Apoptosis of the Web

Yuqiang Chen

February 17th, 2023 4:41 min read 1289 words

Love, true love, is always fatal. What I mean is, it does not aim at happiness, at an idyll, at a hand-in-hand eternity of sentimental walks under flowering lime trees, with a gentle light burning on the veranda behind, the house swimming in cool scents. Life can be that, but not love. Love burns with a fierce, more dangerous flame. One day you discover a desire in yourself to encounter this all-consuming passion. It is when you no longer want to keep anything for yourself, when you don’t want love to offer you a healthier, calmer, more fulfilled kind of life, but you just want to be; you know, to exist in a total sense, even at the cost of perishing in the process 1.

— Portraits of a Marriage

Figure 1. Living human prostate cancer cells DU 145 induced to undergo of apoptosis following treatment with etoposide. The images were created by Phase Holographic Imaging AB, Lund, Sweden.

When I think of memories with my mother, they usually appear with naked women, pouring water on themselves in coloured plastic pots, the walls are grey, like white quartz sand mixed with cement, and the windows are connected to the ceiling at the highest point, narrowly. The female figures were blurred in the light and steam, but their voices were clear, and they always echoed in my ears with a presence of intense emotion when I remembered. My entire thinking about women resides in this, the laughter of the body as a container.

One afternoon in June, around 3 pm, I opened my phone’s recorder and placed it on the corner of the table, imagining that at some point a moment would be recorded, trying to adjust the placement of the phone so that it would look natural; as if I were ready to blurt out something true about myself that would vanish just as fast as it came to me. I failed, no matter how much I fiddled with the electronic device, it seemed to be carefully designed to sit in the corner of the table. I tried to hold my breath until my heart slowed down enough that my hands wouldn’t tremble from the high-speed flow of blood and adrenaline.

For weeks afterward, I was in a trance, often half asleep, with the ceiling light dimly lit, and I remember seeing a little white boat overturning the pale grey currents, with the sailors on deck carrying bundles of twine with anchor heads on their shoulders and throwing them overboard, and I lay in my room in a fit of vanishing nausea, with the light shining from my room on their stocky arms, glowing red light.

Amid acute repression, I could no longer recall all of my high school and pre-high school memories, yet I constantly denied that I was harming myself in the manner that I was. My integrity was unquestionable and would not be elevated or devalued in any way, but somewhere in my body lurked a manic and unsettling feeling of shame. In this case, I had to receive approval from the affirming eyes of others, a feeling that complicated events. In short, in one of those sudden moments I suddenly decided to show a part of myself that was true, an impulse that felt like the beginning and end of a lie, and one afternoon in June I decided to carry out this plan, especially for my mother.

She has trouble sleeping

Every breath makes her heart beat wildly

Eventually, sweat intertwines with complex thoughts

Destroying her spirit

She got up

Went to the living room to get some tissues

Sitting on the edge of the bed sobbing

As soon as my mother left after a couple of weeks, I had a brief but intense period of final examinations, where too much was placed on top of everything else to hide the problem, and what lurked after the tests seemed to draw my thoughts away from my body for a little while. I am not blaming myself for not being independent enough, for being too dependent on others, or for the upbringing that prevented me from developing the ability to think on my own, because the flip side of this is that my soft body was able to remain unaware of the crisis for over 21 years because I was surrounded by love and a state of prolonged silence. In general, that moment came when my brain lost the ability to regulate its normal work in the face of questioning without dialogue. This disintegration of the self and the seemingly internal, as the psychologist Freud would say, Libido1? An innate impulse to destroy order and return to a non-life state. Even though I was unaware, I could still feel the heavy blows that were coming. The only way out seemed to be to go the other way, and my body, senses, fevered forehead, and soaked eyes took over my will to do it, no matter what the consequences. Being towards death1 delineated the inevitable from the dimension of time. So at that moment, was I alive? The fracture of flesh and spirit must break away all remaining roots to grow new connections. And for that to happen, I must all participate in a system of shared destruction with me before I can be reborn with them all? I am selfish.

At the microscopic level, it seems to be the nature of organisms that death and chaos become necessary for development and flux. At the microscopic level of development, organisms selectively program some cells to die under genetic control1 to maintain the stability of their internal environment, not as a phenomenon of autologous damage under pathological conditions, but as a process of death actively sought for better adaptation to survival – known as Apoptosis1. Usually, this process is associated with several functions related to immunity, cancer, growth, and development. This process can be introduced by inducers, and what is shown above, as well as in the video, is the process of apoptosis under inducer conditions. Apoptosis is often a single-cell process, and there is asynchrony even within cell groups. After apoptosis, morphological changes include a decrease in cell size, loss of connections, detachment from surrounding cells, fragmentation of DNA, and creation of numerous apoptotic vesicles by surrounding specialised or non-specialised phagocytes.

The uneasiness created an inner turmoil in me, an emptiness that slowly grew, where did it come from? I had never felt a barrier to my identity, it seemed that everything I knew about myself from a very young age was a given, never qualitatively changed. But at this moment, in a shaky space, I am sad, all the soft parts are illusory because of their soft qualities, I cry for my soft memories, like the green slime that gushes out, but I have to contribute a part of myself to make the whole space harmonious, the inner chaos that lies in the strangeness of the long separation from the only person who is physically connected to your umbilical cord, conceived and born. The strangeness that arises after a long separation between them had disappeared- the synchronous nature of developing together had vanished.

