C-Beams Glitter in the Dark

I have… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time… to die…
—-Rutger Hauer, as Roy Batty, in Blade Runner

Photos of Wind Turbines in the Blackwell Wind Energy Center wind farm, near Blackwell, Oklahoma.

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

The first thing that strikes you about the turbines in a wind farm is the sheer size. Since they are hoisted up above a featureless, flat plain – they are visible for miles away and it took more driving than I anticipated – down sliding sand roads to reach them. I was surprised that there were no fences, gates or other security and that I was able to move right up to the base of the massive towers. Then, looking up is a giddy, vertiginous adventure. The size of the tower and the surprising speed of the blades is intimidating and unnerving – like looking up into an unexpected, impossible abyss.

The second, even more unforeseen thing is the sound. The rural bean fields were completely quiet – the air at ground level apparently motionless and completely silent. Yet the blades move at astonishing speed with an exquisite swoosh. It’s the sound of a giant jetliner wing flying past you at breakneck speed only a few feet overhead. Amazing.

Travelin’ Light

Travelin’ Light by Alison Saar (detail), Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans, Louisiana

Travelin’ Light, Alison Saar

Travelin’ Light presents a formally dressed man, hanging by his bare feet, a powerful but dignified reference to torture and abandonment. Saar has made the figure into a bell. When the chain on its back is pulled, a sonorous sound is heard, ringing for all victims of violence and terror.

I looked at Traveln’ Light and walked around it. I read the little nameplate and the blurb in the guidemap and discovered it was a bell. I thought about reaching out to the metal chain inside the hollow of the hanged man’s head and giving it a ring, but my reticence to actually touch artworks on display was greater than my curiosity as to its sound. A few minutes later, while I was a third of the way around the little pond, some guy with a gimme cap on backwards walked up to it and was ringing away with abandon. It had a dolorous sound, not bright like a church bell, more of a dull peal.

No human beings more dangerous than those who have suffered for a belief: the great persecutors are recruited from the martyrs not quite beheaded. Far from diminishing the appetite for power, suffering exasperates it.

—-Emil Cioran