Monday, February 10, 2003

When systems don't flow

A philosophical tale about our time by Patricia de Martelaere

The kind of “flow” we are after will not be a “natural” flow at all. The type we want is the water-tap-type, with the water running smoothly and endlessly and the plumber at hand as soon as anything threatens to go wrong: a new image of eternity and god-like perfection (all-seeing and omnipresent eye included). The way water actually flows in its natural environment is nothing like this: its course is full of obstructions and accelerations, it merges with other flows or ends in a lake - and eventually all rivers will end in the sea, where flowing stops or transforms into other processes, like waves or evaporation.

What we like so very much about nature is the idea of an “ecosystem”, in which things are running smoothly and apparently “all by themselves” for a certain time. What we prefer to forget is that nature is struggle and catastrophe too, and that “to flow” for all that lives inevitably also means to stop flowing and to die. Death cannot be represented...


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