online: 2 august 2004
modified: 1,2 august 2004

19 july 2004 humanistic excess

12:08 From a bridge over a motorway being reconstructed:

...a road-making machine moves at slow walking pace spewing out a geometrically formed bank of tarmac granules as it melts and shaves off a layer of asphalt. It's as if a production line has become mobile and is remaking itself!

I see this as a large-scale self-repairing technology - an element of the self-evolving technology to come (when everyone will be able to share in its direction and control).

There were just 2 people directing this near-automation - plus two bystanders (another man and myself) watching from the bridge. We are now uncomprehending and powerless regarding the self-repairing road but in the future ordinary people will I think be 'in charge' - all who might need, or wish, to direct or limit the development, repair or undoing of any momentary 'as is'. Effective moments of varying duration, from microseconds to lightyears. 'The future' as we call it - an interweaving of times, each special to some changes, irrelevant to others. These abstract future visions are evident already though their physical realities have yet to evolve.

Now I'm walking on the wasteland of a motorway intersection. More varieties of new plants growing wildly here (in 'artificial' ground) than in the planted city forest nearby - as I walked I noticed perhaps 10 species...

...In the forest tall beeches, each about 100 inches (about 3 metres) circumference (and by rough rule of thumb = 100 years old)... So these trees were planted about 1904 (in Belgium) and have survived being twice a battle ground during the 20th century. There are disused military bunkers beneath the trees, and very little undergrowth - it being more a gardened municipal park than a wilderness.

13:55 and now, shining like a freak at the edge of some mown grassland, is a white replica of Michelangelo's David, twice life size, with the pebble and sling with which, as a boy, he is supposed to have killed Goliath, a giant (whom we must here imagine as being twice giant size?)... To me this embodies the limitness madness of the Renaissance that afflicted our recent ancestors but which now, to living generations, is becoming a threat...

'To undo the Renaissance', or rather to subject it to nature and to self-limiting growth, is perhaps our task now?

An elderly man and woman walk slowly towards David, as if to a funeral, though wearing summer clothes. A nearly naked white woman lies on the grass before David, facing the sun while attempting to become brown. The pure white stone sculpture is immune to suntan though the actual David lived in a region where human skin is brown...

(The density of information in this place, or any other, is much more than I can write!)

Passing close to the statue I see that there is a stone leaf hiding its stone penis but, apart from that, the sculpting of the body is an idealised realism, and with an attractive modesty in the choice of story that it tells... but suited to a time that we have outgrown though we do not seem to know it.

As I sat to write that a woman passed leaving a manufactured scent that trailed about 20 metres behind her.

Later a small child refused to pass close to a hissing goose so the elderly woman accompanying her accepted the child's wish and retreated to find another way round the lake... Another giant (or grandmother) defeated by a child, who was herself defeated by a bird of about her own size)!

Today I'm seeing all these sights as warnings of humanistic excess that now threatens the world, even the cosmos... but the answer is already in our minds if not our deeds (see afternature and Maya Deren's theories of nature and film-making).

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