Sometimes stone-cold-obvious insights appear out of nowhere and you think: ah. So that’s how it is. Today’s case in point came as I watched a YouTube video:
(I began with this one:)
I’ve never studied geology in any formal way, but I have been accumulating bits of rock lore over the years, and I can look back to influences like John McPhee‘s Annals of the Former World (four books: Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, and Assembling California) and Geology of Newfoundland Field Guide: Touring Through Time at 48 Scenic Sites and a heap of other titles, gathered up in my usual hoovering fashion… actually quite a few books, as I begin to enumerate them and recall when and where and why I found/acquired them.
Anyhow, the stone-cold-obvious insight of the morning is that one can (should? must?) think of the 4 billion plus Terrestrial years of geological time as flows of material:
- upwelling of sub-crustal magma (volcanic activity, seafloor spreading)
- tectonic movements of crustal plates, broken by rifting and thrusting, leading to collision and subduction and shearing
- glacial advance and retreat
- sediment redeposited by flowing water
- annual cycles of climate and atmosphere, and diurnal back-and-forth of tides
- …and probably others that I’ll think of…
In fact, flow is at the heart of what we think of as time, across the range of scale from galactic (well, Universal&mdash lotsa galaxies out there…) to the microminiscule dance of electrons (whatever they are…). And of course the life-time scale of human activities (where anthropology lives and works) is a landscape animated by flow…
Would that I could transport this /insight/ back to when I began teaching, or better yet to when I began learning, and apply it to all of my various interests… The old hippy injunction to “Go with the Flow” is much more subtle than we knew… which is a pretty good launch pad for today’s inquiries.