Upstairs, downstairs? Round and round in circles?
Oh the monstrous inconsistencies of naming! Imagine what Linnaeus faced when he decided to clean up the mess before him! I do enjoy taxonomy; I loved cladistics... I toyed with the idea of becoming a taxonomist and went as far as studying latin for a year to facilitate that. But really, enough mud didn't stick (the teaching philosophy of my latin professor!) and I had become enchanted with geography - the geography of plants, humans, earth, knowledge, experience, perception. Phenomenology. Basically, The Nature of Things. What is real?
A name is a powerful thing because it allows us to share a map. It allows us to navigate.
Change a name, do you change the terrain?
Where am I going? I'm exploring the relationships between plants and all those other features of an idiosyncratic mental garden that have captivated me. Minds are such peculiar things. Do you know that it is now possible to generate maps of neural connections? They're called connectomes. How awesome is that?
I can't generate a literal connectome, but maybe I'm trying to uncover a phylomemetic map of a mind... mine, because, well, I just haven't managed to keep anyone elses long enough in captivity to study! Ok... it's debatable as to whether I have kept mine. Ok, I haven't. It's feral. But it visits me sometimes. When it's cold out.
How can something as fascinating as phylogenetic research lead to so much Disturbance in the Force of Names? Because our prior knowledge was incomplete. What was in the Liliaceae last week, is somewhere else today. (Alas, Gloriosa, where art thee?) And over time as our understanding grows, we adjust our pictures of the world. But steps in phylogenetic knowledge can be jumps. We lose frames and suddenly lurch around where we expected a friend to be, only to find they have been moved way out on some other limb. Isn't it funny when the need to understand the true nature of relationships between taxa clashes up against the need for continuity? If it really comes down to it though, I think that gaining a true picture of the tree of life is more enchanting to me. It's a moving world.
Common names though represent something other than relationships between plants. They represent generations of relationships between human cultures and plants. They are names with fascinating stories. I'd like to explore those too.
I have a feeling I haven't made much sense, but that's me. I'm hoping to develop the discipline to write and post pictures regularly, so I must let things go without the multiple checks and rechecks. Ha, anxiety, take that!
Nerines without a name, but just as sweet.
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