Carl Sagan and his Cool Reflections

Pale Blue Dot WidePale Blue Dot Close

The photo above was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it sailed away from Earth, more than 4 billion miles in the distance. Having completed its primary mission, Voyager at that time was on its way out of the Solar System, on a trajectory of approximately 32 degrees above the plane of the Solar System. Ground Control issued a command that directed the distant space craft to turn around and, looking back, take photos of each of the planets it had visited. From Voyager’s vast distance, the Earth was captured as a infinitesimal point of light (between the two white tick marks in the image above), actually smaller than a single pixel of the photo. The image was taken with a narrow angle camera lens, with the Sun quite close to the field of view. Quite by accident, the Earth was captured in one of the scattered light rays caused by taking the image at an angle so close to the Sun. Dr. Sagan was quite moved by this image of our tiny world. Here is an enlargement of the area around our Pale Blue Dot and an excerpt from the late Dr. Sagan’s talk:

 

Pale Blue Dot

-by Carl Sagan – January 25th 2010

“The spacecraft was a long way from home.

I thought it would be a good idea, just after Saturn, to have them take one last glance homeward. From Saturn, the Earth would appear too small for Voyager to make out any detail. Our planet would be just a point of light, a lonely pixel hardly distinguishable from the other points of light Voyager would see: nearby planets, far off suns. But precisely because of the obscurity of our world thus revealed, such a picture might be worth having.

So, here they are: a mosaic of squares laid down on top of the planets in a background smattering of more distant stars. Because of the reflection of sunlight off the spacecraft, the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there were some special significance to this small world; but it’s just an accident of geometry and optics. There is no sign of humans in this picture: not our reworking of the Earth’s surface; not our machines; not ourselves. From this vantage point, our obsession with nationalisms is nowhere in evidence. We are too small. On the scale of worlds, humans are inconsequential: a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal.

Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings; thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines; every hunter and forager; every hero and coward; every creator and destroyer of civilizations; every king and peasant, every young couple in love; every mother and father; hopeful child; inventor and explorer; every teacher of morals; every corrupt politician; every supreme leader; every superstar; every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.

Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings; how eager they are to kill one another; how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known.

The pale blue dot.”

 

 

I came across an old collection of mine from Carl Sagan and this film excerpt below in the hyperlink is from his Cosmos series. It pretty much encapsulates the very drift of the conceptual journey consuming my thoughts of late. The Cosmos series is a timeless, historical expression of the scientific outlook on the origin of life, the human species and the universal laws that eternally surround us. Carl Sagan’s humble and nonchalant demeanor is a very pleasant experience to ponder the perplexities of a life feeling the weight of its egocentric fixation on privilege, grandeur and selfhood…….In fact everything written for the public by Carl Sagan is worthy  of any person’s interest…

Carl Sagan on God

 

 

A poster-size image of the beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 13

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Yin and Yang of Existence

Tragedy befalls all of us during the moments we least expect. These grief stricken realities are forever present in the rhythms of life and in these times of confrontations with the nature of things I am compelled to commit to life’s transient pleasures – they are all the more tantalising and necessary as we all march forward into the wonderful abyss of oblivion.

Charles Bukowski says it all so beautifully with his cheeky eye to detail…….

Consummation Of Grief – Poem by Charles Bukowski

I even hear the mountains
the way they laugh
up and down their blue sides
and down in the water
the fish cry
and the water
is their tears.
I listen to the water
on nights I drink away
and the sadness becomes so great
I hear it in my clock
it becomes knobs upon my dresser
it becomes paper on the floor
it becomes a shoehorn
a laundry ticket
it becomes
cigarette smoke
climbing a chapel of dark vines. . .
it matters little
very little love is not so bad
or very little life
what counts
is waiting on walls
I was born for this
I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.

