Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ask A Bee.

YOU KNOW the Onion column "Ask A Bee"? 

It's concept comedy that always brings a smile. Not that you can actually read the whole thing more than once. 

Staring at a bee in my lavender, I often get to thinking about the nature of "free will."

No, seriously.

A bee, much like the advice columnist for the Onion, seems strictly programmed for certain behaviors — so strictly programmed, you might say the bee has a bit of a one-track mind.

Ask A Bee about your ungrateful grandchildren, and he answers, Enable protocol "seek POLLEN"/Must harvest POLLEN for HIVE.

Yet if you ever sit in your garden and really just watch an individual bee on a lavender plant, you will start to notice how its tiny legs navigate the awkward surfaces of the blossoms, and its tiny feet struggle to find stability. You will notice how it must react kinetically to an infinite variety of circumstances. The bee is no drone!

The bee simultaneously does and does not have free will.

To bee, or not to bee? 

What about c)Both?

Sitting in a garden, watching a bee, or watching the birds gathering twigs and string and fluff for their nests now, or even watching plants grow, the whole notion of Free Will starts to sound fundamentally Who Cares. 

Maybe the garden and all of its inhabitants, from the bee to me, are programmed for certain behaviors. Yet look how free and beautiful they are!

"Considering our beauty and fragrance, we feel we deserve a better name than Common Stock. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated." 

I'm not talking politics. I'm just talking flowers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Intriguing thoughts. But I think you are conflating two senses of the word "freedom".

One is "free will" or self-determination, or moral will.

The other may be termed aesthetic freedom, that is, the appearance of freedom by way of incalculable interactions in the natural and/or social worlds.

We are not 100% free, that is certain. The bee may be 1% free (if that!). Not that simple percentages really apply, just a metaphor.....