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How do spiders manage all of these limbs?

How do spiders manage all of these limbs?

Speaking of horrible nightmares, here are two photographs of my Halloween costume.  I chose to dress as a redknee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) a large terrestrial spider from the Sierra Madre mountain range in Mexico.  Spiders of this species mature very slowly and become adults late, which makes it an ideal costume.  In all seriousness though, these spiders suffer from an extreme sexual dimorphism.  Males and females are of a similar size and look alike, but while female spiders can live for thirty years or longer, males are usually dead before they reach five.   Talk about scary!

I’ll write something more serious about dreams, nightmares and our ability to understand the world tomorrow.  In the mean time have some candy and enjoy the holiday with your friends and family!  Happy Halloween!

spider 4

The Dream (Henri Rousseau, 1910, oil on canvas)

The Dream (Henri Rousseau, 1910, oil on canvas)

Here is “The Dream,” the last painting completed by Henri Rousseau, the toll collector who became a self-taught artistic genius at the end of his life. The painting shows Rousseau’s mistress Yadwigha (a long-sundered lover from the painter’s youth). She is naked, reclining on a stuffed divan which magically floats through a jungle filled with lions, strange larger-than-life flowers, tropical birds, and a hidden elephant. The other main figure of the composition is the enigmatic snake charmer who reappears from other Rousseau works and seems to represent the beauty and mystery of the world.  As this dark figure plays the recorder he or she casts a mysterious enchantment upon the fulsome flora and fauna. The work seems to suggest that life is a transient dream of surpassing beauty–but a dream in which the meaning remains wild and elusive. What we think we know is ultimately subsumed by nature and the greater forces of the unknown.

Rousseau wrote a poem to explain the painting, but the poem says little which is not obvious (or which the viewer does not already intuit):

Yadwigha dans un beau rêve
S’étant endormie doucement
Entendait les sons d’une musette
Dont jouait un charmeur bien pensant.
Pendant que la lune reflète
Sur les fleuves [or fleurs], les arbres verdoyants,
Les fauves serpents prêtent l’oreille
Aux airs gais de l’instrument.

(Yadwigha in a beautiful dream
Having fallen gently to sleep
Heard the sounds of a reed instrument
Played by a well-intentioned [snake] charmer.
As the moon reflected
On the rivers [or flowers], the verdant trees,
The wild snakes lend an ear
To the joyous tunes of the instrument.)

 

 

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