tales of sin and virtue
September 2, 1999 | Vortex

A storm grinds down the surface of the seas hundreds of miles away, and here the seasons pivot toward cooler climates. Our bodies creak in acceptance of the coming fall. Everyone is a little elated and a little sick. The disease manifests itself in morbid cheeriness and an inability to thermoregulate. We pull on and and pull off flannel shirts and sweaters, leaving them in little piles by our chairs for later. My hands feel strangely warm as I type, as if I'd struck the flats of my palms against the desk until they radiated red.

In the heart of that would-be hurricane, each of us cranks our small Coriolis gear. The spiral machine turns, shedding its white raiment. A temporary intelligence, born of the interaction of water droplets held in a vast atmospheric suspension, arises in the fierce space around its single skyward-looking eye. It beholds a moment's frightening vision of things to come. It comprehends chaos in a way that is only possible for a creature born of chaotic forces. It sees the multitude of random events that brought together the fluid elements comprising its own mind, and foresees the unconsciousness and oblivion that will accompany their dispersal.

Water, the raw material of its swirling awareness, endures. In a year the hurricane's furious rains will be spit in the mouths of thousands of people. When you piss in the toilet, you're reuniting molecules from distant oceans, like long-lost siblings clasping each other in an ionic hug.

I'm just waiting for the faltering hurricane to limp into the DC area. By then it will be weak, confused, and fast losing its mind as it sheds precious raindrop cells with no ocean to regenerate lost tissues. When it comes, I hope you will join me in leaving your home or place of business and standing in the downpour. I will then open my mouth to the sky. I will swallow a thin filament of the storm's monstrous intelligence, a fragment of its singular vision, and allow it to find its way out to the very edges of my cells. I hope you'll join me. I hope you'll join me.

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