Merry Collectivist Christmas to Russian Orthodox readers

Last month we visited the Morikami Museum, a building owned by Palm Beach County, notable for its constant efforts to force schoolchildren to wear masks, contrary to orders from the governor, rulings by judges, and an actual law passed by the Florida Legislature. The latest exhibit of works by Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917-2002) contains one that is sure to warm the hearts of readers who grew up under the Soviet system:

Ants are exemplars of cooperative living. Although in isolated numbers they act independently, once they reach a critical mass, they begin to behave as one organism. They organize according to distinct functions and coordinate in ways that support the group. One might call cooperating for the good of the whole community ‘antropy.’ Human ways driven by notions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ are manifestly maladaptive. Perhaps humans will also reach ‘antropy’ and begin to move as one organism that acts to sustain the whole.

I thought that the aspiration for us all to become ants and serve the collective would be a heart-warming message for those celebrating Russian Orthodox Christmas today.

[Speaking of serving the collective, what was the mask situation in the museum? The associated gardens are mask-free, as you might expect in Florida. The museum itself has signs demanding that people wear masks indoors. This demand is ignored by all children, 75 percent of visiting adults, and 30 percent of those working on site.]

A few bonus photos of the gardens:

How does it compare to gardens in Japan? The scale is much larger, though it is broken up into sections, each of which may contain a small garden in a style from a particular period in Japanese history. The vast pond contains alligators, which remarkably have not managed to eat the koi. The buildings and other structures are much newer than anything you’d see in a tourist garden in Japan.

If you choose to visit the garden, I recommend stopping at Wakodahatchee Wetlands to see native birds and alligators and also the nearby Green Cay Wetlands. Finally, delight the kids with a trip to K&L 98 HotPot, a restaurant that combines individual at-table cooking with a conveyor belt of stuff you can put in the pot. Not precisely Japanese, of course, but the Japanese copied a lot of stuff from China!

Here are a few images from Wakodahatchee (iPhone and Canon R5, 800/11 lens):

5 thoughts on “Merry Collectivist Christmas to Russian Orthodox readers

  1. Thank you for the beautiful pictures! — The ant glorification painting is too good to pass on. Here’s a biologist on actual ant behavior:

    “The population size at which both ant and human societies shift from low-risk raids and ritualized fights to full-bore warfare in my estimation is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 to a few tens of thousands.”

    “In most cases, aggression reaches epic levels in societies of hundreds of thousands or more. The wars between colonies of the Argentine ant, an invasive species that controls entire regions across southern California and other parts of the world, feature millions of casualties each week along borderlines that extend for miles near San Diego. Lacking guns and bombs, the ants use sheer numbers and muscle power to overwhelm their rivals, gathering around each enemy and pulling it apart.”

    • Those sound like mostly peaceful migrations to me, not an “invasion” by an “invasive species”!

    • I also love how they replace a scientific term that has a definite, rigorous meaning in thermodynamics with a catchy-sounding mashup neologism that means nothing. Let me guess, the person who wrote that now teaches STEM students at their local middle school, particularly boys.

  2. Christ is born! Glorify Him!
    Thank you for the Christmas greeting from this Russian orthodox reader of your blog.

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