Facts of Life
Part 1 of 4

Essays and Poems on Symbiosis and Other Phenomena

for Speaking Voice and Complementary Music


Facts of Life was first presented at the Axiom Gallery in Cambridge, September, 2006. Each of the four sections of text was preceded by an original electronic recording. A live musical piece, 12 Haiku for Speaking Voice and Violin was performed following the last text.

The text may be used in performance in a similar way, or with live music played between the four sections of the text, including at the beginning and end.

The texts inhabit both the short essay and classical poetic forms. Poems range from a Babylonian Acrostic, Greek Ode, Epistle, and Pantoun, to a British Limerick, Free Verse, and a 20th century Clarihew. Two Sonnets employ a modern style of 14 lines, unrhymed.

The content of the poems and essays are directly or indirectly related to the subject of evolution, specifically to the process of symbiosis. Symbiosis refers to long-term biological and cultural partnerships that have evolved from distinctly different origins.

-J. H.




Symbiosis, first defined by botanist Anton de Bary in 1878, typically refers to a
long-term association between two or more species.
And the intimacy between the organisms varies depending on the association.

Symbiotic associations are varied, and may include, but are not limited to, interactions
where one organism benefits, but not the other, where neither organism benefits, where both organisms benefit.

Intimate partnerships involve a physical fusing together of two or more different
organisms, with each providing a survival benefit to the other. This may or may not involve the merging of their genomes, known as symbiogenesis.
The first organisms were simple systems: bacteria and viruses.
Biologist Lynn Margulis has demonstrated
that under extreme environmental stress,
one type of bacteria would invade another.
Sometimes the invader would fail to kill the host.
Likewise the host would be unable to repel the invader.
Overnight, rather than gradually, a new kind of relationship was formed;
an organism would emerge more complex than either of the two alone,
better able to compete, survive, and reproduce.

In addition, external relationships have evolved between species,
such as flowering plants and insects, or trees and fungi.
Flowering plants, which are immobile, and free-flying insects
are less intimate partners.
They share a deep behavioral connection.
For example, flowers attract bees and supply them with nectar.
The bees, in turn, brush up against the plant’s sticky pollen
spreading it from flower to flower,
which insures the reproduction of more plants.
Symbiosis is a continually evolving biological process
that is responsible for increasingly complex morphology
throughout nature.


Pastoral (Greek)


Several times in Earth’s history,
social animals have domesticated their food sources.
Agriculture has evolved in termites, ants, and people.*

11 thousand years ago, humans domesticated plants and animals
on a large scale,
And, at the same time, became domesticated.
Agriculture was born.
And, because a few could feed many, cities and towns emerged,
spawning elaborate systems of commerce and government.

Humans have evolved codependent relations with domesticated
plants and animals that have resulted in benefits to each.
For centuries, genetic engineering has been practiced
by means of animal husbandry and seed manipulation.
Plants and animals have been artificially selected by humans
for their usefulness as food products, medicines,
and for their aesthetic value.
At the same time, humans have been able to insure the long-term survival
of a variety of flowering plants, crops, and livestock.



A Study of Romantic Love

Anthropologist Helen Fisher*
describes romance
as a combination of sex,
romantic love, and attachment,
working together,
as well as separately.
Sex has evolved a chemical means of
providing a wide range of possible mates,
romantic love, of focusing on a single individual,
and attachment for long-term bonding and child rearing.
Taken together,
these essential traits form a basis for mutual attraction,
pair bonding, reproductive success,
and parental investment. 

*  Helen Fisher Why We Love (2005)




Historically, communities throughout the world are settled, fought over and
resettled in a continual pattern of coercion, interdependence,
and finally cooperation.
This long-term pattern has been repeated many times throughout the history of

In a world with the capacity to reflect upon itself,
perhaps we may learn to avoid repeatable and repeated offenses.

In recent centuries, people, nations have begun to confederate
under a sovereign will based on interactive principles of shared community, combined with individual freedoms.

Within a few generations, the USA, the European Union, the African Union,
the Arab League, have all begun to take the shape of distributed environments.
Imagine unions in South America, Mexico, theMiddle-east, and Asia
sharing resources through a unified distribution of smaller states or countries.


Limerick (14th century English)

Two Limericks on Passion, Violence, and Self-reprimand in Extreme Climates


There once was a girl from Madrid
Who inspired the famous El Cid.
She gave him her heart
Which he foolishly scarred,
So she shot him straight through the head.


There was a young man from Quebec
Who hanged himself by the neck.
His wife, he abhorred,
plus he was so bored
that his life was a miserable wreck.