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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tea-bowl for Sadako, #32 of 36, "A Fire Duet"

     "Strokes by nature's drawing kit,
      Mocks attempts, at imitating it."

Sometimes the fire will do something as if to say, "I can do what you do, but better!".

What we have here on this pot is a sort of duet. Marks made by me, with a brush laden with iron-oxide, and marks made by the fire.

This one's cream colored all round. Crystals formed, leading to full a full scale downpour on the opposite side, yet the color of the ash fluxing and glaze is much the same on all sides.


The fire draws. I draw.

This leads to a realization. We humans believe we've attained something magnificent, able to write, paint, design buildings, build rockets, etc., yet we fail to see our egos fairly splitting apart with hubris. Arrogance, perhaps one of the most distinctive of human qualities, has cooked a potent brew of disasters waiting to happen.

While we may force our children to live within their means, individually, and through our governments, (those expressions of our greater self) it may be seen just how how foolish and inept we really are. We are governed, literally, by arrogant and selfish men acting in their own self interest, yet the governed are no different than their rulers. Collectively, and individually we break the rules we preach amongst ourselves. Sometimes, man is noble. Collectively, most of the time, he's a beast.

We have not learned to live sustainably on this planet, moreover we've distorted our morality to fit our fierce competition for scarce resources. We thus have chosen individual life over collective life.

Honest souls working for dishonest corporations, are responsible for destructive and dishonest deeds. We are unable to pass laws or enact policies we know would be beneficial and useful for us as a species, the survival of our children's children, and the life of our planet.

Yes, we are deeply flawed. So we gloat again, "That is human!"

We could say, "We were tempted". Our logical brains saw a way to reduce the 'work' for some of us via below ground temptations such as petroleum, and spend the income thus generated on other below ground temptations, such as gold, diamonds, and white marble. The earth's riches make an intoxicating case for lives of thievery and abuse. Dirty money is made extracting these riches, while starvation occurs to millions just miles away. In the past year, the deltas of both the Mississippi and the Niger Rivers were devastated by oil spills, which crippled local economies, and wetland ecosystems. Somewhere close by in this small world, live the captains of industry who approved and profited from such destruction. They are waited on amidst marble floors, and move about fearfully in armored gas guzzling vehicles that burn their oily contraband.

Such qualities in a human being, it is oft said, come before a fall, though such truisms have traditionally been wagged at errant individuals, not the entire species on a tottering planet.

Careful humans, a deep fall is coming! Prepare.

Homo sapiens is not as unique as he tells himself! We're not the only intelligent creature on the planet. Our DNA is simply not that unique! Should we perish, we'll be replaced within a split second of planetary time, with another being as or more intelligent, and one that is perhaps less flawed. Is it not true that the second edit of a computer, or a machine of any kind, corrects many of the defects birthed by its first release?

Try to build a dam of sticks as well or as efficiently as a beaver, or construct a hanging nest of grass strong enough for a family of five like a weaver bird. And if you doubt intelligence is being employed by these creatures, try spotting a lie as effectively as an ordinary Labrador retriever! Try predicting the World Cup like Paul the Octopus or surviving upon a budget of foraged food as efficiently as a bird weighing just a few grams in the sub-zero temperatures of the fiercest winter.

Fire and water allocate resources better than the best human economy. A mere fragment of local weather calculates more inputs than any brain.

We're descended from nature. We're a subset. endowed with talents to get a job done.

We're all energy processors, with a purpose. And here, writing of 'purpose' I'm speaking of Man's 'work'. Not his 'play'. Not his poetry, or love, or art.

Birds work hard.They play a vital role spreading seeds, what waste they produce is all beneficial. Many fly extreme distances to winter or nest. Those that stay behind, shiver to survive, high metabolisms pitted against winter extremes. Yet they also 'play'. Research shows they sing, incessantly, often for the fun of it. Water also 'plays', and water works.

