[this text is in process of assembly l.e. 04.08.09]

Mimicry and Terrain Predators

Take a garden of children of any size. Add something that mimics children while exponentially acquiring the survival and connectivity assets formerly required by those children. Within an short time, the entirety of their organismal and cognitive terrain will be compromised. Shortly thereafter the remaining biological terrains will be reduced to broken copies of dead transports.

The result is an exploding game of diversity-erasure. Existing ecologies, (be they emotional, physical, or relational) suffer the convulsive extinctions of anciently conserved relational and co-operative symmetry in favor of the reproduction of mimetic invaders. ’Structure crushes content’ becomes first the trend, then the rule, then the outcome. We may observe that structure is aggressive-divisive, and content is passive-unitive.

The precedence of the mimetic elements begins at a crawl but gains velocity, control and significance of effect in scalar leaps of soon-to-be-absurd amplitude. The schema of outcomes follows our statistical models of the kinetics of death as they relate to sterilization in cellular biology.


Mimicry and emulation are emergent behavioral characteristics of living systems in general, and in the animalian-scale of biological reality they exist in truly infinite form, purpose, and expression. These terms can be deployed deceptively because they can be fairly easily expanded to point toward ‘everything at once’, and I suggest that this feature is a clue that they are not merely metaphors, but perhaps necessary precursors to the formation of any metaphor or concept at all.

In the inward gardens of imaginal relation, knowledge and human communication there exist something analagous to organisms, except they are modes of activating human cognition. These ‘processes’ utilize mimicry in ways that would make what we observe in the physical world of organisms appear to be extremely primitive in comparison. Because we cannot easily or clearly examine the terrains within ourselves and our communities where these invisible ‘animals’ are evolving, we have no language to discuss this adequately. In the past 25 years, some beginnings have been forged — such as the somewhat newly-established explorations of terrain related to mimetics.

Examples of imicry and emulation are apparent at every scale and in every terrain of the biosphere’s tree of Life. Our own representational sentience may well exist primarily due to the evolution in our species of new ways to express the biocognitive drive to emulate.

Terrain predators, especially those utilizing mimetic (masquerading) strategies are a fact of organismal reality. We would not desire to eradicate terrain predators from a biosphere — or even decide they are ‘bad’. What we might more profitably pursue are new ways of deeply understanding the circumstances and politics of mimicry in general. We need to understand, for example, what the triggers and sources of mimetic predation are. But in the human cogniscium there arise virulent misconceptions which lead us continuously into catastrophic activity — at this late stage of the human experiment, the costs of such activity can no longer be reasonably born — the survival of many species, including our own, is on the table now.

Perhaps more serious than any other matter facing our species is a single threat for which we have as yet no common name: it is the threat of terrain predators in the garden of human sentience. It is a fairly simple matter to demonstrate how nearly the entire encyclopedia of atrocity our species has begotten and visited upon each other could proceed from little more than a misapprehension of a feature of knowledge. It is my hope to briefly sketch this feature, and thus render it visible, and accessible to our concerted attention.


I believe that a sort of accident left us permanently vulnerable to a side-effect of the toys we employed during our tumultuous rise to the representational cognition we experience as human awareness. The particular vector has to do with mimicry, and particularly with the establishment of hierarchies of fictional credentialing and sovereignty.

The problems we’re facing in our lives, families, cultures and communities have a lot to do with the desire of something like a predator for absolute domination over a particular set of evolutionary terrains and transports: those that most fundamentally serve our ability to achieve and experience human unity, as well as unity with our counterparts of many scales in and around the living world we inhabit. It’s not actually a real predator, but effectively it’s more real than any predator possibly could be. If we are empowered to agree, this clear understanding comprises an active key to resolution.

This ‘predator’ is really a ‘very shiny’ broken aspect of something we’d have never believed ourselves to possess... a sentient connectivity so beyond our modern comprehension that no picture or story could emit even a photon of the star there comprised...


cowBirds and Natives...

