Stella's Stoichiometry (All things being equal, 6 lbs. 13 oz.)
I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you...
…My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
- Walt Whitman (Song of Myself I, II. 1891)
Biochemistry expresses no reservations about material nature. The elements of the periodic table are a set of notes that can be composed into innumerable variations, some of which are songs that sing themselves, emergent configurations that breathe and then pass back into entropy's elemental pool, ready to be drawn into future arrangements.
Trained as a chemist, I spent hundreds of youthful hours calculating how to equitably transform one thing into another. Through this discipline of balancing chemical equations - stoichiometry - things like tablets of aspirin can be turned into vanilla, water and air turned in sugar. Something balanced chemically to anything else is a matter of matter and its uncanny transformation.
If you are invested in the relation of substance to form, look at the things you love most, the things that are made both by your body and by themselves, and whose alchemy of arrangement might find its own way to love you too, someday. Identity and form are combinatorial phenomena, flexible and promiscuous to the shapes they might take. Creating a sculpture is material, formal, and deeply self-involving; the making of a child may be similar - some definite part of you, and then something also completely its own. Fundamentally and intimately there is a shared genealogy of unending atoms drawn from every corner of a universe that is both parent and child to all things.
The first in a series, this is the chemical equivalent of my daughter, Stella, according to the six elements that make 99% of her material being. Calculated exactingly for her birth weight I have collected carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, hydrogen, and calcium in her precise weight and proportions in the form of: tap water, rock sugar, canola oil, powdered L-Arginine, three oyster shells, Rumford's baking powder. Born in my own 37th year.
*see the companion work Stella's Stoichiometry (Seven years, all thing renewed 40 lbs.)