The Art of Fly Fishing

Posted on June 8, 2014. Filed under: Animals, Nature, Psychology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

We’re talking REAL FLIES here, folks

Today’s riddleIf a blind h. smart sap. cannot recognize its reflection in a mirror, does that mean the blind one does not posses self-awareness?

This is more a tale of spider-web filaments than of spiders.  I mean, in this account, I never even saw a spider.

Above the entrance to this facility (the ell shaped building referred to in the previous post) there was a sign proclaiming its identity.  That identity is not important.  Mounted above this sign were several small spotlights appended to the end of conduits gracefully curved so the lights illuminated the name.

A dark parking lot offers few sights for distraction.  Occasionally, when other employees were out, there was laughter and loud conversation.  But, my break times differed a little from the others.  The flitting of bug wings around the lights easily caught my eye, and, I would find myself trying to visually track the patterns of flight, which really looked like chaos.  The whole exercise was sort of like drumming your fingers on a table top or tapping with your toes to get in touch with some hidden inner rhythm.

There was something else that caught my eye and reminded me of my childhood in a rural area where nature had not been completely overrun by  civilization — spider-web strands floating in the air at certain times of the year.  My biology class in school told me that some spiders disperse their populations in this manner, with a tiny passenger at the lower end of the traveling strand.  Apparently, new populations of arachnids grabbed the first bus out of the backwater towns they were born in and set out to make their fortunes in the big, wide world.

Only…   here the webs were NOT floating away.  They streamed out from the top edge of the sign for several feet waving like ribbons in a breeze.  I figured some old webs had been knocked loose from the light fixture and sign structures just to give me a distraction on these long nights.  I observed this spotlighted scene several times during various night breaks:  hundreds of tiny bugs in staccato flight and streaming webs doing a slow dance in the breeze.  Until…

I noticed another type of movement; the web strands were getting shorter.  Not at the same time, but individually.  The only thing I know that would be interested in reclaiming web filaments is a spider.  To the best of my knowledge, a spider recycles only its own web material.  Ergo, there are spiders poised on the top of the sign pulling in the filaments.

Once I had become aware of this phenomenon, it was easy to isolate it on subsequent nights; long strands of webs streaming out into the breezy dark, only to be pulled back by the producer.  It seemed weird to me.

At some point, I overlaid the second observation onto the first one, and that yielded another picture from my early years — those tedious fishing trips with my father and uncles.  People lined the piers flicking fishing rods outward, waiting for the fishing line to unwind in a long, twisted arc, only to be slowly reeled in to either claim the catch or reload and re-cast.

My conclusion was inescapable

The unseen spiders on their equivalent of a coastal pier were fly fishing (or running trout lines?) in the schools of flitting bugs attracted to the lights.  I did not get to run any of those spiders through Dr. Smart Butt’s mirror test to prove self-awareness, but, I would say those spiders knew who they were, who the bugs were, and just exactly which was going to benefit the most from this fishing trip.

A tiny bird protecting its soon-to-be-sleeping butt by not revealing its night sanctuary; sparrows wanting to extend their sleep time for personal satisfaction; spiders turning web netting into fishing lines for personal culinary satisfaction.  I would say that in the proof of self-awareness competition, the score is lopsided:

  • Nature – 3
  • Mirror – 0

I am thinking that a living entity cannot continue to exist unless it possesses the trait of self-awareness, a trait that I suspect forms the core of all life forms.

Yeah!  I know that is counter to what The Great Learned have been preaching for centuries, but, it’s okay — I am a graduate skeptic licensed to think freely without prior permission from intellectual authorities.  If you are cowed by their disapproving glares, you might want to reconsider your decision to hang out with me.  It’s your call.

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Previous posts under Tales From My Darkest Ell:

  • The Best Part of Waking Up…   is not having to actually get up.

 

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