This project – ongoing since 2010 – is a longitudinal study of one person’s perceptions of the numinous and the struggle to reconcile what is empirically real with what simply feels real within individual experience.
“Angels aren’t the only ones who do not know
What’s what and that
Galloping about doing good
Is a full-time job
An experienced eye of earthly
Sharpness, worth I dare say
(if you’ll forgive a personal note)
A good deal more
Than all that skyey stuff”
I noticed a cloud.
That was the event that set into motion the utter undoing of my life as I knew it.
I noticed a cloud.
Yes. A cloud.
It was not, in itself, a remarkable cloud. It was not a thunderhead or a golden orb of vapors in the sky. It did not look like anything other than a ‘w‘ – a wispy zigzag.
The cloud was not especially large, and it did not hang alone against the blue.
No portent flocks of black-winged birds flew around it.
The world did not fall silent as I gazed at the sky.
Nonetheless, the little drifting w caught my eye and I pointed it out to someone, a man sweeping the steps of the church on the corner, a few feet from where I stood on the sidewalk. My little dog snuffled the grass while I looked up as if something mightily important was happening.
A bus growled and hissed to a stop across the street, releasing a slow-moving passenger to straggle down the hill to the Bartlett Arms, a public housing complex that seemed to be designed as a panopticon with no watchtower, only a bleak view of a scraggly-grass courtyard, always empty, and the apartments with doors all alike stretching around to the other side of the closed circle.
The dog laid down and blithely looked around.
As the noise of the bus pulling away faded, I pointed beyond a space between the tall oaks in the yard across the street from where I stood. “Do you see that cloud?”
The man stooped a little, craning to see, and shrugged. “Which one?”
“That one, the one that looks like a ‘w‘.” I stooped as he had to match our postures though I could see the cloud easily, and made my arm an arrow, like a sailor spotting land.
“Oh, yeah, I guess I do.” He looked for only a moment, then straightened up and began to sweep again, dismissing the cloud.
“I saw a cloud that looked like that yesterday,” I declared in the semi-enthusiastic tone of mentioning news.
She felt ready, a little excited even, to tell the man sweeping the steps the whole story, despite it being not much of a story at all.
She saw a cloud, and then she saw another cloud.
The clouds looked kind of similar, and this seemed odd to her, because she thought clouds were always different.
That was the story, the gist of it.
When the man didn’t stop sweeping, she understood that he wasn’t exactly blown away by her observations of the structural similarities of clouds, that he probably didn’t want to hear her story, and she walked the dog home after telling the sweeping man to have a nice day, enjoy the pretty weather.
Walking, she thought about the day before, crossing the parking lot of the convenience store down at the bottom of the hill, glancing up to see a w accompanied by a lot of other w shapes, the whole sky a swathe of broken, sharp-edge rickrack over the smell of oil and asphalt, cigarette smoke, chicken and incense, tang of garbage, the warm day on earth.
The fineness of the angles within the forms caught her eye, and she thought, specifically: “Gee, that looks a lot like a bunch of w‘s.”
She pumped her gas and drove away and it wasn’t until the next day, out walking the dog, that she thought about the w clouds again, when she saw that one w up among the other cloudforms.
The wind had pushed and pulled the clouds, water and dust and gases reflecting light into shapes. The air was filled with currents and patterns, just like oceans and rivers. She knew that clouds could look all sorts of peculiar ways, their forms hinting at the physical forces that shaped them.
However, when she saw that first little w cloud, she didn’t understand how the lines could be so precise, the vertices distinct points, the rays almost just right.
Then, when she saw a similar cloud structure the next day, she became curious.
The only reason why it struck me as odd, or at least ironic, to see clouds of such similar forms was because I had recently written, on a weblog that nobody read, that I liked clouds, loved them even, because they were never the same twice. The clouds were constantly changing and the skyscape would never, ever repeat itself.
I thought that if I could remember this idea, this reality – that everything above me and around me was moving and shifting and transforming all the time, everywhere, and had been for billions of years – from day to day, then every moment in every sky and beyond could be recognized as being exceptionally rare and beautiful.
There was a comfort in the clouds never staying the same, never being the same.
It felt like something I could count on, something to rely on being true during a period of time when a lot of the things I had held to be true were turning out not to be true at all.
My blog was supposed to be about my efforts to draw a picture everyday for a year as a means to regain, during a year of significant transitions, what I thought of as “my lost creativity.”
Regardless of the intended scope of topic, my blog – like many blogs – drifted into all sorts of ramblings and rantings, musings and personal declarations.
The website became the digital dumping grounds for all the confusing detritus of memory and impression that was emerging from the colliding space between my internal world and the external world as my life slowly shifted, faltered, and fell apart.
