Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lord of the flies

The estival of flies is upon us again, and the number of the beasts is legion. Since occasions for effective swatting are intermittent, I have decided to observe their behavior more closely than usual. Leaving out of account the torpor caused by occasional cold weather, I have come to the preliminary conclusion that the survival of house flies in the presence of predators and temperate conditions is primarily a function of their unpredictable behavior. Their strategy is to have no strategy as to where they will land, how long they will rest, whither they go and when they come.

This is an interesting idea, whether or not it could be demonstrated by mathematical means that flies exhibit random behavior. It suggests that 1] what may seem to be an absence of goal-directed action can, by changing the frame of reference, be interpreted as serving a purpose, even without anything resembling a circumscribed goal or deliberation. Changing the frame again, we hit on the idea that 2] motives can be effectively concealed by erratic behavior.

I suppose that 1] is more or less the idea of biological evolution. But there is a supernatural fly in the ointment. Its buzz is audible in 2] and the words of P.T. Barnum. who supposedly described the secret of his success thus: "Keep'em guessing".

Conclusio: even though we free our minds from the notions of up-front determinism and progress, we are still at the mercy of crafty ephemera. Walk softly, and hedge your bets. The meek will inherit the earth because they play their cards close to their chests.


AJP Crown said...

When I open the window, they fly out.

Stuart said...

That's odd. When I open the window, more stream in. They may be hungry for attention. After all, how often do flies get blogged about ? Your version seems to be that if you ignore them, they will vanish like bad dreams. But you have attractive goats outside, while I have only a hot street.

AJP Crown said...

Well, first they stream in, but then they fly out. It's like at a concert.