Names assign 'roles' to forces of nature, such as calling a piece of water, a 'river'. But water, as a force, an element, with inner laws of behavior, does agree to forever honor the banks of the Mississippi. A river is not a contract with nature! The floods out West, painfully, represent water at 'work'. That 'work' changes, depending upon what we do. We may elect to care for the Mississippi basin, or abuse it. If the latter, water will 'work' differently. Each entity in this universe has an order that it delights in, and another that it works upon. Delight while it is there, but work to keep that place.

Human attempts at self-governance clearly illustrate the huge inefficiencies built into our species. We're an all-purpose ape, comparatively a recently evolved robot, a clunky design unproven in so many ways. The birds watch us gawkily clambering about, digging up the place. They've been soaring aloft for two hundred and fifty million years. Whose survival are you betting on?

I have a theory - a grim one - Man's intelligence allowed him to exploit a surplus of fixed carbon, petroleum and natural gas, coal, as well as limestone, and other forms of sedimentary rock. Our industry releases back into the atmosphere gaseous carbon that is needed to supply the world of plants. The photosynthesis based ecosystem will enjoy the carbon windfall that we're putting out for life to enjoy and prosper upon after we've gone.

Trapped carbon became a problem. Much of recently produced carbon waste, bodies of dead plants and trees, is processed by fungi. But fungi evolved after the great age of plants. And carbon has been trapped steadily for billions of years. Yes global warming, and global polluting as a part of global 'ruining' is a threat to human life . . . but not to the long-term lives of plants.

Yes indeed, we, you and I, represent one of the earth's great convulsions of change. Humans play a giant role in transforming the planet to better utilize energy from the sun. In ways human life represents the planet at work, getting a dirty job done. Yet we 'play' as well.

      Who knows what line of poem or song
      Delights the God who strings us along.
      What lone voice, or lovely tune,
      Postpones our day, of reckoning soon.

Meanwhile our 'work' consumes us. That 'downside' to the photosynthetic equation, solar energy trapped in sugars, cellulose, and sedimentary rock, when re-released into the atmosphere, makes our world less habitable - to us.

In the grand scheme of things we will be written about as being very useful. To the plants, whom we serve, since without them, we cannot live.

In the ocean, shells of plankton and other marine life sit atop a chain of sun-trapping carbon-fixing ecologies. Their carbonaceous bodies pile up as limestone and sedimentary rock on the ocean floors. When continents lift, huge quarries of these rocks are presented - mines excavate carbonate containing minerals by the teraton every year. Exposed to acid precipitation, C02 is released.

Our agriculture, stripping soil poor jungle basins such as the Nile and Niger,  converting these dense carbon traps to agricultural grazing, where cattle fed on grasses add methane and C02 to the atmosphere.

We are the warmers of the earth. By putting marble, slate, even granite on the surfaces of buildings, and making concrete from the same materials, we expose fixed carbon to acid rains, which in turn releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Global warming's very inconvenient to humans. Soil depletion and de-forestation contributes to terrible floods followed by horrendous droughts.

But to plants, we bring manna from heaven. Without C02, they cannot live or multiply. We're increasing global concentrations. Gaseous carbon will allow another billion years of plant evolution. Other creatures will evolve alongside the green ones.

Will we?

That dismal equation, ugly as it is for our near future (global warming, exacerbated weather conditions, deforestation, desertification, acid rain, etc.) returns the earth to a very early state of atmospheric condition, providing a carbon-rich feast for another great age of plants.

Man has not invented, anything as subtle as photosynthesis, for trapping the power of the sun. The only way the earth may remain cool long term, and not bake to death like Venus, or freeze like Mars, is if plants have an assured future on the surface of our lonely rock.

Homo sapiens, has been hard at 'work' for two million years, stirring up the bodies of dead plants. Our term of employment, is nearing completion. Enjoy your 'play' time people!

Enjoy your love, your poetry, and song, Our job at hand won't be here long.


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