Recreating (censored)
/ Teaching / Society / Social Survival / Family /
@ K. 2004 10 30

Mom, the Hero Mom, the Sacrifice

Mothers Day on its way: Mission: to appreciate motherhood
(Naturally, this is a beginning. I’ll do well to flash light from a couple of facets. Don’t expect a whole diamond soon. Don’t ever expect the whole diamond mine (from me). (If the entire history of mankind ever comes up with a 90% complete or accurate model, maybe we won’t have been so bad after all.)

Everyone has heard stories about the mother (who couldn’t so much as open the door for herself) lifting the loaded hind end of a sixteen wheeler to get her baby from under a rear tire: with her forearm alone, while bent over. These stories always have an oral character — can’t be verified — but does one of us doubt their core of truth?

The mother who never has to move the mountain herself has still, automatically, with or without her consent, sacrificed a significant portion of her own vitality in order to bear fruit: in order to get pregnant: in order to be able to get pregnant … (Leonard Shlain’s Sex, Power … book is very good on what’s involved: better than I ever expected to see in our lifetimes.)

The mother buffalo will stand alone against the lions for her calf. The mother allosaurus was tied to her baby for years. Gestation alone in the elephant lasts double that of a human. And the human mother may still be providing room and board for Little Fritzie when Little Fritzie is thirty.

That latter characteristic is somewhat offset by mothers’ ability to get some of their own back: having traded present vitality for future service: in Now, Voyager Bette Davis could never get married because poor old Mom needed her — forever. I’ve commented elsewhere on the Puerto Rican mother who essentially retires by the time her oldest daughter is eleven: that eldest becoming surrogate mother to the other ten kids. (Even there, retired or not, senior Mom has to be on hand 24/7. The girls may now do the heavy lifting, but Mom is still the boss.)

(I’ve also already commented how Little Fritzie still being “home” at thirty is not a very good thing for Little Fritzie; but that’s a pathology invented by the culture at large, not by Little Fritzie’s Mom alone. Such pathologies are not found in the wild. No oak can become the great old oak while in the shadow of Mother Oak.

Anyhow, those comments I hope reflect light into a number of areas, including I hope a few recessed areas: so I turn straight to the illustration that inspired this start today: long overdue: long overdue because it was in the late 1970s, 1980 perhaps, that I saw a documentary from Germany on spiders. There are many kinds of spiders, but a species where the spider injects a digestive fluid into the victim, the victim having an exoskeleton, making it a kind of a bottle, is typical. The victim, generally an insect, then becomes a bag of Ensure which the spider may sip at, through a straw as it were, at leisure.

Now mating is a big problem for any species: expensive: time and other-resource-consuming. Mating is a huge problem for intelligent species: that’s why they have to be intelligent. (You can’t expect the hayseed to be able to go through what Charles and Di had to go through, can you?) (A few millennia ago the peoples of both the Peleponesis and Asia Minor had to give up huge portions of their populations so that Menalaus could (fail to) hold onto his wife.) (Spiders at least keep their destructions local.) I’ve elsewhere commented on the rituals that a male black widow spider has to go through to try to mount the zeppelin-sized female: the deadliest creature in his universe. (Even successful, he won’t come out of it alive: which I’m sure he knows.) (2006 02 12 Maybe I should clarify: black widow spiders are famous for the female eating her husband. (Who married them? By what ceremony? In what church?) Once she comes out of her trance, he’s just another bug. Grab. Gobble. But even if he excapes before she has her senses, her coordination back; his wad is shot, his minutes are numbered. He’s all used up.)

But that latter is a male sacrifice for progeny; here I’m talking about female sacrifices: Mom.

There’s one species of spider where again the mature female is huge (in her world). Mom gets thousands of eggs fertilized. Thousands of little yolk-sacked spiders come scurrying out of her: and take up residence in her copious body hair. Mom goes about her business the best she can, covered with the next generation. She doesn’t have to nurse them. She’s not a mammal. She’s already fed them: through their individual yolk sacks.

The yolks keep the baby spiders alive and growing, in their thousands. But not to the point where they can become independent web-spinning predators. Eventually, the yolks are all but consumed. The baby spiders are safe in Mom’s body hair, but soon they’ll start to starve. There’s no MacSponalds to hire them to turn BigSpacs. Mom has one last thing to do.

Mom has lived to become Mom thanks to her hypodermic siphon. Zillions of insects have been turned into spider-bottles by her digestive fluids. Mom injects herself with her “venom.” Mom, everything inside all that body hair, starts to turn into one big Mom-malt. By the time the last of the babies’ yolks are gone, Mom is one huge baby bottle. Each junior can now puncture her membrane with his own drinking straw. They take their last baby meals. They grow up.

Now how’s that for motherhood?

The ultimate sacrifice.

Or was Jesus turning himself into a couple of millennia’s worth of bread and wine the ultimate sacrifice?

Can human beans have any idea what “ultimate” ought to mean?

That’s how he would think of her always, having traded all chances at happiness and freedom and self-expression to spend her time instead in the kitchen, whaling away at this dish or that, concocting elaborate dinners, never displaying an iota of disappointment or despair, rage or resentment. She just gave it up for her family.

Stephen Hunter, Black Light

There: that’s a beginning. Other comments can string below in other sessions. Mom scrapbooks can spin off.

I’ll spin one related story before leaving. I saw that German documentary on spiders while publishing multiple original graphics for Robert Vickrey who’d stayed pretty well shy of the print business till then. Now, you must understand: not only is Bob Vickrey an unusually successful artist, Bob Vickrey has long been an accomplished film maker. Bob Vickrey is likewise a big film fan. His library of tapes of great movies filled a room long before most people had gotten their first VCR. Walk past a TV store displaying wares in a show window and Bob will identify all the movies playing at a glance. Vickrey paints in a style which revolts the Museum of Modern Art. MOMA staunchly refused even gifts of Vickreys, even from Nelson Rockefeller! decades after the Whitney and so forth had a few. This, as Tom Wolfe has detailed, is a war of THEORY. Some styles are in the Canon; all else is OUT. (Personally, I’m in the MOMA camp, but I was trying to make a living: and MOMA has never represented public taste.) (I am wholly unable to guess what the public will like: except by guessing backwards: if the theorists hate it, then maybe the public will love it.) (And I’ve guessed “right” more often than not.) Ah, but here’s the point: MOMA has never not owned a Vickrey movie: not since there was a Vickrey movie to bid for. MOMA obtained them from their beginning. Thus, Vickrey is represented not at all on the Museum’s walls; but is well represented in the museum’s film archives.

That’s the platform; here’s the structure: I said to Bob, “I saw a fabulous documentary on PBS the other night: on spiders.”

“The German film?” he responded breathless. “That’s the greatest documentary I’ve ever seen!”

Oh, another word on that film. The moment that had me gasp the most paralyzed was when they used their microphotography to show the interior of a black widow spider’s vagina! My God, it was Gothic! It was far more awesome than Gothic. It was science fiction: an Alien never before filmed.

(Naturally, the above is just a beginning. If I flashed light from a couple of facets I did well. (If the entire history of mankind ever comes up with a 90% complete or accurate model, maybe we won’t have been so bad after all.)


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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