Wednesday, February 03, 2016

As I gazed into the microwave, the bowl slowly turning, the liquid inside growing hotter—I couldn’t tell it was, but I knew—I wondered about the first microwave of all time, maybe a hundred years ago. What did they think was going to happen? That blue flames would arc across the air? That all life in the vicinity might be contaminated? How could they know? They didn’t. So they tried.

I thought about how the entire twentieth century was defined by leaps into the void. Eat this mold from an orange—see if it kills you, see if it makes you well. What would happen when an atom exploded? Would the chain reaction continue until all of creation was destroyed? How about a sonic boom? Would the airplane disintegrate, and Chuck Yeager too? What if you shined a laser into someone’s eye? What if we played all the wrong notes? Painted pictures of nothing? Made sculptures out of toilets. We suspected someone, or something, might stop us. Or punish us after the fact. But no one did.