Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Karmic Significance of Fruit Flies

The above photo is a close up of the compound eye of a common fruit fly. Obviously, a miraculous organism. I kill the little fuckers everyday.

About three weeks ago, our house became infested. I'd walk into the kitchen and find about a hundred of them having a party, rubbling their little legs together, looking for something sweet and sticky. They'd float past my eyes and try to go up my nose. This precipitated massive killing sprees. The one good thing about them is that they're slow.

A few days ago I explored the issue with Dr. Wes of whether my murderous ways might have karmic implications, and how this might explain some of my recent difficulties. Assuming a fruit fly lives about 3 days, he said, I'd need to kill about 10,000 of them to equal a single human life.

Wes is never shy about having an opinion.

This seemed not so bad. I kill maybe 5-20 a day on average. Maybe 100 tops on a really, really big day, but that doesn't happen much anymore. We found the source last week in a maggoty pail in the corner of the laundry room, so the numbers have gone down.

10,000 seemed like a big, safe threshold. I was sure I was nowhere near 1,000. What's the life equivalent of less than a tenth of a human? A pine tree? A tomato plant? Maybe a pigeon? I don't know the answers to these questions. Then I discovered that the adult life-cycle of a fruit fly is actually around a couple of weeks.

This bothered me. It's hard to feel bad about killing something that barely exists anyway, but two weeks? Maybe, in fruit fly terms, that's a rich lifespan. Or, maybe it's worse to kill something that only lives a few days, because, like, man, that's all it's got, you know?

Fortunately, due to the new Blogger polling element, located at the top right of this page, you can help me to decide. Here's my very first poll. Please cast your vote on this important issue today.

Fruit Flies. Do they Count?

A.) Yes. All life is sacred. You're totally screwing up your karma dude.
B.) No. It's a fruit fly. Clean your floor and buy some insecticide, idiot.
C.) Undecided. The universe is vast and mysterious. I really can't deal.

The results are in! A whopping 38 of the 877 unique visitors last week weighed in on this pressing issue, and fruit flies carry no karmic weight whatsoever.


Anonymous said...

Stan said...

On one level I certainly have killed my fair share of flies, fruit and other varieties, but what a typically Western way of looking at life, to view the life span of a one life as comparable to the life span of another.

The Buddhists believe that we are all connected, and in fact no less of a luminary than Albert Einstein said that the idea that we are separate entities was an "optical delusion of consciousness", so to the perspectives of some cultures and philosophies there is little difference between killing a fly or a human being.

Are they right? Who knows, or in fact how could we know. What does seem right is to not denigrate another viewpoint because it is outside of our normal ways of thinking. The thought that a black person and a white person could share the same drinking fountain was considered ridiculous in a large part of this country not so very long ago. I'm not saying racism is akin to killing fruit flies, but that we need to always be critical of our treasured streams of thought, knowing that we have only a small piece of the puzzle at hand and ideas that we take for granted, i.e. Blacks and Whites cannot share a water source, or It's a Fruit Fly Dummy, may be viewed by future generation in a similar way. Who's to know?

Dr. Wes Browning said...

For the record, I was kidding when I suggested comparing lifespans.

Actually I'm very non-Western on this and many subjects. I believe that if you don't kill the 100 fruit flies that annoy you, you will have 1,000 fruit flies the next week annoying you. And then, if you don't kill those, you will have 10,000 fruit flies to annoy you in the next week.

Then, if you don't kill those, you will have 100,000 fruit flies to annoy you a week later.

You will be then SO annoyed, you will kill your wife, your children, your dog, your pet rabbit, and smash your TV and your computer, before taking your own life by brutal self-swatting, in what Channel 7 will call a tragedy that viewers can only avoid if they only learn the 7 signs of impending catastrophic nervous breakdown.

What we really need are spiders. What ever happened to all the spiders?