Why We Need An Atmosphere

We could look at the world from within the world. There are the scales, or shells, of willows, that open into the light, but there is also the space they open into.

There is the stem of an apple that opens in a sphere, but there is also the air that provides space for it. When opening in a constricted space, such as between two tight branches, an apple will take on the shape of the space. This is the shape of a solid meeting a gas. It opens into the gas, but the gas shapes its opening.

Some apples have legs and wings and head feathers and fly in flocks. Nice.

The actual shape of this balance between entering and accepting varies according to specific characteristics of the materials involved. When they are living things, the principle is always adaptation out of earlier forms, which reacted to specific circumstances, on the principle of opening completely, in whatever direction the pressures on them allow. Russian olives are cylindrical, rather than spherical, but they, too are reacting to the open nature of space. The word “space” says it, itself: “space.”

Even relationships can open in this way. This balsam root is opening in cylindrical spheres, arranged in a rough circle around the plant’s crown. It’s opening is happening now, in real time. Should it have seeded beside a rock, it would open in a different shape.

The converse works as well. When a gas opens into the space of water, tension is applied to it. The resolution is an expression of the gas’s ability to open in all directions; in that form it is the strongest, as it can form on its edge a water tension which simultaneously holds back the water as it holds back the gas. I think this is an excellent example of the force of space in action, and the tensions that define its boundaries.

They are not solid tensions. Not the ceramic of the insulator, but the relationship between flicker, pole, snow, and device:

As the example above illustrates, when this opening into space happens along the complementary power-force of a line (a directional sphere, or an extended one), the spherical opening into gas displays itself as a pool. The line, and the power (water follows this power, and the sun in the water) flowing along it pools. It shines, which is to say it catches the eye and is visible.

And that’s the thing. The human eye is a sphere. The human mouth and womb are spheres that can close and open from a line. We are caught by the shine of this force in the world because we are part of it.

These are not simple relationships. Look at the mullein below. It mines the energy along the interface of lines by expanding into space in a sphere as well, but the sphere is cupped by its leaves, not manifest in them. In other words, it holds a sun of water and heat in its arms. We sense that it is there, although we cannot physically see it.

And that’s a good reminder, that what we observe in the world is not always physically present, yet is present just as well. For instance, and to take that idea just a little further, the mullein’s sphere above is equally manifest in the cheatgrass mining the slab below.

Instead of expanding into a sphere, though, it follows its own history as an extended line. It doesn’t make a sphere in the gaseous atmosphere, but responds just as equally to environment. Instead of opening in all directions, it infiltrates the boundary and then holds it within itself, making it into a plane. One-dimensional space becomes three-dimensional in this way. There are lots of way to do that. A few are illustrated below.

These are the expressions of the intersections between densities of matter. You won’t find this on Mars. That’s a good point. Without the atmosphere created by living things, this blue stuff…

… life explodes into non-life and takes on its form. The tension of the receiving space is not there. So, when we move across the Earth or imagine other worlds, let’s remember that our movement is nothing if not received.

And held.

3 replies »

    • Thanks. A photographer told me years ago that you eventually just click at the right spot. Perhaps I’m getting that feel. 🙂



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