PROMETHEUS UNBOUND  -  Sunday April 18th, 2010

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson in Iceland (via) – compare with my own shot (from last December)

Above me the full glory of the Northern Lights was spread across the night sky, a magnificent slow-moving dance of green haze. “I think this is a life-changing phenomenon,” I said. “It’s the tipping point in my understanding. When I moved from Australia to Europe I had to accustom myself to a completely unfamiliar sky, strange new patterns of celestial and solar arrangements, but it is only now, now! Here! That I really comprehend the full significance of what it means to stand on the surface of a spherical body moving through space!” There was an uncomfortable pause, then Borja looked up from adjusting his tripod “Man, it just looks like a slow Mac screensaver.”

And he was right. It was maybe even less impressive than a Mac screensaver. But I learnt something in Iceland, amidst the violent geysers and tectonic rifts, and that was that our planet is completely indifferent to us.

It may seem naïve, to say the least, but if you really look into the mentality behind the world’s response to the volcano you find… indignation. It is, however, indignation without object, since no one is actually to blame. American news invariably takes the ‘authorities failing to act’ + ‘massive financial losses’ double spin, while the BBC is perhaps a little more stoic about it all.

I was under the impression, living in a large city, that nature had been vanquished some time ago – living on only in massive agricultural complexes, or at the motorway verge. We conquered the world, and now we find it irreverent to our trans-Atlantic and European air transport, and all the brouhaha that ensues. This is frankly pretty irritating, made worse by our complete lack of control in the situation.

If you are one of the many trapped by the volcano (not literally) my only words of solace would be to remember that whatever dubious evidence remains for a god indicates clearly that it is not a personal or loving deity, but a watchmaker who left to go down the pub ages ago. The best you can do in the face of such divine indifference is to brave it with as much stoicism as possible.

Or you can follow me and the demiurge to the Black Dog, which is where I’m off now: get with the times Peeps.

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