Sunday, November 2, 2014

The sky and modernity

Days ago I got home early from work. There was still daylight so I took my new daughter Mei out to introduce her to the infinite sky. It's easy to do at her age, on account of she's too young to sit up in the pram and so she lies on her back looking up at everything.
Everything, on this particular day, translated into the infinite sky, cloudless, that dense radiant blue.
We walked north on streets. There were hills with houses on them. Whenever there was a chance to go higher I took it, and we ended up on curves traced high through that blue: long arching curves like the path of a flat stone thrown across a river, arcs in that ocean.
Mei's eyes, coincidentally, are the colour of an ocean in winter and she was taking everything in through them.
The sun was doing that thing it does where it explodes for billions of years and makes everything. It was hot on me but the air wasn't. We walked up a longlong alley, one of those alleys the nightmen used to travel. It went on and on. It was dry and bare and fig trees hung over fences like toughs leaning out car windows. They were green. Seemed fair enough to me.
I found a spring garlic just sitting there all by itself in the middle of the alley like a talisman against demons from the old country so I put it in the pram: you never know when you might need garlic.
We turned eventually back onto the street and headed downhill toward the creek. We passed a gap in the houses, a long mown swathe dozens of kilometers long. It had electricity pylons in it. We were in the highest part of those hills. Once upon a time that would have been reserved for a church but all this happened back in 2014 and electricity was the holiest thing to us back then and so instead we had those giant spires devoted to it and to passing it along. They watched over us while we walked to the creek and down the path that runs along it.
Mei wanted to sleep and so she did. The thing I appreciate about babies is they don't give a shit about modernity. They don't care the enclosure movement created a vast population of landless peasants with nothing to sell but their labour, that those labourers congregated in cities and were mechanised by the factory, what that did to time and space and how we understand ourselves. They don't care that at 9am you might have to be somewhere without vomit on your clothes, they just wake up and want milk and holding, because they're mammals.
There's a whole literature dedicated to getting babies to fit in to the same rhythms of eating and sleeping we moderns have been disciplined into, but I reckon fuck that. Babies let you see the world outside modernity and we should thank them for it. They invite you into deep time, and also into the rhythms the body found before all this foolishness with clocks, the rhythms of love and wanting and hunger and holding. Plenty of folks can give you a critique of modernity, but babies teach you how to just blithely ignore it like it isn't even there. It's good practise. One day it won't be there any more. And the babies, unperturbed, will still gaze up at the infinite sky and drink it all in like they always have. X


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