One image three times…
… that’s the way it is on this planet. That’s the way it is.
One image three times…
… that’s the way it is on this planet. That’s the way it is.
When a breeze shifts the old cat tail stalks, the energy skin on the water kinks, again and again. Water remembers each kink.
Then the greater memory kicks in and the energy is reabsorbed. Effectively, it is reabsorbed into past time. Yes, this is a photo of time travel, similar to looking back to the Big Bang.
Look how the entire mountain ridge across the valley is caught in the newest water kinks.
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.
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!
I 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. It 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.
The 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.
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!
Petrochemical agriculture is a program that uses statistical risk assessment to balance the need of farmers to extract a capital profit out of farming commensurate with the profit to be extracted from oil-based industries (which severely damage or even destroy the land in order to produce that profit, at least in Canada), the need of people for food, and the need of the rest of the earth to remain alive, in the web of relationships called “life”. In this model, farmers produce food for international export, using imported labour and imported capital, on local land and water (with minimal local employment). Much of this “food” languishes on supermarket shelves or gets turned into juice, which isn’t any good for anyone, as its sugar content is too high for it to be healthy. It becomes only a form of caloric investment. These are, however, the products that a capital-intensive model can support. What it means up close is this: You’re looking at a farmer spraying highly-engineered poisons toxic to insects (and birds and humans) on a dwarf cherry orchard, to produce oversize hormonally-manipulated cherries for a speciality market in China. Millions of dollars are involved per farm. Local people don’t eat these cherries, and, frankly, they are only good to look at. Unfortunately, just a few hundred metres away, this red-winged blackbird …. … and his family need those insects. Deeper into the reeds, the yellow-headed blackbird needs them as well. Risk assessment calculates the relative safety of these chemicals, in respect of their toxicity to both humans and wildlife, such as the red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds above, but it does not calculate the risk of alienation that this approach makes permanent. The humans who share this environment with the blackbirds, the insects, the cherries and the poisons, for example, see “nature” as a reserve area, some place separated from exploitation. That’s understandable, given the social context in which humans today are embedded by their general failure to address the kind of exploitation made evident in the factory farm above. From this social stance,”nature” is an area in which certain human activities are curtailed (but not the general reduction of available insects for birds), rather than a space with its own energies and requirements. Indigenous ways of thinking set aside reserved areas for human habitation, which makes more sense. The reason for this turnaround is that humans are such terrific predators, prone to such insane violence, that in large enough populations, supported by large enough surpluses of excess petrochemical energy, only through a carefully-maintained and carefully-worked-out system of balances can they be prevented from trashing the whole joint. Here is a view of the blackbird’s (and turtle’s and blue heron’s) environment, complete with abandoned boat, four-lane highway on rich wetland, mini-storage, equipment yard, and the ruins of vegetable farms and orchards stretching up the former grassland hill. It might be green, but it’s a ruin, and scarcely productive, although 150 years ago it was a rich source of food. This land above Swan Lake in the North Okanagan Valley was originally alienated by men who grazed 4,000 years of human care down to dust in a decade, to support cattle for which there was little market, most of which died in cold winters due to lousy farming practices, leaving the Indigenous people, the Okanagan Indian Band, poverty-stricken. This (illegally) alienated land was then alienated further before World War I by men who were attempting to invest Belgian rubber money (derived from genocidal rubber extraction policies in the Congo), and alienated yet again by a collapse of local farming under the pressures of industrialized farming in the American section of the watershed, which alienated most of the water and the life-producing potential of an entire Canadian province, British Columbia, in exchange for the expanded industrial capacity of the American Pacific Northwest. Layer upon layer upon layer upon layer, land has been treated as a commodity, and the basis of a capital-based economy, when, in fact, it operates on a different principle. (Well, actually, it’s not land, but a web of mutually-supporting interest, but that’s a story for another day.) Here’s a muskrat, living in his world of checks and balances. If there are too many muskrats, they starve. If there are too many humans, they build capital-based economies, to borrow capacity from the future, which then lead to the discovery and exploitation of capital-based energy sources, such as oil (Canada) and hydro-electric power (Washington, USA). Both of those are energy sources which draw down natural energy in the same way that the rubber-based land development of the Okanagan, and that of the cattle barons which preceded it, drew down a culture in which people lived in a sustainable way on the land — not because they didn’t have the smarts to exploit it and draw it down but because they were smart enough not to. The trick with borrowing capacity from the future is that it changes the future. Time travel, a fantasy literary genre, proposes that a person travelling into the past will change his present in such a way that it will be impossible to travel into the future. It works the other way in real life: cashing in on the future changes it so that it will never arrive, except in a form representing that cashing in. It’s not, in other words, that nature is a field of chance and random activity, but that capital, and the energies which represent its force, has created randomness out of order. To define the living world as “nature”, and to define that as a field of chance operations, is to grow ever more distant from it, as illustrated in the picture of the hillside above. You will never experience it by this route, and it will, ultimately, die. Here’s what death looks like on the grassland hillsides. This is cheatgrass. It will be dead in a week or two, and then for half a year nothing will grow here, because cheatgrass has broken the water cycle. It is one of the gifts of the cattle barons. Even insects can’t survive here, and if insects can’t, then the whole chain of life can’t, and that includes, sorry to say, humans. The alternative will be to produce increasingly technological crops, including genetically-modified crops which embody the principles of randomness created by capital-based energy and its theft of the future (which includes theft of the earth-based energy productive capacity of webs of life) for non-earth-based capital objects representing its energies, such as this: This is an alley in Vernon, BC. It could as well be the hillside above. This is what the past productive capacity of the land has gone into, generation after generation. It is an artwork, certainly, and a representation of human bodily and social space, in many complex ways, but it speaks more of people just trying to survive in the little street space left outside of privatized human space rather than social health, while balancing that with a need for private space within the capitalized environment. Other than those drives, there is nothing alive here, though. That is not meant to be a value judgement. It is meant as an observation that this is the end of the process that began with the capitalization of the land from 1858 to 1893. Against this energy, life has to be put in reserves. I’m arguing that those reserves look the same as this. We have jailed ourselves. Within this drawn-down future (now our present), we are nothing more or less than those weeds.
It’s obvious: I need a technical staff. Not, perhaps, this guy …
This is what Scientific American circa January 1890 says about him:
“The accompanying fancy sketch from the N.W. Mechanic presents a popular but very erroneous idea of what is supposed to be going on in the head of a first-class inventor. If the inventor’s caput contained anything like the hodgepodge of ideas intended to be suggested by this cut, he would be a pitiable creature, never able to invent or accomplish anything definite or useful. The truth is, the mind of the inventor is rarely fixed upon more than one subject at a time. In order to succeed, he must have a clear intellect, and be able to concentrate his thoughts strongly in a single direction. He is generally the most practical-minded man in the world, though by reason of his power to think a little differently, on new lines, or in advance of the gaping crowds around him, they ignorantly regard him as erratic or lacking in common sense.” Source
He’s so iron age, you know. This is, too:
Popular Science, May, 1932
The Hoop Car
No, I need a technical staff that can invent other things. Things like:
1. The High Volume Water Pump
Capable of collecting water from damp or even near-dry soil and pumping it to great height using water tension, osmosis and the transfer through long chains of tiny cells in a process rather like breathing.
Look at this device: a central body, with a water drawing tongue and solar-collecting wings. If those wings could contain solar cells, as in a leaf, or even in the pattern of the leaf miner below …
… they might be able to pump and collect water from tiny spaces, even from leaves, or could be used to create airflow immediately responsive to heating and cooling.
3. The Rotational Engine
The seeds have a drill-bit shaped tip, which plants itself under power from the flexing of its long, hanging tail in the heating and cooling of the day-night cycle of the earth: one small flex per day.
This is a slow form of energy capture, but an effective one that uses the enormous energy changes of the earth’s rotation through day and night, effectively harvesting changes of heat and cold. Of course, you could also do that like this …
4. The Heat Battery
Most of the lakes in the high country above the Okanagan are used as water reservoirs. Water is pumped down from them for use in the valley deeps. The thing is, the water collects cold and heat, which are wasted in this process. The energy in the water could be extracted through pumping mechanisms before it was used for irrigation. You could also harvest the earth’s rotation like this:
5. The Heat Plane
A group of Buddhist monks searched for the centre for a decade. They found it in an island in this old fault line.
