Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ontology recapitulates phylogeny

I usually scrunch my face when confronted with an analogy the compares an individual to a system as complex and dynamic as the Earth (or the Universe), but lately I’ve found myself understanding my own life in geologic terms. Most dynamic processes on the Earth are slow; the tectonic plates and your fingernails would have a very tight race. Orogeny (an erotic sounding term for mountain building) takes hundreds of millions of years, as does evolution. However, some geologic events are catastrophic; volcanoes (my personal favorite) can completely change the face of a landscape in a matter of hours, altering the atmospheric composition and global temperature for years to come. Meteor impacts, obviously, have similar sudden and long-lasting affects.


My life is like the Earth. Most of the time my tectonic plates slide along, building up tension, elastically deforming along their boundaries, and creating new oceanic crust along mid-ocean ridges. But every now and then the mounting tension is released in a massive earthquake that shakes me and reverberates me like a gong (not to mention the tidal waves).

Those slow processes are always happening, though their rates can change, and the prediction mechanism for sudden natural disasters, while improving, are still far from accurate.

Maybe I should be a geologist. Or maybe I need to get out more…or stay in more…

At least I’m not comparing myself to Hamlet or The Duchess of Malfi.

1 comment:

Jane An said...

hey jordan,
my grandfather was a very famous geologist--did i ever tell you that? heh. good luck finding yourself.