Sunday, January 4, 2015
A Matter of Perspective
Considering the vastness of the universe, the seeming endlessness of time, and the emptiness of space, one might lament that no meaning is possible to human existence. And many have.
And yet, everywhere is beauty, admirable structure, and mathematical coincidence we call proportion. Everywhere in the very same universe.
In one regard, the universe resembles the splash that emerges out of a stone thrown into a pond. And for as simple and as temporary a system as that connotes for physics, it is nevertheless lovely to behold and even mesmerizing to certain eyes.
Scale brings nothing with it. To watch a single drop of water freeze and then thaw again, a whole universe. A computer model of the birth and death of a star, or of a whole galaxy, elapsed over just two minutes, is but the same. A picture may contain as much detail as a camera can pick up, as many bytes of information as a computer may store, but in any case it's not complete. Not even the human mind can completely contain anything that falls to its attention.
The universe is an idea. The name betrays this: across (verse) the one or the whole (uni). Whether it inspires or depresses is a matter of perspective and a matter of choice. Nebulae are the most beautiful things when enhanced by the folks at NASA, but they don't actually look like that. The Sun is too bright for people to look at, but not too bright to enjoy and to miss when hidden by clouds. Rainbows aren't really 'there,' but they speak to us so clearly of many things. Orion isn't really there either, nor was it even quite what it is now back in the days of the Greeks and the Babylonians when it first gained its name. In a million years from now it won't look anything like it does now. By far, most of the universe is utterly hostile to the existence of human life. And yet, it's hard to find a piece of creation that is not intriguing to the human mind and capable of inspiring the human heart - whether this be tornadoes, solar flares, or star-collapsing black holes.
It was all built for contemplation, but I think not for understanding.