Space: the Human Habitat

Snow looks white and cold. It looks like a cold carpet over the earth.


That’s the way a mammal thinks. A mammal has built itself around its own stove. To the creatures that don’t physically move and heat themselves in this landscape, some things are the same as movement. They teach hot-blooded mammals the story of being in the world. Look at these haws moving flower to fruit to seed to limb. Humans call this time.


Movement, from a human point of view, is movement in space. It takes time. Movement for a haw or a russian thistle (such as the one below) is movement in time. It crosses dimensions. It moves springtime, a dimension of heat, into the light and heat of the sun above the winter snow, where birds, committed to heat and movement (in their natural habitat, that’s to say) feed on summer and in the process scatter seeds…


… which embed in the cold, and begin to melt their way downwards into the dimension of growth, which humans call spring, and which is down below the snow.P2170116

The image below shows some grasses making this same transfer, but using this movement in time to move in space as well. Their target is not birds, as it is for the thistle, but rodents living in their tunnel cities under the snow, where it is warm like Palm Beach. Don’t think that the sun doesn’t pour through the snow. Sometimes it is amplified by it.


The sun can even melt the snow from below, when dark plant material catches it.


Time travel is good news for birds!

P2170191I turned up the colour on the following image of the melted-out deer footprint below so you could see better what lies below the snow on this grey day (It makes the snow look weird, though. Sorry.) That’s the world of spring time down there.


(Ugly pic, but you get the point. I hope!)

Above the snow, we’ll see it in a couple months. Down there, it is ongoing. That this season is called winter is a sign of human monodimensionality and human bondage to the human habitat of space.


Time rather escapes this species — until it stops moving, at least. Before that, it apprehends it as loss.


When it stops, though, it realizes it’s all there at once, in light.


Oh, eternity! humans say. No. It is now. Here is an image which makes it look like space and light (as images do)…


… here’s another space-light approximation of it, in what is called a distance (timespan) of 300 kilometres …


They’re really one. Similarly, as a result of human and mammalian bias, it’s easy to look at the image of the elm tree below and comment on how it has adapted to surviving the snow.


It does no such thing. It’s not separate from it, and its story is not about surfaces, anyway, but about breaking through them. P2170177It lives in multiple dimensions. So do humans. Conceptions of identity which stress single dimensions in that mix, such as the self-integrity of human identity, or even recreations of the world in its own self-portraits, all tangled up with the world as they can’t help but be …


… miss some real excitement. I mean, look at these larches (the needle-less trees below), eh!


Their lives are about being larches. From a human point of view, they’re about living within height and generations and successions.


But they’re not. They are a vast expanse of time not tied to individuality.

P2170082The stress on place that creates the story of individuality is one human ability, but the ability to see 10,000 years at once, or 10,000,000 years, in this moment, or the Big Bang unfolding, is also human, and it is lost with an undue stress at looking at surfaces, such as the surfaces of snow, or words. These are not words!

In organic systems, what would be random to a human intelligence, the capture of snow on tree limbs, is part of the presence in time of the tree. All of time. That a human notices it (such as me, on my better days), is a sign that the portrait is also human. Randomness, in other words, is a particular human signature.
P2170176 If you see randomness, be assured that a human was present, trying to make order. In the apple plantation below, arranged for machine operation, for example, it’s not the starlings who are random, although they look like that, don’t they, the little black nubbins!


Similarly, the following image does not just display a random accumulation of snowflakes on the face of an eroded hill but also the sun passing through the snow, heating the earth within and melting the snow away from there, while above, where humans la dee da with their cameras, it’s cold as being human. A good place for the big lugs. Right where they belong. Thinking that time is the process of walking.


The water which the movement of the sun from above the snow (in human space) to below it (in time) has melted from the snow in its cross-seasonal transit through the snow, enters the earth along with the sun (which heats the sol), then freezes with darkness. Eventually, it pushes the earth away and the snow with it.

Are the patterns random? No. They’re just not measurable by the means of identity concepts which are devoted to space not time and have the hardest darned time crossing dimensions. It is possible, though. You can look out to see within, for example.


You can be in the moment rather than in yourself.

You can be still.


Is that applicable? Can that be put to use? Of course, but not if you walk away. Then it’s just a surface. Here’s some surfaces for you! Like a human thumbprint beaming out to the stars!


Art and artifice can be made of surfaces, of course, because those are also humanly imaginable, in the same way the boundary around the image below is.


But ducks do it better.


Oh, humans, meet your betters!


Note: this post was an experiment in demonstrating some of the notions of identity I have been speaking about over the last two weeks. The theme will continue with a discussion of the creation of space-limited intelligence, its costs and benefits, as an introduction to the concept of creativity. I hope this post has been fun for you. It was fun for me!

2 replies »

  1. I had heard of the small creatures living in tunnels under the snow, and am glad to better understand, though this set of images and observations, how they do so, and some of what else is going on continuously and simultaneously under and through the snow cover (which is perhaps only a cover to human sense!). i appreciate how your observations lead out of a sense of separateness or a limited frame, toward a wider or longer or deeper view, less bounded by time or space as we have been trained to understand them humanly. Thank you Harold. This parallels thinking/or a state of being I have sometimes glimpsed when making art or writing a poem, or when at one with nature and not feeling outside it. The tumbleweed image calls to mind passing by car a certain spot in south east Saskatchewan, and seeing again tumbleweeds caught in the fences, and a certain grass-sweeping kind of light, and a quality in the air and the endless views, that meant I could breathe and see again, freely – that I was almost home. “Home” has not been there for more than fifty years, but that is the landscape ( space/essence) or time I understand from first when I read your blogs. Thank you, yet again. Ruth Anderson Donovan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.