Beastwatching in the urban jungle.

I went out walking in the city this morning, not far from the CBD.

Rising above an open park, some three blocks away from me, was a skyscraper. It was massive, multi-tiered, and like many buildings in this city, under construction. It bristled with scaffolding at every tier, themselves rising up at different (unfinished) heights, and there were two construction cranes sitting on the tiers, plus one more tall one on the ground.

Construction was under way, the cranes were lifting — what, I couldn’t see, it was on the other side of the skyscraper. As they laboured over this mysterious burden, they spoke to each other in groans and creaks and grinding of metal upon metal, a speech audible from half a kilometre away, a wordless language I didn’t and could never understand.

I thought of whales and whalesongs.

So I stopped for a minute to watch, from a distance, these inorganic creatures in their natural habitat, going about their lives, and speaking all the time. A strange song of (un)life, the sound of (in)organic industry and growth.

The machineworld has an unnatural, alien beauty that the natural world simply doesn’t have and the organic mind doesn’t comprehend. Who will have eyes to see this mystery? And what mystery was the cranes lifting up the skyscraper’s tiers, that they spoke about it the whole time?

I never saw the cranes’ burden. I had moved on, a little creature leaving those greater creatures crying and moaning to each other as they grew and raised the superorganism of the city into the sky.

Postscript: A week later, I passed by the same way. Nothing stirred around that skyscraper. The cranes were still and silent.

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