Becoming Out of Line: The Misalignment of Straightness

Matter composed into straight lines—or even more appropriately a three dimensional object with straight surfaces—is very rare in our world, if you exclude what humans have artificially pounded into existence. Nature offers a myriad of phenomena of almost straight continuous things that one could say tend towards straightness, such as icicles. However, one of a different mind could say icicles are essentially tending away from straightness, not towards it. Nature seems to abhor straight things, because of an obvious violence and simplification of what is so beautiful and complex. Regardless of this, lines have come to imply continuousness, with the concomitant inverse inference that if something is not linear, it is somehow less whole or less connected.

This notion of curvature—and any change in direction for this matter—as somehow being a break in continuity of the phenomena, is ingrained in young minds receiving a standard education across the United States, and probably in other Western and Westernizing states. A student draws a hexagon and he is praised, another student draws herself an image resembling a contour map and the paper is thrown in the garbage. Though both the students’ lines are contrived abstractions from something that may actually relate to the tangible world, the curvy terrain lines are scaled down versions of continuous lines in nature. Any man made straightness in the world is going to be unmade by forces greater than our efforts into something that isn’t so straight… something that has sporadic spatial changes… something that is alive! Yet we with our incessant maintenance efforts keep trying to impose hexagons, impose squares, impose closed loop circularity into the landscape, out of the landscape, and into our offspring.

We fail to sense the desires of our children (including that within us) to be non-linear, to be “out of order”, to be untameably free, and instead insist, in a rather neurotic way, that they line up straight, that they not experiment with their voices but use them as precise tools of communication (and occasionally as regimented tonal singers). What curves in nature, continues on—both in the spatial sense but also in the chronological sense of surviving; curving is much more internally continuous/harmonized than what fragmented-ness occurs when something is forced into straightness. That fragmented-ness is made visible when roads start to fall apart, when windows on skyscrapers break, when supposedly rational human beings become artistic, when dementia increases in likeliness (this is a loaded, nuanced topic that perhaps I will give opinions on later).

Anyways, this is the first post I am not going to go back and excessively (and obsessively) edit and impose my own twisted logic upon, and apologize for (philosophically speaking). Also, this is one of many contributory thoughts building up to a post on the ontology of violence (contrasted with the epistemology of violence) that I have been gathering towards.


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