When The Lights Go Up In The City

“There’s a whole class of human communication that happens through decorational lights. New York City does a lot of this. They light up the tree in Rockefeller center. That moment when it goes from dark to gleaming, that’s a big moment for humans. There’s a lot of ceremony involved. What is actually being communicated, then? What is the difference between the dark tree and the light tree? They light up the Empire State Building most nights in specific colors. And of course fireworks. On July 4 you go on the roof (our building, any building) and in the distance are the great fireworks displays, shot from barges in the river. They’re monumental and synchronized. But closer are the local fireworks, drunks and lunatics setting off explosives all around. You run from corner to corner of the roof and murmur at the colors. It’s a way of talking at a distance. Flags and towers, short signals. Hello everyone. Here are our explosives. Hello. Here are our rainbow-colored lights hung from the balcony. Hello. Christmas lights work for the same reason that people on shore wave to people in boats.”