Advice From the Silver Mollies

In honor of Robert Bly’s birthday.

brown and black bees

Keep an eye out. You never know when the next mortal blow is coming. Look around. Notice your numbers, and don’t let them go to waste. When they come for you, don’t just lie there in stunned silence. Spin, turn, shout! Get those around you to move. You’ll never command the whole group, but there’s no one who isn’t touching some of the others and everyone is connected. Move the ones you are touching. I don’t want to frighten you, but they are coming for you. There will always be another attack and you’re never going to prevent that. All your movement will only prolong the time between attacks. We can cut their success in half, maybe. So do it. They will keep attacking. Keep moving.

The silver mollies will tell you, it’s not a matter of escape, but of letting the enemy know, after they pick off a target, that they’re going to have to work for the next one.

You have a friend who studies bees. A hornet is much bigger than any bee and can easily get away with whatever prey it can pick off. Except when the bees move quickly enough to surround the attacker, vibrating their wings to cook it to death. It’s important to act quickly here, before reinforcements are signaled.

Please don’t expect that you’re going to solve the problem of ongoing attacks, or that they’ll stop on their own at some magical hour, or when some critical mass of those wearied by plundering is finally reached. You’re not going to get that, and it’s no good waiting for the next flight on a magical dragon in the sky.

Listen earthling, you’ve always been too prone to watching clouds, and you miss the enemies in the trees, poised to eat you. 

I have to tell you, the bees involved in cooking their enemy won’t live as long as the others. I have to tell you, the bees involved in cooking their enemy are also more likely to be involved in subsequent attacks, each of which takes its toll, but if you dwell on this, you’ll be missing the point.

Four o’clock in the morning is the best time to see the moon

Soon, you’re going to be without a choice. You need to know this. So much suffering goes on in prison, and in the prisons of self-isolation, every hour a reminder of who and what may not be touched. 

You too will not be spared if you refuse to notice.

***

Inspirations:

I noticed it was Robert Bly’s birthday this morning, and so I decided to do a post inspired by his “Advice from the Geese.” Yesterday’s New York Times had an interesting article about the synchronized defensive behavior of silver mollies (Why these Mexican Fish Do the Wave), so I decided to begin with them. Thoughts of animal synchronization reminded me of something I had read earlier this year about the behavior of honeybees when attacked by hornets. I also consulted Frontiers: Functional Synchronization: The Emergence of Coordinated Activity in Human Systems.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

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