Video: Chemistry

Well, my last six months are over, without the rules really having been adhered to, and I’m still alive. On the subject of Still Alive, Steam is now available on the Mac so I finally played all the way through Portal on the very Mac that sang Still Alive for my last video (the older Mac only lip-synched, although it was perfectly capable of singing.) And on the subject of my last video, that wasn’t my last video after all, because here’s a new one. It’s a ‘performance‘ of the scientific love poem Chemistry, which I wrote during Writing Cards and Letters and revised for a challenge on Fictionaut.

It’s one of those things that was meant to be simple but resulted in my buying lipstick, cotton swabs, a T-shirt, nerd specs and two fake moustaches, and breaking a wine glass which I never used anyway. I bought the moustaches in New Zealand because I couldn’t find any here. While I was there I recorded another video, which is not quite finished yet, so watch this space.

To save you a click, here are the words and study guide, mostly cut and pasted from other posts but with some irrelevant bits taken out and other bits added:

I’m really glad to meet ya,
you seem just right to me.
You’ve oestrogenic features,
and facial symmetry

and even just the scent of you’s
a whiff of possibility,
it shows without a centrifuge
our histocompatibility.

Whenever we’re carressin’,
I find you quite engrossin’,
I’m filled with vasopressin
endorphins and oxytocin.

Our closeness is the saviour
of my head and of my heart, in-
hibiting the causes
of myocardial infarction.

Your mouth is like no other,
I kept your kiss-stained cup.
Oh, be my children’s mother!
Your DNA stacks up.

Hold tight while we make lurve
and during the sweet act I’ll
be glad I had the nerve,
especially C-tactile.

What’s that, my anti-phosphodiesterase?
You say you are conscious, too?
In that case, I’ll rephrase:
I meant that I love you.

The first stanza refers to the fact that men find women more attractive when the women have higher levels of oestrogen, and also that people seem to be attracted to more symmetrical faces.

Stanza two refers to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a region of the genome which is related to the immune system. Studies have shown that people are more attracted to the smell of people whose immune systems are dissimilar to their own. My original draft of the stanza was this:

The smell of you’s a vortex
pulling in my sensibility
So varied and so complex –
Major histocompatibility

But I couldn’t resist the corny ‘scent of you’s’ ‘centrifuge’ assonance. It goes so well with with the many other corny rhymes in this poem. A centrifuge would be required to compare the MHC DNA if we couldn’t sniff it out.

The third stanza refers to various neurotransmitters and hormones secreted during physical intimacy (and other situations) which enhance bonding, trust, and all sorts of other things. I’ll let you look those up for yourself, there’s so much about them. Oxytocin, though named for its ability to speed up labour, is now nicknamed the love hormone.

The next stanza was added to get the word ‘heart’ in there for the Fictionaut challenge, simply because love is good for the heart. The one after that was inspired by the playing card which inspired the original poem. It’s from the ’52 ways to say I love you’ deck, which I love, because each of the cards is a clear instruction which sounds completely ridiculous out of context. This one seems pretty creepy even in-context, if you ask me. Why would you keep somebody’s lipstick-stained coffee cup? Unless, and especially if, you’re some kind of insane stalker, it’s probably to scavenge traces of DNA they left behind and get them analysed.

In the next stanza, we get to the C-tactile network. This is a network of nerves which doesn’t transmit perceptible touch, as such, but just the pleasant feeling of being hugged or otherwise touched in a non-threatening way. Imagine that: we have a special network of nerves just for hugging.

But in the end, does it matter that love can be described as the result of assorted chemicals and biological systems doing their thing? It still feels lovely, and that’s what I wanted to say in the last stanza. I knew I could fill the first line with the name of some kind of love-related enzyme to keep the rhyme (if not the rhythm), but in the end anti-phosphodiesterase was the best I could up with. Viagra works by inhibiting a particular phosphodiesterase, you see.

So, if this video gets your dopamine flowing, please share it, or rate it, or comment on it, or show it to someone you wish to mate with, or perform some other action which would trigger other people’s reward circuits, thus activating your subgenual cortex.

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  1. #1 by Russ Rogers on July 11, 2010 - 9:29 pm

    You are a genius. I don’t know if that’s been objectively tested and certified. But that is my assessment. 🙂


    • #2 by Angela Brett on July 11, 2010 - 10:26 pm

      If I have seen further (into the realm of cheesy scientific poetry) than others, it is only by standing on the shoulders of a great tower of dwarves. It took a fair bit of climbing to get there, but some of those ingenious dwarves invented superb climbing equipment.


      • #3 by Angela Brett on April 8, 2015 - 1:47 am

        My gosh, in this comment I summed up the idea that had been going around in my head for years and continued going around until it turned into They might not be giants, which became my first single (released on a poster.)


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