Saturday, May 30, 2009

first piece after Everyday












Tried to link work while playing with Alenka- filled cracks with pebbles from the nearby swing set. Was thinking about the next playground parent stumbling across something 'new' upon the playground they use day in and day out- something to brake the familiar scene.

Intervention on five dollars

I changed five dollars into pennies and lay them across cracks in the sidewalk




Thinking about childhood phrases "step on a crack, break your mother's back", and the notion that only picking up a penny that's face up is considered lucky. Also, I remember hearing that city kids were often called weeds in the cracks of the sidewalk. I may be making that up, but I don't think so.





typewriter

salt on the wound
salt of the earth
close your legs
sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me
sit up straight
sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what girls are made of
bridal
bridle
don't chew with your mouth open

Friday, May 29, 2009

Waterplay

stills from a video I hope to edit this weekend










































































































































































































































interference

n·ter·fer·ence (ntr-fĂ®rns)
n.

1.
a. The act or an instance of hindering, obstructing, or impeding.
b. Something that hinders, obstructs, or impedes.
2.
a. Sports Illegal obstruction or hindrance of an opposing player, such as hindrance of a receiver by a defender in football, hindrance of a fielder by a base runner in baseball, or checking a player not in possession of the puck in ice hockey.
b. Football The legal blocking of defensive tacklers to protect and make way for the ball carrier.
3. Physics The variation of wave amplitude that occurs when waves of the same or different frequency come together.
4. Electronics
a. The inhibition or prevention of clear reception of broadcast signals.
b. The distorted portion of a received signal.
5. The negative or distorting effect that new learning can have on previous learning or that previous learning can have on new learning.


My everyday

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Exchange

Dear Angela,
Have taken my “black square”
– not sure if you realized that this was actually an art piece –
have left you with the rest as any other placing, spacing, and choice would make it your work!

And now you need to re-construct it – as removing one thing makes it other!
Xx R
Perhaps my betty is that I can never be wrong.
That may be the thing that is in the way, has always been in the way.
Maybe that's why I've always been so "confused".
Ha.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

visual thoughts on the weekend


Facilitation sketch as Airing Dirty Laundry. With Tracie. Photo: Maya P.


Futon sketch with Chris and Jayne. Photo: Maya P.


Line/looking sketch with passersby.


Line/looking sketch with passersby.


Michael and Obama sketch.

Wood/Harrison

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Confusion

confusion is when one structure meets or confronts another.
When there is resistance, there is confusion.
What would it look like if one did not resist but rather allowed information in as interesting, or even without judgement?

What about, instead of having a "hard time", one could have a soft time?

Stealing Beauty

Monday, May 25, 2009

the journey, a composition



We just spent these last three days winding through mountains. It brought out the same concepts for me as the past workshop:

-excitement
-breathtaking beauty
-fear and vulnerability (and the spiral that comes with these thoughts)



The closed road: when you are heading in a direction with a map in hand and suddenly there is an unforeseen barrier. (As we were heading to our reserved campsite we came upon the only road through the mountain to take us there frozen over- the detour being a 3 hour to our already 4 hour drive.)

-panic, unknown, utter terror

This is not the place I want to live from. I too need a lot more humor, joy in the everyday.

So- I've tried stopping the habit- the first thought that brings me to a spiral. (Or at least catching the first thought- know I am going there).

Other possibilities open up: we found a side road after speaking with Rangers. It took us up the side of Mt. St. Helens to an okay spot for the night. (more fear here about not knowing where we actually were). Then Ali took a walk down the road (upon more fear from me that a wild animal might snatch her). She led us to a beautiful spot to a rushing river. It was a much better spot than the previous night where we slept crammed in a campground.


Since The Everyday in Contemporary Art and Practice, I'm just trying to recognize when I'm acting out of a fear of death. I'm trying to act not from that fear but from the other thousands of possibilities.

I've also realized my work is about one thing- and am exploring that in any form around me (sometimes not even generated by me- just recognizing it happening).


http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0zZ4Tb323Mn29vWyoHMZad5saX7gSPEkF

Friday, May 22, 2009

White out everything but the hands

How is Tapies compositions in lineage with Piero de la Francesca?
How does one learn how to make a compassionate mark? An angry mark? A sympathetic mark?
Where does one learn about other artists who also made those marks?

What is "the" balance in composition?
What is "the" composition?
What do my marks sound like?

How does joy enter back into my art practice?

First day

Lots of art history
Los of images
Confused, unsettled, hot sticky and uneducated.
Trying not to judge.
Trying not to try
No air conditioning yet the room was exceedingly warm
Vulnerable but interested

What does my mark communicate?
What is it that I want to say about the Everyday?

Monday, May 18, 2009





slowing down to observe the moments in my everyday

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Soul of the White Ant Chapter 12

12. The Mysterious Power which Governs

THE termites dig deep boreholes to find water, and from this, source it is conveyed for general purposes. When a breach is made in a termitary, the syringe-bearing or nasicorn soldiers are the first to appear. They inspect the damage slowly and thoughtfully from all sides. If there are no workers at hand, or only a few, the soldiers begin to signal. By quick movements of the throat plates of their armour, they make a sound, a sudden tih-tih-tih. In houses infested by termites, this sound can be heard at night in all directions. By this signal the soldiers summon the workers to the place of attack. The same sound is used as food signal. So urgent is this call that even workers who have been appointed to special tasks, like conveying water, carrying the larvae, gardening, feeding of the royal pair, drop their work and throng to the place from where the alarm has sounded. As I have shown before, the behaviour of the two kinds of termite corresponds in every respect to the functions of the blood corpuscles in higher animals. Just as the white corpuscles make a cordon round the wound, which the red corpuscles begin healing, so the soldiers form a protective circle while the workers repair the breach. If you annoy the soldiers individually with a sharp object like a needle, they go into a kind of convulsion. Their bodies are jerked angrily from side to side and through the syringe-like weapon they squirt a drop of dear sticky fluid in the direction of the danger. This fluid appears to cause extreme pain to other small insects, glues together their jaws and legs and renders them helpless. All these actions are instinctive.


Eutermes nasicorn soldier, with syringe Blind, deaf, sexless. Colour: Head, reddish-yellow; body, blood red. Generally highly pigmented. Mouth parts, rudimentary. Function: 1. Part of the 'blood-stream'. 2. Defence, when outer layer of termitary is attacked.

Now we return to the question: where do they get these instincts? That their behaviour must be inherited cannot be because all the workers and soldiers possess exactly the same instincts as the others of their type. It is impossible for them to have inherited these from their father and mother, because neither the king nor the queen possesses any of these instincts. The royal pair possess perfect eyes and do not fear the light as the workers and soldiers do. On the other hand, they do not possess a special, but inexplicable sense which enables them to perceive the dimmest ray of light as their children do. They know nothing of collective building of termitaries, of squirting poison, or carrying water. They do not even come in touch with the labours of the community; we appear to be forced to the conclusion that the workers and soldiers inherit a large number of environmental memories which none of their ancestors ever possessed. On the other hand they do not inherit one of the special instincts of their father and mother, for they cannot fly, never copulate and never lay eggs. They themselves cannot hand on their instincts to other soldiers and workers, for they never produce young. It appears to be a paradox.


Eutermes nasicorn soldier seen from above.

Let us see what were the observations of Dr Bugnion of Ceylon, and how he explained the mystery. I will quote what he says about his difficulties, and discuss his theories, and then give my own criticism of them.

He says:

'When the biologist, having satisfied himself that (1) the soldiers who are trusted with the task of defence, are totally blind, and that (2) the workers who do the repairs are small, insignificant insects, not more than five millimetres in length, when he sees the collective drive of the termites, he becomes perplexed and amazed. His wonder increases when he tries to discover the power that governs the termites and the moral law which binds them together -- and finds no trace of it.'

It is difficult to understand exactly what Dr Bugnion means. I think what he meant to say was: 'The biologist clearly sees the effects of a governing power and a moral bond.' What the biologist does not discover so easily is the source of this governing power and moral bond.

Dr Bugnion continues:

'Finally, the biologist is forced to conclude that the activity of these little insects, which appear to behave so intelligently and thoughtfully, is entirely instinctive.'