In 2010, I started documenting cloudforms that I saw as atypical – meaning that they seemed to defy what I understood of how clouds are formed and how they move, the semi-predictable patterns of air currents and water, wind, the heaviness of rain, the cast of light.
‘Images featured here are a tiny fraction of a vast collection of cloud photos that I have taken over the past 11 years. Some of the images are of very ‘poor quality’, taken in 2010 with a c.2006 Kodak EasyShare, a 2009 Blackberry, or between 2011 – 2018 with a later (but, still crappy) Blackberry model.
I currently take pictures with my iPhone 7.
While I could probably figure out how to at least get a newer iPhone, since I don’t need a professional camera, there is something satisfying to me about both working within constraints and making do with what I have and building from that.
I will eventually get a camera with far greater zoom capability and the ability to take extended time lapse images, and that will change the way I document clouds and the quality of my documentation. The tools we use to see and the devices we use to show what we see change what we see and what we show.
I didn’t plan to spend 11 years documenting and thinking about cloudforms. It just sort of happened that way, and – as such – I’ve developed my use of tools, technology, and practice as the methodologies of observation, reflection, reporting, and archiving have evolved in response to circumstance, experience, intrinsic motivation (curiosity, love of good questions, a deep desire for meaning, purpose, and beauty), and resources (time, emotional and psychological headspace, energy/fatigue, funds for tools, time to learn new tools, etc.).
Recently, I received a promotional offer for a new iPhone for only 5 dollars a month, and I haven’t exactly leapt at the chance to scale up my technology, even though the camera is much, much better. I get used to things, begin to appreciate the ways that the familiar is perfect only in the state of being familiar, that there is something perfect about tools we use often and for a long period of time, even if they are not technically ideal.
Photos that are edited are generally obviously edited in the adjusting of brightness, contrast, blackpoint and definition to ‘pull out’ some of the more subtle forms lurking in what may appear at first glance to be a regular, everyday cloud, to try to see more clearly the forms and layers of the skyscape, like an x-ray of the brightest spots, an x-ray of a cloud, all the substance of the sky amplified to twists and featherings, small perfect lines.
I make inconsistent efforts to post original photos alongside edits, but sometimes the original was not duplicated and so there is only the edit, though – usually – I have many pictures of the same cloud formation taken in rapidsuccession, some nearly identical but never entirely identical because clouds shift quickly.
For those pictures that do have a duplicate original, it is not always easy to locate the original right alongside the edited-for-emphasis-of-existing-forms-and-elements version, due to both uploading snafus, and the sheer number of images I am currently sifting through to identify recurrent forms, visual themes, as well as to notice what I am drawn to see and what that tells me, about myself and about the clouds.
My form of ‘sifting through’ is to do literally that, scroll and select, swipe, stare while my mind balks at what my eyes see.
Soften the gaze, drop the focus, blur it back into a cloud, and then there it is again, some face in the clouds looking like ancestors of everything and worry-eyed children, animals on watch, a figure like a queen, a figure like a ghost.
My orientation to this project vacillates between art and science. The artist doesn’t care to justify, qualify, or document the minutiae of process and variable in creating the work – unless, of course, that (the documentation of process) is central to the expression of the art, or a topical study itself. In the case of my work, the documentation of process is sometimes employed as a means of a) remembering what I did to create the piece, including circumstantial factors and/or practices that facilitated the engagement of whatever state of consciousness created the work or allowed the work to come through, or not come through, and b) as a means of ‘anecdotal data’ collection, loosely framed qualitative notes on one person’s experience of trying to make sure the fire in them doesn’t die through observing & describing & checking in on the state of said fire, trying to learn (sometimes desperately) what serves as a bellows blown to dying coal and what dampens the flame of me.
There is an imbalance in the dialectic between magical realism & surrealist speculative nonfiction narrative interpretations & play in seeing (art) and the effort to remain as objective as possible, as skeptical as possible, to see only what is measurable ~ the distance between the negative space of would-be eyes, the proportions of shapes, the compositions of groupings, angles inside lines, concretely ‘recognizable’ forms of living things, and structures that can be externally verified as existing in the specific forms that they do on the basis of measurable angles, observable light/shadow, gradient, etc. (science).
Most days, the artist in me is stronger than the scientist.
It is almost unbearably beautiful, the way that one thing becomes another, how anything can be so many things all at once and yet hold such a singular sincerity in every form, a new depth of humanity felt in the expressions of a cloud.
I have never added or removed content through editing or coloration or digital drawing. I don’t even know how to do that sort of image alteration, or creation and even if I did it would be impossible for me to edit and create the number of intricately layered cloud photos I have accumulated in my camera roll and in various cloud storage locations.
