Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Tuesday, March 5, 2013 Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Enormity of Space and the Closeness of Earth
If you’re lucky enough to be able to gaze up at a clear night sky where there’s little or no light pollution, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. To look up and see those tiny tiny points of light that are millions—billions—of times bigger than the entire planet you rest on, so spread out over the whole deep blue stretch of sky above you, existing in such numbers and so far away as to seem like pinpricks on a black sheet; to simply sit and think about that for a while is perhaps one of the greatest and most humbling exercises a person can do.
When you look up and let your eyes adjust, those few initial points of light reveal more and more between the brighter examples until a whole mat of texture comes out of the seemingly blank sky. Even if you sat all night you wouldn’t register a fraction of the stars that are our there - there are 5,800-8,000 stars visible to us, but there are estimated to be 200 Billion to 400 Billion stars in our galaxy alone. What you can see is breathtaking and beautiful, but to think that all of that exists again in those blank bits, and again in all directions that you can’t see, a huge unseen mass of stars that you are a part of and and all of this is existing there, all the time, peacefully, calmly, a whole sea of matter and light floating gently with us looking up at it, a part of it and totally inseperable from it, our sun as relevant and real as the point of light you never even saw.
This is our galaxy. Every point of light you can see up there when you gaze up, every point of light you can’t see up there, belongs and exists in the gigantic swirl of matter and stars which we down here on Earth have labelled “The Milky Way”. Now, consider that the Milky Way is just one of perhaps 125 Billion galaxies out there in the universe (we don’t know how many there actually are, probably a lot more) - you begin to grasp the size of this giant absurd place we live in which we call the Universe.
Take a look again at that sky and think that there’s so much out there, right there, but so distant and faint we can’t see it. All that is everything that dwarfs us so completely is out there right now and we are just sitting in one part of it looking up. Dial that back to what you can see, that mat of texture made from the light of billions of shining stars, and again to see those bright pin pricks you can actually see when you look up, those close companions that are in our tiny patch of the universe. They seem quite friendly, now, don’t they?
Dial that back one step further. Take your eyes off the sky and realise and feel what it is like to be on this planet, that solid thing beneath your feet. Remember where you live, not just your town or your country or where you’re from or where you’re going because those are made up, just ideas that people have had. Remember that you live, and have lived, and always will live on this planet Earth, filled with life and nature like no other place we know of. Your, our, home.
When you begin to think of the sheer immense vastness and scale of the universe at large and all that we don’t know and can’t see, and to then think of the size of this little place we live on, all of us, together - well, it doesn’t seem so big now, does it?
We are totally and intimately connected with the whole world, with every person and animal and plant and place and rock which lives on and makes the Earth. It is impossible to not be. We are all on the same boat. When you consider how small and close we are to one another and any place you can think of here on Earth, the imagined barriers between people and places simply melt away to nothing. They are nonexistant. What are they? You are here, we are here, all on this same trip, here to experience this place for a time. We’re closer than we realise, we must simply see that this is so.
19th July. (doorstep sun)
5:30 or something.
Hot sun, hot coffee and crazy sweet hazelnut biscuit loaf all oh, yes. Hot sun on this porch, hot. Too hot for sitting. I gotta move.
NO, I did not move, I just took my socks and shirt off. I am facing the heat, not shying away. AAAH. Hot in and Hot out.
Chapter eight of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This book is wildly exciting, an instant barrage of intense jangling energy, relentless, vivid, fascinating. As I read theose famous lines at the end of this chapter I feel this realness, the realness of those words printed there in the actual book, a nice copy, mine, here in my fingers, not on some disconnected website as a quote, but original, as intended, padded with a frenzy of images and words on either side, all of it the whole and perfect article. A tingle spreads from my spine outwards, a wave of excitement like each of my hairs stood on end one after the other in a perfect line, enveolping my body, arms and travelling down through my legs. I close my eyes anto let it sink in, that realness. Here.
A hot, hot place to be. It’s even hot inside, just the same, but without the acid heat of sun but instead with a lurid socking funk of food and steam mingled with the heated air from cooking. So it’s from hot coffee to cold beer. Czech. Ice to cool it and me further. Back to it, to reading. || I have now stopped. I am on part -2- I am halting my motion through the book to properly savour it. I could devour it in two days, but then I’d want more and there would be none apart from reading again. I am stringing it out, eeking the excitement through a week or so, probably. Only little bits, a couple of chapters at a time. Heightening the high by supplementing it with tantalising anticipation on one end and enthusiastic craving on the other, like leaving a section a morsel of delicious food at the end of a meal which becomes an object of intense desire through the knowledge of its being, and then ravenously devouring it with added gusto come the next sitting. This book is my meal, my vast banquet of 188 pages of ecstatic indulgence.
