Visceral Adventure
Of Fractals and Fruit Flies
The Plight of the Aphids

The Plight of the Aphids

Sometimes all we got left in us is poetry


“The new tyranny of which we are speaking exalts man to the point of adoration, giving him the opportunity to turn his interests and desires into freedoms and rights, which however are no longer inherent in him by nature, but become the “gracious concessions” of a power that legally ratifies them. And so, turned into a child who contemplates his own whims as these are maximized and satisfied, the man of our time is more than ever the hostage of the assertions of power that guarantee him the enjoyment of all-encompassing liberty and constantly expanding rights. In the classical tyrannies, the subject at least still had the consolation of knowing that he was oppressed by a power that was violating his nature; but those who are subjected to this new tyranny have no consolation other than the protection of the same power that has lifted them up to the altar of adoration. And so without even realizing it man has become a tool in the hands of those who tend to him with painstaking care, as ants tend to aphids before feeding on them.”

-De Prada

The cherry tree we planted when I was pregnant with my youngest is infested by aphids and their herders.

We planted the sapling on an impulse, ok, maybe on my insistence, but I was inspired by a short Japanese poem a dear friend shared:

“Under cherry blossoms, there are no strangers.”

The aphids and their herders didn’t show up the first year, but made their presence known by the time Frankie Marlowe could walk.

Every year since then I tell myself I will do something about the infestation and I don’t, but I could, and:

“If only the ants weren’t so damn good at farming aphids!”

The cherry tree is making very slow progress, growth stunted, burdened by the insects.

But blossoms nonetheless appear in the spring, even if, admittedly, strangers less so, because, after all:


The ants play their role diligently, ushering stray aphids back under the leaves that hide them from predators,

Hacking into the governance of aphid colonies all the while feasting on the sweet honeydew drops expelled from the aphids’ ass:

“Hey, it’s science, ok?”

The ants enjoy the aphids, it’s symbiotic, kind of, well the aphids don’t have a choice, but the ants protect the aphids unless…

They’re sick.

They’re old.

There are too many.

Then the least productive aphids make protein-packed meals for their farmers’ young.

Meanwhile, my Frankie’s arbor-sake continues to tolerate the invasion.

There, where the Berlin Wall once stood dividing people from one another,

a Japanese gesture planting 9000 cherry trees in jubilation is worth a visit in the month of May:

“Sacura auf Deutsch!”

We are capable of grand gestures, and exponential potential; honeydew drops expelling sweet creative syrup.

We paint our dreams and lift our voices in harmony, perform magic and unravel quantum physics, and sometimes write words on paper that read:

“I’m not a dead thing.”

Anyway, even without the herders’ admissions, I know it’ll be boring here without us.

Even without the hackers’ permissions, we’re good at the living part.

“Better at living than the hackers are at herding, I say.”

When aphid colonies reach maximum capacity, the babies are born with wings because evolution knows how to show up to bat.

And although the ants chew off those wings and use the sick and the old and the many for feed,

“Life is still good at the living part.”

So we go on planting cherry trees and watch them blossom and maybe get infested, and occasionally, a stranger becomes a friend.

As pillars crumble.

As leaders are exposed. And deposed. And disposed.

As empires fall apart.

The powers that shouldn’t be abandoning their posts like the once diligent ants did at the sign of the first frost.

All the while, evolution biding its time before it comes up to the plate.

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Visceral Adventure
Of Fractals and Fruit Flies
Musings on our humanity, culture, and transcendence.
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