PROVING GOD W/ CLOUDS: AN EMERGENT SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY

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

That needs

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

Of angels that make so bold as

To pity a cat like me that

Gallops about doing good.”

The Galloping Cat (1972)

Stevie Smith



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.

The majority of these are unedited, and those that are edited are edited only minimally in the adjusting of brightness or contrast to ‘pull out’ some of the more subtle forms lurking in what may appear at first glance to be a regular, everyday cloud.

Editing contrast was something I sometimes did early in my documentation and scrutinizing of cloudforms, but generally do not do now. The pictures I take now typically remain as they were when I took them, with the occasional cropping of a lens flare from my iPhone 7.

My motivation in adjusting the contrast of some early photos was 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.



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 be this one…) 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 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.

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. 


img_4695


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? 

img_4178


The singular question overarching this work is:

Am I crazy?

*sigh*

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 300 pictures sitting on the porch 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. 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.

Some days I don’t take any pictures at all, and almost forget – 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 # 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 each row and column.

The number of cloud photos doesn’t represent a full-blown immersion into cloud study, as a content analysis of my photo topics 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 a lot, as much as two almost grown people want me to hang out with them. I go to the grocery store, talk lots of walks in the same or only slightly different route around the neighborhood, down the hill up the hill, ‘cross the field, the bridge.

I’ve been to meetings. Done some consultancy project development work, here and there. Yardwork. An elder neighbor and I dug and wheelbarrowed a ton – again, like, literally – of dirt up from the mound of accumulated earth that had created a total blockage of stormwater flow, leaving a thick, silty puddle that would dry into a thick silty 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, and more and more mud piled up as the puddles got bigger and bigger being as 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 been able to barely run down, down to the gutter, to the drain, to the river. I blocked it, because I wasn’t thinking about what was causing the problem of the mud, only that I needed to get the immediate mud off of the sidewalk in front of the house, because there were slipping footprints and it sucks to walk through mud, especially when one is unpleasantly intoxicated or badly in need of being intoxicated, as many f the people walking on this street are. I’ve really 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 to 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 she goes outside there is some mind-bending bizarro beauty expanding and contracting in the sky, flashing symbols, throwing signs, telling stories. Almost. It seems…

I can probably take 50ish pictures maixum in a minute with my phone. I try – actually – 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, sitting on the backporch, walking the dog, crossing a parking lot, just trying to go to the freaking store, ya 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, but that is probably not representative of other minutes. When the

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 ‘bove 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 it, 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 – 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 that believed in me.

That changed everything.



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, because the imagined reality feels real.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delusion


She doesn’t believe that she is crazy.

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.



Possibility #1:

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. 



Possibility #2

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. 

Possibility #3: 

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.

Possibility #3A: 

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.

Possibility #3B:

Aliens?

Possibility #3C:

5G?

Possibility #3D:

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? 

Possibility #3Da

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. 

Potential Outcomes: 

🤷🏻‍♀️😱 



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: 


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:


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?)


Air Pressure:


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. 

*sigh*


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?

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 consider whether they should heed the directive of God or ignore it, I would guess that most people – given the prominence God and gods 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. 

*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. 

Ugh. 

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 obedience in a brutal grueling life involuntarily toiled away in industrial colonialist economie

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 creatures like angels, and dragons and snakes, sweet-faced bears and sharp-glaring wildcats, the swimming curve of a whale’s belly, ragged-edge map lines, vaporous lines 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. 



She keeps looking at the pictures she took yesterday, which – to her – are just as mind-blowing as the pictures she took the day before yesterday.
 
She understands that most people cannot see what she sees, because you have to look closely and follow the lines, fill in the small spaces left by dissipate vapors, like finding pictures hidden in clouds. 

 
img_5162
 
 
A cloud that looks like an angel with a halo is not necessarily an angel with a halo.
It is a cloud that looks like an angel with a halo. 
 
It is a cloud that my human perception – forged by the beliefs and images I have been immersed in ever since the day I opened my eyes, and which my ancestors were also immersed in, the meanings that guided their lives, their hearts, beliefs that worked their way into the very fibers of who we are – recognizes a familiar form within. 
 
It feels very important for me to stay grounded and rational around the topic of seemingly portent clouds.
 
It is easier – and safer – for me to hold a stance of outward skepticism, keep the clouds at arms length, try not to get carried away by the awe and delight, the wonder and possibilities, remind myself that the clouds mean nothing. Nothing. 
 
Sometimes, rationality is a feeble, perfunctory gesture in the shadow of a belief that feels singularly all-encompassing. 
 
How can I have experiences of transcendent grace, that sense of being suspended, held, enraptured by what I see while the rest of the walking-talking world just goes on as it does? Why do I feel like I am being shown something important, something powerful?
 
My body shakes just a little when I watch the sky configure itself into the stunning, strange, disturbing and ultimately gloriously beautiful thing that it becomes when I pay attention. 
 
Rationality, during these times of being held in deep belief, seems like a stubborn, stupid thing. However, I know that it is crucial to keep myself tethered to reason, tethered to facts beyond the fact of my own experience, which speaks to me like truth. 
 
Keep cool. Look casual. Take pictures of the sky as the cars pass by. 

img_4700
    Close up and far away, an everyday afternoon walk. 
img_4693

She tried to pull the burdock up from its stalks, but the roots of the plant were holding tight deep in the dry ground. Cutting the thick stalks and letting the heavy-leaves of the purple thistle-flowered plants fall with a whispered collapse, she moved along the narrow strip of what used to be grass between the sidewalk and the street, now just a mess of burdock and poison ivy and crumpled cans, styrofoam cups. She had let the burdock grow to blooming because it is rumored to ward off the evil eye. She doesn’t know exactly what the evil eye is, but she knows she doesn’t want anyone messing with her, and doesn’t want any trouble near her. The blooms had bundled themselves in prickly burr balls that stuck to whatever brushed past them, and she figured that she might be more likely to get the evil eye if people walking by the house got burrs stuck all over them from her over-grown weeds. 
 
