The Weather: San Francisco

Nothing is literally more interesting than the weather. How could it be otherwise? It thoroughly defines our immediate environment. To dismiss the weather as unimportant is to suggest that we live independently of our environs, that we are actors on a stage and the stage does not inflect us. Ah, but the weather inundates our experience, shapes it, moods it, defines it in so many ways.

People claim to have seasonal affective disorder. Of course they do. Only a) it’s not a disorder; and b) we all have it.

The weather is a mood and not simply some numbers — temperature, humidity, wind — that tell us what to wear. Winds don’t just blow warm and cold, wet and dry. They also blow anxious, calm, frenzy. Weather is the swirl of affect.

And San Francisco is deep in the swirl. This is a strange city with an incredibly intimate relationship not just to the sky but to the atmosphere in general. Montana, Kansas, Texas: they have Big Sky. San Francisco doesn’t have big sky: it has Close Sky, sky that comes down to us, clouds that literally kiss us. We call it fog.

Ocean, bay, desert land, sky, wind: here they interact in endlessly shifting configurations that relentlessly modulate our days. We may not experience extremes of hot and cold but within our tightly stipulated range, we experience great tumult, enormous variation. And with this, an endlessly shifting affective resonance.

A few weeks ago, I’m driving through the city and experienced something that happens with some frequency in San Francisco: everything was nutty. Cars were doing strange things — stopping for no reason, drifting, turning suddenly. Pedestrians, too, were popping up at unexpected places in unexpected ways. I couldn’t go one block with some wacky shit happening.

The next morning, I learned that the earthquake in Japan had happened and that the tsunami had hit the California coast. Of course, I said to myself, that’s why everything was so wacky yesterday.

And just in case I didn’t believe it, the next day found my boy and me at the park where we sat — randomly, whatever that means — to watch some amateur baseball game. We took seats next to one teams’ bench — we where the only people in the stands — and I looked at a player’s jersey: Tsunami, it read, in big bold letters.

The world is not a stage. It is an actor. And a pervasive, demanding one at that. TC mark

image – Mike Behnken

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  • Brandon Silverman

    hmm, I was disappointed with this. when it started, i was looking forward to a humorous discussion of the craziness that is San Francisco's weather, and it's propensity for micro-climates (Why is the Sunset always foggy?? No matter what, the Mission is always nice?!), but then I was just really let down…

    • Brandon Silverman

      okay, so it's really just the last 4 paragraphs. i just thought you were taking it in a different direction. i'd like to see this expanded rather than just a single event, which has nothing to do with the weather, really.

      • courtney

        yes, expanded. i like where you're going but i feel it ended abruptly.

  • Daniel Coffeen

    I believe in pith. And, sometimes, in fragments. And always in pithy fragments.

  • Lauren

    Agree. disappointed. Love this blog but it's very new york centric (not hating, new york is awesome-just a fact). Finally SF gets a little attention and it's falls short. Next time, Daniel.

    • Daniel Coffeen

      You're right. But it really was meant as a fragment of thought, a glimmer, a glimpse, a moment, a half-notion, a breeze….Next time, indeed.

  • Eric Volpp

    just yesterday, i had a talk with my philosophy professor and Heidegger's idea of “being in the world” came up. everything happens in relation to/in the context of other things and weather is definitely a big factor.
    it's funny that this was published while i was/am still thinking about that discussion.

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