Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sun stand thou not still

As we know, the sun revolves around the earth. Or at least we would know that, because of the obvious perception of the sun rising and setting, unless someone had told us otherwise and we believed them. Which of course they did. This is one of the triumphs of education: to prove to us that because we don't understand the simplest facts, we need them to tell us how all things really are.

Maybe we don't deep down believe them though. Why else do we still say "sunrise" and "sunset"? Clearly those words refer to a perception, not a reality. A perception is, however, a kind of reality. In this case it reflects a desire to revert to our original sense of reality about how the universe works. It revolves around us, that's what we want to believe. And maybe we were right to begin with about that, before they started brainwashing us to the contrary. My question is, what have we lost by abandoning the "lower" truth for the "higher" one? What truth does the new paradigm shut out? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we used to know we had a place in the universe because of our centrality. From the seventeenth century on, we've lost that sense of center and thus are bereft of a confident reference point from which to evaluate our true place in the cosmos.

That true place is not one of a miniscule speck. Yes, we feel small looking at the transcendent heavens, the painterly whorls and explosions of stars and galaxies in the night sky. But we also feel expanded, as if our selves had ascended and become absorbed into the cosmic level of being. That is the truth that archaic peoples knew. And if they happened to think that they were the center of the universe, who are we tiny-brained moderns to gainsay them?

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