What are poems? [Part one]
"Because we have by today so deeply interiorized writing, made it so much a part of ourselves, as Plato's age had not yet made it fully a part of itself, we find it difficult to consider writing to be a technology as we commonly assume printing and the computer to be. Yet writing (and especially alphabetic writing) is a technology, calling for the use of tools and other equipment: styli or brushes or pens, carefully prepared surfaces such as paper, animal skins, strips of wood, as well as inks or paints, and much more. … Writing is in a way the most drastic of the three technologies. It initiated what print and computers only continue, the reduction of dynamic sound to quiescent space, the separation of the word from the living present, where alone spoken words can exist."
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Fait Divers de la Poemes Amercaine et Brittanique
Bombardier beetles of the genus Brachinus are unique in mixing chemicals to make an explosion. The ingredients are made and held in separate glands. When required, they are squirted into a chamber near the rear end of the beetle, where they explode, forcing noxious (caustic and boiling-hot) liquid out through a nozzle directed at the enemy.
The archer fish comes to the surface of the water and spits a mouthful at a perched insect, knocking it down into the water, where it eats it. The archer fish's spit is guided, with devastating accuracy, by binocularly focused eyes.
Spitting spiders [family Scytodidae] lack the fleetness of a wolf spider or the net of a web spider. A spitting spider chucks a venomous glue some distance towards its prey, pinning it to the ground until the spider arrives and bites it to death.
The bolas spider [Mastophora] uses a missile to capture prey. The spider synthesizes and exudes the fake sexual scent of a female moth, which attracts male moths. The missile is a blob of silk. The blob is attached to a thread of silk, which the spider whirls around like a lasso or bola, then hurls at its prey, which it then reels in.
The diving bell spider [Argyroneta aquatica] lives and hunts entirely under water. Like dolphins, dugongs, turtles, freshwater snails and other land animals that have returned to water, the diving bell spider still needs to breathe air. To accomplish this it constructs own diving bell. It spins a bell of silk attached to an underwater plant. The spider goes to the surface to collect air, which it carries in the same way as some water bugs, in a layer trapped by body hairs. But unlike the bugs, which just carry the air like a scuba cylinder wherever they go, the spider takes it to its diving bell, where it unloads it to replenish the supply. The spider sits in the diving bell watching for prey, and it stores and eats prey there, once caught.
Extra credit for identifying the poets alluded to above!
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What are poems? [Part two]
"Even more confusion of terminology could be avoided by realizing that making ever more precise or restrictive definitions does not generate greater precision in the understanding of any animal. Animals are dynamic. Each animal’s choices fit in somewhere in a long continuum of almost anything that can be measured or imagined. Different terms may apply in any one animal in varying degree, depending on circumstances, but ultimately the species, and often the individual, fashion their own solutions to fit the situation or the occasion. We gain understanding not so much by lumping and defining, but by differentiating the specifics form the generalized features. The latter have a tendency to become enshrined as rules or laws that are ultimately statistically derived descriptive artifacts. But animals don’t follow rules or easily allow us to pigeonhole them into convenient intellectual boxes. A “rule” is nothing more than a consistency of response that we have deduced animals exhibit because it serves their interests. Rules are the sum of decisions made by individuals. They are a result. The chaos, and the art, of nature remains." -Bernd Heinrich
For "animal," read "poem." For "nature," read "the poet."