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Sunday surprise: Ernst Haas

[ by Charles Cameron — beauty is in the viewfinder of this beholder ]
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Two bodies of water:

Ernst Haas, Tobago Wave
Tobago Wave, photograph by Ernst Hass, with permission of the Ernst Haas Estate

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The closest correlation to this image that comes to mind is from Genesis:

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

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I’d like us to explore this juxtaposition of two bodies of water a little farther. Here, for instance, is Terence Stamp, retelling The Tale of the Sands from Idries Shah‘s Tales of the Dervishes:

And to bring that tale, lyrical as it is, home to the realities of twenty-first century living — and indeed the context of national security — consider the matter of the Rios Voadores or Flying Rivers, as described in a National Geographic piece this February, Quirky Winds Fuel Brazil’s Devastating Drought, Amazon’s Flooding:

The loop starts in the Atlantic Ocean, where the winds carry moisture westward over the Amazon. Some falls as rain, but as the air passes, it also absorbs moisture from trees. When these “flying rivers” hit the Andes, they swing south, showering rain over crops and cities in eastern Bolivia and southeastern Brazil.

Beginning a year ago, however, a phenomenon called “atmospheric blocking” transformed that wind pattern. Marengo, a senior scientist at the Brazilian National Center for Early Warning and Monitoring of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN), likens this to a giant bubble that deflected the moisture-laden air, which instead dumped about twice the usual amount of rain over the state of Acre, in western Brazil, and the Bolivian Amazon, where Cartagena lives.

At the same time, cold fronts from the south, which cause precipitation over São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, were shunted aside, and as the system lingered, the drought took hold ..

Here’s a video to give you a glimpse..

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Did I mention national security? Here’s what Chuck Hagel said in the second paragraph of his Foreword to the Pentagon’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap:

Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change. Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.

I have an analytic post forthcoming on Lapido Media about Water shortages and violence in the Middle East. A hat tip to blog-friend Pundita, who has been blogging intensively on water shortages recently [1, 2, eg]. And my grateful thanks to Victoria Haas for her gracious permission to use her father’s superb photograph at the head of this post.

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The master’s eye — to catch the two-in-oneness of sky and sea, cloud and wave, water and water so exactly, in so balanced a form.. and then, within that massive, unmissable symmetry in blue and green, the milder asymmetries he captures of left and right — the billowing, the surging. Exquisite.

It is Sunday: treat yourself to a viewing of his portraits of Marilyn Munroe, of Jean Cocteau, of Albert Einstein, his extraordinary Sea Gun. Who has both the wanderlust to find and the eye to see such a thing?

5 Responses to “Sunday surprise: Ernst Haas”

  1. Grurray Says:

    This is such a beautiful post.
    I have to admit, though, that the photo and your passage and Hagel’s prediction all make me think of the Book of Job,
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    Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
    Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
    When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,
    And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,
    And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
    .
    A chapter that always gives me pause when someone pronounces so much certainty about the future. Isn’t that the point of what’s written in the sands? It seems so hard to read because it’s so outside of our immediate experiences.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Thanks, Grurray.
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    And that’s a wonderful quote from Job.

  3. larrydunbar Says:

    On the other hand, Job never had to go through climate change. 🙂

  4. Emlyn Cameron Says:

    The photograph, by its vertical symmetry, reminds me of the theology of Queequeg’s tribe in Moby Dick:
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    “in Nantucket he had chanced to see certain little canoes of dark wood, like the rich war-wood of his native isle; and upon inquiry, he had learned that all whalemen who died in Nantucket, were laid in those same dark canoes, and that the fancy of being so laid had much pleased him; for it was not unlike the custom of his own race, who, after embalming a dead warrior, stretched him out in his canoe, and so left him to be floated away to the starry archipelagoes; for not only do they believe that the stars are isles, but that far beyond all visible horizons, their own mild, uncontinented seas, interflow with the blue heavens; and so form the white breakers of the milky way. He added, that he shuddered at the thought of being buried in his hammock, according to the usual sea-custom, tossed like something vile to the death- devouring sharks. No: he desired a canoe like those of Nantucket, all the more congenial to him, being a whaleman, that like a whale-boat these coffin-canoes were without a keel; though that involved but uncertain steering, and much lee-way adown the dim ages.”
    .
    Apologise for the lengthy quote, but I thought it apt.

  5. Charles Cameron Says:

    Thanks, Emlyn — nicely observed.

    their own mild, uncontinented seas, interflow with the blue heavens; and so form the white breakers of the milky way


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