 

 

Through the Eyes of young Salvador Dali

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GIRL AT A WINDOW, 1925

There’s a wonderful moment of casual idleness and nonchalant focus in the setting of this painting. The frame is a timeless celebration of youthful nostalgia. If such an emotion that goes by the name of existential immersion  can exist in the perception of an audience whilst contemplating the memory of a painting then this painting by the young Salvador Dali has captured it well…………

This work belongs to Dalí’s years of formation and style definition. We can see a young girl’s back in front of an open window, while admiring the sea of Cadaqués. Throughout his life, Salvador Dalí found a source of inspiration in the summers spent in this village, and the protagonist of the painting may be his sister Ana María, his model until 1929 when he meets Gala. It is very likely that, at the moment of creation, Dalí was enjoying a summer vacation with his family in Cadaqués. The frame depicted here, can be seen from one of the windows of the house that the family had on the Es Llaner beach. Houses are reflected in the glass of the window; some can still be identified today as part of Cadaqués landscape.

From the Other Side !

Image result for graveyard at sunset

Whenever I happen to perchance walking past or into a cemetery there is a timeless feeling of relief and tranquility washes over me like a cleansing agent for my emotional stresses. Walking past all of the rich and varied epitaphs on the grave sites offers a beautiful tapestry of singular moments caught in the memories of the deceased. I sometimes feel humbled at these precise moments of contemplation questioning, what is more important than celebrating communal life in all of its glory and transient wonder? I have never been obsessed with the thought of dying and I am not into living my life waiting for death but the absolute and final exit from this stage holds an unbelievable fascination for me. The idea that a close friend or relative or even a personal role model was with me in flesh and blood and we communicated once upon a time, undergoes a hard process to accept that this physical encounter will never happen again. I do not feel morbid or emotionally anxious about this inevitability that befalls everyone but at times I ponder the various platitudes surrounding the thought of death and also scan the mental images of this thought as perceived through the passageways of history. The conceptual reality that we walk into this room of life through the front door and then exit through the back door into a land unknown and from where no-one has returned leaves me stunned,  in a sense like being stung with a strong dose of medicinal reality.  I reflect on all of the trials and tribulations, all the hopes and the aspirations of so many; in fact all of humanity who have preceded me. In this realisation there is a comforting thought that emanates from a socialist perspective. All the riches, all the powers, imagined or real vanish once we pass that threshold. I empathise with my ancestors and imagine the sensual mysteries that life would have held for our progenitors; I witness the soothing theories of after-life and trace their natural demise with the ongoing rationale of contemporary science. And still as I meditate the discoveries of the modern world, the legacy leaves me with stunned silence and reverential respect for all that have passed by and for all who will enter into the beyond.

I use these ponderous thoughts to whip up a mock epitaph using an image to bounce off……

From Beyond

Welcome stranger to my final rest

I come to you from the other side

A faceless person emerging from this nest

With a passion to guide

In life as in death the sad truth

Is captured in this prism I hold

The  wonders of  eternal youth

Of celebrations foretold

Do not deny me the dignity

Of your reflective thought

Strike a light on my memory

Immortalise what I sought !

Expanding thoughts for an expanding universe…..

I am a thinker.

I can’t help it but most of my life has been consumed in thinking about this or that. I love squeezing the paste out of reality and seeing what I can make of it. Over the years my thoughts have criss-crossed the landscapes of philosophies, religions, fiction, historical ideologies, scientific discoveries, mathematics, fashions, fads, theater, occult, art, music, contemporary news – you name it – I have probably dabbled in it in some small yet personally satisfying way. I have never been an expert but tasted of various disciplines until my interests were either distracted into some other area of indulgence or I became satiated enough to leave and divert my attention towards something else. But in all of these emotional and mental meanderings my undivided focus is completely and utterly absorbed by the fascination of the ultimate purpose of this thing we call life;this space we occupy and the stuff of the universe. I have come up with a theory, a theory that is still not fully formed but an idea that helps me construct some kind of personable rationale……..here goes…….indulge with me for a few minutes…

We eat to survive.


