Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hopes, Fears, and Mysteries

A while ago, a commenter mentioned my apparent (photographic) attraction to the manifestations of change'n'decay, and I made this response, which -- in retrospect, and read as if written by another person -- amused me enough to repeat it here:
To paraphrase William Blake, when asked "When you observe entropy, do you not see a grey sludge, about as exciting as porridge?" I reply, "No, No, I see an Innumerable Company of the Heavenly Host crying 'Wow, Amazing, Look at That!'" *
Heh.  Suit yourself.

But, who to trust, William Blake or a scientist -- say, Brian Cox?   Not Brian "Things Can Only Get Better"** Cox, but Brian "professor" Cox; the one who earnestly expounds entropy,  the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the heat death of the universe on prime-time TV.  Though, of course, they are one and the same man.  Maybe that should have been "things can only get flatter", Brian?

It says something about the nature of our species, that although the cumulative best efforts of our best minds have revealed an ultimately futile destiny for us and for the entire universe (depressing, unless you're abnormally fond of a very quiet life), we still turn -- in pursuit of inspiration and visionary joy -- to the ravings of assorted deranged wishful thinkers.

Remarkable, really, that both tendencies can be sustained in our minds at the same time.  It's that old Hopey-Changey Thing, I suppose. A hundred years from now, the science will inevitably be obsolete, but the hopes, fears and mysteries will probably remain exactly the same.

* "When the Sun rises, do you not see a round disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?" O no, no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying, `Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.' I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative eye any more than I would Question a window concerning a Sight. I look thro' it & not with it. (William Blake, A Vision of the Last Judgment)

** The title of an irritatingly uplifting song from 1991 by D:Ream, a band in which Brian Cox played keyboards, and which helped propel Labour to power in 1997.


Zouk Delors said...

The photos are....... amazing!

Mike C. said...

Precisely: wow, look at that!