Monday, May 11, 2009

Catching Waves

“The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradations, my reason tells me I ought to conquer the cold shudder.”
Charles Darwin

Stand anywhere.
Take a slice thinner than a human hair
Are there pictures passing through the air?

To catch light on a film of silver salts;
boil animal hides to gelatine,
spread a thousandth thick on celluloid,
turn black to white from red blue green,
from white to black and back again.
Stand anywhere. Catch the light
as pictures passing through the air.

Or to catch a wave - electromagnetic
and visible to the eye - align an array
of ten million solar cells,
turn red blue green into something or nothing;
(binary bits and bytes per pixel),
colours to numbers and back again.
Caught on the end of a human hair,
are there pictures passing through the air?

Or conquer a cold shudder and
take advantage of a long line
of slight successive variations
advanced by the shortest and slowest steps
in numerous gradations towards an organ
of extreme perfection and complication.
Did nature once make a nerve sensitive to light?

Stand anywhere.
Take one hundred and sixty million spliced human hairs;
are there pictures passing through the air?

*The majority of the final verse is an arrangement of Darwin’s own words in The Origin of Species and from a letter to a colleague

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