An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 28, 2011
Written at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 km north of Mahahual
on the Yucatán Peninsula's eastern coast just north of the Belize border,
in the state of Quintana Roo, MÉXICO

RAT & CAT, SEA & ME

So, there's this parasitic disease organism something like a one-celled ameba, called Toxoplasma, which infects rat brains. The problem for Toxoplasma is that in order to reproduce sexually it needs to be inside a cat's digestive system. New research has shown that Toxoplasma gets into its cat by altering its host rat's behavior toward cats; when a cat is near, instead of fleeing, either the rat gets confused, or else is actually sexually attracted to the cat. This leads to the rat being eaten by the cat, which gets the rat's Toxoplasma hitchhiker where it wants to go, which is inside the cat's gut.

Once Toxoplasma reproduces sexually in the cat's gut the microorganism now must get back into a rat's brain. It exits the cat in feces, which eventually gets eaten by a new rat, and once that new rat's brain is infected, the life cycle continues, and another cat is needed.

Research on this topic is described online at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110819141519.htm.

Isn't it something that the Universal Creative Impulse evolves such complex, devious life cycles? And that She designs brains to be vulnerable to this kind of outside manipulation? The only way I can account for it is that Nature is so tickled with diversity, with exploring every conceivable way of doing everything, that She'll kill innocent rats just so some microbes can reproduce in a very kinky fashion.

Sitting on the beach letting the implications sink in, I remember that electrodes implanted in human brains can elicit fear or pleasure, depending on where the electrodes are inserted. I remember how brain tumors, hormonal imbalances, blood pressure variations, booze and drugs can profoundly alter people's perceptions, behavior and basic personalities.

As waves wash around my feet, it occurs to me that "I" and the world around me constantly are being reinterpreted, redefined, and repositioned relative to everything else by my own body's ever-changing electrochemical status. I am an inconstant rat infected with whatever it is causing me to think this way perpetually slipping away with every interior change of ion concentration and transmembrane voltage, and I am a rat who doesn't even know what or where or why the cat is.

Still, it's clear that whatever is behind all this manifests itself not only in terms of waves and wind but also fish, flowers, clouds and birds, mountain meadows, Bach fugues, earthquakes and human thought of every kind -- or at least it's working at the illusion. Facebook Icon.