition wall, thus cooling the mound. If chilled, the mound warms itself by the termites clustering at the core, thus maintaining its core temperature. Another aspect of Homeostasis is that if disturbed, the mound has a tendency to return to its 'default' order."

"Go on."

“The Seventh Vital Function is Reproduction. The termite mounds do reproduce.”

“Are you referring to the termites themselves reproducing?”

“No. As pointed out before, termite reproduction is actually the growth of the mound. Mound reproduction is old mounds begetting new mounds. And the new mounds, and their termite constituents, are genetically and memetically the same as the old mounds.”

“And so?”

“So, now, I conclude that a termite mound is a bona fide organism, a certified living thing, according to classical biology.”

“There is even an Eighth Vital Function, if you’re interested.”

“Really? Do tell."


"I see."

"Not only do the termite cells evolve, and the termites evolve, the mounds evolve as well - in size, shape, internal structure, and the societal termite species within.”

“Okay, consider me convinced. A termite cell, a termite and a termite mound are all fide societies organisms, just on different levels of organization."

"How many levels of organizations have you seen so far?"

"Three: the Cellular, the Metabion, and the, let's say, Tribal levels of organization. And on each level, there seems to be nonsocial and social units.”

"You have it right and straight."

"So, what is the significance of all this?

“’Society as organism’ is an extremely important concept in its own right, an a central founding principle of the Omniscientific Cosmology.”

I am Raminothna,
the Fortunate and Called Upon,
at your service.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

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