Somehow a city seen from a few hundred yards up at night is more alive to me than one seen during the day. During the day, the skyscrapers shout for attention, their static solidity commanding your gaze. At night it is the movement of lights that gives the city its soul, the individual cars on their arterial paths, the twinkling pinpoints of street lights that shimmer, sparse in some areas, like clustered fairylights in others, garlanding areas of the city like a celebration.
Seen from above at night, human habitation looks like strands of neural viruses, creeping out, tendrils extending to unimaginable limits. Of course, if it were a virus, a neural network of infection, we would seek to eradicate it as quickly as possible, using every means we knew how, including direct attack as well as more subtle and subversive methods such as changing its genetic makeup, turning it on itself. Then, when we come to think about it, isn’t that what we do already?
We try to protect our own particular strain, but remove others that, to our minds, don’t develop in the same way. Even our own strains seek to implode from within. What’s more amazing perhaps is that, despite our best, or worst, intentions, the virus still seems to be thriving and growing, changing, adapting to new conditions.
But maybe not forever. Just like any parasite gone out of control, this one is destroying its own means of survival and it can only be a matter of time before its habitat is eaten from within and the virus is killed off by its own machinations.
You can take this to mean whatever you wish – it applies equally to biology, man v nature, religion v religion, culture v culture, individual v individual.
Nature contains innumerable examples of this process in action – in plants, animal behaviours, living bodies. But are we inevitably ensnared within the repetitions of process? Or do we have a choice to escape this behaviour? Our bodies can’t escape, but our minds can. But will we allow them to? Can we see beyond the process to the possibilities that exist outside? Can we kill off this parasite? Do we really fundamentally, deep down, want to?
Perhaps it’s only when we’re ‘versus’ each other that this happens. When we’re ‘for’ each other, it doesn’t seem to have the same impact. One of life’s lessons that as a species we keep failing to learn, now and throughout our history on this earth.
I have no answers, only questions. But maybe questions can help…. Let me know your thoughts?