Sting Operations

{I wrote this shortly after having been nearly killed by a wasp swarm attack, related below…}

Venom In, Real Philosophy Out:

The brain works under different laws, according to circumstances. If one lives only behind a desk, all the law a mind will know will be the law of the desk. To see how the mind works, I recommend wasp swarm attack. Painful, costly, scary? Yes. All enlightenment costs, and the more the enlightenment, the greater the cost.

Want To Change Perspective ("Theory")? Try this 40 times. Venom In, Real Philosophy Out

Want To Change Perspective (“Theory”)? Try this 40 times. Venom In, Real Philosophy Out

[Yellow Jacket Sting; in North America, They Make Ground Nests. And Defend Them With Lots Of Enthusiasm.]

Sting operations are a common tactic of law enforcement in the USA: a police organization sets-up a criminal organization, and invites befuddled citizens of dubious morality to participate. When they do, they may get arrested, and justice may, or may not, be done. OK, right, in the latest official version, police taking part in a sting are just suppose to observe, not instigate. But for being accepted as observers, they have to partake, to some extent. A famous case, not in the USA, was Hitler who was dispatched to spy on what would became the Nazi Party…

There is always an unreal character to sociology in the USA, and the regimes where the established order cross lines they shouldn’t cross.

That unreal character, for example officialdom engaging in crime, supposedly to extirpate it, by itself is a manipulation, as it habituates the population to lose track of reality: one learns to feel that police which does crimes to find crimes is just, and… even worse, smart. Crime becomes morality: the police does it! A surprise! The ensuing lack of respect for the police is no problem, as it was historically enough for police to pull out its guns, and start shooting, re-establishing an even more fearful form of respect (what the powers that be were looking for). Respect from defiant violence… Another surprise!

Stuff happens. Stuff happens which nobody predicted. I walk in a forest, everything is fine. Two seconds later; total disaster. When one looks at World War One, scholars tend to say that Europe was a powder keg, ready to blow, especially Germany, from hysterical militarism. But the truth is even more surprising. They do not know, or understand, or affect not to know, the details, where the devil lurks. Indeed, in the end, nasty, venomous stuff happened in the minds of mostly two individuals: the Kaiser, and Chief of Prussian Army Staff, general Von Molkte (with a little help from USA Colonel House, the devil’s crucial assistant).

So Secretary of State Kerry was biking in France, fell, and broke his femur. Surprise! This is not going to make it easier for Iran, a theocratic republic of god fanatics. Obama absolutely wanted a deal with Iran. Sometimes an occasion is missed, and does not come back. Stuff happens, by surprise, and it stings.

Moreover, under its placid appearance, the world today is much more a powder keg than Europe was in 1914. A surprise could happen at any moment. The difference, so far, is  that there is no plutocratic conspiracy determined to have war, as the top Prussian leaders were in 1914 (or Bush and his goons were in 2003).

Catastrophic calculus say that whatever terrible which could happen, will happen. Nowadays this means fanatics such as ISIL/Daesh getting control of nuclear weapons (say in Pakistan), or North Korea nuking the USA (just because it can, and threatening to do that is better for Kim than being eaten alive by dogs, like his uncle), or China going to war in the South China Sea (just because it can).

Only now is the USA waking up to the latter possibility. Seriously late.

I am a mountain runner. One would guess I am ready for an eventualities. But I am not, because there are no solutions to some of the dangers. What to do in the case of attack by venomous creature? I have thought about that one a lot, and have no answer… Aside from killing venomous snakes with an aggressive attitude; the ones with a good attitude, I let go.

Once in Colorado, jogging on a flat dirt road, I was attacked by bees. I ran as fast as I could, leaving the noxious critters behind, and got away with a dozen stings. Manageable, at least for me.

I got less lucky this time. Amusingly, for someone who does not believe in them, there was a warning from the gods. I had a shoelace to tighten up. While I prepared to sit on sequoia root, I noticed bees, real brown bees, coming out in a hurry from a hole, just next to where I wanted to settle. I quickly retreated, images of Africanized bees in my head. The bees were alarmed, and alarming, but not nasty. No sting. That was good because there was a bit of dangerous, exposed rock and tree climbing, in the next thirty feet.

I went on up a steep and messy slope I am familiar with, loaded with debris, branches, leaves, among the giant sequoias. Suddenly I heard a high pitch whistle sound, and within a second, felt the stings, and heard the buzzing. Stings everywhere! Furious buzzing all over.

All of my brain instantaneously became one action machine. The first stings had been painful, the next ones became just slapping targets. Super-human power was mustered to run up and away.

Philosophers sitting behind their desks love to tell us what consciousness is, and what not. They talk, they talk, from behind their desks, enclosed in their little minds. However, as I have tried to explain, the brain works according to different laws. Different neurohormones, different laws, different brains.

The law sitting at a desk has nothing to do with the law of a brain under deadly attack. Perceived lethality and pain provides with a different universe. This is the main reason for the allure of dangerous sports, let alone war and mayhem.

The brain, all in command, and all about command, determined the general direction of attack: left, ground level and down slope. I could not run down, which would have been faster in the beginning, because there was a cliff there. So the coldly calculating brain… my brain!… determined the way out was up and slightly right (everything else was obstructed by giant trees). Brain ordered to jump and run that way, on maximum power. The brain also determined that slapping deadly insects to death was in order (books say don’t do that, it releases pheromones but stinging also does; not running away from a swarm attack, and not slapping back, is purely behind-a-desk pontificating by complete idiots; if I had not run away, I would be dead).

After a mad charge of maybe half a minute or so, more than 500 feet (150 meters), uphill (!), most of the assailants were gone, and brain wondered who they were. I could still feel new stings, so I looked just before hitting some of them: they were clearly stripped yellow and black: wasps. The famous yellow jackets who nestle underground; I had been attacked from a ground nest once before, in parkland of Stanford University, and ran away with a few stings. I tore an elastic branch with wide leaves, and used it as an anti-wasp weapon, to threaten remaining hard core individuals (I have studied the intelligence of wasps: they are not suicidal).

A few minutes later after the life threatening attack, I was back on a normal trail, for normal people, discovering to my amazement, that I was decorated with two dozen darts with venom pockets attached. Brain decided those darts with venom pockets attached made no sense (I thought only bees lost their venom innards, now I know better, it turns out that some species of “yellow jackets” can leave their stingers behind; most of the wasps did not leave their stingers...). I used Twenty-First Century technique, grabbing my supposedly smart phone, hoping for coverage, and organizing rescue. I had been stung more than 50 times. Survival was plausibly in question, but not a question to entertain now. Now was time for decisive action.

Cell phone coverage there was, to my surprise, so I modified my trajectory into a beeline towards the closest road, 7 miles and more than two thousands feet lower, where my faithful spouse was rushing, going around the mountain, Mount Tamalpais. I followed hard single tracks, at maximum speed, which alleviated the pain (and pumped up the adrenalin, a survival trick). Brain had decided that getting to civilization before venom got to its central control system was the world’s most important thing.

So here I am, two days later, after various medical treatments, including a tetanus shot. More loaded with venom than ever.

Lessons? Stuff happens. Death also happens. If I had had a seven year old child with me, the child would have died. Any person with reduced mobility would have died. Even with my spectacularly fast egress (I can climb one mile up, in an hour!), I got stung maybe 40 times. So much about nature been good: one second before the first stings I had no idea that there was a wasp nest in the area. (And, because of the dangers experienced in the past, including grizzlies, lions, wolves, and especially degenerated scofflaw mountain bikers, I don’t wear headphones, and try to stay as aware as possible at any moment.)

Sting operations from the gods, we all have to fear. Hubris is the loss of that fear. The Greeks, rightly felt it as the greatest danger. Nevertheless, they fell into it. When they refused to unite against the looming fascist menace, in spite of philosopher Demosthenes’ strident warnings.

Our entire planet, at this point, is managed like an adventure. We may be, collectively, as clueless as I was a second before the first stings, in my latest misadventure. Like many an adventure, Human Earth could turn tragic, and very painful, all of a sudden.

Patrice Ayme’

[Even more full of venom than usual!]

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16 Responses to “Sting Operations”

  1. Paul Handover Says:

    Picking up on your last paragraph, I would say there’s no may be about our cluelessness. It’s demonstrated as a reality every single day. My post for tomorrow (2nd) over on Learning from Dogs is a great example of the real world.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Paul, and keep on enticing me to reading Learning From Dogs, which is a more integrous, and therefore deeper site, than many in academics whose heights are measured in units of haughtiness and naughtiness, rather than sincere brains honesty wondering…


  2. G1 Says:



  3. gmax Says:

    What a story! I rather stick with human fiends, than vicious insects. But I guessed you got wiser! Nature can’t be sweet talked! The truth stings!
    Glad you made it through, though! You make fun of armchair philosophers, but some have lived very long thankx to armchair philosophy


  4. Melody Ermachild Says:

    Wow! I’m glad you are okay.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Melody! I was always more afraid of venomous snakes, which sometimes don’t move out of the way (differently from lizards!). I have approached vipers within their striking distance all too many times while hiking (even jumped over a rattlesnake once on a single track trail I was running on: no time to brake!). Moreover, the occasional snake is outright aggressive (it attacks rather than flee).

      I always thought I could detect bees’ and wasps’ nests before getting in real trouble, at worst a few stings, and that has happened thrice before… But here I am three days later, still enjoying venom. Some believe wasp venom has therapeutic properties, and scorpion venom is used for detecting some brain cancer cells, during surgery…


  5. Anne X Says:

    Patrice- craaaaazy about the wasps… Love the story haha

    Hope you are all well

    Anne x


  6. Consciousness Divided | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] lightning (which I experienced too close many times) and wasps and their kinds. Two years ago, I was stung more than 40 times in a swarm attack, from a non-identified nest. I ran out… Having decided that was the best strategy (supposedly […]


  7. Those Who Don’t Meditate Don’t Creatively Think | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] A human brain is a marvellous thing. Pain is generally experienced only when it’s profitable to do so, in light of the overwhelming necessity of survival of self, or significant other(s). The French solo sailor Alain Colas once calmly operated his giant sailboat with a nearly sectioned foot. He didn’t experience disabling pain (until he was in a safe situation). I experienced several torn tendons and two fractures on May 11. After the event, I calmly jerked back a finger which was out of its articulation. I learned that in B movies, but it worked. Then I started running again, as rescue was distinctly not on the mountain. I knew the pain was manageable if I got into action answering the situation. I did the same (on the same mountain!) when I was stung by more than 40 wasps. […]


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