Many of the photos here – in this first iteration of presentation, July 2021 – remain untitled, named only as the automatically generated numbers assigned by the device the photos were taken with. However, if looking through file names, one may occasionally observe inconsistent gestures toward cataloging images or naming them as descriptors of what I saw and, in some cases, felt.
My archival negligence (and, perhaps, ignorance) is largely rooted in the personal and economic circumstances surrounding this ongoing project.
Over the past 11 years, the majority of my time and energy has been devoted to keeping myself reasonably well and not-falling-apart as a differently-abled person with limitations in certain functions of normative ability, while trying (unsuccessfully) to earn sufficient wages in working psychologically, socially, and emotionally demanding nonprofit jobs, being the responsible and not-too-weird mother-steward of two young people who are now almost adults, minimally tending to a house that is 111 years old + slowly disintegrating under the weight of itself, and trying valiantly – if not naively – to contribute to some good in the world through involvement in community building and community justice initiatives primarily relating to the rights and needs of people who are vulnerable and marginalized by poverty, houselessness, and intersectional structural-systemic oppressions, people who struggle with the effects of their avoidably tragic lives in ways that might be characterized by ‘mental health’ and ‘substance use’ ‘challenges.’
It is my dream (or at least one of my dreams, though if I had to choose one dream, it would probably be this one, because I can wrap all my other dreams up into it in some way or another…) to have the resources of time and attention to properly curate and study cloud picture documentation, to keep watching the skies, researching the physics of cloud formations, wave patterns, air pressure, and electromagnetic frequencies in the atmosphere as they may or may not relate to the formations of clouds, and possibly the origins of human-generated symbology and/or myth, iconic compositions across religious and cultural traditions.
I want to know why the clouds sometime look like they do. I want to keep paying attention. I want to keep experimenting with seeing and believing. I want to be able to watch clouds all day if I want to or feel compelled to and have it be understood that I am an artist.
I am a high school dropout from south Georgia.
Although I did manage to achieve a college education, I am definitely not well-educated in the methodologies or technical language of empirical sciences, or art. However, I do hold a MA in psychology (with a humanistic focus) and have studied the ways that narratives shape perception and stories, and the potential for art to be a tactic in social change and justice movements. I have worked for over two decades in human services and nonprofit community mental health recovery organizations.
Is there someone who can talk with me about clouds in a way that is grounded, informed and informative, respectful of my earnest, probably-naive curiosity?
Let me be clear here, right from the beginning, this project is not about actually ‘proving God’ with pictures of clouds through scientific inquiry.
That would be impossible, because there is no empirically-based definition of what ‘God’ even is, and thus the presence (or absence) of the thing – this thing we think of as ‘God’ – cannot be determined.
If you don’t know how to identify what you’re looking to prove, it’s impossible to prove it.
Is that true?
I’ll have to think more about this.
The questions that catalyzed this project are less about “what is God, really?” and more about how I – personally, being the person I am – experience and conceptualize something like God (an ancient and omniscient force that is connected to everything?) and the ways that illogical, numinous belief can bloom and burst into the everyday rationality of what is real and what is, alas, not real – or, at least, not real outside of one’s individual experience.
The questions guiding the development of this inquiry are:
- What are the known general forces and factors that shape clouds?
- What are the similarities between patterns of formation and dissolution in cloudforms and other patterns found in the natural world?
- How do these forces and factors behave? How do they tend to operate in the observable atmosphere? What movement and atmospheric phenomena (both observable and unseen by the human eye) do various forces cause?
- What are the visible skyscape indicators that a specific force, factor, or multivariate phenomena is at work in shaping the clouds?
- Are there patterns or structures in cloudforms that appear to possess geometric characteristics that are not easily explained by the movement of wind, the weight of water suspended in the sky?
- What are the factors and processes that impact human perception of clouds?
- Why did I think I was seeing God? Why do I perceive certain shapes and structures to be numinous in nature?
- Why do I feel the way I do (amazed, suspended in an irreplicable divine awe that leaves me standing on the porch, on the sidewalk, trembling, tiny, mind-blown, witnessed and witnessing, entrusted to behold, singularly present and yet feeling the weight of all time, all the living and dying and strangeness of what has been, what is, and what might be expanding and contracting in the center of me, that sense of knowing, of conveyance, an inability to look away, a sense of being in concert with and tethered to a taut, clear-minded and calm-hearted focus in seeing) when I watch clouds?
- How, in my individual experience, do I experience belief, and what is the relationship between belief and delusion?
The singular question overarching this work is:
Am I crazy?
Definitions and perceptions of ‘crazy’ are just as murky as definitions and perceptions of ‘God,’ aren’t they?
For 11 years, while going about all the business and busyness of my walking-talking life, I have taken pictures of clouds and quietly wondered why sometimes it looks like there are eyes in the sky, why sometimes I see shapes that look like letters of a language I do not know, and why – when I see these things – I feel deeply and resonantly connected with the truth of how huge and old the Earth and heavens really are.
