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In Context #4 (Fall, 2000, pp. 9-11); copyright 2000 by The Nature Institute

Water's Obstinate Meanderings
Stephen L. Talbott

Books discussed in this article:
Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air, by Theodor Schwenk (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965).

Water: A Natural History, by Alice Outwater (New York: HarperCollins, 1996).

A few thoughts as a follow-up to "The Straitening of Science," in issue #3 of In Context:

In his book, Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air, Theodor Schwenk pursues with striking observational prowess the view that "water is more than a mere flow of energy or a useful means of transport." He struggles to grasp its expressive gestures, its "archetypal forms of movement," which turn out to be curvilinear—spiraling, gliding, meandering, oscillating, rhythmically ebbing and flowing, going forth and returning. Even in the straightest and smoothest pipe, flowing water insists upon spiraling, and over time it will impress its swirling tendencies even upon the solid material of its channel.

But Schwenk is not content with such broad-stroke characterizations. He traces the flowing form