I watch the spider work outside the window in the wind and rain. It spins its filaments out of itself, arranges and rearranges them in widening circles. One thread quivers and drops off the eave: the spider crawls up to replace it, stops to rest, starts again. Slim pickings in this weather but what else can it do but build its net, heal it when it breaks, rebuild elsewhere when its weaving is disturbed, wait? It’s so easily displaced, so easily makes another home. The web spreads out in any old nook, its gaps growing wider, sometimes only visible in the sun. The worker sits still for ages, its work apparently all for nothing, until the web is either wiped away (as I’ll probably wipe this one away when the weather’s dry) or comes into its own when shaken into life by a bug.

The comforts of the straight story, the satisfying ending. Filling in gaps, running over silence. The spider at work and at rest tells me something else. What does it say, in its patience?

We cast our own fine-meshed nets over the earth, mapping and monitoring it with pinpoint accuracy. Military-developed GPS satellites circle the globe, linking to billions of receivers on the ground, synchronizing them via atomic clocks. They plot every millimetre of the world, guide missiles, aid logistics, stock-market trading, weather forecasts, infrastructure grids and the internet. Even farm machines are now fitted with positioning systems that automate ploughing, planting and harvesting: the farmer can run his driverless tractors from anywhere while he downloads weather data and sells his grain on the global market.

Abstract space. Desire for presence. Is this desire itself a form of presence? Didn’t they used to say of prayer that the desire to pray was itself prayer?

Nature loves to hide; we love to cover it up. A dark age, that loves to disguise itself.


Comments are closed.