There are flutters and waves of a swooning sort of awe when I imagine how people a long, long time ago may have seen the sky, before they stopped seeing it, stopped looking up, stopped believing that whatever we might call God – by any name or names – connects to our oldest ways of knowing through wind and water and light, all the subtle movements and circumstances that are constantly unfolding everywhere, in everything.
I don’t know how many photographs of clouds I have taken. Thousands. Many, many thousands.
There were some days during the period of time when I was beginning to really look at how clouds form and dissipate that I took over 1,000 pictures in a single sitting – out on the porch alone and staring hard at the sky, my eyes burning in the glare and light, not sure about what I was seeing and afraid to miss something, lest it be important.
Most days now, I might take two or three photos of a few clouds. Occasionally, there will be a day or a stretch of days that pulls my eyes to the sky, and my phone’s camera roll on the screen is a blur of blue and white that just goes on and on, finally fading to the bruise-tones of the ending day, the coming night. I might take a hundred pictures of a single formation, trying to catch the precise moment that the face of a devil turns into the face of a lamb, the eyes of cat and the points of a triangle blurring like bird’s wings toward an eventual empty sky.
When there are no clouds – when the sky is clear or covered with a uniform sheet of dull grey, when it is blessedly raining – I notice that I feel a little relieved.
There have been some stretches of time over the past 11 years that I didn’t take any pictures at all, of clouds or anything else, and almost forgot – in the midst of all the other aspects of my life and who I am – that I tried “to prove something like God with pictures of clouds on the internet.”
…and then, sitting at a stoplight or crossing a parking lot, glancing at the sky to see something that I would have thought was not possible in the known geometries of clouds, I remember.
Yes. I tried to prove God with pictures of clouds on the internet.
On some days it makes total sense to me that cloudforms would manifest in ways that hold potential meaning for human observers.
Humans have been watching the sky for hundreds of thousands of years.
The Bible, apparently. is full of mentions of God coming out of the clouds.
My goal with this work was initially to simply find an explanation for what I was seeing – which looked to me to be a lot of bizarre shapes in the sky, shapes that looked like symbols and birds and figures, shapes that seemed to repeat, show up again and again, day after day, some days more than others.
In my effort to figure out how certain clouds assumed such holy-seeming forms, I quickly found myself stumbling and tangled in all sorts of nonsense ideas, illogical partial constructions of half-ass theories spun out by a mind and a heart grasping to understand what was happening within a life, trying to figure out how something that was supposed to be impossible could seem to be happening.
Maybe everyone who is straddling a few different realities in a convoluted configuration that is deemed to be delusional was initially trying to simply explain and understand what is happening in their perception, drawing on their direct experience and impressions in reference to their existing knowledge, employing whatever analytical capacity they have in coming up with reasons to make sense of their lives becoming so strange?
She feels a sense of relationship with the sky.
Growing up on the coast, on a south-facing spit of land with a view to the east and a view to the west, the sky was always there – a prominently constant and yet mutable presence, the backdrop of every single day, sometimes gently, quietly existing in blues and pale, sometimes full of storms that rolled in carrying the ocean itself.
For her whole life, she has watched skies. They have always been there.
She doesn’t know how other people feel when they look at the sky, or what they think about or don’t think about when they look at clouds or sunsets, what their experience is.
She doesn’t know what or how other people think, what they feel, what they see or do not see. There are some people who never look at the sky at all, some people who can’t see the sky beyond small segments in the spaces between buildings, can’t see the sky for the haze of exhaust from the factories they work in, the streets they live on.
When she used to go into to the jail to do recovery groups – a circle of men sitting with her in a small, windowless room – there was one guy who came to group reporting that he had gotten put on lockdown for ruining his mattress and taking extra towels. “If you take the air out of the mattress and fold it up, stack towels in the creases, you can stand on it and look out the window, look for birds, look at the sky.”
Even though she doesn’t know what other people specifically think about or feel, she knows there are billions of people on the planet who love to watch the sky.
July 31, 2021 5:09am Observations and Potential Next Steps
Since beginning to put together this art and inquiry project summary site, my watching the clouds has increased significantly. In June and July, I took between 6,500 – 7,000 photos. Approximately.
This number was calculated by looking at screenshots of thumbnail images of my camera roll, which is almost entirely clouds, and calculating the number of images in the rows+columns it takes to fill a screen, multiplying the number of times I carefully scrolled up until the bottom row was the top.The number of cloud photos doesn’t represent a full-blown immersion into cloud study, as a content analysis of my camera roll might suggest. Clearly, I play with the dog, give him baths, adore the kitten, visit with family, notice other things. I hang out with my kids as much as two almost grown people want me to hang out with them. I go to the grocery store, take lots of walks – the same or an only slightly different route around the neighborhood, down the hill up the hill, across the field, the bridge.
