Friday, February 3, 2012

nature doesn't love a straight line

no, i'm by no means the first to have this insight. living it is another matter. three days ago, walking downtown, i noticed all the cracks in the sidewalk, the straight telephone poles and corners of buildings. transfixed by the matrix, i felt my heart stop. the prison of our existence closed in on me. luckily, common sense prevailed, and i continued on my way.

why the alarm? the straight line invented our modern civilization and keeps it going, nothing natural about it. and in fact mountains and seas can't hold it back, you can see the defeat in the clear-cuts and suburban sprawl. the round eyes of planets and stars, they've been blinded by our arrow. alas, this does have side-effects. we feel our lives should go in a straight line to the goal, and all our wandering this way and that can't help but feel like a defeat, for we are animals, not a straight line in our bodies. 

that's not so say, the clear demarcations not needed. i remember reading about a refugee camp in nigeria. their saviours immediately laid a grid across the rough and tumble circumstances. this made sanitation and food-delivery possible, bacteria and rats put on notice. and it's easy to feel agony in the organic, as the hero does at the end of sartre's novel nausea, staring at the roots of a tree as though they were serpents crawling across his corpse, or spirochete eating his brain. a cube of one's own can hold the cacophony of the world at bay. 

still, pre-modern times lived by the circle. in mexico field-hands sit in a circle for lunch. american workers scatter this way and that, solitary or in split groupings. an english class sitting in the round creates a democracy, in rows addressed by the professor the students slaves to grades and her goodwill. i don't know what it would feel like to live in a handmade world. i do relax on the beach walking among the sea-lions, the waves curling and crashing. 

these night flight drawings a perfect example. we can't escape the earth without many straight lines creating our spaceships: