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On the movement of static things #9:
Objects that change along expected axis, where there is no displacement or dislodgement, discordance or disturbances, and where equilibrium is maintained, may be considered to be static in nature. Objects that meet these criteria, that reach a point of stability, are recognised in the world as static. Only in extreme events, when new information is added, might an alteration, a change, be noticed, as in ‘black swan’ events. Here nothing changes except our understanding of reality: an observation, not be pinned to time and space, can disturb reality, yet leave everything unmoved, static.
There are sliding scales on most measures and in recognising this life becomes complicated. This ability to judge allows me to give licence to others when they breach my own personal standards; on the other hand, these same standards are like metal bands that wrap themselves around me and tighten when I fail, and I recognise this double standard. The licence I give to others is a gift, to myself, recognising the variety and resilience in life: diversity is a strength I acknowledge and admire. It is a challenge and limiting, being a didactic and autocorrecting thinker, trapped by logic.
Looking back seems to shear the past into frames of time, each section like a filament or scale, capturing complete and separate images and impressions that link up. When you stand back and view this patchwork it threads together into a narrative that shows the cause and effect, the path that led you to this place. Only looking back do the breadcrumbs make sense; you can even replace missing pieces here and there as intuition assures you that the journey took you this way or that. And so obvious, that you doubt your uncertainty and the trepidation you felt before.
Life as documentary #13:
In mapping tendencies and determinants of actions and behaviours, there are factors that fall into correlations and causalities, and then there are sympathetic relationships that exhibit elements of coincidental and superstitious natures that allow many things to run in parallel paths. Somehow in this mess of impressions is life; or perhaps instead, a life is the froth and scum of these interactions. There is absolutely no way of knowing, no way to intuit or logic my way to the centre; to find the pattern of actions and interactions and reactions that flow around in this gyre.
Discard, then test the reminder still supports life: this is the basis of my philosophy. I seek a state of balance where the largest existence is possible with the least contact with the outside world. I am not concerned with being left behind, those ahead with their ambitions and narcissistic wants and desires can take everything. A race to the end is their flawed game-plan, not mine. I seek a state of being that takes nothing and yet sustains life as a valid and resplendent asset. I only keep what enables me to grow and thrive; all else is waste.
There are found objects and lost objects and lost objects have the most resonance, the most ability to trap attention and distract. In lost objects is buried a history of possession and ownership, usage and habit, and the value increased due to this inferred heritage and history. You may have a favourite paper clip, one you believe you can distinguish from any other, yet this distinction is aberrant. What you feel may be warmth from contact, a slight magnetic charge from stroking, or a polished finish. Attention adds these characteristics; these attributes do not belong to the object.
I would like to draw your attention to how insidiously predictive texts are invading our language. We no longer compose, or write in longhand; it is rare now to think before we type - and this is where predictive texts catch us out, introducing the most banal and platitudinous words for us. When you see the text writing itself ahead of your typing, do you question how they know what you are about to say? Maybe these suggestions just show that what you are about to write could be inferred and don’t need to be said at all.
What is the lesson here? One obvious one is to understand the lesson, show it has been learned and that those random and miscellaneous exercises that life makes you work through have altered your behaviour. That may be easy to say, not easy to do: there is nothing in the rules that says you won’t make the same mistake the next time the same thing happens. In fact, expecting something different to happen, when you make the same effort and do the same things, is a form of madness. We should expect the repetition of patterns when we don’t change.
The evidence of experience #13:
I have a natural disinclination to rid myself of things that come into my possession: many are gifts, or are presented to me by some well-meaning person, the largest number are those I buy. I am not drawn to shopping, preferring to identify what I need, then going out to find it. Because I don’t shop regularly, I have no skills in discrimination and choosing between many types of the same object, the different colours and designs, is daunting. Frequently I am helpless choosing between different styles, so buy several, hoping one will prove itself.
The planet hadn’t been inhabited long but the forecasts and weather projections now tracked consistently. For the last few weeks, there had been a steep decline in temperature, and even the daily highs and lows were moderating as the planet’s axis tilted more and the trajectory around the sun reached the furthest point of its elliptical orbit. Identifying ranges and seasonal changes to the heating and cooling patterns had greatly advanced our understanding of the microbial life. The means used to balance life exhibits a retrograde trajectory, with growth and division in the mid-cycle only and hibernation in the extremes.
Oral evidence collected at the time, if you believe that this can be useful, provides a context-based version of events. A brief reference to these stories, with some analysis, can elicit the key features, a base recognition, from those at the site. There is some acceptance that the minimum contribution would be to provide decorative colour, the sensual tones felt at the time, similar to smells where the floral notes of scents dispel within moments of creation. The transience of human essence, the elements we exude that trigger instinctual responses rarely hang about when logic is drawn into the equation.
In the end, it was nothing to be concerned about: the consequences of doing nothing were negligible as the new world order rolled seamlessly over the top of the old. Even though thousands were displaced and all maps had to be re-written, financial systems were resilient and adjusted quickly. Sources of funding, for renewal of infrastructure and re-building, were secure and money was available to industries with foresight, who had quarantined their resources for just this scenario. Societal banding and lifestyle benefits also continued, unaffected. Discounting individual trauma and grief, most families with wealth and power welcomed this business opportunity.
Prosperity had a powerful effect in soothing grief. A repeated feature of stories told was that those in power, those who had money and position, were not greatly impacted. They may have suffered loss of possessions and property when the land disappeared, but in most instances, the mechanisms for generating wealth were secure and recovery was inevitable. Their speeches detailed the extent of their losses, of the coastal lands, the mansions and works of art the disaster had wiped out, but that didn’t garnish them much sympathy and it didn’t obscure the predatory way they manipulated markets and ransomed resources.
How often do you regret, when not finding exactly what you want, the first thing you pick up as you look around? The fatal flaw of touching an object seems to give it some mythical loading; just separating one out from a mixed box, impinges on your judgement, gives that one favour. Like the peasant logic of the fatalism of the instantaneous first impression, how can you get back to the point before, when you were unbiased and could be objective. Just the weight of the object in your hand makes it more yours then the rest lying there untouched.
I would like to draw your attention to contractions in most examples of modern writing and how there is a rise in usage that has exploded exponentially. Are we in danger of losing our formal voice? There is a risk that the tipping point has already passed, that a tool to finesse language is being neglected and will ossify. Negatives are softened when wrapped in a contraction: “don’t” and “won’t” seem like marks of hesitation rather than negations. Their expanded versions, “do not” and “will not”, don’t roll off the tongue easily, sounding both clumsy and too emphatic.
Don’t you just hate it when you are having a conversation with a stranger about the meaning of life and how to interpret the universe and poetry and truth, and he says something about his wife and you know that he has just shoe-horned this into the talk to make you know that he is married? Don’t you just hate that? It makes me feel as if I have overstepped some boundary, breached some social code that normal people would know and avoid. And we were just talking, the way you can with a stranger, when neither wins or loses.
We never found out how they arrived; suddenly they were just everywhere. They flew about with a sense of freedom, they bounded around light and tight and buoyant, not coming close. If we approached, they sped away. They never touched us, nor invaded our homes. They seemed flighty, fragile, decorative at most, though some people were anxious. The main complaint was that there were too many; gathered in clouds they hovered, watching us. Some were found drowned at the edge of water, but the swarm learned and they stayed on shore. A rainstorm would probably remove any danger of infestation.
The additive qualities, the sense of increase, make me feel that I have, how can I say it, grown something, made progress although I know the fallacy of this. When has just adding something made an outcome better? What I speak of … what I speak of here is the drive to believe that what I am doing has value, is not only purposeful but enriching and life affirming, and creative. The opposite is unbearable: to believe that what I do is redundant or worse, that I detract from and make it worse, is something I cannot resign myself to.
Today seems like a good time to do this. Something in the air, the light, the space around me makes me think now is a good time and here is the place. I sense I have passed a state of preparation and can now move into action. To be clear, this is not just the absence of distractions; I am moving from inertia to motion. More than having a place of light and warmth, of separation and calm, to work in, I am ready to start. Logically this feeling cannot be supported, but we don’t live in a logical world.
‘They grew tentacles.’
‘Don’t you mean tendrils?’ This rambling story was hard to follow. I sifted through her running images looking for meaning. ‘Were these creatures or plants you saw?’
‘They wrapped around everything. If I hadn’t moved back, they would have caught me up too.’
‘When did this happen, dear? Did you dream it?’
She was anxiously shifting from foot to foot, nearly in tears, and more importantly, not yet dressed. When you are getting ready to go to work, having an imaginative child can be challenging.
‘You’re not listening, Mom. We need to go, now.’
‘Get dressed first.’
