What is life? The great 19th-century French physiologist Claude Bernard famously (and paradoxically) said “Life is death.” He seems to have meant more or less what Thomas said, that everything alive is in trade for something that dies. An even earlier French physiologist, Marie Francois Xavier Bichat, sometimes called the father of modern pathology and histology, gave it a different spin: “Life is the totality of the death-resisting functions.”
Two centuries have passed since Bichat’s death at age thirty-one, and we are not a lot closer to understanding what life is. The mechanics of the “death-resisting functions” have been marvelously explicated, but the mystery remains. The biologist Lynn Margulis, with her son Dorian Sagan, wrote a big, beautiful book called “What Is Life?” Each chapter ends with the poser “So what is life?”, recapitulating the chapter. We get some lovely science, and some lovely writing, but the enigma remains, unless their “Life is evolutionary exuberance” satisfies. Whatever life is, we recognize it most forcefully in its absence, as here on the sidewalk. And in its absence, we rejoice that, for the moment at least, our own bodies swell with the exuberance that animates the Earth.”
BIN NOTE: If by now you haven’t figured out that Facebook and Google are in cahoots with the corrupt government, then I feel for you, but for those who are well aware of the issues it’s high time you switched over to Seen.life. It is a website that is similar to Facebook but without all the censorship.