I must admit that intelligence and thoughtfulness, as we humans understand these, never entered my mind in connection with the termites. Perhaps I was lucky enough to discover the secret of the behaviour of the termites too soon for that; and perhaps I knew just sufficient about behaviourism in animals to prevent me from going too far astray. I say this in all humility. I know it is extremely easy to go astray in what we call comparative psychology, when one has had little opportunity of learning to know animals in their natural surroundings and when one uses human intelligence as the criterion of judgement.


Head of Eutermes soldier from below, showing rudimentary mouth parts. In the ampulla is stored the glutinous liquid used in defence.

In describing the wonderful collective activity of the workers and soldiers, Dr Bugnion says:

'It is amazing how they can do all this without a single mistake.' He is wrong, however, for they make many mistakes. They often go to work mistakenly and persevere in their mistakes. Remember the useless turrets in this respect, excrescences forming a danger to the community. As clever as they are in one direction, just so unbelievably stupid are they in other directions. On the other hand, Dr Bugnion must have missed perceiving the real building genius which the termite possesses or else he would not have risked giving so decided and confident an explanation as he gives us later. The solution given above, of course, is not very convincing. To say that the work of the termites is instinctive is like trying to explain the nature of wind by saying it is wind. The actual problem confronting us is not whether the activity of the termites is governed by the reason or instinct, but who is the architect who designs the plans which the workers execute. Let us look at the workers through a magnifying glass. We see them appear one by one from the dark depths, each carrying a tiny grain of earth. Without the least thought, each worker rolls the pebble round and round in its jaws. It covers it with a sticky mucilage, sets it in position in the breach and vanishes again into the depths. No reasonable person can imagine for one moment that every small worker is conscious of the purpose of its work, that it carries in its mind the plan, or even part of the plan of the building operations. The tower or breach may be a million times larger than the termite itself. The workers attack the repairs from every side, and are totally blind. We can convince ourselves that the termites at one side of the breach never come into contact with those on the other side. They may fetch their materials from different parts of the nest. If we have any doubt of this we can easily dispel it. Take a steel plate a few feet wider and higher than the termitary. Drive it right through the centre of the breach you have made, in such a way that you divide the wound and the termitary into two separate parts. One section of the community can never be in touch with the other, and one of the sections will be separated from the queen's cell. The builders on one side of the breach know nothing of those on the other side. In spite of this the termites build a similar arch or tower on each side of the plate. When eventually you withdraw the plate, the two halves match perfectly after the dividing cut has been repaired. We cannot escape the ultimate conclusion that somewhere there exists a preconceived plan which the. termites merely execute. Where is the soul, the psyche, in which this preconception exists? That is the problem which must be solved. Dr Bugnion says it is instinct. If we accept that, then whose instinct? Does he maintain that every tiny worker carries part of the plan in its little soul? The experiment with the steel plate disposes of this theory. Even if one could prove that every worker had an instinctive knowledge of part of the plan, then the ultimate problem would still remain unsolved.

Where does each worker obtain his part of the general design? We can drive in the steel plate and then make a breach on either side and still the termites build identical structures on each side. It cannot be an inherited tendency, for the termites do not always build the same kind of arch or other structure. We can find a dozen different widths of arch near the surface of a large termitary. These arches are one of the amazing features of the termites' building powers. It cannot be due to the instinctive knowledge of the individual termite. If the termite always built one kind of form, one kind of tower, one kind of arch, we might perhaps come to the conclusion that it worked according to instinctive or inherited knowledge. Even then a doubt would exist. We are inclined to imagine the termites thinking and reasoning our own way. Yet we know that they possess perceptive powers a million times more acute than our own senses. They become aware, for instance, by a fleeting touch of another termite, that he belongs to their own nest. They then follow his trail towards food, with unfailing certainty. From this has arisen the theory of 'intelligent communication' which Dr Bugnion and even Forel, still appear to credit. By touch, they can perceive alarm and agitation in a comrade and can apparently tell where the danger lies. They become aware over incredible distances of the signals of the soldiers; all these things they sense without a vestige of a sense organ.

How can one compare this soul with that of a human being? When one sees a tiny worker hastily placing a single grain of sand on the wall of a building which eventually will become a massive tower twelve or fifteen feet high, millions upon millions of times larger than itself, can one assume for one moment that the worker knows, in the human sense, what the final result of its work is going to be? If this were so its intelligence would be that of a god, compared with our own. His work is naturally due to instinct, as Dr Bugnion says, but it is not the instinct of the worker. It is the instinct and design of a separate soul situated outside the individual termite.

If we carry our recent experiment a little further, new light begins to trickle through on our problem.

While the termites are carrying on their work of restoration on either side of the steel plate, dig a furrow enabling you to reach the queen's cell, disturbing the nest as little as possible. Expose the queen and destroy her. Immediately the whole community ceases work on either side of the plate. We can separate the termites from the queen for months by means of this plate, yet in spite of that they continue working systematically while she is alive in her cell; destroy or remove her, however, and their activity is at an end.

If the termitary under observation is in the neighbourhood of other termitaries, we can establish a few more facts experimentally. If there is a termitary within a yard or two one can prove that the termites of both nests mix freely without fighting. Place a piece of wood equidistant from both nests and spray the ground around it with water. If you expose the passages you will find that termites from both nests are destroying the wood. If you break into these two termitaries and put workers and soldiers from one nest into the other you will find they do not get attacked. If, however, you do the same to termitaries twenty or thirty yards from each other, then the strangers are pounced on immediately by workers and soldiers and killed. If you destroy the queen in one of the two nests adjoining each other, then the termites of that nest cease work and move to the adjoining nest where they apparently swear allegiance to the new queen. If, however, you destroy the queen of a nest which is some distance from another, the termites make no attempt to transfer to another nest, but die in their old home. The reason for this difference in conduct is, I think, this: The mysterious power which streams from the queen functions only within a limited distance. Every termite is under the influence of this power. If their two termitaries are situated close to each other, the power of each queen operates in both nests. It is through this psychological power of the queen that the termites of one nest are capable of recognizing their fellow-citizens and discovering strange intruders.

The following control experiment shows this clearly.

Take soldiers and workers from one nest and place them in a far distant nest and make certain that they really are attacked, by waiting until the disturbance caused by the breach has died down; then destroy the queen of the first nest. If you transfer termites as before immediately after you have killed the queen, you will find they are again attacked. If, however, you wait a day or two and then transfer the termites, they are no longer attacked, but are accepted as new citizens of the republic.

It appears therefore as if the workers and soldiers carry with them something of their own queen. We will assume it is something analogous to scent. Personally I do not think it is scent but something much more subtle. But if we think of it as scent it will simplify matters for we are actually dealing with something far and away beyond human senses.

The power of the queen reaches only certain fixed limits. It can penetrate earth, rock and even metal plates. It evaporates within one or two days. It is the mainspring of all the collective activity of the soldiers and workers. The queen is the psychological centre of the community; she is the brain of the organism which we call a termitary.

From this shapeless, immobile object, imprisoned in her narrow vault, there emanates a power which directs all the activities of her subjects, just as our own brain rules the functions of the blood corpuscles and regulates and keeps in order the composite animal we call our body.

Dr Bugnion never discovered the psychological functions of the queen. He assumed that the king and queen possess only sexual functions. He therefore is checked by all kinds of inexplicable difficulties which simply do not exist for me, and the explanations which he gives are at times ludicrous. If only he had had the opportunity of accompanying a professional South African termite-catcher he would without any doubt have discovered the secret. This chance I was fortunate enough to have had. His greatest difficulty was the problem of where the soldiers and workers get their hereditary memory. He found two solutions. The first was founded on the fact that some observers discovered individuals of the sexless forms possessing perfect organs. He assumed, therefore, that the sexless forms were at one time fertile. Then he says:

'Given these facts, we have only to conceive of the period during which the defence methods were perfected as coinciding with the period during which the workers and soldiers were fertile in order to render more plausible the hereditary transmission of the improvements in question and of the instincts (neoform) related to them.'

If this is so, he must accept the theory that the present queen and king types are descended from the present sexless types. That cannot be true, instead the very opposite is actually the case. I do not think any one can fail to accept the theory that the termite was originally a single flying insect of the same type as the present king and queen. The founding of community life was the cause of the physical differentiation into workers and soldiers. With these changes new instincts arose. The laying of eggs by workers is a very rare occurrence. One also occasionally finds rudimentary eyes and wing-buds in a few soldiers. These are all atavisms, which show that the original termite was a fertile flying insect. One thing is certain, both the changed physical characteristics and the new instincts are transmitted by the queen, although she does not possess, nor did she ever possess, either of these things herself.

