G-20 Protest: 5

In Pittsburgh on September 25, 2009 at 5:32 am

G-20 093

The crowd swirled into an eddy of heads and drab clothing. Flags jutted out of the mass. Signs bobbed. Tentacles of humanity slid along the chain-link fence, along the stone walls, down the sidewalk, up the street; the stretched and unfurled, curled and bled. But the crowd’s heart throbbed with chants and movement.

I couldn’t see how they communicated, but it reminded me of my friend Matt, a research physician, who once described “brain clouds.” In nature, we see countless examples of smaller organisms operating with perfect synchronicity, forming patterned movement — clusters of birds or schools of fish. The brain operates in a similar way, with millions of individual neurons operating together.

Now, without leader or direction, I saw a brain-cloud in action: The activists poured out the gate, up the steep street toward Bloomfield. The protesters were on the march.


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