November 2017

Patterned Planet

I dreamt that I was flying over a barren planet. I saw what appeared to be dry riverbeds below me, reaching into the distance, but they were flowing in all directions. I realized that they were channels dug with some vast trenching machine, one cutting across another, without apparent rhyme or reason.

As I flew on I saw the machine busy, carving its furrows; a black engine with huge blades at the front, its surface glistening. I zoomed in and saw that it was a small insect at work. I zoomed out again and found that I was looking at a shelf covered in dust.

How many years of dust is this ? What is the insect doing, where does he think he is going ?

I was astounded at the depth and thickness of this blanket of dust, built up over the years; being used as a playground, or a grazing ground, or an art canvas by my friend the insect. He had made a Map of Time. Profound un-self-consciousness.

Is this what you would call a pattern ? I think so. There is no repeat but it is profoundly rooted in rhyme and reason, even if I cannot quite put my finger on precisely what that is.

I began to think ‘we must preserve this – exactly like it is – don’t touch, don’t breath’. I wondered, is there a conservator in the whole World who knows how to protect this shelf of dust, unchanged, with its rich pattern and its un-mimicable texture, grain and smell ? How could it be moved ? How could it be encapsulated ?

I am sorry to say that I breathed myself and one corner of the surface of the patterned planet was spoiled forever. This dust is in the Al Asmakh House in Al Asmakh, Doha; you can see it today if it’s still there. But be careful; hold your breath if you get too close.