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Nick Tietz: The Thing About Gravity II

Earl's Corner | colab blog

It could have been as early as one point five million years ago that early hominids begin using fire. Then, stone tools out of Kenya. Language, bipedalism, and advancements of the cranium. Then we had art… elaborate cave paintings, jewelry, tattoos, and garments. Intelligence, as we know it, has been measured. With carefully collected data we can conceptualize just exactly how human we really are. A constant reminder to ourselves that we really do exist. A real schematic of time and space.

But why do we try to map our genome when we can simply look in the mirror. Why us?

It’s also true that we are more closely related to the Old World monkeys than we are the New; our dry noses and robust builds look the part. But it’s curious to watch the capuchins and tamarins at play. They swim, they leap, and they cling to the same branches in which they live. They are a boisterous group. If I were as gracile as they I would leap through the trees with the same stamina and joy.

“Is nature sentient to you?”

“I would like to think so. Think of the park on any single day. There’s slush slashing in the sun and that’s different than a cold shitty day. It could be me, but, it has an influence on my mood so it must be. And we know those shit days before we go out and we still do, even if it’s an hour. It’s worth something… that feeling. I don’t know if nature punishes you but sometimes you have to test yourself on a rugged day. If I decide to go out it’s hard to stop me. So… maybe it has some sort of intelligence.”

Intelligence that may have sent a bolt of lightning from the sky to strike a worn down log and cause a fire. Intelligence that may have bred one of the greatest minds in human history: the ancestor who tamed it.

“Does your snowboard feel like it has agency?”

“Without a doubt. Last season, maybe January or February, during the week, I was swamped and hadn’t been out in a week or two. That was a lot for me. But that next Saturday I was planning on going. Well, Friday night I went out drinking and woke up hung as shit. I talked myself out of going and didn’t. The whole next week I felt guilty looking at my snowboard. I went out three times that next week.”

A snowboard can’t speak. So we do for it. It does not have a brain or a nervous system to function but we do. And so the time and emotion we invest into casts a reflection back at us as if it’s capable of understanding love. It’s the kind of love that goes into a carefully worked stone tool.

“Could it just have been any other obsession to get you where you are today or did it have to be snowboarding?”

“Maybe, I wouldn’t know unless I would have done it. But I think if someone doesn’t have it they should. I could have gotten addicted to, who knows, math and just written equations. I wouldn’t know unless I was there. I may have a slightly different relationship with it than snowboarding but who knows. Thank god it’s not heroin.”

Snowboarding came to us like lighting to a log.

We (or by some other force of nature) realized early on that we were not meant to swing from branches all day. But we are also not meant to dance, or cuss, or love, or hate, or play guitar, or drive our cars too fast, or get drunk, or destroy, or rebuild. We are simply meant to grow. I don’t know why we’re subject to these things. Maybe our artistic endeavors are a glitch and the only way to rebel from our stoic nature as apes is to dance or cuss, or love, or hate, or play guitar, or drive our cars too fast, or get drunk, or destroy, or rebuild… or snowboard. Maybe our rebellion, our manipulation of gravity, just might be all a part of the plan.

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