The way things are

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It’s right there in front of you, that Shangri-La, that eternal spring.

I mean, how else would it keep finding its way into your camera? You click the shutter thinking that you’re taking a picture of one thing, and hours later when you look at the results, you see something more, like those double-exposed pictures that the Victorians tried to pass off as photographs of ghosts.

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“I have a similar train of thought at peak of each season,” says the sylph, “a desire to stop the world for a geologic minute, a general sadness that it will pass.” Me too.

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But the passage itself is so beautiful: that way-making, that semi-conscious inscription of memories in nerve-map and neural net, in slowly fraying muscle, in thinning bone. Heraclitus’ river, the one you can’t step into twice? Why not say that it is reborn each moment, like any stream or spring? The Indians of La Florida – the flowering land – didn’t lie when they told Ponce de Leon about a fountain of eternal youth. They couldn’t know that he would put a self-centered spin on it.

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six-spotted tiger beetle

In my camera’s Shangri-La, green tigers stalk the numerous descendents of those wasps who long ago fell to earth and lost their wings. Birth alternates with death and joy with suffering, as in any divine comedy; only those for whom all distinction between individual and tribal existence is meaningless can escape death. And these immortals – too small to be glimpsed except through the finest optics – are running the show.

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Welcome to planet Earth.

9 Replies to “The way things are”

  1. Beautiful photos, Dave. How big a hole did you have to stick your head in to get the second dandelion to look so statesmanlike?

    This is my first comment from the aggregator built into Internet Explorer 7.0, which came out two days ago in beta. It’s the first aggregator I’ve seen where you don’t have to go to the site to comment. I’ve been using Firefox for two years now, and I will still use it primarily, but the ease with which one may add a feed by clicking an icon at the top of the browser in 7.0 is appealing. Also, when you click an RSS logo on a site, it doesn’t give you code but an aggregator page with a sign-up link. Of course it has stolen some of Firefox’s innovations (e.g., tabbed browsing, multiple search engines in one window) but not all (e.g., drag-and-drop icons). IE still has the annoying click when you turn a page, and it still seems slower.

  2. Fabulous photos again, Dave. The dandelion closedup looks like something out of a mandalla. Is there a neat prosaic reason why the little tunnelling creature didn’t burrow in a straight line?

  3. Thanks, Sylph.

    Hi, Zhoen.

    Peter – A built-in aggregator with fully functional access to comments – gol-LEE! To be honest, I didn’t realize you can’t drag and drop icons with IE. I just started doing it recently.

    Since Firefox is built with open-source software, can Microsoft really be said to be stealing? “Parasitizing” would be more accurate I think. Possibly “sucking the lifeblood out of.”

    Dick – Thanks. I didn’t think about it, but you’re right – it is a mandala!

    Beetle larvae are very under-studied, according to my brother. I’ll probably have more about them in a couple of days. I imagine that the patterns formed by their tunneling result from a combination of factors, including ergonomic efficiency, the availability of nutrients and the hunting patterns of woodpeckers. In other words, I have no clue.

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