2 July 2011

Big world

Contrasting observations. This:
One need only shut oneself in a closet and begin to think of the fact of one’s being there, of one’s queer bodily shape in the darkness (a thing to make children scream at, as Stevenson says), of one’s fantastic character and all, to have the wonder steal over the detail as much as over the general fact of being, and to see that it is only familiarity that blunts it. Not only that anything should be, but that this very thing should be, is mysterious! Philosophy stares, but brings no reasoned solution, for from nothing to being there is no logical bridge. [1]
and this:
Man...is to all reality, known and unknowable...plankton, a shimmering phosphoresence of the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again. [2]

Sources: [1] William James, quoted by Geoffrey O'Brien in an essay review of The Tree of Life, and [2] John Steinbeck quoted by Martin Rees in Just Six Numbers.

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