Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Parking Lots And I Wonder

She gasped, very loudly, and said, “You can’t use that picture!”

I laughed and asked, “Why not?”

She said, “It’s from ‘Prometheus’ and you said that film is stupid.”

I said, “It is a stupid film. But it’s still a science fiction film. It’s still about people trying to work out what the hell is going on. To me even bad science fiction is better than just about anything else.”

She said, “Then why don’t you buy it?”

I said, “Well, it’s still stupid, too. So I just rent it now and then. Philosophy is good but saving money is like religion.”

In this photograph, there are five parking lots visible:

At the very bottom, in the very foreground, the first parking lot is that of a medical building. Then just across the shrubbery is the donut shop. Across the street is a restaurant. Next to that the brown brick building is another medical building. In the background between that blue trash bin and the cream building beyond the brown brick building is the parking lot of an auto repair shop.

This is a satellite picture from Google Maps. A bird flying over the five parking lots and looking down at the landscape below would see them like this. I’ve added red guidelines to what the bird would see:

The very top of this view is the background of the ground-level picture. The top parking lot is the auto repair shop. Coming down in this photo is like coming forward in the ground-level scene. Second from the top is the brown brick medical center. Then the restaurant. Then the donut shop. Finally, at the bottom of this picture, is the medical center parking lot that is in the very foreground of the ground-level photogaph.

Five parking lots.

I saw a possum running from the parking lot by the brown brick medical building to behind that blue trash bin and then into the parking lot behind the auto repair shop. From there the possum disappeared behind the residential buildings north of these parking lots.

Although the residential buildings have parking lots, too, so possibly the possum was experimenting to see how far he or she could explore without ever leaving a parking lot.

Of course the possum might not understand anything about cars at all, so the parking lots might simply be landscape to the possum. Real wilderness, to the possum’s way of looking at things.

I don’t know.


Five parking lots. Or are they something else?

They’re something else to a bird or possum.

Why shouldn’t they be something else to us?

I can walk through all five or drive through them
or look down at them from a satellite
and when I do those things they’re parking lots.

But is anything we ever look at
simply the thing in front of us we see?

A TV set isn’t a plastic box,
it’s a receiver for radiation
carefully encoded with sights and sounds.

A car we see is a decorative shell
on an internal combustion engine
converting chemicals into movement.

When we see a person, they’re not the skin
and hair and clothing and things they carry,
the person is the thoughts and emotions
somewhere inside or somewhere connected
somehow to the bits and pieces we see.

When is anything we ever look at
simply the thing in front of us we see?

Why is it tempting to think parking lots
are parking lots because that’s what we see?

When is anything we ever look at
simply the thing in front of us we see?

A bird or a possum sees wilderness.

We see parking lots and think “parking lots”
even though we understand what we see
is almost never what we’re looking at.

Five parking lots. Or are they something else?

I’m guessing they have to be something else,
after all we see them as parking lots
and we never see what we’re looking at.

Five parking lots. I wonder: What are they?

And if anybody knows what they are,
what science did they use to work it out?

From a satellite orbiting the Earth
sending what it sees to my computer,
it all looks so simple: Five parking lots.

No comments: