Spectacularly We Descend

5-01

Other, Etc. A Catalog Of Anything But Architecture

August 29, 2019

Through the airplane window, I behold
some strange field of smoke gray and luminous orange.
An electric blanket of smog, thick like a slow-bubbling meringue
has spread across the slumbering suburbia just outside of Shanghai.
According
to my watch, it is
about 4:00 in the afternoon
in Connecticut, which means here, it is also 4:00.
Not a minute earlier, I had been able to pinpoint
each tiny, distant light source, thousands, probably more.
Now only the densest clusters, a dozen or so framed within my view,
illuminate some vague notion of urban planning beneath the hovering atmosphere –
a miasmatic index relating particulate density to moisture content and thermal energy,
jointly expressed as a topographic and chromatic coding of mega-modern industrial infrastructure.
Somewhere within, a restlessness churns,
causing arpeggiated rhythms of meandering ripples
to break against the slow crescendos of emergent masses,
bobbing like enormous balloons, scattered across a deeper stratum,
inflating and deflating with the unhurried, lyrical movement of a Romantic melody.
Schubert might best have scored such a frenetic, haunting and yet sublimely soothing scene,
syncopating unsettling modulations as a tangerine glow shifts to darker tonalities.
Surely, everybody has, at some point, found themselves
arrested by the marvellous displays of the world we, human beings,
have created for ourselves. For the future benefit of all living things, we would be
better off without certain such magnificent sights. Among those we ought to forego,
we can, nevertheless, find in them, new forms of aesthetic inspiration to be enjoyed and celebrated.
In other words,
in the interest of promoting truth and awareness
during a time increasingly defined by misinformation, we would be better advised
to fully embrace the conflicting realities of the world rather than simply being led to fear and abhor them.