The Brown-Headed cowbird, Molothrus ater was my first direct encounter with terrain-predation in a vehicle so overt that I wasn’t able to overlook its significance as I had during other encounters. Observing the research of a documentary filmmaker, I watched a bizarre tableau unfold before my eyes in which a single species of bird was essentially attacking and occupying the crucial reproductive terrain of other smaller bird species — songbirds. It accomplished this feat with a simple application of mimicry that leads to extremely complex results.

These birds attack the nesting-resource of songbird couples (the single and only intimately held resource of any bird pair, or bird species) by laying their eggs amongst the natives. From what I understood, 1 cowbird egg per nest was the common strategy adopted by the invaders.

So in a clutch of 2 to 5 eggs, one gigantic egg would dominate. The birds afflicted do not appear to notice — or at least not in any way that allows them to act in their own interest. Some few species are actually able to fend off the threat in various ways.

Other species, however, in some studies and locations, were found to be 80-90% afflicted with cowbird nest-predation. In a short number of mating seasons, that’s equivalent with extinction.


Compared to their chosen prey-species, the cowbirds are robust giants. This allows them to option every possible resource in their active quest for greater reproductive terrain dominion. The interloper and its children are exceptionally large in comparison with the adults and hatchlings in the nests they invade. When the virile young cowbirds hatch, they often manage to kick native hatchlings out of the nest. This is only a secondary strategy however, because the cowbird chick is commonly 3-10 times the size of its victim-siblings.

Often the single cowbird chick exceeds the mass of the entire family of birds it has compromised, and thus it easily manages to gain most or all of the feeding-attention from the afflicted nesting pair — exhausting them with its ever-increasing and vastly oversized (at the scale of the songbirds) appetite.

In many cases some or all of the native hatchlings, literally buried beneath the mass of the invader-sibling, either suffocate or starve.

There is simply no way for them to reach 6 times their body-length — past the invasive mimic — to get food or attention from their parents.

The common outcome is that all the natives in the nest perish, and the cowbird rises from small pile of dead chicks, to mate, and dramatically expand the process.


Other outcomes do sometimes obtain. Some nestlings are successful, in spite of the invasion. Some species or individual pairs may re-nest. Since at least the late 1980’s, there have been some attempts at lethal intervention by ‘conservation interests’ with varying degrees of ‘success’. But the problem doesn’t start with cowbirds. The cowbirds are not naturally this prevalent or predatory. The real problem starts somewhere in human activity...probably with the extermination of the buffalo who were the chosen symbionts of these birds, and the radical disruptive alteration of very fabric of the animalian planet.

For the songbirds, the source of the problem is of little consequence. Some of the afflicted species could actually face extinction from this single threat alone. The loss of the songbird chicks is of no minor consequence. Certainly the pain and effort endured by the afflicted mating pairs will encumber them with many vectors of harm that will result in local and distributed attrition as well as a rather ugly moment-to-moment struggle, where their energy is invested in total opposition to their organismal goals.

This is a cruel reward from any perspective, but at the end of the season — instead of a vast cornucopia of new songbird mating-hopefuls... very few will emerge from the vast effort and struggle of the afflicted pairs and their nests. What will emerge instead is a huge population of thriving cowbirds — which soon must find new nests to invade and dominate.

In even a very small sample of mating seasons the result is a deadly loss in the diversity of the species of birds — a loss that can and in some dimensions does proceed exponentially through phases that ever-more explosively result in the extermination of anciently conserved bio-relation and biocognitive diversity.

But perhaps a worse result is more obvious: the terrain of the nest has been lost in a storm of conquest. The terrain which is the primal goal of all of avian activity is become a deadly battleground. With this upheaval the ‘meaning’ of ‘child’ has utterly changed. The outcomes of the normal actions of parents and children are co-opted against that which they together strive for, and the masquerading beneficiary gains explosive new options of dominance, terrain control, transports of reproduction, and general sovereignty.

In other words, the predator wins. Fast. Moreover, it instantly changes every significant activity, relationship and outcome in those creatures it afflicts — such that their own activity magnifies the prowess, purpose, and power of the predator — in every possible dimension.


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