Friday, January 25, 2008

Mangled Corpses and Other Ponderables

Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes. No.
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry.
Shrek: No.
Donkey: Oh, you leave em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin' little white hairs.
Shrek: NO. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.

We're currently staying in Brisbane and, equally 'currently' I have a contract that takes me down to the Gold Coast every morning. Just over 80 km, 95% of it highway driving, with no major traffic issues, since a) I tend to go before the rush hour, and return as well and b) I go against the flow.

This is just a preamble to explain how I'm getting to the subject I'm getting to. Just in case anybody wonders. The other path to today's subject comes via my last blog, and especially the last part, before the American Pie lyrics.

So, this morning, extending over maybe 1 km or so, the highway lanes going south, all four of them at the stretch in question, were littered with bits and pieces, still bloody and fresh it seemed, of what once were live creatures, probably birds judging from what looked, passing and occasionally bumping over them at 110 km/h, leftovers of white feathers. Could have been cockatoos, maybe a swarm of them it looks like, possibly collected in the grill or other 'catching' parts of a large truck, and dropped off as it continued on. Unless there was something more sicko going on here. You never know. Let's assume the accident-scenarios is the right one. Don't really want to know if it was anything else, except maybe as material for some unpleasant movie.

Anyway, there they were, being bumped over by the tyres of the early morning traffic and distributed more evenly across the lanes, so that ultimately every passing car would be sure to not be able to miss getting at least some of the sad leftovers on their tyres and maybe centrifugally disposed and splattered over the insides of their mudguards.

Nice one. A somewhat revolting demonstration of the second law of thermodynamics. For ultimately that's what it is, only with the additional effect that, in a way, it actually reduces the dimensionality of the objects being randomized, since ultimately everything gets crunched and ground and squeezed into flatness. Geez, I really got to stop running with these images!

Let's assume these were cockatoos, which are pretty birds, with lots of what, in an avian context, qualifies as 'personality'. Which kind of leads me to where I wanted to be with this topic, because things like 'pretty' and 'personality' are stuff that is somehow connected to the blobs of shredded and squashed meat and blood on the highway, there between Brisbane and Coolangatta; but it's also above and beyond. And while the organic matter those cars were bumping over is somehow preserved, albeit in a somewhat randomized and definitely dysfunctional form, the 'pretty' and 'personality' are gone. And, as I noted in my last blog, those things are the superficial ones. The 'core' stuff is ground into flat, bloody road pizzas all across the M1 and sundry.

It's something I keep coming back to, because it's one of those things which--in all discussions that touch on such subjects, from the casual to the intensely philosophical--is taken for granted: the notion that somehow the more important things, as well whatever constitutes 'essence' should be considered as being located more at the 'core' of things, rather than the surface. 'Superficiality' and 'shallowness' or their semantic equivalents as personal characteristics are used derisively in almost every culture. The 'real you' is to be found 'deep within', at the heart of things, the core, the center. Invariably it is considered 'hidden' and somehow, or so we hope, immutable and untouchable; a core of, in the instance of people, of 'essential humanity' or whatever label(s) we wish to pin on this thing.

But. But.

What is it isn't so? I mean, just suppose, for the sake of the argument... I know it's a scary and unfamiliar place to go, because it, quite literally turns everything inside out, in the sense that it makes the inside the outside and the outside the inside. The layers of the Ogre-onion aren't just layers, but a whole bunch or Moebius Strip rings of different, sometimes only infinitesimally-small-different, diameters arranged in some concentric, or almost-concentric, manner.

I mean, let's just suppose that everything that we tend to attach 'value' to, and I'm not talking about a juicy steak here, isn't really a 'core' thing, but, when you look at it closely, really 'superficial'; both, from the point of view of what is actually 'is', as well as what you might call an 'evidentiary' one: meaning you can only tell what's actually 'there' by looking at the surface, at phenomena, at what is, in the widest sense of the word, 'visible'. Not the hidden stuff, which is always inferred from the non-hidden phenomena caused by what is hidden. And what is hidden need not be a 'core' either; just something at a layer that may be hidden by others at any given instant of observation.

Am I making any sense here? It makes sense to me, but then I actually do have a pictorial representation of the process in my head. I wish I had a nice 3-d modeling program I could use to create the structure I'm talking about; it would make things so much simpler.

Enough ranting for today! Go and dream of Moebius Strips.

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