She moved along lopping the plants at the soil line, letting them fall. It did not make her feel good to cut them, and she imagined a brief shock at the press and sever of the pruners, leaves still living, roots surprised in the dark of the earth.
 
Midway down the stretch of sidewalk, she stopped to straighten her back and regard the heaps of collapsed burdock splayed out toward the street.  She had barely thought about clouds at all while she was working. She wasn’t thinking about anything, just the burdock and the evil eye, the sad look of the plants cut down.
 
She glanced up, fumbled for her phone. The sky was hung with blocky strewn forms against the blue, eyes tucked into the rolls of cloud above the neighborhood.
 
As soon as she sees them, she is transfixed, her work on the burdock and almost everything else forgotten, swept from her mind instantly. Cars drive by and she continues to stare hard up at the sky, whisps and tendrils seeming the spell something that she does not know how to read, but that she understands is holy, far more important than anything else that might be happening and yet – strangely – nobody else seems to notice. 
 
img_4935
 
She watches the triangles begin to emerge, the look of the eyes becoming refined and soulful-looking, deeply human, more than human, the face becomes an animal, bear-like and staring at her as she were on trial.

 
There are waves crashing unmistakable behind the form, which looks like both a sea turtle and vaguely an angel with arms outstretched, holding something as in offering.
 
Clouds move like water in wind. 
 


It is safer to hold a sense of skepticism about what she believes she sees, because the possible truth of it – that there are forces at work in shaping the clouds that tend to make forms in nature that may appear throughout human language and culture – is:
 
a) overwhelming 
 
b) is probably not true, despite what I see as photographic evidence.
 
I sat down the other day to begin finding specific photos that feature the primary forms that I have identified, which are:
 
– a 3
 
– lots of triangles 
 
– lots of eyes
 
– other letter-like/number like/symbol-like forms, arrows, Y and t and T, perfect circles and X, U, V. J. Z, which is also like 2 and similar to 5, which she also sees. Various other line structures that – to me – look somewhat like letters from other languages. 
 
– the supremely disturbing suggestion of symbol for radioactivity, which may mean something else if written in clouds? 
 
She can feel a part of her mind unspool in considering the possibility that any form in the clouds means anything.
 
img_2270
 
In a single photo, there may be all of these forms represented, not to mention the bird forms, the large and small forms that look like angels, the faces of animals that are there…and then gone. 
 
img_4664
 
img_4734
 
img_2743
 
I don’t even know if any of it is real.
 
Just beneath the veneer of my bravado, there is a definite fear surrounding this project and the prospect of showing it to anyone, despite my internal sense that it is important that I talk with someone about this thing that I do, this watching the clouds.
 
I need help letting go of my delusion about weird clouds and God and stuff, or I need help because there is something weird about the clouds and I want to know what how clouds can make so many triangles, so many 3s.
 
I want to know why there are nearly perfect eyes in the sky almost every time I look up, and if that means anything to anybody. 

 

 
As she walks up in the hill in the hot sun of the afternoon, having just spent almost an hour sitting in the grass and documenting the gathering and dissipation of cloud forms, pausing to take a final picture of what could be imagined as a giant angel form seeming to breathe a filamentous whisper of cluttered cloud-symbols and knowing that she will likely see more sky-strewn wonders and puzzlements during the short walk up to the corner and down to the house, passing by the Varick Chapel, where she always looks at the sky.
 
She doesn’t have a constant awareness that she lives in a different world than most all of the people she encounters, the people she passes on the street, the people driving by. She forgets that not everybody sees the world like she does. 
 
She does not speak about the clouds to anyone anymore, and hasn’t for a very long time other than to occasionally joke about her mental health history, saying she tried to ‘prove God with clouds’ – saying it like she knows how crazy the idea of such a thing is.
 
It is such a beautiful world, the world where the sky is alive and reflects everything, sometimes all at once.
 
She doesn’t even care if it is ‘real.’ 
 
Walking up the hill, she knows with a bone-deep certainty that she will never go back to living in a world where the sky is a dead-flat plane that means nothing. With just as great a certainty, she knows that she couldn’t go back, that she can’t unsee.
 
She turns the corner and looks up, begins to take pictures. 

 
img_2985

 
She doesn’t need to focus on the effort to prove anything, the effort to find reputable people to help her to figure out if what she sees is real or just a figment of her pareidolia and longing for meaning, her longing for a God that makes sense to her, a God that works in ways that are slightly less mysterious, a God that is real, that she can see. 
 
What she needs to focus on is the feeling that is like a wish, a fervent ‘if only’ wish that makes her heart ache and her head almost hurt with wishing so hard, clearing everything else out of her head and trying to only to wish the wish.
 
She wishes other people could see what she sees in the sky, not because she wants to prove anything, but because it is beautiful and powerful, to be able to believe and see that the world is alive in this way.
 
She wants other people to be able to see what she sees. She wants to show other people what she sees.

img_3411
 

This is an ongoing longitudinal project. Additional content – both new and archival – is forthcoming.
 
To learn more about this work and the context that it arose in relation to, please click here to access this site’s hidden blog posts, which feature additional content related to this project, as well as other art and writing projects.
 
 

 
 
Thank You.
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 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 chemical and nuclear war industries and toxic food supplies.