Title: The Dance
Date: 12 Oct 14 (Sunday in the PM)
Time: 2 minutes
Replies: 9
Revisions: 5
Publicity: Workshop

It wasn’t really one of the more impressive colonies this side of the Berkshires, although truth be told how could such a thing be measured? By population? Architectural flair? It was, however, one of those anthills that would make someone like Charles hunch over, hands on knees, eyes wide in marveled appreciation for the wild logic of the whole operation. He had turned many a casual conversation sour attempting to explain his fascination with organizational intelligence. Wendy, amazingly, didn’t seem to mind. In fact she seemed strangely willing to put up with it, although she prefered to talk about the dances of bees than the chemical-laced eusocial Formicidae superorganism. Wendy said that even if the bees acted in concert in every observable decision, they were each making that decision individually upon seeing and interpreting the same information. They weren’t drunk on pheromones.

The dance was so accurate, so precise, so successful in delivering its intended message that the audience was compelled to only one choice. But, she said, that’s not to say it wasn’t a choice nonetheless. It was an informed choice. Perhaps a more informed choice than any of us will ever make. Have you ever seen a dance, seen anything, that made it absolutely clear what you were going to do right then and there, without question? Yes, Charles said, he was about 33,000 feet above the southeast corner of the Labrador coast. He would never tell her what he meant by that. The aloof avoidance would annoy her if it wasn’t coming wrapped in that charming accent.

It made no sense. Ants received signals, they spoke to each other, through chemicals. Why is that not a choice? Drugs aren’t the proper comparison. It’s apples and pears. Charles doesn’t think either method is any kind of choice. Organizational intelligence is premised on the individuals having no choice. The superherd follows nothing but the laws of physics and probability. The birds have a choice. The bees do not. Let me tell you.

But Charles wasn’t hunched over inspecting these particular ants, if for no other reason than the nearest entrance was underneath his car, about 18 inches away from where his leaking oil pan would soon add its contribution to the local ecosystem, and his narrowed eyes were set at his hand, taking in the information required for him to assess the risks and rewards and put a sensible and sufficient combination of coins in the parking meter. The air had that wonderful crisp October-in-New-England smell. His focus was broken by the sounds of laughter and applause. And yelling. Kind of sounded mad. Maybe it wasn’t laughter or applause? Now he couldn’t tell if the sounds were anger or merriment, but it was definitely something unusual. It wasn’t on the way to get the thing for Wendy, but maybe he’d go quickly investigate. He put in an extra nickel.


Rabbit » Authorship
Rabbit » 10:40 PM 13 Oct 14
Rabbit » 12:09 AM 13 Oct 14
Rabbit » 12:08 AM 13 Oct 14
Rabbit » 11:52 PM 12 Oct 14
Rabbit » 11:07 PM 12 Oct 14

The Thread (9)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. This reminded me of a year of books on the topic of free will. Zen, art, culture and neuroplasticity, and other stuff. 2009-10. This would have made a great anecdote somewhere in there.

    I vaguely recall some research looking at an emotional sense we have not unlike, or exactly like, the force that guides schools of fish. Here’s a place to find some really good stuff, btw. Like TED, but less sensational.

    A nickel?

  2. I always wonder about those rogue ants you find in the house. Are they out on search and destroy missions or have they gone AWOL?

  3. Many chemical trails lead outwards. Far fewer are reinforced with a return track. Ants, like memories, sometimes don’t come back. Especially after a few bourbons.

  4. I don’t disagree with ant biochemistry, but I’d like to to think that guy messing around in your kitchen is just trying to score some Dorritos before watching the game on your flatscreen.

    Can memories vanish? The only thing making them memories is memory. If they disappear, what are they?

  5. Ah – the realm of the ethereal going intangible going invisible gone.

  6. Title change, interesting. Horse – a nickel buys you a couple of minutes in some parts. Probably the Berkshires, in fact.

  7. The Dance was my working title, but changed it as a reaction to all the other short titles on here. But the former just wasn’t doing it for me, and was laying on one message a little too thick.

    I recently saw a meter where a nickel could buy a cool 6 minutes. Plenty of time to get oneself into mischief.

  8. Three minutes getting into trouble, three minutes getting out, then escape as the last second ticks off the clock. A Chevelle screeches away as an overzealous meter maid’s ticket falls to the empty parking space.

  9. +1 Bear – speaking of which, I’d like to see The Rooster develop point allocation functionality in the vein of Whose Line is it Anyway?.

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