News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Memories: Lord of the Flies 1960

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Memories: Lord of the Flies 1960

This article from CCN got me to thinking:

As a child of about four or five, at my grandparents' farm for a summer week, I watched my grandmother wreak vengeance on the files in the kitchen and porch.

I took her cue, it seems, and began trying to kill them myself. I'd stalk them with the fly swatter raised like Death's scythe. I even caught and belegged them in cruel curiosity.

I called myself the Fly Hunter.

More recently, I delved into the dynamics of how hard it is to kill a fly. I realized what the CNN report says:

"We also found that when the fly makes planning movements prior to take-off, it takes into account its body position at the time it first sees the threat," Dickinson said."When it first notices an approaching threat, a fly's body might be in any sort of posture depending on what it was doing at the time, like grooming, feeding, walking, or courting. Our experiments showed that the fly somehow 'knows' whether it needs to make large or small postural changes to reach the correct preflight posture."
I also came to the same conclusion:
"It is best not to swat at the fly's starting position, but rather to aim a bit forward of that to anticipate where the fly is going to jump when it first sees your swatter," [the research said] said.
Not only I not have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure it out, but I

Of course, I should perhaps feel proud that I concluded with my own native intelligence what It took scientists to figure out over tens, if not hundreds of experiments.

Yet, I should also feel grateful to science, perhaps, for confirming my findings. That is the best spirit of science, I think. Working with others in a common endeavor to unveil the truth about the world--even the lowly world of the fly. (The tears of common effort and communal task swell my breast.)


1. One of my favorite Blake poems is The Fly.

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

2. One of the scarier movies I saw was David Cronenberg's "The Fly." The ending suicide scene is so raw, so right, yet metaphysically terrifying. There's pity, horror at something so loathsome in humans that parades as honor and pride but ultimately stands revealed as ugly and petty. Even Geena Davis' heart-rending love for Goldbloom's character cannot tear the scab from that realization.

3. The scene in Herzog's Nosferatu, where the insane Jonathan Harker captures flies and eats them for their blood often strikes me as particularly terrifying. Being reduced to a fly-hunting speck of a human, contemptible not only in other people's eyes but your own. The object of a pity that verges on hilarity, if one were not so ridiculously self-absorbed in tasks only a spider would understand.

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