She’s been to meetings, done some consultancy project development work. Yardwork. She and an elder neighbor dug and wheelbarrowed a ton of dirt up from the mound of accumulated earth that had created a total blockage of stormwater flow, leaving a thick, silty puddle on the sidewalk that would slow-dry into a stubborn, slippery mud, then finally a desolate seeming dust, the washed away particles of road and gravel, thin dull-glinting soil.
For years she had shoveled the mud onto the strip of untended earth between the sidewalk and the street. More and more mud piled up as the puddles got bigger and bigger. She had piled a big rounded wall of dirt right on top of the barely-low point in the sidewalk, the only place the water had hardly been able to run down to begin with, down to the gutter, to the drain, to the river.
She blocked the sidewalk spillway because she wasn’t thinking about what was causing the problem of the mud, only that she needed to get the immediate mud off of the sidewalk in front of the house, because there were slipping footprints and it’s terrible to walk through mud, especially when one is unpleasantly intoxicated or badly in need of being intoxicated and has nowhere – really – to go, like many of the people who walk up and down the street, filling up the hours with trips between the convenience stores, bummed cigarettes at bus stops, maybe an odd job, a trick, a sour-smelling room, a dirty front seat, clean needles, lay in the park for a while.
Nobody needs to fall in the mud when they walk by her house and problems that are made worse by their solutions must be re-solved.
For the past several days, I have only been watching the clouds at sunset, maybe here and there on walks. They don’t seem as compelling if I don’t look at them, if I try to create a respectful attentional barrier, keep walking, don’t look too long because the longer you look the stronger and stranger the forms seem to become, and you don’t understand why this is.
Can a person no longer just sit outside on a sunny day without bearing holy witness?
This is purely a rhetorical question. Of course they can, most people can. She can, too. Probably.
Lately, it seems like every time I go outside there is some mind-bending beauty expanding and contracting in the sky, flashing symbols, throwing signs, telling stories.
I try to capture the minute changes that lead one form into another, so that I might have many photos that appear the same, but are actually different. I try to only watch clouds for a couple of hours a day – here and there, like I said, sitting on the backporch, walking the dog, crossing a parking lot, just trying to go to the grocery store, you know?
Out of curiosity, I picked a random minute from a recent spate of heavy documentation to see how many photos I took between that minute and the next – in this case, 3:39-3:40. I only took six pictures during that minute, but that is probably not representative of other minutes.
The cloud observation periods during this past week have been quietly mind-blowing, clouds appearing especially detailed in their structure, and grouped almost as if in interaction, like playing out some story. Most of them looked like animals, save for the ones that look like people, ghosts and angels and figures, all breathing out the same sort of symbols.
What I saw day before yesterday as a figure walking in the vapors hung above the head of a child wearing a t-shirt, holding something that could be a tree, or connecting with something that could be a bird, then the thorax and partial leg of an especially well-wrought beetle, almost like a perfect pencil sketch, revealed itself – in yesterday morning’s review of what I saw the day before – to be something much more like a devil, a devil wrapped round the head of a person, sealing their mouth from speaking, though that is just my interpretation.
There is a staff of some sort, holding a ball with a point on it, which may be the head of a bird. Behind the devil there is wolf-dog, breathing.
It takes a while to go through hundreds of photos. I feel the same sort of fixated reverie as I scroll through the images and send them to a folder so that I can find them again. Suspended between believing and disbelief because it is so unbelievable, but – yet – there it is. You can see it and you can believe your eye as much as you believe anything.
The compositions change, wolf becomes bird, devil disappears, maybe was never there to begin with, because now the head is the nest of a bird and an illuminated symbol is where a mouth might be, if clouds had mouths.
Some clouds seem to have mouths, pictures of faces forged in the sky. Its the most amazing thing. Truly unbelievable, though I see it with my own two eyes and feel it to the very fiber of me, the realness of it.
In the following section, written in early June 2021, prior to the June – July cloud experience observation period really getting underway, I am trying to keep safe by calling myself 1/2 crazy.
This helps me to side-step and neutralize any accusation of such, embrace the craziness, like – yeah – duh.
You, me, and darn near everybody, 1/2 crazy in at least a few ways.
By talking about the phenomena of delusions as they did and did not/do and do not exist in my experience, I create the opportunity to talk about delusions in general – what’s real/not real, on the basis of what criteria, and what is happening in our minds and bodies when we experience belief?
