I was heading home from class, my head full of thoughts about queer ecology when this song played on my iPod:
The song is "Never Ending Math Equation" by Modest Mouse, possibly my most favorite band in the whole world. As I listened to the lyrics I began to make connections to what we had read for today's class.
The connections I made all stemmed from the chorus. What first stuck out to me was the line, "We ain't sure where you stand/ You ain't machines and you ain't land." To me, this calls out the dichotomy between culture (machines) and nature (land), which we (humans) are sometimes wont to preserve . When confronted with something that is ambiguous, or something that traverses/transgresses that dichotomy, we become confused and "we ain't sure" where that thing belongs.
The second part that stood out to me was the line after that: "And the plants and the animals, they are linked/ And the plants and the animals eat each other." The first part of this line that states that the plants and the animals are linked, reminded me of the part in the "Queer Ecology" reading about how we can't truly discern between "authentic" or "original" organisms and things that are separate from it. The plants and the animals are linked, in the sense that we, as humans, are all in a symbiosis with plants, animals, bacteria, etc, which are all in symbiosis with each other, and so on. The second half of that line reminded me of the point that was brought up by one of our classmates, about how we (humans) may be on the top of the proverbial food chain, but without those "below" us, (such as the plants and the animals) we'd be unable to survive. In this way, the "animals" eat the plants. But the plants also "eat the animals" in the sense that, when we die, we decompose and add nutrients to the ground upon which plants feed. All organisms are linked on this planet, and in the end, "the plants and the animals" are always eating each other.
The final connection I made was with the lines at the beginning of the chorus: "The universe works on a math equation/ That never even ever really even is any end/ Infinity spirals out creation." The first two lines, which explain that the world works on a math equation that never ends, reminded me of the way that, in reality, evolution doesn't have an end goal -- it's not an endless, teleological march toward perfection. It's a series of factors (natural selection, gene drift, mutations, etc) that are "variables" in this never ending equation "that never even ever really even is any end" -- that is, it doesn't have an end. The final line invokes the image of infinity as a spiral, and "creation" -- we'll say "matter" -- constantly comes from it in a spiraling, non-direct way. This is significant because the twirling of a spiral reminds us again that there is no specific goal, and it is not the goal or purpose of the world to travel in a straight line from A to B. A spiral, also, is a continuous line that is always connected, again reminding us that we, as humans, are only the products of what came before us -- common ancestors that lived ages and ages ago in that spiral of infinity.
Did Modest Mouse intend to write a song about queer ecology? Probably not. But it was cool to be able to make connections between class material and a song/band that I really, really enjoy. Also, I wanted to make you all listen to Modest Mouse so you can love them too.