Hope

mantid egg case

Praying mantises put all their eggs in one basket — prayerfully, I suppose. I find three mantis egg cases within 20 feet of each other and begin to worry: what if this is representative of the field as a whole? There could be thousands and thousands of mantises hatching this spring! What will they eat? But then I remember they’re creatures of dogmatic devotion to the temple of the body. Some will make the ultimate sacrifice, and this is their strength as a nation of predators: they have each other.

dangling cocoon

Hope takes many forms, some of them perilous — especially for those in suspended animation. Grave robbers are everywhere. But I’ve always thought that the fact that so many tombs in ancient Egypt were found to be empty suggests that at least a few of the occupants shed their wrappings and completed their metamophoses as planned. Imagine those human imagos standing in the thresholds of doors that didn’t exist until they opened them, stretching feelers out into the night of a new millenium, waiting for their wings to expand like the lungs of a newborn taking its first taste of air.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

14 Comments


  1. Unable to get to sleep, I’m poking about the net and find this…. spooky images of Egyptian tombs and wandering mummies! Not the best of bedtime reading, heh, but wonderful images. I’d love to see a closeup of that second hanging egg basket.

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  2. Sorry to hear you had trouble entering suspended animation last night. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this blog as an insomnia cure — in fact, I probably wouldn’t recommend web-surfing at all. Book-reading is more restful, don’t you think?

    I wish I’d taken a closer picture of that pupa, but I’m afraid this is it. (You can of course see a larger version on Flickr.)

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  3. But then I remember they’re creatures of dogmatic devotion to the temple of the body. Some will make the ultimate sacrifice, and this is their strength as a nation of predators: they have each other.

    …Imagine those human imagos standing in the thresholds of doors that didn’t exist until they opened them, stretching feelers out into the night of a new millenium, waiting for their wings to expand like the lungs of a newborn taking its first taste of air.

    Marvelous lines! Thanks for these this Sunday morning, Dave.

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  4. Wonderful! I used to collect cocoons and wait to see what would develop. Sometimes it was the expected moth, and sometimes it was some interesting little hymenopteran. I wonder if the mummies all gave rise to the anticipated species.

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  5. “doors that didn’t exist until they opened them”

    Brilliant, and a luminous description of the power of art.
    This post works on many levels.

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  6. This!
    ” . . . . suggests that at least a few of the occupants shed their wrappings and completed their metamorphoses as planned.”

    Made me smile. The wonderful ironic optimism. Why not? Spring makes believers out of all of us.

    I second all the above kudos.

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  7. Hi, everyone – Thanks for the generous reactions.

    Rebecca – I did think about gathering that one, but as neglectful of things as I tend to be, was afraid I’d put it in a jar and forget about it until it was Too Late.

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  8. this is their strength as a nation of predators: they have each other.

    <snicker>

    I’ve always thought that the fact that so many tombs in ancient Egypt were found to be empty suggests that at least a few of the occupants shed their wrappings and completed their metamorphoses as planned.

    A striking image… but I have the nasty feeling that in a year or so, I’m going to see it again… at the bookstore. Hopefully in the SF section, but I fear possibly under “New Age”…. ;-)

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