ROWDY EXPRESSIONS OF THE BIG CONUNDRUM
Some days can be like this. It’s not from low blood sugar.
I don’t know if it's hitting you yet, but all of this is so f***ing unbelievably and eye-poppingly mysterious, this whole, entire, big-assed array, ornamental cabbages and gas clusters, Vermeer, the sea cucumber, white dwarves and cork trees, every last vespertine thought and happy tear. Nobody—that’s nobody—knows what the f*** is going on, in any way. Really. So what the f*** do I keep going on about? We are fleshy croutons for the maw of Nothing, without credentials and certain to die. What sense can anyone make of this? Don’t explain by telling me a Bible or Science story. Every single story from our mouths is just bull****. All this talk is just a stream of simulated information. Tell me this: Why the f*** is there something rather than nothing? And why does this something turn out to be nothing (one of the better fanciful images from the votaries of subatomic physics), when you get right down to it? Where am I, Boone’s f***ing Farm? I mean, what the f***? And why does talking about these things make the hair on my neck stand up? What the f*** is that about? The first ones to call themselves Philosophers—did their eyes water this freely at the edge of thinking?
Or perhaps there are no marvels. Might it be that beauty itself, or any entrancement by the grand scope of the universe and our philosophic captivation by the mere presence of things is a botched reckoning of our Kosmic place? If, by Terrence Deacon's account (in “Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter”), the long, long process of teleodynamic self-preservation issues forth a mind that can contemplate itself and confabulate and publish therefrom such long-scope accounts of its own generation, then if that mind supports experiences of wonderment, glory, awe and inconceivability, we may need to correct these views as local errors of scale, mistaken outbursts that endorse universal commonplaces as prodigies of magnitude.
Deacon's account of the evolution of mind as a standard feature of the operation of thermodynamic laws helps to put all this accumulated cultural glory and aesthetic fascination into proper perspective. And perhaps since thermodynamics cranks out such open-eyed rubes as us on a job-lot basis, we are being bewildered too soon; our choice of images for cosmic theater in the evolutionary picture of ourselves may be unworthy of surprise or hallowed respect. What if our open-jawed states of physical and aesthetic flabbergast—our gaping mouths, blank looks, upturned eyes, stopped breath, tears of admiration, and hair standing on end—are stand-in shorthand preparatory sketches in biological clay, a connotative scheme "teleologically" produced to mark a certain unfinished territory of the human mind, like yellow tape at a murder scene? There may be Cantorian infinities (these may be puny bagatelles after all) of items utterly beyond our smallish ken that would overwhelm the modeling capacity of all our current prized mathematical and quantum theories, or at least overcharge the rustic cobbling of our picture-making gear. "Nothing to see here, folks. Move along."