Figure 2. Duplication of digit 4 is preceded by reduced apoptosis and expanded chondrogenesis in the posterior limb mesenchyme.

During foetal development, apoptosis also occurs as an essential part of development. Hand formation and apoptosis are closely related, and the disappearance of interfinger webbing in higher mammals is induced under programmed cell death. The embryonic limb ends first appear as flat disc-like limb sprouts during development, and the webbing between them disappears before the limbs take their final form. The diagram above shows apoptosis during limb formation in mice. My development and growth will inevitably undergo this apoptosis, reconfigurability that begins to emerge from the very beginning of the fertilised egg’s formation. Her reality with me and the environment she grew up in are so different.. I do not know if she carries with her a strong urge and desire to conceive of conception and love as a mother, except that until her flesh is reduced to maggoty decay she has never imagined that my existence will be heading towards destruction. For myself, however, apoptosis is not inevitable.

The brain stops working when all thoughts flood in, and memories become false signals in a vast, vast system that eats away at the self until the flood of memories penetrates it, turning it into an animal that howls in the night, no longer using words to communicate, soaking the pillow and the sheets with sweat, and turning the body into an empty shell suspended in the air by the constant flow of images and words in the mind. The programmed death in my body and will was inevitable, at that sudden moment, so much so that I could not think with reason about the outcome and the tendency toward destruction. This pattern of behaviour destroys, without thinking, the existence of a complete self, a self that used to have the same genes, the same appearance, and even most of the same habits of life, I was in a consistent ecological system of the self and my environment, but now I destroy the existence of the self with a mechanical programmed death that leaves no stone unturned, to get a new life with an inner extinction.

Three months after the onset, I had completely lost all ability to regulate my emotions, every tiny event had become the entire cause of my physical discomfort, I needed professional help, I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, and I needed the help of selective 5-hydroxytryptamine reuptake inhibitor, a sense of meaninglessness every time I tried to speak to myself I said this to myself in my head.

The next day I was walking to the school cafe

The dappled shade of the trees wanders over me

After 2 weeks I was still lying motionless in bed most of the time, I missed almost all of my classes. People around me finally realised the extent of the problem, as I was becoming more and more closed off to myself, rejecting all external information and becoming wary and hostile to the outside world.

I didn’t want to deny my existence, but the doctor told me that taking the pill would make me feel better. My mind raced to imagine what would happen in my body as the sugar coating of the pills dissolved in the gastric juices, passed through the epithelium of my small intestine into my bloodstream, and eventually reached the receptors in the middle of the synapses1 in my brain, altering my ability to feel through electrical signals on the myelin sheath1. The events are static, the pills in the box are no different from the pills in my body, it’s just that the way I treat them changes, and my behaviour and thoughts change the environment at certain moments in faint fluctuations. A few days later, as the medication is metabolised and excreted into a new system, it continues to exist somewhere in an unaltered nature.

Figure 3. Diagram of the structure of a nerve cell

Before last night’s phone call with Daniel, we hadn’t spoken for more than a year. I fell asleep shortly after. Honestly, I had almost forgotten what he looked like, memories stored in my memory as discrete sets of quantised clusters of energy, with only the briefest flash of moments that exceeded the required memory threshold being captured by my memory capture. I recall the texture of his thick eyelashes, which were as stiff as bristles, and the assortment of coloured strings tied around his ankles. And an assortment of unusual plant cultivation vessels. However, I cannot recall his voice, the details of our sexual encounters, or our outings together. I cannot recall him ever mentioning that he had moved to Suzhou1.

His life remains simple and infectious as he chatters on about his plants, a praying mantis that appears in his room twice – eventually he decides to keep them in a small box and breed them. His language and voice took me back two years. After meeting someone similar to myself after the dissolution of my old self, I couldn’t see the state of the people around me, and it was difficult to be aware of my existence. I had only vague memories of Daniel, and they were accompanied by alcohol, hookah, and sex for the majority of the time. We spent five months together in a haze of time and space overlap. This brief, passion-driven debauchery was detrimental to my health, but a loss of control did lift me out of my dejection.

Memory wrapped itself around me in a cumulative iteration, constantly overlapping and being redefined, so thereafter I can only see small glimpses from the outside. I began to doubt what I had seen and heard, as if I had never confronted or doubted my existence. It seemed to me like an inherent pattern, a pattern I had created by collecting and collecting itself. It’s hard for me to determine whether I really changed substantially later on, or whether it was simply due to the accumulation of time. Or maybe it was just that the emotions of saving myself and recovering myself also seemed to be inscribed in my genes, as if apoptosis was bound to occur, at some point, to complete some kind of evolutionary necessity.

Blood turns into the morning dew

Nourishing the moss

The flesh is infested with fungus

To be part of her vast root system

The soul becomes a multitude of stars

Light up the night of the drunken man returning home late


Took me to all corners of the universe

A subtle sense of life

Since then

I’ve become the owner of inner harmony.

The complete self

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