Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How can it be so beautiful?

Over at Neurophilosophy, there is an image of the protein that causes Alzheimer's. How dare something so devastating be so beautiful?


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Karyn.

"How can it be so beautiful?"

I empathise with your reaction here. Life is, undoubtedly, a beautiful thing. Protein is the fundamental molecule of life.

Some of the deadliest virus form beautiful crystals. Central to the virus is a protein molecule.

The wildest and most vicious of the cat family are amongst the most beautiful creatures on this earth. They made almost entirely of cells that have the protein at the centre of their functionality.

I have a beautiful daughter, Hannah. Sho too is made almost entirely of cells that have the protein molecule at their centres.

Hannah was born under Cancer. I am constantly reminded of this for the pottery mug she so cherishes has the sign of Cancer emblazoned on its side. Hannah loves the symbolism.

Yet her grandfather (my father) and my grandmother both died of cancer, a disease that is caused by a mutant protein molecule that happens to locate within a cell that propagates malignant cellular reproduction.

Hannah's grandmother lingers on in a nursing home. She is 85 and suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

I'm not religious, yet I rationalise the beauty of all this:

Life and death are actually synonymous in the whole cycle of events leading to us being here on earth. I believe human evolution has brought to us to view beauty, often with a sweet poignancy that is painful.

The emotions felt in experiencing true beauty are often poignant, evidenced by tears that are brought to the eyes of many beholders.

The sweetness of that poignancy is also felt in sorrow, when mourning the passing of a cherished friend or loved one. It bring tears to the eyes of the mourner.

The greatest human celebrations are made at times of birth, marriage and death.

Perhaps the beauty you see in this rendition of a protein molecule is part of the evolution that has made us respect life and death and see them with reactions that are not dissimilar.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Anonymous said...

@Ken Interesting perspective. Especially since you mention the cat family. Having grown up in Africa, I have never had a problem with the predator/prey relationship. I have no problem seeing the predatory cat as beautiful, nor have I considered this to be at odds with the fact that it hunts and kills - after all, it has to eat.

I suppose I have never looked at a cancer cell, or the Alzheimer's protein in the same way. I have not regarded them as living entities following an instinctive path to survival.

I can't see that changing in the near future either, I'm afraid.

Your daughter is indeed beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Looks can be deceptive Karyn. Lovely blogs all. I've been kinda busy but loving them all specially the flower one. I go for nature walks with kids and try to remember the botanical names. Hibiscus is my favirite too. I have seen a pale peach hibiscus with thick whorls. The Kevin stip is great. Know what, I a kinda learning ertical thinking by force I go to Donald Taylor's site as he is an absolute vertical thinker. To know, what it is to think vertically. Really we gain so much hope I am able to dd to others as I gain so much from others. Regards and hugs.