There is another fact which Dr Bugnion has not touched on. How does it happen that the soldiers and workers not only inherit instincts which their father and mother did not possess, but also do not inherit the specialized instincts the father and mother do possess?

The second explanation which Dr Bugnion puts forward is somewhat surprising. He must have been very much mystified when he wrote the following:

'As the workers and soldiers live in the interior of the compartments in the company of the sexual forms until the moment of swarming, it is not entirely incredible, judging by the above suggestion (that the ants and termites carry on intelligent communication with each other), that while they are living together they should exchange a few ideas. As a result of these communications new instincts acquired by the workers and soldiers would become the property of the community as a whole.'

If Dr Bugnion had said that he had seen a termite soldier giving birth to a whale it would not have sounded more 'entirely incredible' than the above statement. The workers and soldiers are supposed to tell their work and plans to the queen. She remembers what she is told and conveys this garnered knowledge to later workers and soldiers born to her. Dr Bugnion still believes in the 'intelligent communication' of ants and termites. He calls it 'antennae-language'. I was under the impression that this fairy tale had been relegated to the nursery where it belongs. Everyone should be convinced by now, I hope, that there is only one conclusion which accords with all our knowledge of termite behaviour. The individual worker or soldier possesses no individual instincts. He forms part of a separate organism of which the queen is the psychological centre. The queen has the power, call it instinct if you will, of influencing the soldiers and workers in a certain way, which enables them to perform collective duties. This power or instinct she transmits to all queens born from her. As soon as the queen is destroyed all the instincts of workers and soldiers cease immediately. She transmits this psychological power to the future queens just as she transmits to them the power of producing three infinitely differing, forms of insect: the queen, the worker and the soldier.

At times Dr Bugnion, comes extraordinarily near to discovering the secret. He says:

'The multifarious duties, which are carried out under our eyes by the soldiers on the one hand and the workers on the other, give us the illusion of a higher direction, whereas in reality this direction does not exist, or if it does exist resides solely in the community as a whole.'

Again later he says:

'The male and female individuals which are described in the higher termites as king and queen, have no authority and possess no power of any kind. The king and queen termite shut in their closed cell do not even know what is happening outside. It would be impossible for them to give orders from the depths of their prison.' One notices that Dr Bugnion constantly talks of the termites as if they have human understanding: 'to know and to give orders'!

He thinks anthropomorphically all the time. He assumes that the termites are able to 'talk', but that touch is necessary for this. He does not think of a subtle immaterial influence which functions at a distance. If only he had put this question to himself: How does the queen hold the community together from her cell in the depths? There are millions of her subjects which never come in touch with her, which have never seen her. But as soon as she is destroyed there is an immediate end to the community as such. Our 'ant-catchers' here in the Transvaal never attempt to destroy directly the millions of workers and soldiers in the nest, they take out the queen instead. For every queen they receive a fee of two pounds. Dr Bugnion, and every observer, must at least become aware of this sustaining power of the queen; if he becomes aware of this, he must realize that she has functions other than merely sexual; that at any rate in this direction she has some psychological function which neither depth nor imprisonment can thwart. From this realization it is only a step further to the discovery of all her psychological functions. With as much reason for objection he might ask: How can an organ like the brain which is shut up in a vault, direct and know the functions of the blood corpuscles even in the toes?

One more word about explanation of the origin of the instinct of the termites. He says:

'The origin of most of these instincts is a reasoned and conscious action.' I find it difficult to believe that this explanation could be made seriously today. What would Dr Bugnion say of hundreds of our South African desert plants which attain all kinds of far-off objectives by the cleverest plans? Have these plants also reasoned and thought in human fashion, thus solved one difficulty after another, and transmitted this knowledge to their descendants?


All this discussion has been caused by the wonderful change which has taken place in the termitary from the time when we saw the queen feeding her young ones and when a few months later we open the palace cell for observation. It is difficult to make clear to the uninitiated reader why this change is so amazing to the psychologist.

In the first instance we were observing an ordinary flying insect at work, behaving in the normal way with normal reactions, except of course the birth-pain and mother-love reactions. Now, at our later observations, a new soul and a new body have appeared. The queen is no longer an insect. She has received a new soul. What has she become? How can one classify her? The biologist who thinks the matter over carefully will find difficulty in finding a place for her in a classified list. The soldiers and workers? The psychologist would say that these too are not insects. He classifies all living organisms according to their behaviour. The workers and soldiers, with only the merest semblance of an individual psyche, fall outside all classes. We are reminded again of the fairy godmother who waves her wand -- the pumpkin becomes a coach, the mice prancing steeds.

I find it simple to form an image of the general trend which development took in the case of the termitary. In any case, it seems unnecessary to look for miraculous reasons for this. It is unnecessary to suppose that the termites are capable of talking, thinking, acting and remembering in human fashion. One would have expected an observer to find the simplest explanation first. Dr Bugnion's demonstration shows us that this is not always the case. His two theories are based on the hypothesis that the termites are simply small humans to whom 'an exchange of ideas' is possible. The queen, before her flight, walks round the nest, and comes into touch with the workers and soldiers. She studies their community life, and there is 'an exchange of ideas'. From this point Dr Bugnion becomes more and more difficult to understand. What he appears to mean is that the queen remembers the lessons she learnt from the workers and soldiers, and although she never herself takes part in their labours, although she herself never shows any signs of the specialized instinct which animates the workers and soldiers, yet in spite of this she transmits these lessons to her offspring. According to Dr Bugnion the queen does something which man has not succeeded in doing. Man does not transmit a single acquired memory to his progeny. The son of the greatest mathematician does not inherit even the multiplication table.

This theory savours too much of magic. Dr Bugnion found himself in very deep water. There is not a single fact or condition in nature or in the life history of the termite which justifies his opinion. It must have been pure inspiration. There is one great difficulty which Dr Bugnion never saw, for he leaves it unmentioned. Suppose his theory is right, that the queen transmits in this way the special instincts to her offspring. There still remains the problem, how does it happen that the queen gives birth to two kinds of insect which resemble her as little as a scorpion does a butterfly? This cannot be due to the lessons she learnt from the soldiers and workers in the original termitary. Why does she transmit the special instincts only to two kinds of young, which do not inherit her own instincts, while she does not transmit these acquired instincts to the third offspring, the potential queens? The last type inherit not only her own physical form, but all her special instincts and not a single one of the instincts of the soldiers and workers. His theory cannot be the true one.

His other theory is that the soldiers and workers were at one time fertile and that the present types are the descendants of soldier and worker ancestors when these were fertile.

I have tried to show before that this is a topsy-turvy assumption which cannot be held. Besides, there still remains the difficulty of explaining how the queen manages to divide her inherited memories, some of which are latent, among her three types of offspring.

Let us compare all this with my own theory. I believe that the termite was originally a single flying insect exposed to all kinds of dangers. To keep her eggs and offspring safe she took refuge in an underground shelter. Here, just as happens with the bee, Halictus, she came into touch with her young after they were hatched. This was the beginning of community life.

Finally, to cause the community to function well, there was a division of labour. Some of the insects had to build and look for food, others had to protect the nest. Compare the story of Siphonophora mentioned already. The queen who tended to produce offspring more suitable for the various kinds of labour would have a greater chance of survival than one who did not have this tendency. Natural selection began to operate. The present-day soldiers and workers were the fittest types for protection and building operations and the sexual types for reproduction. The queen who had the tendency to produce these three types had more chance of survival and transmitted this tendency to the females born from her. Natural selection thus operated in two directions. The nearer the workers and soldiers came physically to the present-day types, the more chance had the community of surviving. A queen was selected naturally, therefore, who gave birth to all three types. Finally a queen and king were selected who not only produced these three types, but who possessed the psychological power to influence the community and to take the place of the individual instincts of the workers and soldiers.

It is easy to understand why it was an advantage to the community for the sexual sense to be destroyed in all types. Even the sexual types (potential kings and queens) possess no sexuality while they remain in the termitary. Sex in such a community would have been a disturbing influence which would have suspended all protective and other work over long periods. In order to do the best and ceaseless labour, the workers and the soldiers had to become mere automata governed by the psychological power of the queen. For the same reason, they lost their sight and other senses which are the accompaniment of an individual psyche. The soldiers and workers therefore inherit no special instincts from their parents. It is the queen who inherits the power of transmitting the semblance of such instincts to the automatons who work for her.