This while is most enjoyable. This particular moment, I mean. I sourced another beer from my bed-a-room because I remembered I had some lying around. I opened it in a giddy way, deciding to continue this feeling for at least a while longer. I hastily carelessly spilled about one quarter of it over the counter and into the drawer below aided as I was by the foamy explosion coming from the neck of the bottle. Damn, a clean-up operation in the middle of proceedings. Arghachafoowloobica. Fuck. So I cleaned up and iced up and headed back outside. Yes to the front of the house I’ll let it be known. Ho.
I took a sip from my glass. Before I had noticed the scum, stagnant scum like you’d see on unmoving water trapped by rocks and leaves in a stream, scum on my glass. Scum blow off! off! Into the sink, away dirty scum not to sully my experience. I took off to the step. I sa. A sip. SIP. Fuck. Iced, cooling, a sip. It tasted like ugly hell. I even analysed the taste to decipher if it was good, its subtleties, its differences to the previous drink. It was very soon after that I realised something was up. Not O.K. Searching for the expiration date I find it is four months in the past. Whas that right? Is this ‘12? 2012? Is that now? Ha ha! Now! Who’d have thought it. No. I’m past that date though, four months past it. Those four months had soured the drink, from whatever it was before, always going to be inferior wasn’t it? But now it’s some hell brew, spittable, unsavoury, tasteless, unenjoyable, not to go down my throat. I spat. Spat. I threw my glassfull to the dirt, and began pouring the bottle.
A man and a woman walk past. Their gigantic greyhound stops to stare at me. Goddamn it it’s transfixed on me. It’s “never seen someone sitting on a step before”. The woman laughs and waits. “come on!” she stands just within shot of my eyes, by the hedge. I can see her, a triangle of living things, dog, woman, me. It looks and looks at me. HELLO, yes? I wave at the animal, what was it thinking?
My hell-beer bubbles and froths down into the soil, forming a pillow of yellowish bubbles on the surface, a scum of gone-off drink, disolve, dissolve! Be gone! I am happy without you! You useless, tasteless broth, you’re dead, gone, past, you were tiny and useless to begin with. Down, down, sink into brown stony oblivion, whatever, a spittable taste you possess now only available and only fit for the worms below, no taste buds in their fleshy tubes to even register it. Good. Now forever gone. I must dispose of the rest of my bottled muck in the same way. Crack open, fizz, fizz down and away, no worries, I’m helping myself. I’ll buy more, away from this, that, cheap, filth, puddle-water, fizzy yellowish-brown idiot-drink, not fit for anyone, loathsome believers chugging it willingly ignorantly down every friday night, what better am I? Same boat, isn’t it? I’m standing on the upper deck, I want better views, better tastes. Get up! Get up you fools, stop swimming in that sea of shit and golden yellow piss-water! Get up, get out, become dry!
I have rubbed an ice-cube over my naked chest to offset the burning sun, its striking cold like a heavenly trail from some sub-zero snail crawled about my body, the crackling sun eager to suck it up and away, off to the high sky to rain on some other town, finally maybe here again. The sun working with me, helping me as it is its own undoing. Ecstatic contrast as she returns to her full potency from behind a cloud, screaming and piercing down through the air to hit my unwatered flesh, my iced trail offering glorious counterpoint, hot, cold, hot, cold, two highs, mixing, mixing.
The warmth and exposure of summer. The ring of the town clock signalling some time or another, quarter past probably. The soft sway of alcohol on my mind, the chatter of men and women playing bowls down the road on the green. Cars in the distance, someone sweeping or scrubbing nearer. The rhythmic whistling beat of a pigeon escaping to some new perch and the undulating twitter from various birds all singing their evening songs. The warmth of the sun returns from a brief stint behind a cloud. Dinner will be ready soon. Nothing to do, nowhere to go, totally safe in this moment. This combination with the feelings induced in my mind by fine czech beer sends me reeling backwards as I lay on the floor, covered in sun, eyes closed and with the company of my cat I am in my own personal heaven.
Imagine instead of days, there was no such thing. Same goes for weeks, months, years. Can you think how that would feel? Instead of being dictated with set systems of hours, days, weeks, we were dictated with only what the universe has given us with our circumstance. We would get up when the sun rose or we felt awake, worked and did whatever, then slept again when it got dark or we felt tired. Imagine this went on, living without the boundaries of weeks, notions of special days or certain things to do on a set “day”. The way humans have cut and shaped time into neat little packages is certainly efficient and helpful, in a way - but at the same time it’s enourmously restrictive for our minds. They are always outside of the present, thinking about the next hour or day, because with the system we have, we can imagine it. To exist just as a person living in accordance with the natural rhythms of the planet and sun seems a wholly more organic and natural way to be.