TODAY’S REQUIRED READING: I Have Seen The Tops Of Clouds, by Quinn Norton
Quinn Norton shows a bit of tooth, a flash of anger, and the resolve we all require to keep making things better.
(Her trick, interestingly enough, is my trick, too. I do not believe I will ever tire of the miracle of flight.)
“I write about depressing things. I try to face the worst things about humanity and our situation. I started with how the oceans are dying, but since then I’ve moved on to genocide, imprisonment, the history of labor exploitation, computer security and mass surveillance, racism, and global ecological collapse. I’m fun at parties.
[…] We are diseased and angry and we kill each other and ourselves and all the world. We are killing off life on Earth like a slow moving asteroid. I try to look at this, and my own part in it. Sometimes it is overwhelming. I feel so powerless trying to comprehend all the terrible things we face, much less get past them into our future, with our humanity and our inconceivably beautiful little blue-green planet preserved.
[…]All these grown-up monsters for my grown-up mind, they are there in the nights I wake up terrified and taunted by death. When I feel so small and broken, when despair and terror take me, I have a secret tool, a talisman against the night. I don’t use it too often so that it doesn’t lose its power. I learned it on airplanes, which are strange and thrilling and full of fear and boredom and discomfort. When I am very frightened, I look out the window on airplanes and say very quietly:
I have seen the tops of clouds
And I have. In all the history of humanity, I am one of the few that has seen the tops of clouds. Many would have died to do so, and some did. I have seen them many times. I have seen the Earth from space, and spun it around like a god to see what’s on the other side. We are the only consciousness we’ve ever found that has looked deep into the infinite dark, and instead of dark, we saw galaxies. Galaxies! Suns and worlds beyond number. We have looked into our world and found atoms, atomic forces, systems that dance to the glorious music of the universe. We have seen actual wonders that verge on the ineffable. We have coined a word for the ineffable. We have coined thousands of words for the ineffable. In our pain we find a kind of magic, in our worst and meanest specimens we find the flesh of a common human story. We are red with it.