The Soul of the White Ant Chapter 11

11. Uninherited Instincts

I HAVE said that in the termite queen, pain accompanied the laying of the first eggs. It is usually very difficult to be certain of the perception of pain in the animal world, for the outward signs vary enormously in different races and in varying circumstances. In general, however, one may say that the outward signs of pain are more or less similar in all higher animals. If an animal is wrung by convulsive spasms, makes needless movements of its limbs, draws back the head, and at the same time moans and groans, one recognizes that it is in pain, although one may not know the cause of the pain. This expression of pain is an international language amongst animals, and even man knows it from childhood. Most insects speak the same language, without, however, the audible sounds. Therefore anyone, watching the bodily movements of the queen termite which I have described, will feel certain they are the expression of pain. If one is in any doubt, one can dispel this by actually hurting the queen and comparing her behaviour with that which occurs when she is laying her first eggs. Touch certain parts of her body with a glass rod dipped in sulphuric acid and immediately we see the identical waving of the antennae, the writhing of the body, and so on, exactly what happens when she is laying her eggs.

The greatest proof to me, however, was found in her behaviour after her eggs were laid. It is not scientific proof of course. I am trying to establish the connection between the cause and effect, and now I am taking the effect as proof of the cause. Yet everyone will grant that a general knowledge of animal behaviour can find proof in itself. When I say that as soon as I observed the bodily movements of the queen, I immediately realized that she was in pain, and that I then could prophesy that as result of this she would in all probability show signs of affection for her young. Although both occurrences were so improbable, it only indicated that I possessed some special fragment of knowledge which could, if necessary, produce proof. Long before I made acquaintance with the queen in travail, I had come to the conclusion that birth pain was the key to mother love. Let us watch her behaviour immediately afterwards.

On the little garden patch where the first eggs are laid, we see the king and queen continually wandering around. They are busy irrigating and fertilizing the fungi-beds. Soon the first larvae appear. We see them wriggling in the garden, small, white, helpless babies, but we can already distinguish the different kinds, the so-called soldiers and the mandibulated workers. The queen appears among them. We see something glisten in her jaws. In the stream of light it looks transparent and pure as a diamond. Under the magnifying glass we see it is a drop of fluid. She approaches one baby after another, they lift their heads and you see the drop disappear. The queen is busy feeding her little ones.

As I said before, behaviour such as this is unknown in insects at the same stage of development. The nearest approach to similarity is the statement of von Buttel-Reepen that a certain bee, Halictus, lays her eggs so slowly that the first eggs hatch before she has laid the last, and that she therefore comes in touch with her own living young. I think that in that case it is sheer chance; but even that instance is so exceptional that stress must be laid on it. Of care and feeding, however, there is no mention.

With this feeding and preparation of the first soldiers and workers, the individual labour of the king and queen comes to an end, and so does our own opportunity for observation. From now on the community suffers from photophobia -- fear of light -- to such an extent that the usual methods of observation are impossible. This draws our attention to a phenomenon which is as mysterious as the transference of the queen from cell to cell. The king and queen do not possess this instinctive photophobia. They are ordinary winged insects, and only a short while before we saw them in the sunlight flying around, The soldiers and workers, on the contrary, are totally blind and hate the light. How can they possibly inherit a hereditary instinct which the parents do not possess? Nor is this all. The soldiers and workers inherit many instincts which the parents do not possess. They begin immediately building complicated structures. They make cells, passages, aqueducts and a crust containing various forms of arch. One can separate a part of the termitary with a steel plate, in such a fashion that there is no communication between the termites on each side of it. Nevertheless the same curve of arch, or a lower one, as the case may be, is built on either side of the plate. They become aware of the presence or absence of light on the surface through twelve inches of opaque earth. They manufacture cardboard from grass-stalks and wood. They steal eggs from other termites and carry them to the breeding chambers and care for them. They take care of the larvae and feed them, but this is of course an instinct which the queen possesses. They make gardens and replant dried-up gardens. From whom do they inherit these hereditary instincts? All soldiers and workers have the same instincts. Throughout nature we find hereditary instincts of the kind inherited by an organism only from parents with similar instincts. Whence come the special instincts of the sexless forms in the community? The king and queen cannot hand them on, because they themselves do not possess them, nor do they take part in or come in touch with the communal life of their citizens; the soldiers and workers cannot hand on their instincts to other soldiers and workers, for they take no part in the reproduction of the race.



The life cycle of termites

I must admit that all this has never seemed a mystery to me, for I felt I had long ago discovered the secret. When one knows the answer to a problem, it can never appear impossible to solve.

In some ways this is the most mysterious occurrence in the life-history of the termite. It deserves careful attention. It is a strange and interesting fact that inexperienced observers seldom become aware of these mysteries, still less do they seek an explanation.

In connection with this riddle, I want to show how modem European learning handles cases of this kind, and the explanation it finds. I am able to do this through the kindness of a correspondent, personally unknown to me, who sent me a monograph written by Professor Dr Bugnion of the University of Lausanne. Dr Bugnion has studied termites in Ceylon for some years, and this monograph is to form part of a monumental work of the famous psychologist Auguste Forel. The title is 'The Community World of the Termite'. Dr Bugnion discusses in particular the wars between the ants and the termites, with special reference to the origin of instinct. As would be the case in any tropical country, Dr Bugnion saw many instances of attacks on termites by ants. He ascribes all the instincts and variations in form of the termites to this continuous state of warfare. I must state at once that I had practically no evidence of this ant warfare in Waterberg. On the contrary, we know that one of the nimblest and most ferocious of our flesh-eating ants lives by choice in a termitary belonging to one of the most helpless of termites which possesses no soldier class. If we break open such a termitary, it is easy to get an impression of war, which nevertheless is based on inaccurate observation. There is no war; in fact most probably it is protection and. friendship. This may be proved by anyone who cares to do so. If we break down a number of the smaller termitaries, sooner or later we come upon one which ants and termites occupy together. Of this small, pale termite there is only one class, the worker. Look at them under a magnifying glass. Their manner of building is entirely different from that of the termite we have studied hitherto. The workers appear immediately at the edge of the wound. But they do not carry stones and stick these together to mend the breach. These pale termites build with clay only. Each worker who appears at the margin of the wound tests a place with his jaws, swings round with a characteristic movement and deposits a small layer of clean soft mud. Sometimes he deposits just a spot, more frequently a little layer. Dr Bugnion had the opportunity of seeing the collection of this mud, but he could not actually see what the termites were doing. What I have told will enable everyone to recognize this particular termite. Among the termitaries broken into, we are sure to find one where a section is inhabited by a dark grey ant, nimble, ferocious and excited. At first sight it appears very much as though these ants are bent on slaughter. They run rapidly between and over the termites, apparently inspired with terror and fury. Occasionally one of them will seize a termite and carry him a short distance. Sometimes a termite will grip the leg of an ant and be dragged about without apparently causing the ant any inconvenience. The wounded termites also are seized and dragged about. In the meantime the other termites quite peacefully go about their business of repairing their fortifications. The ants continually touch and test the repairs, but they never attempt to throng into the passages or to hinder the workers in any way. They appear to have special entrances to the innermost parts of the nest. The observer speedily comes to the conclusion that there is here nothing comparable to murder or war. What it actually was I had no opportunity of discovering. Much time is necessary to study even a single phenomenon of termite behaviour in a dry country like South Africa. I believe this communal life of termite and ant, whatever its basis may be, holds many surprises in store for scientists. We find, however, in South Africa little evidence of the tropical strife of which Dr Bugnion speaks, and realize that it is extremely easy to come to unsound conclusions.


(Eutermes or Trinervitermes.) Mandibulated worker; water carrier, mason, probably also gardener, nurse and feeder. One of its most important functions is to bring all coarse foodstuff into the general metabolism. These workers form part of what corresponds to the blood-stream in higher animals. Colour: Somewhat etiolated with light red markings. Blind, no organs of hearing, sexless.

