Context #4 (Fall,
2000, pp. 9-11); copyright 2000 by The Nature Institute
Books discussed in this article:
Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water
and Air, by Theodor Schwenk (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965).
A few thoughts as a follow-up to "The
Straitening of Science," in issue #3 of In Context:
Water: A Natural History, by Alice Outwater (New York: HarperCollins,
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 curvilinearspiraling,
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