Prompt: A line from the Bible. 25 minute free-write and 10 minute clean-up. (Wrote for thirty, cleaned up for five.)
I see through a glass, darkly.
Glass is just sand, you know. Sand and a little soda and a touch of lyme. And human hands, of course. Mostly, glass doesn’t occur in nature and when it does, it’s pretty much useless. There, I said it. Useless nature that only gives us the material for useful glass. When you learn about glass, you learn about the failings of organization. Glass is disarray. Molecules shaken up and cooled down too quickly to find their place. Your place is where you stand. Molecule and me. You can only get transparency with disorder. Order gives you crystals and crystals give you obscurity. Glass is a product of heat and cold, not cold and heat and this matters because it takes the matter out of our hands. We’re not shaping it and setting it. We’re melting it and catching it. Glass was the first transformation that made us pray for alchemy and the final scientific tool that helps dispel every myth. Transmutation that puts us in our place. Ancient Romans loved glass because it stored their wine well and allowed them to see the its color. I think there’s something earthbound and skybound there. You can determine the structure of glass but you can never predict it and so our vision is perfected by a process we put in motion but can never completely control. Newton understood glass. He took a prism and showed that it could bend and separate light into a spectrum. We’re now given that spectrum as picture in textbooks we never open. Not everyone believed what they saw. The color and clarity you see is from the glass, they said, not the light passing through it. We’ve made the glass and so we’ve made the color. Newton bowed in simple disagreement and then bent light back into a second prism - the colors rejoined and white light emerged from the other side. A second witness. A third, if we count the man himself. I do. Newton understood the power of light. The speed of light is consistent. And it is fast. ThreeTimesTenToThePowerOfTenCentimetersPerSecond. Want to slow light down? Make it meet a solid, force it to move electrons to make its way to the other side. A solid like glass. Glass isn’t really a solid. It’s solid liquid that has never properly transitioned. Proper transitions are the domain of the categorized. Why would anyone want to slow light? You can’t catch it, don’t you know? I know. But you can use it. Light that crawls makes lenses that sharpen. The best lenses are impure. You must add metal to your sand, crowd the electrons, make the light work for its passage. And then you’ll be able to see things too big and things too small for the eyes God and Evolution gave you. The big and small are connected you know, and so is the light and lens that lets you see them. Glass is a secret. Science still doesn’t understand it even at it wields it. But wielding is a form of knowing and the ancient Egyptians knew this and so do the the laboratories we’ll never enter. It’s hard to cut glass but easy to break it. Unless you prepare as it cools. Chill the outside while you allow the inside its warmth. External tension, internal compression. What’s happening on the outside can be different than what is happening on the inside. The difference is a source of strength. Electricians used to rub wool on glass to capture electricity. The surface crackled until the electrician caught the sparks with glass spikes. They bottled that electricity. A message in a bottle. Or magic in a bottle. Bottle shock. Current eventually broke the bottles but sometimes I wonder if there is one forgotten in a dusty closet, collected energy from a disconnected past. No matter. I care little for the spark and unendingly for the illumination. I can’t make light, but I can sure as hell let it pass through me.
Disorder bestows the vision. Impurity sharpens the transmission. Refraction distills the color. And the material is fucking man made.
I see through a glass, darkly.