Forests are dark. Grasslands are light. As the earth rotates from one to the other, massive amounts of energy are transferred in the form of wind. One could plant strategically and farm that wind. One could also control snow capture and release in this way, and extend the energy potential of winter. Imagine, controlling floods without damming rivers. Ah, but we’re talking of technical devices today. Well, we could scale this down …
6. The Heat Face
Grass Splintering Concrete
This pour of cement in a parking lot (a practice of redi-mix concrete companies flushing out their drums on a parking lot after delivering a load to a building site) has become a favoured site of grasses. If this material, or indeed any sidewalk material, was developed to harvest either the sun’s heat or the difference between the sun’s heat and shadow, as it does passively today, huge amounts of useful energy could be gathered, transferred, or stored. However, before we get too technical, we should remember this:
7. Energy Crystalization
Don’t think: Grass. Think: energy crystals. Is it not storing time, in the form of starch, in those seeds? What’s more:
8. Energy Concentrators
9. Energy Transmitters
…if those little animals migrate, they are effectively moving energy from one place to another, where it can be gathered. In another example, the sockeye salmon of the Okanogan River gather the energy of the sun in the North Pacific Ocean, and carry it up the Columbia River to the grasslands around McIntyre Bluff, in the old bed of the glaciers.
Which is the greater technology: dam? or fish?
Probably the fish. And what does a salmon do? It flows down with a river to the sea, it gathers energy, and it brings it back. We have ignored that. I mean, the most efficient way to use that energy is to eat the fish, and people did that for 10,000 years before other people started thinking they could harvest more fish and sell them. After that, things went all wrong, but now, now, could we not release millions of small generators into the rivers, which would capture river energy on their way downstream? Could they not be netted at river mouths, drained of energy, and released to make the journey again? Could we not do that with ocean currents and tides? Why dam the rivers, when the flow is already there? With the dams gone, could we not also bring back the fish? But why stick with water?
10. Wind Riders
Why does a wind energy generator have to stay in one place? What if it harvested the lightest puffs of wind?
Salsify Seeds, Ready for the Air
After a ride on the energy of the wind, they collect just as water does, in channels. Not only that, but they catch on leaves and flowers everywhere. They can, in other words, be combed or netted from the air, and the collision of wind-borne sail and net transfers energy, all at once. Using a device like the needle-and-thread grass, it should be harvestable.
You see how that works? You don’t generate energy. You capture it, move it, and harvest it. Still, look at that seedhead again…
11. The Wind Sphere
Tiny filaments, webbing convex dishes, and delivering captured energy, in whatever form, to a central collector. If a device were fashioned like this, from which the filaments were not removed by the wind, but merely caught it, or caught the light, then it could draw energy into a grid. As the plant has arranged it, it goes the other way: from the central collector outwards, which leads us to:
Or some other chemical could be stored in a stable form like this, or, if you wanted to look at it another way, time could be stored in this fashion. That is, of course, what seeds do:
13. Time Storage and Travel
Arrow-Leafed Balsam Root Seeds, A Syilx Crop
They store three months of sun through three seasons, and then release it as life. That is actually a reversal of the entropy of time. That is time travel.
That too could be used. No, this is not this kind of time travel:
Time Cheating is More Like It
I mean, the harvesting of time, its storage in a new form, and its release as another, with the net effect of stopping entropy. The thing is, this is not time travel for an individual. It is time travel for a collective, for a species, let’s say. Intriguingly, the Syilx, the first people around this place after the glaciers, used such technology to stop time. Intriguingly, the US Calvary, the Methodist settlers, and the Hudson’s Bay Company and California Gold Rush men, used such technology to cheat time and draw a profit from these processes. In other words, they increased entropy by drawing up on the vast store of stored time in the plant stuffs of the hills and the salmon of the rivers. They withdrew all the time from the bank, at once. Now the bank is crashing. It is time to invest in it again.
When such time capsules fall and roll away with gravity …
14. Gravity Harvesters
Ponderosa Pine Cones on the Move
… they are actually harnessing it. What if they were smaller, and carried up on the wind by wind-borne sails powered by solar energy, which then fell again when the earth turned away from the sun, harvesting gravity on their way down? Or if the sails were designed to decay after so many minutes or hours in the light? They could be gathered up, discharged of stored energy and released again. Or what about harvesting gravity like this:
15. Run of the Drain Hydro
This drain could be harvested by being diverted through a high grassland wetland, where it could be cropped, or its gradient can be used for a small hydroelectric turbine. What’s more …
16. Renewable Hydro
Water Wheel, Cordoba Source
This device uses the gravity created by the rotation of the earth to power a wheel. It can also be used to lift water against that gravity. In other words, by this method, you could passively lift water to great height, and then store that energy and harness it all at once.
