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Confluence - Obstacles
August 2018
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Rain dropping into quiet water makes would-be perfect circles interrupt each other. Soaking into gentle slopes, sudden and gradual processes fold eons over moments, intimacies transform into distances.

What travels uphill and downhill at the same time, has its mouth at the opposite end from its head, and leaves its bed when it rains?
 
What gives metaphors their depth? And what allows us to retrieve their possibilities? Earth and air, fire and water; our bodies know them and we use their qualities to name other phenomena. So it is with modern science, where numbers stand for relationships in time and space and collections of samples for the terrain of being. (Borges: to think abstractly, we must forget that signs are metaphors.)
 
I have been back and forth from the Berkeley to the Sierra several times this summer. Each time I am impressed with the ease of car travel, crossing from ocean to mountain crest in a few stretched out hours. Roadways translate geologic patterns into travel speeds for passenger cars. Pre-automobile cultures knew much better the smells and textures of land. I've lost that, but still register regional topography, the uplift and erosion of millions of years. (On vehicular travel see Ways of the World: a History of the World's Roads and of the Vehicles That Used Them; on geography of the West, see Meldahl's lively Rough Hewn Land)
Projects also meander in response to conditions of research, materials, chance encounters and other social processes. Fundamental principles remain while circumstances and adaptations tug at ideas, suggesting new boundaries and expressions. To put down the curbtop writing I envision, I’m testing papers and vegetable starches instead of synthetic rubber and glue. I’ll be presenting the concept of mile-long texts to a neighborhood group in Reno next month and am looking for a block-long test site in the San Francisco Bay Area as well.

Water as my subject is a structuring prospect, reorienting across landscapes of possibilities and absorbed by what it touches along the way.

A warm thank you to my readers. Feel free to connect - I love hearing from you!
 
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All images by Todd Gilens unless noted otherwise.

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