Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Maybe it's about the sulfur

My astrological birth sign is Taurus. According to astrology, we Taureans are sensualists. I gotta say that aspect of my personality seems to be called true by that branch of pseudo-science. Then again, who isn't a sensualist, given the option?

The difference between the sensual and the merely sensory is, I think, the same as that between sentient and sapient. A robot is sentient. It senses things. It has sensory equipment. But it doesn't, as far as I know, appreciate or dislike the sensation. It doesn't have the brains to experience the experience.

Or maybe it is transactional. The giving being as important as the getting - kind of like the difference between making a woman smile and making her laugh. Making a woman smile is a mildly pleasant experience. Making her laugh, ah, that's like giving her a mini-orgasm, which through the wonders of reciprocity and monkey-mirror neurons, is like sharing in that little mini-orgasm. Turns out the getting is multiplied by the giving. (Perhaps something the evolutionary psychologists such as Pinker can't get, or wretched greed-mongers like Ayn Rand, who spend too much time living in their heads instead of in their bodies).

Well, specifically, today I had an incredible sensual experience in the form of a shower. We've had mostly cold, dry Canada air throughout the summer. What with the windows open, and me blessed with a water heater that produces tons of scalding water, I had an incredible shower experience this morning. Yeah, I know I'm repeating myself, but it was incredible. Incredible? It was almost overwhelming.

I felt like the planet Mercury, with the sun roasting my belly to a crisp, and my ass facing the icy cold of space, slowly rotating as I could no longer bear it. Amd with my eyes closed, there was an added thrill that I cannot explain. And all the while, the steam filling the bathroom, but just for a moment as the thirsty air drew it all into itself.

It reminded me of a shower experience out in Northern California. The lifestyle of the area is such that the border between the outdoor and indoor living is porous or nonexistent. Thus, the shower was on the back porch. So, couple that kind of naughty naked experience with the dry air and near boiling water jets, and it is a wonderful form of sensuality.

But there was an element from my memory missing. The house was near the Pacific coast, and the water was well-water. The two incidents combined to add a fantastic sulfury smell which added tremendously to the experience. Oh, not the rotten egg smell of mercaptans and hydrogen sulfide, but rather the dimethyl sulphide smell of the ocean, and, uh whatever the various dissolved sulfates of the mineral water smell.

The smell, combined with the extremes of temperature, and the laving touch of water, is, wow, what can I say, makes you feel great!

So, yeah, that sulfur. Interesting, isn't it, how it can produce the wonderful salt air of the ocean, but then again also the horrendous marine stench of upturned anaerobic muck, or, beg pardon for mentioning it, but the depths of your bowels?

You know, like when it take a shit that even you can't stand? Or when you cut a fart that makes peoples wonder as to what exactly it was that died inside you? That's sulfur, baby! And it is, I think, the real stuff of life!

Alchemists, clueless as they were, seemed to have a clue at least in that department. Not that sulfur is that ineffable quintessence, but boy, try and make earthly life without it.

Got carbon? Water? Nitrogen. Oxygen. Even phosphorous? All well and good. No sulfur? Biology, terrestrial biology, is out of luck.

I am of the opinion that, with all the abiogenesis experiments that have been tried, and failing to adequately explain the origins of life, they are eventually going to have to set up the original comfort food conditions at the bottom of the sea, with those fumaroles of scalding hot water, laced to the point of supersaturation with minerals, getting pumped out into the icy cold blackness of the deepest sea water.

Kind of like my shower experience.


  1. Replies
    1. Hey, thanks, but I got to wonder, in Star Trek, the Horta was a silicon-based creature living in the high pressure-and-temperature depths of the planet. Assuming an silicon analgoue to carbon, and continuing the replacements on the periodic table (Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen Phosphorus Sulfur ==> Silicon Lithium Phosphorus Sulfur Arsenic Selenium),... would the Horta have dilithium selenide based farts? Is that where they get the dilithium crystals from? Horta poop?

    2. Shoot ... you may be onto something!

  2. Top flight indeed.

    A gradient is defined as a difference across a distance.

    Evolution is a science of connections, and connection does not stop with ties of humans to apes, apes to other animals, or animals to microbes. Life and nonlife are also connected in very fundamental ways. The organization of life is material and energetic.

    Life exists in the very real thermodynamic difference between 5800 Kelvin of incoming solar radiation and 2.7 Kelvin of outer space. It is this gradient upon which life's complexity feeds. This thermodynamic idea connects life to nonlife.

    Life is one of a class of systems that organize in response to a gradient.