Man and Nature: A Calculus Beyond My Understanding

I stand on the front walk to my house and look around. I am seeing certain things as if for the first time, and I am awestruck:Telephone lines (or are they power lines?) slung between tall, slender, unadorned, wooden totems, strictly for the purpose of transmitting information (or energy) all along the little street.

Metal antennae attached to rooftops. A satellite dish.

All of these comprise the infovascular system (if I may) of our species — an extension of our bodies, as Leonardo da Vinci would have said. I say they are an extension of our minds — not an alien, unnatural blight on the landscape, but an inevitable result of the advent of the frontal lobe in humans.

Chimneys spring from rooftops as well, venting whatever we cannot use and do not want in our houses. I do not normally see these, rather taking them for granted a hair shy of one hundred percent of the time. They are cowlicks on the structures we have built for ourselves in our image. Two windows and a door make a face. Buildings are large cloaks which we can move around in. Very roomy.

I look up at the birds. The swallows with their pointed wingtips beat the air faster than a fish beats water with fins but slower than an electron orbits a nucleus. They trawl for unseen airborne insects. I imagine these birds closing off their windpipes and throats, catching as many insects as they can — their flight patterns governed by a calculus far beyond my human understanding — until the sensation of insect bodies, lodged in saliva, accumulates enough to warrant, ahem, swallowing.

The birds flock together, but individually you can see them ruminating. “Should I follow now? How about now? Yes, now. I will join my familiars. I am my own bird. I miss my familiars. I am my own bird, for my attention wanes.” They flit from tree to tree. They fly over my head.

They land on a telephone line. Or power line. Unlike me, they do not question it. The wire is part of their real, natural world.

Bricks belong here too.

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