Oh, what a lovely hurricane.
hurricane irene, 2011I like this image of what’s about to hit our area (seen faintly in the upper right corner). So magnificent in its raw natural immensity–about 600 miles in diameter. Not that I like the toll it takes on the human environment but one has to stand in total awe of its power, size, intensity, ferocious appearance, agitated power and magnificent beauty. (click on photo to enlarge)

It appears overhead as we lilliputian humanoids run around with our over-bloated egos and political/religious opinions and international warfares and civil war slaughters of Arab-African-Asian countrymen, women and children… so overstuffed with our petty affairs and profits and market values and money that we care so little about the only planet we have to live on. We pollute and defile and abuse the globe as if there were a dozen nearby planetary alternatives to flee to when we’ve finished ruining the climate and soil of this one.

No, no. Delusional we are to think we can continue to dig up the forests and bury our plastics and lead-filled old computers and spew toxins and radioactive dust into the air.

Look at this incredible photograph of the hurricane. Yes, it is beautiful from afar, but I think it is an angry storm. It is a visceral form of nature palpably reminding us of who is ultimately in charge of our affairs. The planet has not completed its work; it is not a stable playing field for our human pleasures and deals. The forces of nature are very alive with hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, avalanches, ancient trees toppling and new seedlings sprouting.

Human creatures are not the ultimate life form. We are smart mutated species from a primitive past on our way to a ‘destiny’ shaped by our brain development, our impact on the earth, our aggression, our fear, our ignorance about how to create harmony and tolerance for human differences, and foolish decisions about how to steward our globe floating alone in the drift of the universe.

Ozymandias once stood as a great granite statue in the Egyptian kingdom dedicated to the most powerful pharaoh of antiquity, Ramsses II. Inscribed below on the pedestal of this ruler, this king of the planet, this pharaoh of great power were the words (from Shelley’s poem) “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

luxor, Ramesseum

I visited this colossal stone monarch several years ago at the Ramesseum (photo left), a memorial temple built by Ramesses at Thebes, near Luxor in Upper Egypt. The monument originally stood 56 feet high (17 meters), mighty and muscular, a monument to human art, power and ego.

Today this great nexus of power rests in broken pieces, felled by an earthquake, half buried in sand, mostly ignored (except for tourists) and unknown to the world, in this “annihilated place”.

Hurricane Irene (ironically a Greek name meaning ‘peace’) is a vivid reminder of the change that comes to all human affairs and to this precious planet called home.

Shelley’s closing words in his poem about this once pinnacle of human might should give us pause about our purpose, reason and effect of being here today:

“Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world).

earth from space

By Richard Ammon


August 27, 2011