Everyday entropy: weather

James Hamilton Paterson, Seven Tenths

“‘What does the forecast say?’

‘We are the weather forecast. That’s the trouble. The farnella’s an official weather reporting ship when she’s on station, so the forecasts out here are simply based on our own data from yesterday.’

I like the idea that we are helping invent the world’s weather but can see it is unhelpful having no higher authority on which to rely. Still, the measured tones of a radio weather man repeating ones own reports might well endow them with an official quality which would suddenly make them credible as predictions. Up on deck it is exhilarating as the ship buffets into the win, shouldering clouds of water back over her superstructure. Another day denied the sunbathers, their towels unspread, their copies (courtesy of the marine society) of tom Clancy, Len Deighton, Cruz smith, unopened. The library contains dozens of these more or less identical Cold War what-ifs: unmemorabilia which after the past few years have suddenly come to seem like fossils, requiring of their readers a streak of the antiquarian, even the geologist. By contrast, nothing could be more present than this ocean leaping past and over. It raises its crests to the horizon, empty and brisk, at once a locus of sublime motion. At these hot, radiant moments the sea is transformed into prodigious and arcane machinery, liquid clockwork glinting with moving parts. In the intermittent bursts of light it looks like what it is: the planet’s gearbox mediating and transmitting the motive power of the sun.”


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