Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changing the Earth

“A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.” –from "Hamlet," William Shakespeare
Is it any wonder that we feel squeamish about worms? Amy Stewart uses this quote in her book "The Earth Moved" to illustrate our association of earthworms with death and decay, but also the transformative power of earthworms. Through the action of earthworms, "...a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar," as Hamlet says. Earthworms are great levelers; we all become food for them no matter who we are.

I like to think of Stewart's book as reconditioning our thoughts about earthworms--like my uttering "Nice worm!" when I see a particularly long one in my garden. Here's another passage by Stewart that I like; it makes me imagine that writing a blog is a little like the action of earthworms:
"Worms are ruminators; they sift through whatever surrounds them, turn it over, explore it, move through it. They are deliberate creatures, in no great hurry, but always in motion, twisting and burrowing, shrinking and contracting, and eating. They spend their lives in a kind of active mediation, working through the detritus in which they live, the bits of leaves and grass and particles of soil. For a being with such a simple brain, a worm seems, in this way, almost thoughtful."

If earthworms can change the earth through consuming what's around them, maybe all the thousands (millions) of blogs digesting our world can do the same. Each blog is like one earthworm's casting (I guess that would make me an earthworm). And blogs are levelers, too; it doesn't take much to create one. Taken all together the blogs enrich and nourish our intellectual life and create a fertile ground in which people can connect and ideas can flourish. Have I beaten this metaphor into the ground?

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