Food replenishes our bodily mechanism.


In fact all living things consume other living things to renew .


It seems to be the governing law of life.


Without eating we perish sooner than expected


And yet once we reach our life span we die anyway.


And so it goes, we perish and the cycle continues with the next generation of 
living organisms.


But this food consumption that replenishes our bodies also requires the oxygen that we breathe,


Without the interchange of gasses there is no life.


This process combines to create other substances 


So breathing and eating and the exchange of gasses can be an apt definition of life.

  
It seems Nature is in the game of creating living things as food for other living things as an all-embracing concept this helps define the mechanism governing life.


We eat and breathe to perpetuate the renewal of life. This interactive process of renewal is a universal phenomenon permeating the fabric of substance in every sphere.


This law of nature is not guided by morality but a simple structure of renewal. 


Renewal guides and defines the sequence of time.


The basic structure and renewal of life measures up to the renewal and structure of the expanding universe. Growth and expansion are synonymous in the same way as expansion and contraction are limitless. There is a two-way process going on. Size is a relative concept in much the same way as time is a relative concept. 


As a participant in this renewal process, by the miracle of my existence, I also have a role to play in the all embracing governing mechanism of the renewal processes governing life.


Life is not confined to this earthly ecosystem. Life as we know it is not confined to the physics and biology of our planet but is a part of the great scheme of the universal mechanism that constantly renews and creates the act of self perpetuation.


Einstein once suggested that the Universe does not play dice. 


And I agree that the idea of chance or accidental 
design cannot satiate the deeply human need nor logic for an answer to the patterns that propose a purpose in life through renewal.

To seek an answer to the ultimate question I am drawn into the world of quantum physics.


Quantum physics is an area of science that operates in the 
realm of probability


 A basic understanding is that it is an area of science that 
does not fully comprehend how the fabric of the physical 
universe meshes together but still manages to harness a 
theory of probability enabling it to manipulate areas that 
help create the marvels of modern technology.


It is only with the power of imagination that scientists have 
been able to appreciate the flaws in our perceptions of 
reality and have opened up a new world of possibilities in 
defining the fabric of matter.





My life, tiny and infinitesimal as it is against the backdrop of the ever expanding universe is a  breathing, regenerative life that partakes of the process that 
is connected in the renewal of the regeneration of the expanding universe.


My individuality is transformed and metamorphoses into another individual reality made up of a different set of physical realities after I transit through the processes of death and renewal.


This transient process undergoes transformation as part of a life play that participates in the renewal of the transformative reality of the universe.


The substances I generate through my breathing and daily renewal  assist in the all governing principle of Nature’s renewal  into another sequence of reality.


My  role and my place in the expanding universe is a minor yet significantly precious  player in the ever expanding renewal of the universe.

What is the outcome of all of this reflection ?


 To intellectualise and systematically 
rationalise  my obvious, momentary and transient 
existence ……………and to satisfy a need for logical problem solving.

To end with two more of Einstein’s quotes
  • The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
  • We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Food for thought?

Proclamation of the Mending Spirit

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw

In moments of reflection I gather my thoughts and consider the nature of my life as it is….

The way I see it, is always changing and the beauty is in the ways I can define myself through the imagination….

The emotional journey that each day has in store for me triggers associations and memories that capture fleeting predilections….

Should I abandon these feelings all is not lost and the place of unguarded moments follows another sequence of imaginative thoughts and the journey begins once again ….

At times I am led into dismal caves of unpleasantness usually provoked by the symptoms of social stresses that unwittingly codify and compartmentalise my creative self and so I lock myself in to these cages of despair unknowingly…

I eventually escape, reinvigorate, reinvent my intentions and restore to empower my journey to continue into areas of depersonalised and neutralised zones of discovery

Oblivious to the sacrifice that buffers the sadness of my fellow comrades I must proclaim… 

 It is I who will die one day and it is I who should live my life in the way I create.