In a later, chapter I will try to interpret these first labours of the king and queen. At present it is sufficient to say that with the attainment of adult stature by the workers and soldiers, systematic observation becomes impossible. The first and most important reason for this is the photophobia already mentioned. All the first efforts of the workers and soldiers are concentrated on sealing up all holes by which light can enter or the observer can watch them. If one perseveres and reopens these holes, the termites simply vanish and that is the end of the nest which took so much time and patience to bring into being. It is possible, however, by breaking into many termitaries to form a fairly accurate picture in our minds of the further course of events in the community. A cement chamber is made for the queen and she is imprisoned there. Passages are made in all directions for the conveyance of coarse food to the different digestive centres; gardens are cultivated on a large scale and planted with fungi; construction of the superficial defensive crust forms an important part of their work.

To come back to this great mystery of inherited instinct, every organism, excepting the apes and man, inherits from its parents all the instincts, that is hereditary environmental memory, which it needs for its own struggle for existence. It is born with the knowledge of what kind of food it needs, where and how to obtain it; it knows its natural enemies and how to defend itself against them; it knows how to make a nest or other home; how to feed its little ones and to care for them. All this knowledge is there without the organism having to learn it, without even coming into touch with the other individuals of its race. I gave an interesting example of this in the South African yellow weaver bird, which, after being kept out of its natural environment for four generations, by hatching the eggs under canaries, instinctively knew how to build its characteristic nest and how to feed its young.


Head of Eutermes worker from below, showing the mouth -parts. These are specially developed for purposes of building and feeding.

No one taught these birds. Four generations of their ancestors had never seen a plaited nest or tasted a worm, yet the fifth generation remembered what to do. This is what is called instinct or hereditary environmental memory. In the termite we find three apparently different insects -- the queens, the workers and the soldiers, being produced from one father and mother who are completely different from two of their offspring. If one did not actually know the contrary one would believe the inmates of the termitary to be completely different insects.

With the physical difference go special hereditary memories or instincts. The soldier is armed with the first hypodermic syringe made by nature, which she eventually perfected in the poison fangs of the adder. In his polished head the termite soldier carries a little flask of poison.and on his forehead a needle-like tube through which the sticky fluid is squirted. He uses his weapon only against threatening enemies or strangers. The worker has strong, well-made jaws and a glue-producing gland which he uses to construct most complicated building operations. As soon as he has reached adult stature he begins to make gardens, care for and feed the king and queen, tend the hatching eggs, carry food and partially digest it for the benefit of the whole republic. Both these insects are totally blind, neither of them possesses eyes or other organs of sense; nevertheless they are aware of the presence or absence of light through twenty-four inches of compact earth.

The Soul of the White Ant Chapter 10

10. Pain and Travail in Nature

WE are now going to observe the conjugal behaviour of the king and queen in more detail, and will see three phenomena which are very wonderful. The word wonderful does not fit into science, for from one point of view every natural occurrence is as wonderful as another. But we are justified in using the term when we meet a phenomenon which is such an exception to the ordinary rules of nature that it appears to be miracle. The early behaviour of the king and queen is a phenomenon of this kind. It reminds one of the fairy-godmother who waved her wand and turned the pumpkin into a coach and the mice into prancing steeds. The hidden meaning of what I am about to describe has escaped experienced observers. The naturalist Grassi studied these things in very favourable circumstances, but he did not fathom their meaning.

Much depends on the particular aspect in which the observer is interested. If one is interested in behaviourism, and has some knowledge of it, one sees much the entomologist overlooks. His powers of observation are trained to notice form; he is interested in naming and classifying; to him the dead insect is often of more worth than the living one. This does not mean that his work is of less importance; it may be greater value than pure psychological investigation; and is far more difficult because less interesting. If, however, these things escape the experienced entomologist, it becomes necessary for us to take particular care lest we miss them too.

Up to the moment when the first garden has been made and planted and the first eggs are laid, the two insects, the king and queen, ordinary four-winged neuropterous insects, have been busy building their home, laying eggs like thousands of other insects around them. They have laid aside their wings, it is true, but they continue to behave like true winged insects. Then, however, strange things begin happening, so strange that we can hardly believe they actually occur.

While the queen is laying her eggs our searchlight disturbs her less than at any other time. It seems clear that her important work occupies her attention so deeply that even a cataclysm as the sudden flashing of an electric torch does not frighten her. She makes curious preparations. For a long while she stands on the place where the eggs are to be deposited, before she begins laying. Her body is in constant movement. The antennae sweep in circles and her jaws move ceaselessly. Occasionally she lifts the hinder part of her body in just the same way as she did when she was sending her first signal to her mate. Two or three times before the eggs actually are laid, she turns round and looks at the ground as if she expects to find something there. With the actual laying of the eggs the bodily contractions increase tremendously. When the first batch is laid, she turns round once more and examines them long and carefully. She touches them gently with her jaws and front legs, and then she lies motionless beside them for a time. What does it all mean? We are here observing one of those wonders which I promised, and which is found in no other winged insect, nor in any other insect of similar development. Unless one has witnessed a similar occurrence in an animal a little higher in the scale of life, one cannot realize the significance of this behaviour. Actually we have witnessed the first appearance of a complex which plays a mighty role in the decadent and unnatural condition of the human race today. We are seeing the first evidence in nature of birth pangs. We think this cannot be the case in a winged insect. Surely it must be impossible. How can one tell that the queen's behaviour is due to pain.

One knows what usually happens in insects. The female builds a home, fills it with food, lays her eggs as easily and carelessly as if she were eating, drinking or cleaning her antennae. The male never appears on the scene. After the honeymoon his part of the work is done. The female's work also concludes with the building of the house and the laying of the eggs. She never sees her babies. She would not recognize them if she did, for how could she, a beautiful flying creature, have given birth to these odd little grubs, or wriggling worms?

Another thing. One has never seen a real insect baby. One expects it to be a caterpillar, then a cocoon, from which eventually comes the imago, the perfect insect, which does not differ from the parent. But a little white insect baby is found in the termite which does not undergo any further metamorphosis; which is born weak and helpless, and grows stronger slowly, just like a human baby. Does one see such anywhere else in the insect world?

There are instances of this, but never in an insect at the same stage of development as the termite queen. Let us turn to the study of the behaviour of another creature, which is zoologically classified near the insects, but which psychologically should be in the mammal class. I am referring to the South African scorpion.

Among my tame scorpions there was a gigantic female which gained a good deal of fame. She was five and a half inches long. She first introduced herself to Mr Charlie Pienaar, by killing a full-fledged chicken in his presence. She tackled the chicken's leg, clung on, and gave one sting of her deadly lance, just above the joint. Within a few seconds the chicken was paralysed and was dead in ten minutes. Later on she became so tame and knew me so well that I could push a finger before her suddenly and allow her to grip me with her claws. She would bring her sting into contact with my skin, before recognizing me. Immediately she would relax and withdraw her dangerous weapon. I could handle her freely. She liked being scratched gently. Shortly after she came into my possession I noticed that an interesting event was shortly to take place. I watched her continually and gave her every care, for I wished to observe every stage of the process. I must admit that in those days I knew so little zoology that I expected to see her lay eggs. I was astounded therefore to see her give birth to sixteen living babies. Fully harnessed and spurred they made their entry by pairs, small white helpless babies -- but perfect little scorpions. There was no doubt at all that the delivery caused the mother much pain. I remember a woman asking me anxiously whether the young ones were born with pincers and stings, and then giving a prayer of thanks that human babies at least do not possess these.

What seemed very strange, too, was that the scorpion mother loved her queer little youngsters. Very carefully she helped them on to her back, where they remained sitting in two rows with their heads and pincers directed outwards and their tails interlaced behind them. I knew her well enough to tell by her behaviour that she would not allow any handling of her babies, so I did not risk doing this until they were fully grown. The mother would tear their food into small pieces and feed them carefully, while above them she waved her sting defensively. A more loving mother you will find nowhere else in nature.

