“Parasitic” by Hemlock; March 2024

For a lot of my life, I’ve had a pretty strong obsession with parasites. It wasn’t very impactful before I entered the field of biology, but now it’s come to be one of the things I might expend my studies on, and specialize in. No promises, but a possible reality I could step into.

It’s funny, to be obsessed with parasites as a cuckoo. When I say I love cuckoos, in real life, a lot of people first assume that I adore cuckoos because they are nest parasites, as I tend to collect affinities for parasitic animals (botflies, solitary bee nest parasities, Meloe beetles, parasitoid wasps, inquiline ants… the list goes on, even including things like crustaceans, annelids, although admittedly few non animal organisms like viruses and bacteria, due to not knowing them as much). Quite ironic that i’m a kind of cuckoo with no recorded behavior of nest parasitism ! I do also love the cuckoos we have here, in europe, but it feels quite a lot more subdued compared to the sheer strength of my tie with roadrunners.

But there’s also a weird sort of nonhuman connection with parasites that I have. I don’t really care to label it as anything else than perhaps a heart-type, but a lot of characters I make have traits of parasites. Similarly, in power-fantasies, I often take the traits of a parasitoid organism with a haplodiploid cycle : an entirely parasitic first cycle, simplified worm organism living in the bodies of hosts without necessarily harming them much, that usually simply reproduce into a new cycle of that worm cast. But sometimes, due to no individual of that second, diploid cast being detected in the location, a switch to reproduction leading to that second cast. Second cast that is parasitoid, one host one grown individual that kills it to get out. I can’t say why this cycle brings me comfort, it’s simply something I think about a lot, but it’s definitely something I create on purpose, lovingly deciding each parts of the cycle.

However, I can’t shake the feeling that, if I was a parasite, I would be a filarial worm, a type of roundworm known in human for river blindness, for exemple. Amusing that this type of parasite particularly affects birds.

I can’t really tell why I feel that. It’s just as natural as saying I have a beak, feathers, and a long tail. If I was a worm, I’d be that. I’m not that currently, I can’t tell if I’ve been that before, but I’d be that.

I’ve tried to imagine what it’d be to be a parasitic roundworm. Unlike insects, from which I get cameo shifts that are comprehensible if a bit alien, worms have brought an almost nothing. The flower crab spider is mechanical and patient, more akin to a bear trap than an animal in some ways. Only moving with purpose, almost melting with the background even in mind power. Not entirely mechanical : still fear of things bigger than it eating it, still need to find another to produce more of itself.

The roundworm is warmth. Not a lot more. Barebone animality. A roundworm is not evil, does not take down it’s host with purpose. It swarms with similar body colliding writhing into each other into pleasant warmth that is not a being more than a world. It does not need to fear : there is nothing to flee, and the world itself is what both nourishes and perhaps kills you. You have not much to say about either of these states. A lot of roundworm migrate, but I seem to only ever get glimpses of the final state, of this strange being-unbeing. It’s pleasant, if a little jarring compared to current occupations. It’s not a cameo shift I tend to notice unless I really meditate into it. The only real effect it has on me, when not paying attention, is that strange warmth.

But that’s a human brain imagining a worm brain. I’ll never truly know what it’s like, hell I do not know enough about roundworms to even fully understand how they work at all. Still, an amusing cameo to have experienced.