Like many people who have had experiences and held beliefs that are considered to be delusional, I still assert that it wasn’t and isn’t entirely in my head, that there really was and is something unusual about how the clouds look sometimes, and that…then, if…well, that would mean…
She doesn’t know what that would mean, but it seems like it would be important, and it freaks her out, freaks her out to the extent that she notices, I notice that she is/I am shifting into the third-person narrative style of telling about experience – a slightly more distanced, less personal way than the vulnerable ownership of I.
Third-person narrative encourages me to situate myself in the larger context of the world I am participating in, and to be conscientious of the way ‘she’ might be seen or observed by other people.
She is much more comfortable writing in the third-person. I does not feel so safe to her at times.
Writing in third-person helps her to make sense of herself and her motivations, helps her to keep an eye on herself and her thinking.
For most of her life, she has felt like a participant observer of both the world external to her and the world internal.
The belief in delusion is difficult to shake because the perceived reality seems so real, somehow makes sense, and – importantly – offers answers to questions that there is nobody to ask, clues pertaining to ones wild hopes and secret fears, hints and whispers of what’s really going on.
Delusions, in my experience, served a function.
My belief that I was noticing and witnessing elemental communications from something like God gave me a far-greater purpose than being the total loser that everyone seemed to think I was.
Moreover, the explanations that I constructed allowed for all the parts of my life and history to suddenly make sense – the tragic, seemingly pointless losses, the sad situations and the suffering of strangers, the confusion and alienation of existing, all the floundering efforts to find meaning, find footing, get on a path that didn’t lead me off a cliff, figuratively and possibly – eventually – literally…
Suddenly, it all had a purpose.
Flimsy delusions of grandeur and semi-genius did a serviceable job of propping up my collapsed sense of self through 2010 as my walking-talking life was turning into a total train wreck.
When I was alone and watching the clouds spin out holy wonders and divine surprises I was able to inhabit a world where I had a purpose, a world where I was not only important, but was seen and loved by something far greater than I could have ever imagined possible, something real that believed in me.
Delusions feel important, feel real.
Even if the mind can acknowledge that a belief doesn’t make sense or that an experienced scenario is highly unlikely, it’s hard to shake belief, because the imagined reality feels real.
Like most people, she is vulnerable to getting caught up in ideas and imaginings – especially if they matter to her, if they mean something, if they make her feel excited or scared or amazed.
Love and fear are – understandably – powerfully charismatic and compelling drivers of human attention and the meaning we make in the world we see.
The goal of scientific inquiry is to depart from my knee-jerk perceptions, assumptions, and explanations and to take a grounded, rational perspective on what I observe, taking into account my biases and assumptions, the paradigms that shape what I see and how I see it.
Because the experience of human learning and human ‘knowing’ happens in processes that are both conscious and subconscious, taking into account one’s personal bias is much easier said than done, and is inevitably an ongoing process that requires reconsideration, re-evaluation, and reassessment of what we think and believe about the nature of what we study and who we are in relation to our inquiry.
There is nothing weird at all about the clouds I see and my perception of them being peculiar is simply that – my perception. There may be value in my inquiry as an art project exploring the way the natural world is seen and experienced in the context of being a person with neurodiversity and experiential factors that impact perspective and meaning-making.
There is something weird about the clouds, in that there are what I perceive to be atypically formed patterns which are structurally similar to iconic symbols relating to myth, religion, and/or diverse human language. There may be scientific (meteorology, physics, anthropology, linguistics, psychology) value in my observation of micro-patterns in cloudforms.
Something like God has been…what? Contacting me (or someone, or all people) through cloudforms? Sending the people of the earth messages through clouds and all kinds of other phenomena.
There is something that constitutes an ancient ecosystemic consciousness at work in the world which has been experienced and interpreted as God/gods in various ways across time and culture.
The evolution of bacterial sky colonies that congregate in patterns and groupings that look a lot like triangles, branches, rivers, waves, birds, eyes, and human faces that morph into animal faces?
Bacterial sky colonies interacting with human generated radiation and EMFs have developed an organic meta-intelligence based on the glut of information traveling through the atmosphere and are able to assemble into rudiments of communicative symbols and living forms reflective of the metadata sea that they live in.
It is common knowledge that there are different forms of clouds – cumulous, stratus, lenticular, altostratus, etc. – and that these forms of clouds visibly develop as a result of atmospheric conditions such as wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and air pressure, as well as the presence of particulate matter – dust and ash – in interaction with light.
However, a number of easily observable patterns within cloud formations seem to defy the logic of simple wind.
How can wind form a shape that looks like a T?
In observing the details of cloudforms, one becomes aware of properties and characteristics far more nuanced and precise than the macro-descriptors of general cloud structures and types.
Individual perception impacts assessment of visible phenomena which may suggest texture or substance as characteristics of cloudforms, and much may be left to the imagination in the equation of imprecise forms with figures or creatures.