It immediately seemed that one was dealing here with one of nature's deepest mysteries, and that we were nearing the boundaries of yet unexplored country. Of the appearance of pain in nature, no satisfactory explanation has yet been given. Many theories have been formulated, some of them probably bordering on the truth, but I know of no naturalist who has given a well-grounded and true analysis of the subject. Those who have, by original research, even approached the secret of birth pain, can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

One realizes that birth pain is a great mystery. One knows that pain in general is a warning signal to living creatures. If pain were to disappear from this earth, life would soon cease. Without pain organic matter cannot exist. Everywhere in nature pain acts as a defence -- except in the case of birth. Why then do we find this agony of suffering at the birth of highly developed animals? It plays such an important part and is so common that it must have some equally important purpose. What purpose had natural selection when she allowed this amazing exception to the general rule? Birth pain is clearly not protective; indeed, it is the very opposite. One can often learn the meaning of normal phenomena best by observing what happens in unnatural and abnormal manifestations of the same thing. One knows that in apes, in tame animals and in humans, the mechanism which causes birth pains may be a danger to the lives of both mother and child. Yet birth is the great end of the struggle for existence, the event which nature, as it were, considers the first and most important, which would protect with all her powers and make safe for mother and child. Why should it be coupled with violent and non-protective suffering, which increases as you mount the scale of life? What does this mean? We will follow the path of pain as it winds the way through the dark ages.


A tower termitary

With an ordinary immersion lens dipped in a drop of stagnant water from a cattle kraal, for one can see life with an immersion lens without stain or oil, I watched the movements of Volvox and Amoeba for hours on end. Many unnatural conditions in their environment may be brought about. A red-hot needle pressed against the glass will cause a sudden rise in temperature of water film, enough to cause the death of a unicellular organism. One can introduce strychnine, carbolic acid, or arsenic over the outer edge of the film. A strong ray of red light, sharper than a needle point played over the film will also kill the organisms. In these experiments one gains a certain insight. One sees the unicellular animals start and retract from the dangers you have caused. If you study similar instances in higher animals, you find that nature guards the way to death by pain.

On the unaffected side of your film you see the cells budding, dividing and multiplying.

Someone once said that all behaviourism in nature could be referred to hunger. This saying has been repeated thousands of times yet is false. Hunger itself is pain -- the most severe pain in its later stages that the body knows except thirst, which is even worse. Love may be regarded as a hunger, but it is not pain.

What protects animals, what enables them to continue living, what assures the propagation of the race? A certain attribute of organic matter. As soon as one finds life, one finds this attribute. It is inherent in life; like most natural phenomena it is polarized, there is a negative and a positive pole. The negative pole is pain, the positive pole is sex. This attribute may be called the saving attribute of life; and it is here where one comes closest to what appears like a common purpose beyond nature.

All animals, large and small, possess some mechanism for feeling pain, and this pain always acts as a safeguard against death. An animal struggles to get out of the water, not because he is afraid of death -- of which he knows nothing -- but because the first stages of drowning are extremely painful. Close to the pole of pain we find fear as another urge towards certain behaviour. The other pole, sex, is more complicated -- the final result of it is mother love.

In the apes, in a lesser degree, and in man, in the highest degree, there has been a great degeneration of both poles. In man there exists no longer any selective power against the attack of pathological organisms and thousands of organic diseases. The result is that the mechanism of pain, which developed only as a defence in nature, is brought into action uselessly as a result of the ills man is heir to, and from which animals in natural environments are free. Sex has become degenerate in man to the same degree. In nature, the sexual urge, like other race memories, needs an external stimulus before it is roused. As we have seen, this is scent alone in most mammals. Sometimes scent and colour go paired. In such cases we find brilliant colourings in the female as well as scent. In such animals destruction of the olfactory sense in the male means the end of sex.

In the ape and man we find the first animals, excluding tame animals, in which sex can be roused without an external stimulus. The reason for this is one that has been mentioned before. In man and the apes all perceptions, all experiences are registered as individual causal memories. The cortex of the brain is the organ of this function. The first awareness of sex must be transmitted through the cortex as an ordinary causal environmental memory where it is immediately absorbed as a separate memory. The ape and man remember this as a pleasurable experience to which they can react at will. The result is that the greatest of all natural laws, periodicity, is lost in the human race. The periodic organic condition, which should rouse the sexual sense, has become an absolutely useless, degenerate, pathological manifestation. The ultimate result, birth, which in all other animals is safe and certain, has become in the human a major surgical operation, where the lives of both mother and child are endangered. Without skilled help in labour the civilized races would vanish from the earth in three generations, said a famous German obstetrician. Two-thirds of all the organic and mental disease of man may be ascribed to the degeneracy of the sexual sense, said another expert.

A little way behind man we find apes, with similar degeneracy and similar results, only in a lesser grade. We have taken a brief and general glance at the two poles, pain and sex. There still remains the mysterious exception, birth pain. We realize at once that this has no connection with protective pain. It guards no road leading to death; no animal can escape from it. We have learnt the general rule that every instinctive action is unlocked by one and only one key. We have seen how in the termite the stimulus or key to sex is flight, and in the kudu scent; how the whole aquatic life of the otter is initiated by the sight and touch of water. In exactly the same way we find that birth pain is the key which unlocks the doors to mother love, in all animals from the termite queen to the whale. Where pain is negligible, mother love and care are feeble. Where pain is absent, there is absolutely no mother love. During a period of ten years' observation, I found no single exception to this rule. Some naturalist once suggested that the function of birth pain was to draw the attention of the mother to the young one. This is not so. There is no such thing as 'drawing attention' in the instinctive soul. The unlocking of the mother love complex through pain is beyond consciousness, beyond the knowledge of the mother and has nothing to do with drawing her attention to her offspring. Naturally it was not enough to show the connection between birth pain and mother love in order to prove that one was the result of the other. A large number of experiments dispelled all doubt. The following notes will explain the general principle.

For the experiment I used a herd of sixty half-wild buck, known in South Africa as Kaffir Buck. I have proof that during the previous fifteen years there had been no single instance of a mother refusing her young in normal circumstances.

Six cases of birth during full anaesthesia of the mother induced by chloroform and ether; unconsciousness in no case lasted for more than twenty-five minutes after delivery. In all six cases the mother refused to accept the lamb of her own volition.
Four cases of birth during paralysis -- consciousness and feeling were partly paralysed but not destroyed by the American arrow poison curare. In all four cases the mother appeared for over an hour in great doubt as to the acceptance of her lamb. After this period, three mothers accepted their lambs; one refused it.
----To prove that refusal on the part of these mothers was not to the general disturbance caused by the anaesthetics used, I did the following experiments:
In six cases of birth the mother was put under chloroform anaesthesia immediately after delivery was complete but before she had seen her lamb. Unconsciousness lasted about half an hour. In all six cases the mother accepted her lamb without any doubt immediately after she became conscious. Similar experiments with curare gave the same result.
From these and other experiments I became convinced that without pain there can be no mother love in nature, and this pain must actually be experienced psychologically. It is not sufficient for the body to experience it physiologically.

Mother love is a psychological complex, therefore the key which makes it function must be a psychological one, analogous to the psychological impression of flight in the case of the termite.

We have seen what the result of birth pain was in the case of the scorpion mother. In a later chapter we will see the interesting way in which the same principle is verified in the termite queen.

This complex, as we find in all such complexes of the instinctive soul, has long ago ceased functioning in the human. Birth pain has become psychologically a useless rudimentary manifestation, which now is a source of danger, like most rudimentary organs.

One expert has written: 'When nature wishes to annihilate a race, the first attack made is in the direction of the sexual sense.' This is said in topsy-turvy fashion, and I am not sure whether it is true. But one fact is clear, the degeneration of the sexual sense is responsible for the greatest part of human suffering. Yet one part of sex, mother love, gave a twist to man's psychological development which was largely responsible for his domination of the earth.

The Soul of the White Ant Chapter 9

9. The Birth of the Termite Community

Up to the present we have observed the termites and the termitary from without. We will now study the termitary and the growth and life history of the termites from within the nest. Every step will prove a surprise; we will see many things which appear incredible. The termite differs in every respect from all other insects. Morphologically there is little in nature which reminds us of the termite. Their ontological development is a constant surprise; phylogenetically one must look in the ocean for an analogous circle of development. The entomologist who made the acquaintance of the termite for the first time, would be justified in thinking it to be an immigrant from a different planet.

To mention one thing only -- the wings. Where can one find in nature an organism which during its own lifetime will yield up the mightiest of all weapons in the struggle for life -- its wings? This abandonment of wings is an example of the surprises with which the termite constantly provides us.

