Michael Benson on Wed, 25 Jul 2001 14:52:05 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> an inexplicable event

The other night, quite late, something happened that was so strange, and
even amazing, that I thought I'd have to write about it at some point. I
know that to many, the scene I'm about to describe will seem improbable,
even fantastic. Others will suspend disbelief. Still others -- I'm hoping,
maybe just to be sure of my own sanity -- may have experienced something
similar. All I can say is that every word that follows is true, to the best
of my ability.  
It must have been at around 4:30 or 5 AM that I began to notice a slight
glow appearing towards the east. At first it was almost imperceptible, but
later it had a pale bluish tinge to it, and then it began to turn purple,
and it kept on getting brighter. There was something -- it's hard to
describe -- _inexorable_ about it. It just kept on growing, with a kind of
inexorable expanding incremental power, and as it grew more luminous, it
simultaneously felt like it was getting nearer, but also inexplicably
remained at a great distance. And meanwhile I began to notice that things I
couldn't see previously (for example, the dark shape of two trees,
previously submerged in the murk of the courtyard, and later even the
distinct reflective glint of a large coin that someone had dropped, and
which no doubt rolled off to its current position at the edge of the curb)
were gradually beginning to define themselves in more detail. And as all
this was happening I noticed something else: that various creatures were
starting, at first almost imperceptibly, to stir, to make little sounds,
strange peeps and quizzical query-like calls, the latter mostly, so it
seemed, made by birds... And as the light continued to grow to the east,
accompanied by bird-song and a kind of quiet animal murmur, the blue which
had originally only been on the eastern horizon expanded all the way west
and commenced to grow more and more bright and vivid. This continued to the
point where the stars, which had been clearly delineated against the black
of the sky for many uninterrupted hours, were now hanging in a pure bright
blue color. And then -- a truly mind-blowing development -- the stars began
to _go out._ I saw this with my own eyes, or rather, I lost sight of them
with my own eyes: one by one, the stars disappeared, until finally even the
brightest became harder and harder to see and then winked out, overcome by
the rising tide of intense, luminous blue. And as all this was happening,
the eastern horizon now started turning all kinds of colors, including
orange, yellow, and even purple. Meanwhile the whole 180 degree view from my
balcony (because I was watching all this from my apartment balcony) became
more and more clear and vivid, to the point where I could count trees on the
distant northern horizon, see details of brick-work on nearby buildings,
notice that coin I mentioned earlier, and even spot the faint floating
specks of high-flying birds, which (I assume, though it's only a theory)
probably woke up and decided to fly _specifically because of_ the unusual
and amazing light in the sky. 
And then (here words almost can't do the job) the most incredible thing
happened. All the way on the eastern horizon, exactly where the purple, then
orange, then yellow glow previously had been, a sharp, clearly defined
bright orange spot of light appeared, as though a signal fire had been lit
on the horizon. It was intensely vivid, punching through the texture of the
scene. And apart from its position in space, this was also a clearly defined
temporal moment: you could set your watch by it. One second it wasn't there,
the next it was. (In fact later I realised that it had the effect of being
exactly at the center, chronologically speaking, of the whole experience,
which only lasted about two hours or so.) This spot of light rapidly grew,
with some of the same kind of inexorability as I mentioned earlier, only
this was far more intense, and seemed to go much faster, until finally it
was so bright that it was hard to look at. And as all this was happening, I
realized that it couldn't be simply a fire -- or at least, not as I
understand fire -- because in fact that intense light was part of what
appeared to be a disc, or even (again, just a theory) a sphere, of intense
yellow light. Plus even though it was rising, and rose, it didn't rise the
way a flame does, with rapid darting movements. No, this was far more
majestic, magesterial, and gradual. And it's hard to exaggerate how bright
that light was: suddenly I noticed that in the surrounding scene (buildings,
trees, a silent slice of road, cars parked on gravel), _shadows_ had
appeared -- places, in other words, not lit by the intense light on the
horizon, but rather back-lit by the blue sky, so that you could still see
details in those shadows, even though what was lit directly by that light
was far more visible, and glowed with a strange ethereal power. And as the
circle of light grew, it rose up from the horizon, and as it rose from the
horizon, it grew, and then finally I started to feel something on my face,
which I identified in amazement as: _heat_.  This intense orange light was
literally throwing _heat_ all the way from the horizon onto my face. And
meanwhile the orange color turned gradually to yellow, and shortly
thereafter I understood that it was probably not a good idea to stare at the
light too directly, I could feel that it might even be dangerous to do that,
that's how bright the light was. And then, finally, this dazzling sphere, or
circle, of pure unadulterated light broke clear of the horizon and was free
in the sky, that immense powerful yellow light was free-floating and finally
perfectly circular, and I grew hot and so did my surroundings, and I
realized all at once that it, and it alone, had been the cause of the entire
series of interconnected events that I've described. And it rose and kept on
rising and in a blaze of blinding light and heat it lifted up into the pure
blue otherwise utterly empty immaculate sky, and kept on rising.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net