Friday, February 17, 2012

The Universe is Unmoved

"If an eternal traveler should journey in any direction, he would find after untold centuries that the same volumes are repeated in the same disorder--which, repeated, becomes order:  the Order.  My solitude is cheered by that elegant hope."  Jorge Luis Borges in The Library of Babel


This morning I decided to heed at least part of yesterday's message and pull out my volume of Borges short stories.  I read "The Library of Babel," which is a symbolic representation of the universe and a lesson in how perspective colors everything.  Everything has only the value you assign it.  A word that might be harmful or dangerous or offensive to you, for instance, would mean nothing to someone who didn't share your perspective and language.  In the space of seven pages, he makes the above point, along with touching on humanity's inability to comprehend anything very far beyond the bounds of our existence, leading us often to worship what we don't understand.  He ends the story reassuring us that the universe is infinite and unaffected by humanity.  And this idea makes me think of one of my favorite lines from A R Ammons in his poem "Gravelly Run."


for it is not so much to know the self 
as to know it as it is known 
by galaxy and cedar cone,
as if birth had never found it
and death could never end it

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