Week 22. Ecotones

At the ecotone between science and politics is a woman who has chained herself to a redwood so no one will cut it down.

From above, the transition from one biome to another; grass to forest, forest to tundra, is just one shade of green bleeding into another.

In science, Data is data is data.  In science, like jeopardy, all answers are in the form of a question.

In politics, everything is a story.

At the interface of questions and stories, data becomes metaphor.  Do you see the women chained to a tree as hero or obstructionist?

Medium: Ink.

References on front: Each line was taken at random from work notebooks from the laboratory (2011) and from the U.S. Senate (2012). 

In math, the separatrix is the line at which trajectories toward fates, perhaps balanced, perhaps oscillating, become erratic and destination uncertain. An ecotone can be a kind of separatrix for which fate becomes less of a fluid “this too shall pass” and more a state toward which one hurtles, collapsing before reaching a defined point.

It’s easy to see doomsdays everywhere, to listen to loud fear. People complain all the time about getting older and wearing down, though it’s not really the case on a cellular level. We go through a period of emphatic growth and then are sustained (though our sun degrades as we eat it).

I believe in oscillations more than ecotones, in waves that last so long we can’t help but call them static, species, biome. When microbes live in biofilms, they exchange privileges – the inner ones give ammonium to the fellows on the outside; in return, the outer cells protect their centers and refrain from eating all the food. To treat an infection, you make the habitat a challenge, push the microbes toward selfishness, independence, eventual collapse.

My sympathies are not hard-won. I see metaphor and allegory everywhere. I’ve never coughed up blood. Surviving a challenging environment means loving with force, holding suffering and sustaining life in both hands.

Medium: watercolor

The image is a representation of microbial oscillations in biofilm.


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