Peering backwards to see the nature of reality

The Bath House

We fight Nature’s fractal approach to the world constantly, throwing up our gauntlets of stone, mortal and wood with our Cartesian assurance of lines, angles and foundations.  Yet over time, in the end, Nature’s way wins.  Nature recreates itself constantly, following a mathematics we’ve yet to embrace yet one that defines the world around us.  Building on what is already there, adapting existence to environment, modifying to grasp evolving opportunity.

The movie Avatar showed this in stark contrast.  The organic symbiosis of Pandora’s native inhabitants surrounding the mechanical, linear civilization bent on extracting some perceived wealth.  Another example was the fluid, adaptable culture of the Plains Indians portrayed in Dances With Wolves, revealing again the clash of philosophy with the westward expansion of whites intent on locking their environment down so it could be controlled.  This story of Man vs. Nature has been played out in myths from hundreds of cultures, across the span of written history.

How is it we continually ignore the lessons we see every day?  We live in a dynamic environment that adapts, changes, bends with stress and recovers.  Our contribution to this seems to be limited to structures sunk into the earth, intended to stop change and inhibit further adapting.  As if saying, “from now on, this is the way things will be forever,” a silly presumption in the face of our evolving existence.

We seem to want a permanence not found in the world.  As if that which we leave behind for the future is more important than that which we contribute to the changing present.

A photograph does stop time for an instant, revealing what was at that moment.  Even simple snapshots accomplish this.  But don’t really great photographs transcend their moment in time to tell us something at all times?  A soldier kissing a nurse in Times Square, a naked child running from a war, a venerable statesman glaring at the camera – all moments frozen by the image but nonetheless continuing their story independent of the instant.


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