However, measuring geometric characteristics of repeating cloudforms may provide information about additional variables and multivariate conditions that impact the shapes that clouds make. This information may provide insight into the specific ways that unseen forces – such as wind – intermingle in the sky in layers over and through an invisible topography of heat and moisture overlaying the material topography of landforms and structures, the ground that we stand on, looking up.
For the purpose of assessing the presence and occurrence of cloudforms that possess geometric characteristics of 90 degree angles, the arcs of a form similar to 3, and equilateral triangles an observation of these forms will be made and photographic evidence will be documented.
Cloudforms which possess the general geometric characteristics qualifying them for inclusion as illustrative examples of the phenomena under investigation will be grouped into these three primary forms – clouds which possess 90 degree angels, the form of 3, and equilateral triangles. Allowing for imprecision in clouds, a 10-15 percent reduce or gain in degrees of angularity will be accommodated.
Examples of these forms will be grouped and known or observable variables will be noted.
Limitations and Scope:
It is important to acknowledge that, at this time, documentation (‘data’) is not cataloged by date/time and location. This information may be available through photo file information. Climatic data on temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, and air quality is not included in analysis. This data may be available from the National National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Environmental Information.
The purpose of this initial research is to catalog observations and confirm/disconfirm the presence of geometric phenomena in cloud formation.
The confirmation/disconfirmation of these phenomena will determine directions for future research.
For the sake of making this work accessible, and owing to the primary researcher’s lay knowledge of atmospheric sciences, information about known or assumed variables will be offered within the following scope and sets of assumptions:
Wind is the movement of air generated by the interaction of atmospheric conditions, such as storms, and activity occurring on planet earth – such as fires, airports, and highways.
Wind travels in currents and in waves in general patterns very similar to those found in water flow both in rivers and in oceans.
Relatedly, any moveable, semi-fluid matter will likely err toward the patterns of rivers and currents, e.g. sand on a beach, mud on a sidewalk after the rain. Water molds what it carries into the forms of water itself.
Wind currents have edges and defined boundaries.
Wind currents and streams interact with and cross with one another in different layers of the atmosphere, creating mergings, crossings, shadowing, and overlay effects.
The movement of sky-level wind can be observed in the material that it carries, accumulations of humidity and particulate matter that we call ‘clouds.’
Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air.
Humidity exists freely in the atmosphere and can accumulates in clouds as water suspended in the atmosphere is condensed by temperature changes, barriers to dispersion, such as strong wind streams, areas of atmospheric pressure, and the topography of valleys and ridges.
Water can adhere to particulate matter in the atmosphere. (Is this true? Is this some chemtrails stuff? Ummm, no. Nope. Not today. But, doesn’t it seem like water could adhere to or be attracted to dust or micro-debris? Is that true?)
There are zones of differential air pressure in the atmosphere.
I need to learn more about this.
Gases, Dust and Debris: The Air We Breathe
There is an enormous amount of material and elements in the sky that are not simply comprised of water and air space.
When we say ‘air’ – we are referring to oxygen and carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane and all sorts of other gaseous elements that work in concert with various processes of living, dying, and decompensation.
I need to learn more about what air is.
There are bacteria in the sky. Lots and lots of bacteria.
What about the factor of gravity? The pull toward the earth that makes rain fall?
What about electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) and cellular waves, all the electrical and magnetic action happening through both naturally occurring phenomena and through manmade technologies like cellular frequencies and radio waves? What about sound?
I have made initial observations of geometrically consistent forms in the structures of clouds, which are present over time and in different locations, though the majority of observation was done in a limited location.
In order to learn more about how such geometric phenomena are formed, I will learn about the movement and impact of known and observable variables to eliminate all simple explanations such as two air currents traveling at approximately 60 degree angles across a plane being intersected at a slightly higher or slightly lower altitude by a third wind current (either carrying cloud or removing cloud) that creates the triad of 60 degree angles that we recognize as an equilateral triangle.
I will not include examples of phenomena that are obviously created explicitly by aircraft contrails, meaning that I will not suggest that multiple contrails crossing to create a triangle or a T is a phenomena of natural cloud formation – which, it must be acknowledged, is very much impacted by air traffic pollutants.
Eleven years ago, I had to consider the bizarre possibility that I had somehow become aware of and attuned to ancient metaphysical workings in the structure of the observable, material world.
I also had to consider the possibility that I was out of my mind.
Who wouldn’t question their sanity if they saw something they thought was impossible and then saw it again and again and again, saw what seemed like proof of something that disproved almost everything that had built the world they know?
Most people would have a difficult time staying grounded and rational in such circumstances, particularly if they perceived an urgent directive to do something that has never been done before, like prove God with pictures of clouds on the internet.
I mean, that is crazy.
