Arachne’s Legacy

Spiderweb1Earlier today, I was sat outside my back door, enjoying the unseasonally warm weather and sunshine. As ever, I was instantly captivated by the vista, from the snails crawling over the wall in front of me, to the tangle of mint and thyme sprawling at the feet of the huge rosemary bush just beyond the border of the stones, then across my garden to the sight of the giant beech tree atop the gentle hill on whose lower slopes my home lies.

I’m no wildlife photographer, so I suspect you’ll just have to take my word for it that there are three large spiders in the photo at the top of this post; one in the centre, just to the left of the beech tree on the far horizon, with two other faery shapes or wisps, one either side of the evening primrose plant to the right of the picture.

Each of these creatures waited in the centre of the large, intricate web each one had spun; immobile, but always alert to the faintest tremors of the silken threads stretched out all around them. The analogy between the creations of spiders and the world wide web is hardly a new one, but things have moved on since the early days of the internet, when we were all thrilled at being able to send and receive emails, and when this cyberworld was a place of wonder that we occasionally visited for information and for pleasure.

Spiderweb2Nowadays, though, so many of us have domains just like those of the spiders in my garden, but instead of filaments of silk, our domains are composed of Twitter feeds, Facebook, G+, Pinterest and God only knows what else, which we monitor more hungrily than any arachnid for likes, comments, links and all the other manifestations of others taking a public interest in who we are and what we do.

I’m not entirely immune to this and I wouldn’t pretend to be, but while I’m pleased to learn of visitors to this site and to see the occasional comment, follow and like, I still rely on email and the telephone to inform me of important developments relating to my work and endeavours. The little orange dot at the top right of my screen that serves to alert me to an active interest in my site has an undeniable allure, perhaps a bit like the light an angler fish dangles in front of its fearsome maw, but I resist the temptation to sit here waiting for it to light up. By way of contrast, I could sit and watch the patient spiders and their intricate silken labyrinths swaying in the gentle breeze for hours.


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?β€”

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

W. H. Davies, Leisure.

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8 Responses to Arachne’s Legacy

  1. satanicviews says:

    Dopamine, the hunting hormone, has a lot to do with the addiction in social media.

    Liked by 1 person

    • eternalidol says:

      I didn’t know about Dopamine until you mentioned it, but I’ve just looked it up and very interesting it is too, so thank you for this.

      Otherwise, I remember when I was at boarding school in the early 1970s, particularly the first two years there. Just about everyone was desperate to receive a letter in the post, regardless of who it was from, and kids were often in tears when none appeared. Despite being repeatedly told that there was no post on a Sunday, some would still hold out hope and ask the housemaster yet again, and it could be pitiful.

      The causes for this are pretty straightforward – we were young, homesick, feeling cut off from the world we’d previously known and so on, but we all grew out of it fairly quickly after the first two years. Over recent times, when I’ve cast my eye over social media, however, this desperate desire for likes, comments, links and other forms of contact and recognition seems to get worse with some people as time goes on and not just kids, either.

      As I wrote in my post, I’m not entirely immune from this, because I’m just as pleased by emails, phone calls, likes and comments as anyone else, I suppose, but if they’re not forthcoming, there are plenty of other ways for me to meaningfully occupy my time. All things considered, I should think myself lucky for this and I do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • satanicviews says:

        I like my likes and comments too πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • eternalidol says:

        Point taken – I really must get out more, if you follow me, but it’s been difficult. Your site is of enormous interest to me, as I hope to demonstrate in a post one of these days, but in the meantime, I’ll make a point of dropping in more often and if I feel I have anything remotely worthwhile to say, I’ll do my best πŸ™‚


  2. ONY says:

    Oh dear, I hate spiders, but I do agree with your sentiment ,)
    It’s so easy to get wrapped up in social media and that’s not always a good thing. Quite often you realise that the time has flown by and you haven’t really achieved anything, not even socialising. It does have its good points of course but it has to be better for the mind to take a step back every so often and re-engage in reality rather than virtual reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • eternalidol says:

      Ah, it’s a shame you don’t like them, Ony, but I understand why, while every now and again, a particularly big one unexpectedly creeping into my field of vision makes even me flinch slightly. I think it might help a bit to bear in mind that something like 99% of spiders in Britain can’t harm you, while 100% of them don’t want to, nor do they want to take on an opponent tens of thousands of times their size. I’m pretty sure they all just want to mind their own business as best they can without engaging in any way with us πŸ™‚


  3. Juris Ozols says:


    By coincidence, our local amateur theater group just completed the annual fall production which this year was “Charlotte’s Web.” It of course is from the book by E.B. White, a delightful tale, and we had a great time putting it on. I even got to play a small part in it, the “Photographer.”

    Not to spoil the plot for those who may not be familiar with the story, but Charlotte sadly succumbs in the end. However she leaves behind an egg sac which hatches 514 little spiderlings to the joy of Wilbur the Pig.

    Charlotte is of course a gracious and generous soul – except to bugs! – and it might be something to remember when we encounter other less mythical arachnid creatures.

    The photo here is pieces from our play. I would urge those who’ve not read the book to get it and if possible see the play.




    • eternalidol says:

      Thank you very much for this, Juris – I must admit I’d not heard of Charlotte’s Web before, but I’ll certainly look it up when I get a chance. Otherwise, I didn’t expect it when I wrote a few words about spiders and their webs, but judging from the stats and comments, this post certainly has ‘legs’ πŸ™‚


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