Content warning: low content

~ Feb 2021

The other day I decided to try imbibing work-relevant blog posts via AI-generated recital, while scaling the Twin Peaks—large hills near my house in San Francisco, of the sort that one lives near and doesn’t get around to going to. It was pretty strange, all around.

For one thing, I was wearing sunglasses. I realize this is a thing people do all the time. Maybe it’s strange for them too, or maybe theirs aren’t orange. Mine were, which really changed the situation. For one thing, the glowing streetscapes felt unreal, like cheap science fiction. But also, all kinds of beauty seemed to want photographing, but couldn’t be seen with my camera. It was funny to realize that I’m surrounded by potential beauty all the time, that I would see if I had different eyes, or different glasses, or different sensory organs all together. Like, the potential for beauty is as real as the beauty I do see. (This is perhaps obvious, but something being obvious doesn’t mean you know it. And knowing something doesn’t mean you realize it. I’d say I knew it, but hadn’t realized it.)

And then my ears were cornered in by these plugs spouting electronic declarations on the nature of coherent agents and such, which added to my sense of my head just not really being in the world, and instead being in a cozy little head cockpit, from which I could look out on the glowing alien landscape.

My feet were also strange, but in the opposite direction. I recently got these new sock-shoes and I was trying them out for the first time. They are like well-fitting socks with strong but pliable rubber stuff sprayed on the bottom. Wearing them, you can feel the ground under your feet, as if you were bare-foot. Minus the sharp bits actually lacerating your feet, or the squishy bits sullying them. Walking along I imagined my freed feet were extra hands, holding the ground.

I had only been up to Twin Peaks twice before, and I guess I had missed somehow exactly how crazy the view was. It was like standing on a giant breast, with a city-sea-bridge-forest-scape panoramaed around and under you over-realistically. The bridge disappeared into mystical mists and the supertankers swam epically on the vast blue expanse. I tried to photograph it multiple times but failed, partly because my camera couldn’t capture the warm orange tinge of the sea and the bridge rising from the burning mists, and partly for whatever reason that things sometimes look very different in photographs, and partly because I am always vaguely embarrassed photographing things with people looking at me, and there was a steady smattering of them.

The roads had been blocked off to traffic during the pandemic. From a car I don’t realize what vast plateaus winding hillside roads are. For us pedestrians, these were like concert stages.

The people I saw on my way up were either flying down the swooping roads on bikes and skateboards, in a fashion that made me involuntarily rehearse what I would do when they fell off, or flying unrealistically up the swooping roads on bikes, in a fashion that made me appreciate how good the best electric bikes must be now. I noticed as I watched one speed above me in awe that he flew the brand of his bourgeoisie bicycle on the back of his shirt, and wondered if he was just paid by them to ride up and down here all day, in the hope that someone would be so impressed that they would jot down the t-shirt label as the only clue to the rapidly disappearing bike’s identity, then google it later.

I wandered atop the peaks, and confusingly collected a mob of crows flying above, apparently interested in me specifically. This was reasonably sinister, and in Australia birds can attack you, so I investigated on my phone, while walking hesitantly below the circling birds. At last they descended and alit on the road and guardrail around me, and stood looking at me.

View with ravens staring

This picture captures the bizarreness of the situation about as badly as it captures the awesomeness of the scenery. It’s rare to be so much the center of a social situation with so little notion of what is expected of you or the meaning of it.

I think things then just kind of dissipated and I made efficiently for home.