Shorts Creek, Fintry
Over a century ago, these falls powered pressurized water and electrical systems.
You could even repeat the process, until the water that reached the valley floor was stilled, like this…
Ponderosa Pine, Stopping Water in Its Tracks
Note the deer trail that continues past it.
17. Climate Creation.
You could even pipe the water collected through rock, to release it where you wished, generating power along the way, or…
Natural Spring, Spences Bridge
Who needs a greenhouse.
…creating site-specific microclimates (or cooling houses.) If you wanted, you could pour it into a device like this…
18. Reverse Pump
Retaining Wall, The Rise, Vernon
Most pumps lift water. This one draws water downward, with gravity, through life, and the sun. The life and the sun slow the water’s progress, allowing for full utilization on its way down.
Crops grown on the face of such a pump would be easy to harvest. Soil compaction would be zero and transportation (the street at the bottom) would be a snap.
19. Mechanical Hydro
Neuthal, Zurich Overland, Switzerland. A stream stripped of gravity by a standard waterwheel about three hundred metres away, is harvested again by a waterwheel in this structure. Its energy is not translated into electricity but mechanical force, which is transferred by means of cables …
…back to the factory, where the cable sheds its energy to a system of gears and pulleys. There are lots of ways to move energy: steam, electricity, water, and cables are just a few. But what is energy? Yes, it is force — the means to do work. It’s also a more tenuous but equally powerful thing, a kind of spirit, like this.
20. Food for the Winter, for Both Body and Soul
Garlic, Gallagher Lake
Not just a product of agricultural industry but a spiritual substance that delights and sustains people by its taste and smell alone. All food is like that — some more than others.
That, too, is technology, as is this …
Joy in colour, balance and design gives humans energy and inspires them towards sustaining and intensifying experience, which might mean simply sharing it. Without that, without all of that, we have this …
Wasted Water, Wasted Earth
There is a simple word for that: death.
Well, there you have it. That’s 21. There are dozens more. As you can see, I come from a long line of agricultural fiddlers. There is so much we can do, while at the same time adding life to the planet rather than subtracting it. It’s all technology, and it’s all art. Science owns a small corner of it. Don’t let the gene-tech boys and girls tell you any different. I could sure use an inventor, though. I can observe things. I need someone with fiddly fingers. Not this guy, though …
I think he’s trying to look like Oscar Wilde, but I could be wrong.
Here’s Nikolai Tesla, with a similar pose:
Hey, maybe it’s the Hamlet look?
And what do I have? Just a happy garden gnome with his grandfather’s hair…
If nothing else, think of this: technology does not have to invade the earth. More on that shortly.
Gravity is the point at which the energy of the universe touches the earth. We should be able to use that. Who needs fossil fuels. Here, for example, is the energy that created the sun …
Shorts Creek, Fintry
When the glaciers melted, they cut this channel through the stone. A century ago, the energy in this water ran an innovative hydroelectric and irrigation system.
Here is gravity drawing sage brush down a vertical wall, as if it were very slow water:
Clever Gravity Machine
One of the more interesting forms of water is ‘green water’. It flows through the land in the life of plants. With luck, future technologies will include far more systems that work with it.
Points of stress, such as where glaciers have splintered walls of volcanic rock, also collect sun and water, effectively concentrating life out of the dry desert air. Like this:
Ice Fall, Spences Bridge
The first version of Highway 1 used to cut just past the base of this fall. The new highway is a much straighter affair a hundred metres to the south. This image was made in October, an hour and a half north of the Okanagan.
Here’s water closer to home, from a ridge on the upper grasslands above Okanagan Landing:
Life has the intriguing quality of holding water in place. It manipulates time.
And here’s what time slowed down like that looks like with just a little bit more distance:
Ponderosa Pine Stopping Water in Its Tracks
Notice as well all the horizontal tracks left by deer and coyotes on their endless to-and-fro. It looks like their reduced access to the lowlands, has caught up high here, like water in a dam. They are pacing like lions in a cage.
Among the stars, gravity bends space and time and matter follows. Here’s a final image of what it looks like up close and personal:
On earth, life is what happens at the intersection of space and time.
Fossils fuels manipulate time, too, just more like the pacing of those deer. The earth is the universe. Cool stuff!