“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tropical Rain

Houston is forty minutes' drive from Earth's tropical zone, and the last time I checked--in the Amazon rain forest--one of the things that characterizes that region is endless, immense moisture, everywhere, dripping out of everything and falling into everything, and circulating around everything.

And it's certainly been that way in the last couple of weeks here. Yesterday was particularly spectacular. The storms here have involved lightning so all pervasive and intense that at night it's been like being in strobe lights. The most intense lightning bolts are pink-violet and thick and so beautiful powerful. The rain is warm and relentless. At some point you really don't want to be driving. A stream starts to happen on my side of the street--then on the opposite side--then it's a river, the entire street, about two feet deep and rushing towards the Rothko Chapel. There is no difference between the sidewalk and the road. The rain begins to fall at a 45 degree angle or shallower, in sheets. The cypresses bend about the same angle, whipping about along with other trees stirring like--you know what it's mostly like is meditating.

When you really take the breaks off in meditation and you just let your mind be wild. Unstructured experience, just happening in an unbroken continuity. (Which is the technical definition of tantra.)

Slowly the thing calms down. Then you're sitting there a few hours later, and random lightning is happening. One inevitably bursts right next to you in a violet flash, followed by an explosion so long (45 seconds I think) that you wonder whether it was a bomb, or whether it caused something serious to explode.

People have died and houses have been totaled, and I'm pretty sure that any cars parked in the street are now barely functioning. And I'm protected from the worst of it by an ersatz moat--the highway is dug really deep about two hundred yards to the south. I wonder whether the Menil Collection and the historic nature of this area has anything to do with that.

If you want a demo of the intimate connection between causality and the aesthetic you just need to be in one of these storms. They are very disturbing indeed, until you are behind glass.


Anonymous said...

I think you should write about weather all the time.

Anonymous said...

That's so amazing. The exact same thing just happened way out here in the Willamette Valley--about 3 hours later on the dot, and no jet lag. Titanic 45-second thunderclaps and torrential rain. The biggest & loudest thunderstorm I've experienced since coming out west. Storms like these were common this time of year in New Jersey. I found it very soothing!