Tines of a Rake

The Antenna Theater people set up another audio tour that began midway to the Man and ended 100 yards or so beyond him. I arrived promptly at 7, watched the sun dip away and put on the headset. Ahead of me, a crew member lit the iron baskets that sang up from the surface of the playa. Each was crowned with a roman numeral from one to twelve, representing each of the billion years we’ve been fomenting our existence.

For scale, a rake was near the front that had tines spaced four or five inches apart. The space between each tine represented a million years. The playa had been meticulously raked along this progress, in case you wanted to keep track. Cyphers lifted off the surface of the playa: bas relief sculptures made of the very alkali they rested on. All of us were made peasants down a great gothic nave, studying the didactic glass on our way to redemption.

I’ve been made small before. Mo and I used to do it on purpose, as proto-Heavenly Creatures, unambiguously aware that we were engaged in a huge conceit, universe-wise, but helpless to forgive ourselves or anyone else for it. Fractals are effective. Watching two points converge usually does it. Eat Me cakes. Drink Me potions. No sleep no sleep no sleep no sleep.

At the end of the tour, I faced the open playa, purpled up in twilight and answering back with its own empty, encroaching darkness. I felt rather inclined, literally: tilted at an angle toward the future. Ready. I think I’m part of the essential erosion necessary for this inexorable march of time. I am, and you are, the thing being weathered by the tide. We’re meant for it. We are becoming.

I turned around to face the twilight, the growing neon hum of the Man, the city’s distant twinkling esplanade curving left to right.

If 2000 years are a grain of rice between the tines, what is tonight?

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