page 36 of "The Flocking Party"
I walk by the saltwater aquarium at school every week, I stop
and wonder how the creatures, rocks, and chemicals packed in
there are able make room for one another. They certainly didn't
sign an agreement. Was the creator of this aquarium a benevolent,
intelligent designer? And what of life on the rest of the planet?
Where's our contract? What guides us? Is it an intelligent
designer? Some groups today think so. The theory of intelligent
design, for example, states that evolution is guided by
a grand designer, because, it argues, molecular and ecological
mechanisms found in nature are too complex to have evolved
on their own (“Intelligent”). Intelligent design
theory has persisted as a theory, which people believe is worth
teaching in schools despite its total lack of scientific validity.
This is a sure sign that complex systems like evolution are
difficult enough to understand and too easily dismissed, precisely
because of their complexity. The trouble of communicating how
this kind of complexity operates has created a great amount
of tension even beyond this debate.
globalized world is a lot like an aquarium and begs us to change
the way that we think about others, including cultures, nations,
political parties, media conglomerates, species, and whole ecologies.
I believe that by developing more intuitive understandings of
how evolution operates, we can produce better answers to the
problem of understanding complexity. Creative work happens to
be a process that is similar to evolution. So perhaps the arts,
which develop more organically, are a model for nurturing intuition
about this kind of process.
was conscious of evolutionary processes in writing my science
fiction story, “The Flocking Party”. I constructed
it much like an aquarium might form it. My undeveloped subjects
and media were pooled into a framework. Once immersed, I facilitated
these elements to interact. Rather than writing something once,
I would rewrite, again and again, slowly mutating the system.
I helped the elements make room for one another, but as they
did so, they evolved into new forms with new sorts of relationships
that I could not have predicted.
main character, Frank, gives the reader a first hand account
of the selection pressures that any one individual faces inside
such a dynamic system. He is forced to deal with the emotions
that arise from his scientific epiphanies and their political
implications or from his own wellbeing, which influences the
questions he asks. Frank's surreal dreams are one way that we
know he is thinking about the interest of others by projecting
himself into the position of other species and organizations.
In one dream he is an exterminator, killing birds (As much as
it disturbs him)(Landau 14). In another his body is a neuron,
infected with the crystalline structures produced by the Hebbets
virus (Landau 21).
my process I empathized most closely with Frank. This sort of
role-playing to develop the story gave me a different understanding
of an evolutionary process than if I had just read a textbook.
I was forced to project myself in between the layers of opposing