Saturday, June 5, 2010

Inch Worm, Inch Worm

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.

Blaise Pascal
"I have measured out my life in coffee spoons"
(T. S. Eliot)

Is there a difference between an insignificant dot and the universe? No. What do nothingness and infinity have in common?

I was just thinking about that Eliot quote a few moments ago as I made myself another coffee. I drink it from a mug . The spoon is in the mug because I put sugar in it. I've been drinking coffee every day since I was a teenager. I can say I have measured out my life in coffee spoons. What do nothingness and infinity have in common?

A baseball team has 9 players on the field and they play 9 innings, and some times a little bit more. A football field is exactly 100 yards and a little bit more because of the end zones. A marathon race is not 26 miles, it's 26 miles, 385 yards. 2 cups of flour, 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and, what the hell, a little bit more. I'm not 71 years old. I'm 71 years, 2 months and 24 days old. I could tell you how many hours also, but I was so annoyed at being birthed at the time I forgot to look at the clock.

So what do nothingness and infinity have in common? Neither one can be measured. And because they can't be measured we cannot see them, we can't even be conscious of them other than as concepts, unknown things that have a name attached to them.

Time is such a concept also, but at least we can measure it: Sort of. Seconds, minutes, hours. Every year is exactly 365 days, except it's not. Every now and then there's an extra day.

Alright. time measurement isn't precise. What about space, inches, feet, yards, surely we can count on that, can't we? That all depends. A 6 furlong race is 3/4 of a mile around a race track. But it's only that if you stay next to the rail. If you pull out to pass another hourse your horse will run more than 3/4.

We can't get by without measuring things, or at least approximating them. I put a spoonful of sugar in my coffee. But I don't get a measuring spoon and carefully dole out a precise spoonful. I dip the spoon into the sugar bowl and plop some into the mug. Measuring puts limitations on things, but it can't be helped. Even if we try to imagine the invisible, unknown and infinite, we will still do it in shapes and places. While trying to be precise in our measurement may be a futility for all but the scientist, it is better to live in a life we can measure than to try to live in the nothingness and infinity that can't be measured.

(This is not a contest.)

In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.

15 responses so far.

Answers will be published the first day of Summer.

Thank you.

DB - The Vagabond


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Ah, but how do we take the measure of a man?

Bonnie Bonsai said...

Hahaha....amusing DB!

Infinity and nothingness do have things in common: They both have no sense of Precision, Comprehension and shall I add Cohesion(?), based on your mathematical deductions.

Thanks for making me laugh. I just enjoy the spontaneity of your unpredictable mind.