Friday, February 26, 2010

Sing of the Jungle

Sad when my 3 year old pronounced "Lions live in cages." Do they live in cages?

Gregory Bateson says "the unit of survival is a flexible organism-in-its-environment". Bateson's definition of unit means that the lion in the cage is not a full unit. The caged 'lion' is not whole but part. The whole of her includes the bloods and sweats, the squeals and howls and peeps, the airs and flits and trembles, the opens and shapes and shifts that fully ignite her perceptual apparatus evolved in relation with those same signals.

The caged organism we call 'lion' experiences almost none of these multisensorial stimuli. She has been extracted from her environment and cannot act as a lion has evolved to act. She cannot 'lion'. Her 'lioning', which involves the skin and muscle 'lion' interacting on all sensory levels within the system in which 'lion' evolved, is implied. But in the cage, only a part of that interacting lion system is represented. The caged lion is in physical fact a biological metonym.