Solar Bones – Mike McCormack – Quotes

were we so blind to the world teetering on the edge that we never straightened up from what we were doing to consider things more clearly or

have we lost completely that brute instinct for catastrophe, that sensitivity now buried too deep beneath reason and manners to register but which, once upon a time, was alert to the first whining vibrations radiating from those stress points likely to give way first, that primal faculty which lies in the less evolved, reptilian part of  our brain and which we credit to

dogs and vermin and birds as

their ready reflex to flee or take flight en masse just before the ground or the tree or the building beneath them begins to shudder, their primal attunement to danger stampeding them in droves from buildings and structures before they come crashing down around them, a sensitivity we have lost apparently, a faculty which has atrophied through the softening circumstances of our ascent because

collapse is never far from an engineer’s mind

it was regarding the financial crisis, but probably can be applied to all sorts of situations and still hold true, we’ve build a defense of civilization around us, all the warnings, signs etc to protect us and we stopped relying on our instinct and observation, we just follow the sings. The problem starts when they’re not there or have been manipulated.

the physical world gone down in flames

mountains, rivers and lakes

and pulling with it also all those human rhythms that bind us together and draw the world into community, those daily

rites, rhythms and rituals

upholding the world like solar bones, that rarefied amalgam of time and light whose extension through every minute of the day is visible from the moment I get up in the morning and stand at the kitchen window with a mug of tea in my hand

I think I realized how much of our lives is made of habits and traditions only once I moved abroad and suddenly some of the habits were slightly different, traditions varied, other days were celebrated, it took me a while to get my head around the fact that 5 of Nov is a day that’s celebrated in the UK, it took me even longer to figure out the significance of 25th January, and then there were all those festive days that I was missing (because why would Polish constitution be celebrated in the UK ;)). Luckily we still share huge part of the culture, so I can keep most of my traditions and happily explore new ones here.

it was a beautiful summer’s afternoon when we set out, a high, clear sky over us so that you could see the whole of the bay in every direction, from Westport Quay in the east, out to the horizon beyond the Turk and Clare as we passed back the coast, keeping close to the shore so that the sea opened out to its full reach ahead of us and w could see across  to Mulranny which, in the afternoon heat, was a blur, a distant shadow coastline where sky and sea came together and once again the whole expanse of this blue day recalled my childhood conviction that there was nothing greater than the sea, no other width or breadth which could surpass or encompass it because the older I got and the more I advanced in my work as an engineer the more certain I had become that

out there, on the blue bay

was where my sense of scale and ratio was established during my childhood

this is exactly why I love the sea, the lack of borders, walls, limits, nothing more nothing less

my heart clenched in my chest with a desperate love for this man who had been the hero of my life but who now was so confused he was incapable of seeing who or what was good for him, and this above all else cut me to the bone, how a man who had walked so sure-footedly through the world could now misread it so completely that he could see no good in anything anymore, not even his own son

I’ve seen it done umpteen times before, there is still something to wonder at in the pouring of concrete foundation, the way it draws so many skills and strengths together, the timing and cooperation needed and the way the rising and spreading tide of concrete itself demarks, as no other stage in the building process can, the actual from the theoretical, makes the whole thing real in a way that site-clearing or the digging out of the foundation itself can never do, all these are definite staging posts in any structure’s transition from the abstract but none of them separate so clearly the ideal realm of plans and paperwork from the physical world than the pouring of concrete, the building at last beginning its rise out of the ground

Thanks to my mother for showing me the charms of countless construction sites. There is something magical about converting design into building.

My review of Solar Bones

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