Saturday, March 31, 2012

Diving -- a Saturday reprise

(This post originally appeared in May 2009.)

For my own part, I am pleased enough with surfaces -- in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child's hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of friend or lover, the silk of a girl's thigh, the sunlight on rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind -- What else is there? What else do we need?
I quote Edward Abbey, that cranky secular saint of the American West, from Desert Solitaire. I love reading Abbey. Love his gruff humor, his six-pack passion for nature, his take-no-prisoners conservation ethic. And when he praises surfaces -- well, I know where he's coming from. I love surfaces too, the matte, semi-gloss and gloss of things, the taut and texture and paint-chip colors. The cool and the warmth. The touch of lips on skin. One could spend a lifetime surfing the surface of the world, skimming the lap and ebb of things, without ever giving a fig for what lies beneath the waves.

But that's not me. I want to know. I want to know what makes the world tick. I want to see in my mind's eye the dance of the DNA, the winding and unwinding, the spinning of proteins. I want to visit the fiery inferno at the center of the Sun where protons fuse and photons flash into existence. I want to imagine the bacteria propellering through my blood, dinosaurs tromping Jurassic soil, and black holes at the centers of galaxies gobbling stars. Is that too much to ask? To have the surfaces and innards too?

Surfaces are arbitrary. They are defined by our senses, those narrow windows through which we view the world. The fox's surfaces are different from my own. The ant lives in a world of scent I'll never experience. Curiosity pries open the windows, knocks down the doors. What else is there? Everything. What else do we need? We need it all.