Pacemaker In The Myth Of The Ant Queen

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In his essay "The Myth of the Ant Queen," Steven Johnson seemingly disregards the notion of pacemaker, labeling it as fake and a myth. Johnson debunks the idea of a top down leadership and sheds light on the emergence of the self-organizing systems in our society. Johnson's way of perceiving "pacemaker" seems too narrow, as he mentions that a pacemaker is a central authority figure. Although Johnson's perception is correct to some extent, in a broader sense, not only is it a authoritative figure but also it is also there to ensure a sense of positivity within us, regardless of whether being found at the top or bottom. However, through Oliver Sacks' essay "The Mind's Eye," we are able to complicate the argument presented by Johnson, as Sacks'…show more content…
Johnson's perception of pacemaker seems quite misleading, and gives us a sense as to he himself is not sure what exactly is a pacemaker. As he states "their genes instruct them to protect their mother, the same way their genes instruct them to forage for food"(Johnson,194). In this sense, couldn't genes be termed as pacemakers too as they are "instructing" the ants to protect their mother, and in reality, that really is what a pacemaker is, or in other words a central authority figure does, give instructions. Doesn't that evidently go against what he actually thinks of a pacemaker? To further complicate Johnson's perception, Sacks states "Yet the brain remains capable of making radical shifts in response to sensory deprivation"(Sacks,331). Making radical shifts gives us an indication that the brain could be termed as a pacemaker within us, as it controls what we do. Furthermore, genes and the brain have quite similar functions to carry out, which is giving out instructions to us, so in that regard both could be termed as pacemakers. The term pacemaker is indeed a very complex term and not as simple as it…show more content…
In his essay, Johnson mentions that the city of Manchester did not just come up like that, but rather became a reality through a gradual process consisting of several factors. After the building of Manchester, Johnson asserts "how difficult it is to think in models of self-organization, to imagine a world without pacemakers"(Johnson,197). Without self-organization and pacemaker, Manchester would not have been able to be built. Self-organization refers to a collective effort , which emerges from structural relationships and a border that delimits it from its environment. To somewhat contradiction and agreement, Sacks states "some areas of the visual cortex may be reallocated and used to process sound and touch"(Sacks,330). In contrast to Johnson, it is clear that the pacemaker, our brain, allows the visual cortex to reallocate to heighten other senses, which allows the blind people to adjust their new way of life. However, to some extent, Sacks statement bolsters Johnson's case that self-organizing system is a very complex system, just like the complex structure of our brain, which acts as a pacemaker for us. The complexity of a structure is indeed dependent on how efficiently each component is able to carry out its functions, and structures which are deemed complex have different components which it is dependent upon to perform its functions. The idea of pacemaker itself cannot be disregarded in the making of
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