I give some illustrations of the different inmates of a Transvaal termitary. One can scarcely believe that they are the children of one father and mother. We have seen how the kings and queens leave the nest in swarms; how they must fly to unlock their sexual life; how the queen sends a signal; how both sexes discard their wings as soon as they reach the ground after their one and only flight. The development of the wings is very interesting. In the sexual type one can see the wing-buds quite early in life. When the insect has shed its skin for the last time and is full-grown, the wings begin to grow from these buds with a kind of hinge which allows for the greatest possible range of movements. It is from this hinge that the insect breaks its wings with a lightning-like movement. She takes hold of the wing-buds with the nearest pair of legs, which appear to be specially adapted for this purpose, shifts them along the bud until they reach the hinge, and detaches the wings.



(Trinervitermes magnified.) King and Queen at time of flight. Perfect insects with fully developed eyes, wings and sex organs. Colour: Dark brown, with red marking. Highly pigmented. Functions: 1. Reproduction. 2. Analogous to motor and sensory centres of brain in higher animals.
(Trinervitermes magnified.) Etiolated, newly hatched termite. Colour: White. All classes and both sexes are found. Sex organs rudimentary, disappearing as development proceeds. Entirely blind. In some individuals rudimentary pigmented spots are found in place of eyes. These, too, disappear. In others, rudimentary wing buds appear, which never develop.

When they have been shed, one can find no wound to indicate the spot of attachment, as one might expect. There must be some organic union, there must be some attachment to the central system which enables the wings to be set into motion. But. there is no sign of this immediately after the wings are detached. How so complicated an organ, which is so powerful and which is under complete control of the insect, can give so little evidence of organic union with the body remains a mystery. One moment the insect is flying, a moment later the wings are detached, yet one finds no evidence of a lesion.

Another point of interest. The insect appears to be able to discard the wings by a voluntary movement of the wing itself. Before flight has taken place, she will struggle to free herself if she is held by the wings, without the wings becoming detached. If, however, she has experienced the sensation of flight, even one movement of the wings appears to be sufficient to satisfy the instinct, then she will discard the wings in one's hand. The observer must understand that it is absolutely necessary for her future life that she shall at least experience the impression of flight. If she has not this, she simply dies. Then she will never become a queen, her sexual life is ended. Sometimes even the struggle for freedom as her wings are held is sufficient to satisfy the instinct. Rapid and continuous movement of the wings while the insect remains stationary on a twig without actual flight through the air, also appears to satisfy occasionally. But these occurrences are more in the nature of exceptions. As a, rule, there is complete frustration sexually if the insect has not flown and discarded her wings.

The king and queen look exactly alike and cannot be distinguished apart with the naked eye. They are the only perfectly formed insects in the termitary. They have fully developed eves and although they were born and reared in darkness, they are highly pigmented. Black, brown and red colourings are found, which never appear in their children, except of course the future kings and queens.

The sexual organs are fully developed. Any natural means of defence is surprisingly lacking. There is probably no insect in our land which has so many natural enemies. One finds the true ant, not the termite, walking round boldly in the daylight, for only reptiles, such as frogs and lizards, which have no sense of taste, try to eat them. Their defence consists of an acid which is secreted for the purpose, and also an indigestible outer covering. So effective apparently are these methods of defence that we find certain beetles taking on the form of large ants so successfully that most animals are deceived by them. The unfortunate termite, on the other hand, is eaten greedily by all other animals. It is a remarkable lesson in nature study to watch the flight of the termites in uninhabited parts of Central Africa. Within a few minutes the surface of the earth is seething with living creatures coming to the feast. Out of the earth crawl frogs, toads, snakes, lizards and other reptiles. From where they receive the news I cannot tell. Even the tortoise appears. Other insects, crickets, beetles, centipedes, spiders, scorpions swarm in the grass. In the water, just below the surface, one sees hundreds of fish and turtles. Out of the bushes slink jackals, cats, meercats, apes and monkeys. There is a temporary truce, except as regards the unfortunate flying termites. They appear to be going to fly merely to die. One begins to understand why nature produces them in such millions, notwithstanding the fact that each pair may be the origin of millions more. Every pair is necessary, because the slaughter is immense. One realizes now why the royal pair are in such a tremendous hurry after they have flown and discarded their wings. The only method of defence the flying termites make use of is flight after dusk. In this way they escape at least the birds which fly by day. But even this may not always happen. Sometimes the, flight begins too early and in the twilight hundreds of hawks gather. The night hawks, owls and other night birds continue the feast into the darkest hours of the night.

One realizes that in this case there has been a displacement of the natural means of defence. What the individual king and queen have lost as regards natural means of defence is compensated for by the defences of the composite animal, the termitary. As soon as the community is formed, the termites never again appear in the daylight, except when injury necessitates this, and even then not in great numbers. However far they may have to go in search of food, and sometimes it may be hundreds of yards, they make underground passages in all directions, and the food itself is temporarily covered with cells and earthwork, making it unnecessary for any individual to appear in the open.

The same thing occurs with all other psychological characteristics and urges -- they are shifted from the individual to the community. The individual termite is without feeling. For him there is no more pain. The injury of a group of termites, however, is felt as pain by the community. The same thing occurs in the human body. The liver is incapable of feeling an injury. It is the human being, the composite animal, which becomes aware of the injury to the liver, as pain.



(Bellicosus magnified.) Queen. Beginning of second stage of development. Functions: Female element in reproduction. Sensory and motor of 'brain'. As in the higher animals, the female element of the termitary undergoes periodical metamorphosis and has a far greater ontogenetic development than the male.
(Bellicosus magnified.) Queen substitute. Similar to Queen or King type, except that the wings do not develop. Function: Sometimes used temporarily as substitute for king or queen. Both sexes found.

Neither does the individual termite feel hunger or thirst. If there is a famine, or if water begins getting scarce, the suffering as such is felt only in the queen's chamber.

The mightiest urge of all, the sexual urge, does not exist in the individual. It has been set free from this irksome tie. The only vestige of self-government which appears to exist amongst the termites are the food, wound and danger signals which are sent out by the soldiers and answered by the workers. But this is no proof that the individual termite possesses a separate psyche. Apart from the power of locomotion, there is no vestige of this psyche. All actual motivations are directed by signals from the queen's chamber.

These signals cease immediately the queen is destroyed and all directed activity ceases, even in the outlying sections of the termitary and even when these sections have been completely isolated over a long period by a metal plate. This seems proof that the group movements, too, are directed by the queen, the brain of the termitary. The king and queen, deep in the absolute darkness of their chamber, bear in their persons two widely diverse functions, the mental and the sexual. The palace chamber is analogous to the skull in higher animals. Even the substance of the queen's body is reminiscent of the brain of mammals. All that is entirely lacking are the nerves which play such an important role in the physical economy of the more highly developed animals.

Having come to the conclusion that the termitary is a composite animal, the observer expects to find some trace at least of structures corresponding to nerves. A little consideration will enlighten one as to the reason why nothing of the kind is found. The most important function in man, for instance, of the nerves, is that of initiating and controlling movement to carry impressions from the sense organs to the brain. On the other hand there are innumerable movements and functions in the human body which are directed and influenced by the brain without being actually linked up by nerves. I mentioned before this influence-at-a-distance which is found all over the body. The work and movements of the blood corpuscles, for instance, are set into being by an influence which is not material; so too are the special functions of the vital organs. The influence which streams from the queen is something intangible and similar to the influence-at-a-distance which directs so many functions in highly developed animals.

In a later chapter I will show how this mysterious influence has the power of penetrating all ordinary materials. For instance, it penetrates quite easily the thickest obtainable galvanized iron plates. Distance, however, lessens the power of the queen's influence. One may imagine Nature addressing the queen thus, after her short flight:

'Beloved, you are going to suffer a great loss. Instead of living in this glowing sunlight, you are going to spend your days in absolute darkness. Instead of the citizenship of the wide veld, instead of the freedom of the air, of mountains, trees and plains, you are going to spend your days as a prisoner in a narrow vault, in whose confines you will be unable to make the least movement. The annual return of the love season, the search for your beloved and the happy finding of your home and all the happiness bound up in this periodical stirring of the soul, of all this you are to be deprived. But in place of all this, you yourself will become a far more important and wonderful being. Although you will apparently be an immobile shapeless mass buried in a living grave, you will actually be a sensitive mainspring. You will become the feeling, the thinking, the seeing of a life a thousand times greater and more important than yours could ever have become. Above all, I will give you protection. The million dangers, the million enemies which threatened your life on every hand, will in your new life fling themselves in vain against your armour.'

