WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

"Hello Darkness, My Old Friend..."


Okay, so lately, I'm on this kick, reading Michael Frayn's book, "The Human Touch," which is basically 500 pages of text about all the things we don't and maybe even can't know, which kind of leads me into a Chico Marx kind of frame of mind, I mean, like so, "how can I find out, what I got to find out, if I can't find out what I got to find out?" So, of course, now everything I touch, do and see, kind of resonates with this mind frame.

This morning I'm paging through the New York Times Sunday Magazine and come across this article: about dark matter & dark energy. Cosmologists and physicists, and all those other glorious eggheads that are trying to help us understand the universe now believe that what we call "universe" (plants, stars, galaxies, us) is really only 4% of what's actually out there. And what's out there beyond the 4% may be beyond our powers of understanding or even perception.

Now my forte is summing up stuff that I don't really understand into some kind of form of entertainment (at least entertaining to me), this is my working method in writing plays, interacting with the world, and all the people in it, but this article (I'm linking to it, so you can see if you can make heads or tails out of it yourself) seems to be saying that we really, really don't know what we're talking about when it comes to the universe and much of the phenomena in it. We can observe lots of stuff, we can put labels on it, but really, come on, we can't explain shit!

It's kind of humbling, and well, maybe we should reflect on this as some kind of lesson. In the human realm, some of us claim knowlege well beyond our capabilities. We all need to be really careful about what we claim to know. Most of our knowledge seems to be tentative, subject to revision. Dark matter, dark energy - it's kind of like some cosmic Godzilla out there, we can't even perceive it, but it's out there, yes, we know it, and well, what's up with that?

UPDATE: I want to be clear, that I admire the folks who are trying to find clarity in the dark forests of our experience. I admire and put myself in the camp of the seekers, the questioners, even if, in the back of my mind, I think it may be a fools errand. I do think we should strive for "clarity," but at the same time, it seems clear that the more we look, the more we see, sometimes the cloudier the picture gets. The universe seems more mysterious than ever. It's not a clockwork, it's more like a living thing, a process, without any clear goal. Or something like that. It's marvelous, and beautiful, and overwhelming, and well, we are just human beings, we evolved from other life forms, and is it really that strange that we might find some limits to our little minds of rationality? And remember that little island of rationality sits in a much vaster ocean of irrationality. Welcome to the Human Race.

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