In the wake of the tree falling, they all heard the scream pouring out of the valley, even as the sound of the tree crashing through the canopy and ricocheting off the cliff face became fainter. As a single body, they turned and stood, waiting for it to end. It rose up, surrounding them as it echoed off the sides of the mountains, and then stopped. No-one had heard anything like this before. When it was talked about later, there was no consensus: it might have been human, an animal or a mechanical tool that shrieked out that pain-wracked sound.
The outgassing of organoflorines and ethers boiling on the frozen surface in daylight and falling at dusk to settle in pale green crystal flurries formed the boundaries of our days on the station. Frequently when walking around you would see solitary individuals gazing from portals, taking a quiet moment to watch rainbows cresting as the steam rose in clouds or thick, furry flakes like green smuts settled lightly into the fading light. For those newly arrived, these moments of reflection overlaid sentimental visions of their past lives; for the hardened workers, the sight showed the severe beauty of this world.
The impact from the rough road they travelled that day was not great, damage and their losses minimal, mainly because the carts were half empty and the donkeys lightly loaded. And everyone was well rested. They’d made reasonable time and would sleep well tonight.
They had stayed long enough in the valley. Some were reluctant to move on, but Tanya knew their welcome was wearing thin. The settlement was safe and comfortable and they had treated them well. They’d exchanged some goods to pay their way and their building skills had earned them good-will, but the village had limited resources.
This wasn’t their final destination and they didn’t plan to return. A set of behaviours, local manners as it were, had developed here over time to encourage everyone to behave civilly, so that good friends were left behind, or at least those leaving could accumulate reputations that they could return to comfortably. No understanding of restraint, no manners, and no friends were made by this group and traders factored in wastage and repairs in all purchases. These travellers didn’t understand that loss of physical or material goods would be recouped fully before they left and then the gates would shut.
The creatures drifted into the settlement gradually in the second year, but they didn’t settle in trees or attack the crops we had planted. Coming here the offer of large land holdings tempted many to put their hands up. The planet’s geography, the climate and wildlife had been assessed, and all were found compatible with life. No major risks were indicated. Cheap purchase prices, and discounted transport and resettlement costs, made the location affordable, and attractive to those who wanted to work hard and be independent. I don’t remember reading about these creatures in the guidelines, they floated in unannounced.
This entity doesn’t seem complete; a trial rather than a real entity, built from a partial sketch when some part of the exoderm had been forgotten. For existence and believability an expectation of symmetry is presupposed and here I am finding a missing balance: like the mythical beast proposed that lived on the side of a hill and that grew with two short legs on the uphill side and long legs on the downhill side, so they could walk easily around the hill's circumference. On this watery world, this logic does not flow: paddling out, they constantly travel in circles.
Politicians act and speak, and for each word they utter, expect a pat on the head and cheer of encouragement from the crowd. A politician speaks on the understanding that they will be quoted and admired; even without proof of future actions, without a proven reputation, or the ability to carry out their promises, they ask us to trust their words, their speeches; all promises that will be carried out if we give them our trust. And we give them our trust and they use this to leverage themselves into power. And, with power, they no longer need our trust.
Coffee, the elixir equivalent to the meaning of life, that flows like lifeblood and proves in each sip that I am whole, without cracks or gaps, that I am an entity who can survive alone in the stream that flows past; this flow made up of greater parts, the morass and turmoil of competing forces, all struggling for existence and warmth and succour from the world. Only the warmth of an occasional coffee, and for this I work and strive and paddle out to the middle of the stream, forsaking the shelter in the shallows and basking in the sun.
I thought them very self-sufficient: tradespeople, producers, merchants, administrators, families. The town seemed complete and efficient, if slightly rigid. They had worked out what they wanted, what they valued, and as a community, they lifted up together to build this collective dream. The wisdom in the saying that a rising tide float all boats seems proven here. The town was functional and desirable, yet for me, the idea of this community seemed to just float out of reach: I had a sense that the more I tried moved in to become part of this place, the faster it moved away.
‘Someone with that name has no right to be famous,’ she said.
Some people have rigid categories, fixed like trenches; cauterised rules that bind their thinking. There was outrage in her voice, without humour or irony she had taken offence and her hackles had risen, like the hair lifted along the spine of a ridgeback dog ready to attack.
‘Most people don’t choose their own name,’ I said, trying to placate. ‘A name is something you are given.’
‘But who’d give a child such a ridiculous name? Why Sandy?’
‘Maybe a nickname; or an abbreviation of Sandra that’s less formal.’
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