It was this need for protection which caused the development of the termitary. As individuals the queen and her subjects are the most threatened of all insects. As individuals, in an unprotected environment, the race would never have survived. As a composite animal, the termitary is very nearly perfectly protected. External wounds, destructive attacks which destroy the whole visible form of the termitary, do not touch its real life, which goes on as usual as though nothing untoward has happened. The wounds are merely repaired. The queen herself, as brain of the organism, is as well protected as the human brain in its skull. There are very few enemies which ever prove a real danger to the queen. One of the largest is the ant-eater; some of the most insidious are groups of beetles, which at times completely devastate a weakened termitary. This latter instance is analogous in every respect to the attack on the human body by pathological organisms. The termitary becomes diseased and dies.

Has the queen paid too dearly for protection? Nature answers this question in a different way from that in which we, or the queen, would.

'What matters it to me how much or how little is paid for the privilege of my protection? How much happiness is lost and how much misery the new life entails is of no importance. What do I care for the individual? The race is safe, rejoicing, inexterminable. The individual must always pay, and no price is too high.'

One realizes why development has taken this peculiar course, why at all costs the queen must remain immobile, why she has been imprisoned in a cell and has lost all power of locomotion. If she is the brain of the organism, that makes it all the more necessary for her to remain stationary in one place. The duplicate functions of the queen, mental and sexual, make matters more complicated. Movement appears to be an integral part of all sexual functions in nature. There seems to be a definite conflict here, but the development of the termitary has solved the problem. I shall not enlarge on this subject here. The student of nature will be aware of what happens, and even the uninitiated will find the solution if he compares this duplication of function in the termites with the same less developed complex in the bee queen. In the latter the sexual functions are the most important and the result is that the danger of the queen on her wedding flight becomes a danger to the whole hive. The termite queen is never again exposed to such danger, once the community is formed and she has been rendered immobile.

The human observer who watched the flight of the queen, who saw the glad meeting of the two sexes, who perhaps even lent a little human aid gives a sigh of relief when eventually the threatened pair find shelter in the protective lap of Mother Earth. Now at last they must be safe. Alas! not yet. There is another great danger which threatens the birth of the new community. In our land it is a merciless enemy -- we call it Drought. The termites must have water, more water, and still more water. As ninety per cent of their bodies consists of water the greatest part of their labour is concerned with the finding and carrying of water, on which the termitary is just as dependent as the warm-blooded animals are. The king and queen must find water immediately. They obtain this from damp earth. That is why the flight occurs only after heavy rains -- this at least they expect from nature. Sometimes, however, they make a mistake. The first duty of the royal pair is to manufacture an organ for hatching out and feeding the first workers and soldiers. For this purpose a plentiful supply of water is necessary. If the water supply gives out during this initial period, all is finished; it means death to them and to the composite animal. Both king and queen work incessantly, making passages in the direction of moist earth. These generally descend perpendicularly and are the beginnings of the vertical aqueduct -- at least in dry districts. At intervals in these first passages they make, or perhaps find, hollows in the earth and here they make their first termite gardens. Enthusiastic observers of the real ant have called them gardens, so we will continue using the term. They resemble very much our own agricultural efforts.

First the ground is carefully prepared. The fertilizer consists of finely chewed, partially digested vegetable substance, mostly dry wood and grass stalks. Then it is irrigated with water, much water, until the ground is saturated. Both king and queen labour incessantly; they do not rest for a second, nor do they sleep day or night. It is the last time, however, that they will ever be expected to work. The functions which they will fulfil in future can hardly be called work. At last the first garden is ready, deep in a hollow of one of the passages. No ray of light must ever fall upon it, everything is done in inky darkness. This first garden consists of a pat of cell structure and earth-work, and when it is well saturated, the two termites proceed to plant the seeds of a peculiar fungus, which is to play an enormous role in the future life history of the termitary and as such deserves our careful attention. I have said the termites plant the seed. I cannot, however, prove this to be a fact, but that is what appears to take place. They walk about on the damp garden and in the shortest possible time necessary for germination and development, the fungus springs up, in the form of a white mould. I have found the hyphae and spores of the fungus on jaws and legs of flying termites immediately after they have left the termitary. It appears as though they purposely carry the seed to plant in the new nest. One also finds spores on termites which have nothing to do with the gardens. In the neighbourhood of large termitaries one finds the spores in great numbers in the underground hollows and passages. They are spread by water, by wind, by worms and by insects. It is possible, therefore, that the spores might show themselves on the specially prepared ground, without the assistance of the termite. The termites, however, do far more incredible things than the planting of these spores would be. So we will take it for granted that they do carry the spores and that the planting of the gardens is intentional.

Whether they do actually plant seed or not, there is certainly no question about the fertilization and irrigation of the gardens. The passage which leads to the water is constantly being deepened. While the damp earth is being excavated, the moisture is stored in the bodies of the two insects. The garden is irrigated with drops of a clear shining liquid, the same in all respects as that which is used for many other purposes later on by all the groups.

In this early garden, the queen lays her first eggs. At this stage she is still able to run about quickly and work actively. In the meantime wonderful things are happening to the fungus garden. The two insects do something to the mycelium of the plant which retards growth and development and at the same time the temperature of the garden begins to rise astoundingly.

The origin of this rise in temperature seems at first inexplicable. It cannot come from the termites, for their bodies are always at the same temperature as that of their environment. It comes from the garden, which functions as an incubator and is responsible later for maintaining the heat of the composite animal. The normal temperature of the termitary taken in the queen's cell is from four to six degrees Fahrenheit higher than the normal temperature of a human being. There is little doubt that most of this heat is generated by the fungus-beds. It is well known that in all fungi rise of temperature takes place when the spores ripen. In the gardens of the termitary the temperature is kept raised to a certain degree by something the termite does to the plant which retards growth and development at the very stage when the fungi generate most heat. The garden, however, is more than incubator and nursery. The production of heat is a very important function, certainly, but in addition to this the garden becomes the stomach and liver of the composite animal.

By constant and rapid metabolism not only nutriment, but also digestive juices are assembled in the plant. Under the microscope and chemically one can find oil, protoplasm, glycogen, carbohydrates, proteid crystals, gum, alkaloids, and different enzymes, similar to those in the human body, which break up complicated sugars into dextrose and levulose, which reduce ordinary sugar to alcohol and carbon. The only substance we find no trace of is starch.

The circle or digestion takes place in this way: The workers and the king and queen in their first stages are the only termites in the nest which can masticate wood, grass-stalks and other coarse vegetable matter, and partially digest it. No other group in the termitary is able to absorb or digest anything but fluid. When the kin and queen in their first stage, or the workers, have partially digested the food, it goes to the stomach and liver -- the so-called gardens. Here it is further digested and changed by the fungi and the digestive juices I have mentioned. It happens in just the same way as in the human body. When the stomach and liver have prepared the food, it is taken up by the workers and soldiers in liquid form and becomes part of the whole circulation.

More than half this predigested food is used for building purposes. When one touches a newly built tower, one's fingers become sticky. With a magnifying glass one can see how each worker rolls the tiny grain in its jaws, coating it with the sticky fluid before placing it in position. This is the fluid which is obtained from the gardens. The water necessary for the production of this fluid is being constantly supplied to the gardens by a stream of workers, whose sole function appears to be this and the sowing of seed. If a vertical aqueduct is present, one finds a hollow every two or three feet, in which a small garden is cultivated. During severe droughts, water is constantly carried to the deepest gardens and the fungi there are kept alive. The great advantage of having little fungus beds so near to the water is obvious, as it spares the termites much labour. From these gardens the seed is carried to new ones, or to replant those which were killed by drought. These smaller gardens are never used for any other purpose; you will never find them used as nurseries, as is the case with the large gardens.

Another function of the fungus gardens appears to be the isolation of colour. A dark-red colouring material can be obtained from them. It appears, therefore, that the termites find the red colouring matter of their bodies prepared for them by the gardens. The babies are entirely colourless, as one would expect from insects born in utter darkness. One would expect that they would never become coloured in the absence of light, and as they continue living in darkness it is difficult to explain the presence of all the brilliant tints. These, however, come from the gardens. The babies are white as milk until they are fed on the fungus fluid. Then only do we find their bodies assuming the blood-red colour of the adults.