However, if a person does happen to have the experience of being powerfully convinced – even if only for a moment- that something like God wants you to do a certain thing, and you believe that what you are asked to do could be important, most people are inclined to at least consider as a thought experiment whether it could be done – the thing that is being asked – and might, depending on their value system and assessment of risk and options, try to do the thing that is being asked, even if it seems impossible, even if it might actually be impossible.
If a person thinks something like God wants them to do something, many people may err on the side of listening to God.
Even if you did not believe in God before, if a person gets – for whatever reason* – the impression that God wants them to do something, and feels that sense powerfully or naggingly enough to even be considering whether they should heed the directive of God or ignore it, I would guess that most people – given the prominence God and gods in our diaspora of religiosity and value systems – are gonna want to listen to God.
Just in case they are not crazy and God is real – better listen, right?
So many different things can seem like God. The voices in our head and small circumstances in our days can seem like God. The things that powerful people tell us are God at work or God’s will, the things that people name as true and righteous, may seem like God, even if the messages delivered from men are far from holy in origin and intent.
There have been mass atrocities – and continue to be mass atrocities – committed by man in the name of God.
People kill other people because they think it’s what God wants them to do, what they are called to do.
It’s very problematic, the phenomena of believing that something like God is asking something you to do something.
Therefore, I try hard not to get carried away in what I believe, to try to find all possible explanations, any evidence there might be for an empirically measurable meteorological phenomenon that might create a bunch of freaky triangles in the sky.
*Possible reasons: compensatory egoic grandeur, substance use, acute religious fervor, misinterpretation of individual ‘conscience’ and internal moral dissonance framed by religious teachings of what God wants us to do and not do, etc.
People would probably not be as stoked as I would like to imagine them being at the possibility that God could be seen in the clouds.
Due to the preponderance of triangles, people would probably say that what I witnessed was part of an Illuminati media scheme.
Some people might call me a heretic or an iconoclast. It’s possible that I am both an iconoclast and a heretic. Those terms refer to relationships between a person/group/idea and a structure of power that is accepted as being valid and defensible, which does not inherently mean that the heretic or the iconoclast is bad or wrong, just that they do not agree with dominant doctrines or popularized idols.
People would almost certainly say that I am crazy, and my mental health history would probably invalidate anything I might say.
This morning I saw another formation and I remembered the enormous pressure of deeply believing that some force in the workings of the world was showing me something because I was supposed to tell people that the clouds were not just interesting shapes in the sky, but were trying to communicate something.
The clouds over the Bartlett Arms looked like a wave-swept coast.
When she started to see peculiar-seeming clouds, it was only a matter of days before she began bumbling toward the conclusion of “Oh my God, it’s God!”
She wasn’t even sure if she even believed in God – at least not in any God that is assumed to be shaped in man’s image, an anthropomorphic and manipulated God that promises Heaven after thankless obedience in a grueling life toiled away in industrial colonialist economies.
She didn’t believe – and still doesn’t believe – in that God.
Nevertheless, she had absorbed enough of the Judeo-Christian mythos and its imagery to think “God” when she saw what appeared to be an eye in the sky, a hand, crosses and what not.
God came in shapes that shouldn’t be hung in the sky, in forms like angels, dragons and snakes, sweet-faced bears and sharp-glaring wildcats, the swimming curve of a whale’s belly, ragged-edge map lines, tissue-paper transparent bars of ribs, and figures like letters and numbers from all over the world, swirls like worms on the floor of the ocean, arrangements with a familiar composition, somehow iconic even in the clouds.
When I look up and see the sky swimming with imagined potential meaning, everything that I might have been thinking about - the errands to run, chatter of to-do lists, ruminations and the aches of the body on earth - clears out of my head, a shoreline facing wind, and the space inside the center of me - small universe in my heart, the sense in my gut - all expands into a boundlessness in me that aches for the ocean and for all the animals and people and places that are suffering as I stand where I stand, in my comfortable and relatively safe life.
I place my hand on my chest and remember that, as a child, I really wanted to save the whales, save the rainforests, save the Florida Panther, save the elephants, save the polar bears, the turtles, save the dolphins, the manatee, the coral reefs. I had a Greenpeace t-shirt and meticulously cut the plastic rings from the six-packs of soda my mom would get at the Food Lion, watch the tides go in and out, pulling and pushing the ocean to me, away from, to me, away from me.
I wanted to save the ocean.
I didn't want the ocean to get messed up because of what humans are doing.
Compassion and grave concern for the ocean and for the earth is not uncommon among children.
I don't have to think I see whales in the sky to know that humans are killing a sacred and ancient creation and that, as a species, humans have got to stop exploiting life and living places in the pursuit of fleeting monetary profit that won't mean anything when one's grandchildren are mutants residing in a ruined world because of climate catastrophe cascade effects, chemical and nuclear war industries and activities.