I once saw a televised interview with a young artist, about some pictures he'd done... The reporter asked questions about the meaning and symbolism as seen in the pictures. - It's not unusual that art critics tries to interpret artwork. It's a service for their readers I guess, so as to spare them the hassle of interpreting it themselves.
In this instance, the artist himself was crossexamined about his pictures, which really communicated very well in a naivistic way and style. - Thing is, he made the pictures to -be- the message! - It was never planned that explanations should be neccessary. - So, being grilled by a reporter to explain, only demonstrated that the pictures failed catastrophically to communicate. - To the reporter at least... - The artist answered questions with a pained expression on his face. Understandable, his failure was rubbed in his nose on national television. At times he was close to tears really.
Blaargh! The reporter was just a smartass. Explanations to paintings is a waste of time, since the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42, (Got that from Douglas Adams, rest his soul.) - and who says the artist knows what the hell he's talking about anyway?
That doesn't stop me from writing a load of blurb! - I ain't explaining anything though, just adding to the general confoozleness.
And I like starry skies... Some of the light we see out there is old. - from the creation of the universe itself. Given the speed of light, that's very bloody enormously far away as well. We can see a -lot- of space! - And a lot of worlds. Millions probably, all hidden in the light of shining stars and galaxies.
Maybe there's people! - All busy with their own pursuit of happiness, or pestering each other with cockamarmy parking regulations. Are they smart and wise? - Or just smartasses? - Anyway, they're too far away for visiting or even for us being sure they're there at all.
Events on a scale to make you feel small happens out there. Whole solar systems and even galaxies are sqeezed down into black holes. The simple physics of gravity lets us understand 'escape velocity' and thus 'event horizon'... ahhh.. but we don't know about gravity really. That's the missing piece in the Grand Unified Theory. When properly figured out we just might be able to travel faster than light too!
Now there's a nice thought. We might go visiting then...
Speaking of stars: Remember when the hero astronaut in Space Odyssey 2001 floats slowly up in front of the great black slab in space and looks down it? - "My God, it's full of stars!" he says. - Then he proceeds to fall into the sky... Radio reception weakens.. he dies.. yet he doesn't. He becomes like a god.. but confined.
Wow! - Give's you something to think about doesn't it?
Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick (Author and moviedirector of Space Odyssey 2001, respectively) doesn't explain what happens in the ending of the movie. To keep us speculating I guess...
The happy dream that we are spirits who might live forever is in there! - Echoes of religion and philosophy...
But then it's just brilliantly entertaining fiction!
When the movietheatre opened its doors I saw the teeming metropolis outside. Throngs of busy people on the pedwalks hurridly walking in every direction. Droves of cars honking horns and flashing headlights to make room. Highrise buildings with lights in their multitude windows. - "My God! - It's full of smartasses!" I thought.
The -real- universe is out there (point in any direction preferred) - Lot's more unknown, than known, about that. -
It's reality! - Has a quality about it. It's like it is, whatever you think it is! - Whatever some smartass tells you it is! - General consensus once had it that the Earth was flat... Well, it was round just the same! - Be it illegal or not.
This sort of thing could be happening still. We might have a misconception about something. But modern science is pretty reliable these days. Tecniques like doppler and light intensity measurements tells us about distances and time in our expanding universe.
So, given an uncertain amount of study, that would answer the big important questions, eh? - Well, there's questions of more immediate importance..
Smartasses springs to mind! - Those with a foot in the door who wants to sell you a wacuumcleaner or a dental whitening kit. Taxcollectors and those who can solve all your troubles... Not to mention unsavory characters lurking everywhere to uphold parking regulations... all for a fee naturally. That's why art critics explain and interpret artwork by the way. It's a smartass way to make a living really.
You need to be a smartass yourself to even the balance of course.
( Note. I -am- making an irreverent carricature here! )
Humans all have a mind of their own. Capable, I suspect, of imagining anything, including reality.. But not always capable of discerning the difference... Not always capable of retaining the freedom to discern. - See, there's smartasses who wants that.. your freedom of mind!
So maybe the real big question is this:
Are we souls, spirits, who doesn't ever die. Who can roam freely like ghosts when we're dead, and not gone anyway?
Or... Is the concious mind an artifact of our brain? - Like the programs running in a computing device.
Well, I'd like for us to be spirits.. And I'd also like Microsoft Windows to keep on running after my computer fizzled! - Save a lot of hassle if it did...
Problem is that we (humans) can't really stomach the idea that we're going to die or 'not exist' - We hate the very idea of it. - Which must be considered a wholesome attitude by the way. - There's a good reason for that. To imprecisely quote Alan Turing (I can't remember where I read it, and I can't find it): "A logical system cannot compute outside it's own limits" - Or something... It can't contemplate it's own demise. Would hurt it's logical capabilities.
So what it means is that a 'conciousness' might go nuts thinking about being dead. Thus, believing that we never really die might save sanity... or.. It's just the way that we go nuts.
The idea that life become meaningless if there's no God and/or that we die (for real) is nuts in my honest opinion! - It's just a sales argument used by smartasses who wants your money and/or your freedom of mind. - Compare that to 'Always Coca Cola!' - It's about creating a dependency.
Think about it! - If you get a new life when you die... How nice! - Would be like a computer game wouldn't it? - Game over! Your'e Dead! .. Press the space bar to get a new life! - Believe something like that and you can kill somebody just because you think he's got a shitty life and needs a new one.
If, on the the other hand, you only live this once, a life is unique and infinitly valuable. Your's and everybody elses. Then people are not as likely to tolerate a rotten life on the promise of paradise after death. - This will reduce religious bussiness potential I guess. - Uhm... I suspect paradise would be full of smartasses anyway.
It's an interesting question to be sure. However, reality will be as it is. We are either one or the other, willy nilly... Curiosity is why we want to know.
Hmm.. Quite contrary to what religious hucksters and Scientologists will tell you, there's no urgent neccessity to know the answer.. No need to pay good money for someting these snake oil salesmen do not -have- to sell anyway!
To gaze at the stars at night.. see and feel our universe. Sense reality.. Realize.. Wonder.. - Feel yourself being capable of doing so. - That's awesome!
Yet, to reassure a long lost friend that you still care is more important. Makes you happier anyway...
Meanwhile, reality is what it is... Reassuringly so!