On February 18, 2015, Dr. John Kitzhaber, former governor of Oregon, fell from a cliff 100,000 feet above the floor of the Willamette Valley. Though he was climbing with others, he fell alone. His legacy, found near the capitol in Salem, did not survive.
Many focus on the last moments of his climb, and wonder how an avid outdoorsman could succumb to such a fate. An autopsy has shown, like many men of his age and “lone-wolfness,” Kitzhaber suffered a malfunction linked to the “Y” chromosome, leaving him vulnerable to a sting by the blind butterfly, Femme Fatale.
Femme Fatale has evolved attributes that attract the susceptible, usually a man with strength and resources who can contribute to her wing span and survival through summer storms. Attached securely to the back of his neck, the butterfly has access to neurons between brain, heart and testes.
There is evidence Kitzhaber may have been stung at least once before by a similar species, rendering him even more susceptible.
Those not exposed to butterfly venom will not grasp the reality-distorting vertigo it induces. Laws of physics seem suspended. Solid walls, inviolable boundaries, the very ground and certainly the mountain path traversed by the former governor, are as if painted on soft curtains that shift and billow in ever changing breezes churned by the butterfly’s softly pulsing wings.
From the outside, it’s as if the sufferer has lost touch with “what’s real” and is blind to appearance, context or consequences. From the inside, it’s as if “what’s real” is just out of reach, pushed farther and farther away by toxins of need, greed and illusion.
Inducing a state of false symbiosis, Femme Fatale attaches her goals to those of the victim, and values are twisted to appear mutual. The result is an exceedingly convincing illusion that the path towards her desires is a path shared and will bring fabulous, if intangible, reward.
The blind butterfly knows only that resources she needs to keep flying are available. Flying is her only goal. Often a butterfly will leave a trail of the broken until the day she loses her shimmer and is seen as another creature altogether.
Ultimately, that’s the tragedy. Right to the point where she takes wing again, those stung by Femme Fatale feel a wondrous future waits just around the next bend in the path. It may be a different path and a different future than they envisioned before the toxins took hold, but it becomes the only one they believe in.
It’s common for them to exclaim, as footing is lost in the loose dirt of illusion, “I love her!” just as the butterfly releases her grip and lets them fall to their fate, while she flies to embrace another.