Creating Self in an Infectious World
Publication Year: 2013
“Self” has many definitions. Science has demonstrated that 90 percent of the cells in our bodies are bacteria—we are in many respects more non-self than self. In Lousy Sex, Callahan considers this microbio-neuro perspective on human identity together with the soulful, social perception of self, drawing on both art and science to fully illuminate this relationship.
In his stories about where we came from and who we are, Callahan uses autobiographical episodes to illustrate his scientific points. Through stories about the sex lives of wood lice, the biological advantages of eating dirt, the question of immortality, the relationship between syphilis and the musical genius of Beethoven, and more, this book creates another way, a chimeric way, of seeing ourselves. The general reader with an interest in science will find Lousy Sex fascinating.
Published by: University Press of Colorado
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...a different version of âfirst self â appeared in Emerging Infectious Diseases 1 (2005). different versions of âLayers of self,â âdreams of the Blind,â and âThe Mysterious visions of Jean-Baptiste Pierre antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarckâ appeared in turnrow maga-zine under the titles, respectively, âJust the two of usâ (2 ), ...
Prologue: Leonardo’s Dream
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He certainly hadnât planned to spend his morning wandering around looking for inspirations, as though they might be startled from the shadows like mice. He kicked at a stone and sent it flying across the via Mercanti. as he walked into Milanoâs great piazza, pewter-colored clouds rolled in from the mountains to the north and blocked the sun. ...
Origins: Where “I” Comes From
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Like the fossilized tooth of megazostrodon, beneath the enameled sur-face of the word âIâ lies one of the great stories of our pastâthe origins of selves. Surely there was a time without selves. How and why did âIâ evolve from not-âIâ? What did the first âIâ look like? Like the lizard brain, underneath the layers of more sophisticated and more civilized ...
1. First Self
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...are selves. There was a time, millions (or billions) of years ago, when there was noneâat least none on this planet. So there has to beâas a matter of logicâa true story to be told about how there Slowly, purposefully, my mother unbuttons her blouse. The blouse is blue with small white flowers, and the tail is tucked firmly into the elas-...
2. Layers of Self
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...nearly a full year before a human infant realizes it is an entity dis-tinct from its motherâa self-aware creature unto itself. Curiously, the final immunological separation from the mother takes place at âUnfair,â she says. âThatâs how it feels.â Her words ring with certainty.I wasnât expecting that. Sandy and I have been friends for years, but ...
3. Self in the Soil
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Iâm not one for religions or religious experiences. But there is some-thing here I cannot account forâsomething very old and very unusual. The carvings and paintings are part of it. They were surely done by human hands, but according to public documents no one remembers whose hands those were. The work is striking, especially in the apse ...
4. Gathering Our Selves
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It is snowing, perhaps, and cold, surely. The streets are nearly empty. The sparkling flakes that fill the stone crevices are radiant with candle and gaslight. In a small villa near the cityâs center, at Beatrixgasse-Ungargasse 5, a white-haired man in his fifties has just penned the final notes of what will someday be called the greatest piece of music ever ...
Middles: Childhood’s End
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Now that we, from mud and starlight and chromosomes and bacteria, have assembled rudimentary selves, where do we go from here? Only As we move from childhood toward another phase, âIâs must often adapt or disappear. The Fisher Kingâs wound, Beauty and the Beast, and perhaps all fairy tales speak of the loss of the childâs world and ...
5. The Opposite of Sex
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The simple declaration of âboyâ or âgirlâ at childbirth sets the final course for most childrenâs lives. And if you asked someone to tell you about his or her selfâor anyone elseâs self for that matterâsex always comes up near the beginning. But, in spite of what we have been told about human and animal sex, every year, ...
6. Lousy Sex
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...animals (the arthropods) sex is an even curiouser thing. For these This morning, I am escorting a wood louse out of my kitchen and onto the lawn. It is early spring. The air is warm and full of promise, and as I launch the balled-up creature lawnward, my thoughts turn to sex. Humans will use almost any excuse to think about sex. But wood lice ...
7. The Wizards of “I”
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...selves, and what we believe our selves to be capable of come to us from others. How we are treated, how we are spoken to, things we are told as truths, and whether we are loved are the bolts and rivets of the con-structed human self. Without art, science and medicine may become the wrenches and the chisels that will undo those bolts and those rivets....
8. Dreams of the Blind
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...the dark, not the sound of an elephant weeping, nor the touch of a âVictor Delgado!â a woman in a cage shouts into a tired PA system. She looks like sheâs spent the better part of her life on a barstool, smoking cigarettes, drinking watered gin, and waiting on her next ex-husband-to-be. Hard and polished like the runners on an old sled. Iâm ...
This Is Not the End: Facing Up to Our Immortality
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Every day for billions of years, this world has tested every gene we carry. When genes failed those tests, people (or creatures that might have one day been humans) died. That makes for very powerful and very useful genesâto a point. And that point comes when we are no longer able to reproduce. When we can offer no more sperm or eggs, we have climbed ...
9. The Mysterious Visions of Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck
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Weâre seated in circled desks, so that each of us can see everyone else. We are here to discuss where selves come from. The seating arrange-ment helps to lubricate our discussions. At times, it lubricates other things as well. Janine, a dark-haired, attractive woman, has worn a dress to class today. Just now, though, she seems to have forgotten ...
10. The Rock Collector
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...stamps, loversâcollections of things we once felt we must have. But as we age, most of us find time for fewer and fewer of these things. The last of life is an exploration, an expedition in which our very selves are at risk. Now the things we choose to keep must January 16, 1912, six days before my father was born, Robert Falcon Scott ...
11. On the Lip of Immortality
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...weâve been told by teachers and preachers, even by biologists are roaming this planetâbig complex living breathing creatures not so very different from us. For the rest of us, mortality may Across the street from where I stand, four men in their late thirtiesâdressed only in diapersâcarry a coffin bearing a pregnant mannequin. ...
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Leonardo, like most of his fellow men of science, believed mind and emotions throbbed inside the human heart. Vesalius maintained that human emotions and human intellect sparked inside human brains. ined all the things they could not see or touch or hear or taste or smell Regardless, each infused human bodies with human art and instilled ...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013