Friday, May 11, 2007

existentialist crisis

I had a complete existential crisis this week.

At one point, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the world and my insignificance within it.
Each paragraph I read, rather than informing me, seemed merely to remind me how much Ididnt know. How much I needed to reread, how much I had forgotten. How convoluted and knotty my brain has become.

The whole idea of tiny little clusters of people, people making things, hundreds upon thousands of people making and saying and knowing, and here me in my corner, scratching around, disappeared into an endless milky way, among which a couple of stars glared in their brilliance amongst the millions.

Torn between my reading and my painting and my thinking and my working and the bloody housework and the Jobs List and the parenting. Ohhh.

I had to lie down and spend the day SIGHING piteously with despair.
(I quote)

One evening, I went up to
Long reef and sat in the near dark. Under a light.
There was a row of date palms shaking their fronds.

I read aloud, quite LOUDLY, as it were , to an invisible audience.
I read out loud about Gerhard Richter, and his “atlas” project. I read about anomie, and other ideas. I spoke in my lovely loud voice.

Apart from a fisherman and the hockey team practising behind me, only the sea heard.
It didn’t comment.
Or ask questions.

I feel much better today. Perspective has almost shifted back to normal.


it's the little things... said...

what's even more perplexing, is who gave us the idea that we were supposed to be important anyway?
do you think ants run around their mounds thinking about themselves?
or do birds fly around from tree to tree figuring out anything other than survival skills?
we're a strange breed of creatures, aren't we?

Arcturus said...

Your entries are always amazing.

For what it's worth, everyday of my life is an existential crisis spent in sputtering incoherence, sometimes rage, sometimes sadness, at the unknowable Universe around me.

Let me just say that your (and everyone's) perspective of your place in the Cosmos is inherently problematic.

Let me explain ... this is from my own weird hybrid of cosmology and theology.

I used to be an astronomy writer for NASA, specifically, in the esoteric branch of cosmology and astrophysics.

The trouble with that branch of science is it deals with 'beginnings' and ALWAYS ends up trying to answer, 'what came before the Big Bang?,' so it is inherently quasi-theological in nature, as opposed to the field of, say, biology or chemistry.

Long story short, we all know that Earth isn't the Center of the Universe. But it turns out the total Universe is effectively infinite -- no one knows. In the first few 10^-34 seconds, it underwent a fantastic 'inflation' that inflated any two arbitrarily close points out to arbitrarily large distances (space itself was stretching, so it doesn't violate any 'speed of light' law).

The result is that today, all we see is the 'observable' Universe, which refers to that 'sphere' centered on the observer to which light has had time to reach him/her, so that sphere is in that sense rushing outward at the speed of light (by definition), since "things" in the far, far reaches of the Cosmos are coming into view.

That would be the Age of the Universe (13.7 billion years) MINUS 300,000 years (which refers to the time of last scattering when the Universe became cool enuf for matter to be electrically neutral and hence light photons could travel, although in fact there were no stars to see at 300,000 years ... this is a theoretical limit) PLUS an expansion factor of space itself between galaxy super-clusters.

This works out to a theoretical 'sphere' roughly 40 billion light years in radius all around you, except the farther away are the galaxy clusters, the smaller was the observable Universe at that point, so the 'sphere' is also an inherently problematic concept.


The point is, you are always BY DEFINITION at the Center of Your Observable Universe ...


Everything that we see in that Observable Universe was touching everything else.

How do we know this?

The nature of the cosmic background radiation ... it's large-scale uniformity and the randomness of its fluctuations and sub-fluctuations (i.e. the harmonics of those variations in the background electromagnetic radiation) ... tells us that. (It may be that the arbitrarily large Total Universe was also all touching, but again, all we can know is the part we see.)

That cosmic background radiation uniformity tells us that deep space (not counting stars or planets or people) is a uniform temp., and that can ONLY be true be if every point in it were 'touching' every other point.

The Observable Universe is thus in 'thermal equilibrium' with itself. And there hasn't been enuf time for that to occur unless everything was in contact with everything else at the moment of the Big Bang.

Where am I going with this?

Well, if you consider the philosophical implications of it, all of a sudden, you go from being a veritable nothing in an infinite Universe to being THE Center of the Observable Universe, i.e. of Everything you can see and Everything you can know ... and all that you EVER CAN SEE AND EVER CAN KNOW.

The latter refers to the fact that we have no information about what exists beyond the bounds of our observable cosmos, though it is reasonable to assume the same laws apply. But we can't know it.

A wrinkle in this is that if the Universe really is going to continue to accelerate in its inflation, eventually, things will STOP coming into view and start to recede out again.

Eventually, as stars go out and galaxy clusters recede, nothing will remain.

Unless God starts the whole thing over again.

jane said...

Just keep swimming.

Leann said...

lets just say I got kicked out of a science class where the teacher was trying to teach me that my ansters were monkeys.
well i told him I knew who created this whole place and it sure wasnt what old dummy darwin said.
the man was tee,d off at God cause his little girl he wanted to get back at God.well God didnt kill his little girl.sickness did.and God dont send sickness.the devil does.God sends healing.

I may be dumb in some things but this didnt all come about by some dang ozz crawling out on the shore.
and i do believe in the big bang!!!!"God said let it be and bang it was".but its only alittle over 7000 years old.

where do we fit?
"into Gods plan"...He wanted a family.and he made us.the truth is out there for all to see if we will only believe.
I use to think some of this junk people put out there maybe true.

that is tell I pick up the bible and read it for my self.and you cant believe junk when you see the truth for your self.

with much learning wisdom doesnt always come.and if its trash we are learning we are still in the dark.

there is stuff in the bible that blows my talks about the world being round in the bible.if people would have been able to read it years ago they would have known it was round.

and it says the world will never be destoryed or end.cause it says Jesus is coming back here to set up his kingdom for a 1000 years.

I can walk out into the night and sit on a hill and look at the sky and know God is real.

your as inportant to God as your next breath is to you.
God cares about you.he was there for every thing you did.he watched you as you grew and he was intrested.he saw you before you were born..

some people say God doesnt care, if he did he would stop all the bad stuff going on.
do you know that if he stopped it all none of us would be here.because the law calls for justous.
but grace calls for mercy.and what Jesus did for us on the cross gives us grace and mercy.

God gives us free will to make our own choices.and to deside if we will believe in him or in foolishness.

he loves us so much he lets us deside.he didnt want puppits.he wanted us to love him of our own free will.

I feel some times like I have no reason to be here.but then I hear the Lord say "for God so (loved) the world he gave his only begotten son that who soever believes in him would have life".and i know if I wasnt inportant Jesus would never have given his life for a bunch of no good worthless people.

it took heavens best to buy us we are worth alot to God to give heavens best for us.

insignificance you say!!!no my dear your valued and way more needed then you think.

have a great weekend and God bless you.

Princess Banter said...

Lovely painting -- true talent you've got :)

I think sometimes we just need to take a break and catch a breather in order to sort out all those lingering thoughts in our heads. They can be quite overwhelming most of the time! I'm glad that your perspective's back where it is now... don't lose sight of that :) If you do, you know what to do :)

fifi said...

I am swimming again, head in order, small things small, and big things big.