“For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”
Powers of 10 is a 1977 film made by Eames LLC “dealing with the relative size of things in the universe and the effect of adding another zero”. It begins one metre above a sleeping picnicer’s hand in a Chicago park. The frame first expands by one power of 10 every 10 seconds. Then it goes the other way, diminishing by one power of 10 every 10 seconds.
At this distance, we might read from his body heat
his ecology: cells on the verge of turning
dust. Microscopic life might thrive
but we can only speak of what we see:
the hand on the chest falls and rises
in a regular pattern, predictable.
Any conclusion is speculation
but at this scale each breath’s surge and drop
gives substance to his sleep.
She sleeps, he sleeps. The rug is warmed by the Sun.
What moves under it? Is the grass populous?
Mites and larvae, ants,
fine skin dustfall from joggers, children,
fast open-tops on the freeway.
From here, though, it is one clear square,
pristine, the figures in it letters
on plain parchment,
which may be read, with care,
This park is a scab on unhealed ground.
Rip it out, to clean earth,
put in its place an eye
that can look up, and up, up,
so far park is forgotten.
Will it let us know what is out there,
what can be focused on,
what we can take?
In the park, look up. What is there?
Clouds where a plane disappears.
White-black city lines inscribe on screen
as the eye settles settles to focus, each angle
a point to rest on, painlessly at first,
then hawking on, another plane established.
There are people moving now along it.
Is there a volume of laws that dictates
their flow and action?
We are gods over these roofs and a/c units –
as far as vision goes. But the human still
narrates. It is in the architecture.