Issue #7 – Isolations of Space and Time

Issue #7 – Isolations of Space and Time

ISSUE #7:
This week in MUSE: Isolations of Space and Time, a meditation on humankind’s place and role in the cosmos.


CONTENTS:
Isolations of Space and Time
Invasion
Immigration
Inundation
Emanation
Balance
Eve


NEWS AND NOTES:
For another magnificent exposition of scale, see Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 short film
Powers of Ten
.

“Chapter & Verse” at Koffee?. Once a month Silas Mullins hosts local writers who read (and sometimes perform) original poetry or prose pieces, in response to a theme he proffers. The next get-together is Friday, April 27 at 7:30 pm. April’s theme is RETURN, and I will be reading my memoir In the Field.

Credits:
Cover – Geologic Time Scale, Geological Society of America. scale: millions of years.
Post photos;
Killer Kudzu, Smithsonian Institute.
Great Wall of China, satellite photo.
Iceland, Jökulsárlón (glacier lagoon), B. Wujcik.
Rope Tornado, NOAA.
Earth, NASA Apollo 17.


 

Isolations of Space and Time

Isolations of Space and Time

Geologic time is rather impossible to appreciate. We live with a sense of time measured by a unique metronome, the human heart–one second for each beat. We borrow the cadences of planets and moons to capture days, months, and years. Our lifespans gauge larger periods, as do those of other living things. And stories of origin and ancestral histories put us in an even greater temporal framework. But nothing we easily sense corresponds to the immensity of elapsed time recorded in the layers of rock beneath us.

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Invasion

Invasion

Isolations of Space and Time

I. Invasion

Isn’t every successful species invasive? The history of life on Earth is the history of the relentless, explosive expansion of living things into every imaginable and unimaginable environment, commandeering resources and space competitively, opportunistically, creatively. The evidence is that life will out, no matter what. A larger view of the geologic record reveals a history of changing ecosystems and environments.

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Immigration

Immigration

Isolations of Space and Time

II. Immigration

Studies of primates show they are hardwired to keep to their own, and strongly suggest we are built the same – to protect those like us and repel those who are not. Recent studies in cognitive science discover that we share the brainwave patterns of those closest to us, not by synchrony or custom and accommodation, but instead because we choose friends and partners by their likeness to us.

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Inundation

Inundation

Isolations of Space and Time

III. Inundation

Our dealings with some physical, non-biological recurrent events of the natural world, like fire and flood, also show awareness of larger scale process. Older practices that protect life and property are in favor again as the deferred effects of spatial containment reveal mismatches of problem and solution.

Levees are designed to keep flood waters contained (and they do,

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Emanation

Emanation

Isolations of Space and Time

IV. Emanation

We are slowly coming to terms with the converse idea that actions taken within our frame have consequences for systems beyond. The obvious example here is the imagining and construction of the U.S. federal highway system begun in the 1950‘s, which fomented dramatic cultural changes that have implications today at the planetary scale.

We have designated this a global problem of highest priority –

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Balance

Balance

Isolations of Space and Time

V. Balance

On a weekend drive, touring the lakes region of New Hampshire, I was approached by a resident offering help with directions. Our conversation was telling. In just a few minutes he conveyed the essential character of Pine River Pond – that it was dammed, privately owned, the water free from invasive species, the houses mostly four-season and generational,

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