Morning Thoughts: The Results Of Your Feedback, Which Made Me Think A Little
As I explained to the beautiful lazygrl
, my struggle to get revenge on Matty for changing my screensaver is just my way of teasing him, because Matty's like a brother to me. And what's the point of having a brother if I can't tease him? I love Matty from way back in the place where short stories are born, so I'm going to leave him with his Goldfrapp screensaver, which has been protokrypp'd right to the pixels. I know this is a crying shame, because I found this,
which might've made his glitter dreams more sparkling than ever, just as he has sparkled up my own existence, and, I believe, the existences of a few other people I know.
Stupid protokrypp'ing.Thoughts In Early Afternoon: October
Instead, I now choose to focus my energy elsewhere, because, okay. A few weeks back a man came into the bookstore, bearing flowers. Since he does not drive but rides a bike, he'd transported them deep in the front of his vest. And then he drew them out. Two dahlias the color of flames, which he'd grown in his own garden. He looks like a dahlia himself -- tall and bright, with a crown of hair that goes in every direction.
So the next chance I got I went to Golden Gate Park to photograph the dahlia garden, which is situated right next to The Conservatory of Flowers. I would like to live in a place called The Conservatory of Flowers.
The dahlia garden is an odd sight, a circus of color massed impertinently in front of agave, cactus, and Monterey cypress.
From a distance these flowers look like a field of lollipops, their blossoms so profuse it's almost obscene. If I were a bee, I'd aim straight for the center of a dahlia.
I'd hide there in the midst of those petals until each fell off, slowly at first, and then all at once in the October wind, because dying flowers in October smell so sweet.Noon-ish: Way Down Deep In The South, Where He Never Would Go When He Was Afraid
Today was a lovely day because I finally heard from someone I've been concerned about, and I learned today that my concerns were groundless; he is in Kentucky, breakfasting on plums warmed by the sun, left for him on the seat of his motorcycle by a fellow traveler, a kind stranger.Thoughts After Sundown: An Argument For Peace
That's enough rejoicing for now. I leave you with this thing I learned about the male Betta fish.
I just read about Bettas on Wikipedia, because that's where my whims took me. You might know this: as soon as this fish spies another male Betta, its single purpose is to tear the other to shreds.
I guess Bettas were used in aggression studies back in the seventies, as a male Betta will try to murder even his own reflection; the researchers figured that a mirror doesn't have teeth, so when prompted to fight, a Betta attacking its refelected image won't be externally harmed. These studies were discontinued once the researchers learned about something internal; fighting causes stress, and stress decreases the fish's lifespan.
Anyway, I then read that presenting to a male Betta the image that makes it want to kill -- that is, tapping into the moment this fish seems to live for -- is the one stimulus that allows for these fish to succumb to conditioned behaviors.
But there's something in the findings I don't understand. The findings imply that Bettas derive pleasure from acting on their own aggressions.
The thing is, classical conditioning begins with an automatic response to a strong stimulus. We all know about Pavlov's starting point -- dog smells bone, dog salivates. Dogs derive pleasure from fulfilling their hungers. Here's another example of the kind of conditions necessary to allow for classical conditioning. I smell rancid cheese and I feel kind of queasy. Stimulus, response. I derive no pleasure from the smell of rancid cheese.
If someone wanted to condition me, they could play the gamelan every time I smelled rancid cheese. After a while I'd start feeling queasy every time I heard gamelan, because I'd been conditioned to do so. Just like dogs can be conditioned to salivate every time they hear the sound of a bell. They come to associate bells with bones. If a dog was pretty indifferent to bones or if rancid cheese smell didn't faze me, neither of us would salivate or feel queasy, respectively. In other words, creatures can be classically conditioned with much more ease when the creature has a strong response to something, whether that reponse is one of eagerness or loathing. So the only thing we can say for sure about the male Betta is that it has a strong response. Right?
As for these fish and their fighting, I wonder if the Betta that lives on after he's taken the other fish's life ever really recovers from his own injuries. And I wonder why they fight. I won't be satisfied with all that stuff about progeny. There's got
to be more to life than that, I just know it.