Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Friday, December 30, 2005
 

Cuttlefish and Identity


Kudos to Robert S. for his blogging of Science Friday and Oliver Sachs. It seems we have a personal hero in common in the latter, making it all the more shocking, (shocking!), that Robert didn't mention the stunning cuttlefish fact that Sachs so casually tossed off in the course of the interview.

Sachs' claim, for which I've found no outside verification as of yet, is this. Under typical circumstances, when the cuttlefish is just hanging out, each eye is positioned well to the side, allowing for good panoramic vision. However, when the cuttlefish is on the prowl, preparing for a high-speed struggle with its prey, its eyes actually migrate to the center, thus lending the considerable power of stereoscopic vision to its hunt. I mean, wow! Stereoscopy on demand? My inordinate esteem for cuttlefish has been validated yet again.

Which brings me, inexorably, to critical theory and the construction of identity -- something of a theme for the holidays, I'm afraid. Our gracious hostess Saheli started it a few weeks ago, mentioning a quiz which declared that she "positively live[s] for theory." Sure enough, on taking the quiz myself, I too was rated a "theory slut".

Really? I haven't thought about critical theory since college, when it surrounded me rather inescapably, like a sucking bog. (My brightest remaining college association with the subject remains my roommate's unbeatable imitation of the "Deconstructionist Blonde": "I just ADORE Derrida, don't you?" she would squeal, flipping her newly-bleached hair coquettishly). Then just recently, I had lunch with an old family friend completing her Master's thesis in Design. She had somehow missed any cauterizing exposure to deconstructionism as an undergrad, but was now well within its throes, and seemed both anguished and elated by its possibilities as we discussed, oh... self-imposed identities, socially-constructed identities, the disintegration of identities... the ability to riffle through a whole rack of identities and put one on appropriate to company and occasion.

So huzzah to the cuttlefish, which molds both its form and its very vision to fit circumstance! Can we presume it does so without angst? Or do cuttlefish slump on seabed couches, morally adrift, undecided as to which view of the world is the real one, or whether the the front-eyed or side-eyed model best represents their true cephalopodan selves? Come to think of it, I do tend to be uncomfortable writing for a public audience, (and much more so in journal writing or diary-keeping), largely because I feel I will inevitably misrepresent myself, mislead the reader, and generally face all sorts of peril. Thanks, SSR, for giving me the chance to guest-blog, and hence to overcome such unseemly inhibition through the emulation of two much-admired creatures: yourself and the noble cuttlefish.

 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
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Dave Barry
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Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
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Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
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Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
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Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
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Corey Pein
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Kevin G. Powell
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Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
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Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
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Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



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Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
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Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
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Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
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Mark A. R. Kleiman
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