“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. … And as for small difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden disaster, peril of life and limb; all these, and death itself, seem to him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches in the side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker.” Moby Dick, Chapt. 49, by Herman Melville (1859)
I know that Melville here was talking about the effect that those people risking life and limb come to experience in the height of danger; the “free and easy sort of genial, desperado philosophy” that life-threatening experiences engender. But even without physical danger there have been times — often in the midst of psychological or emotional tribulations but sometime even when all is well with the world — that I have had that feeling that the Universe is some Great Joke… And that the joke is on me.
It’s not necessarily a bad feeling. After all, I don’t mind being the butt of a joke… As long as it’s a good one.
But maybe it’s more than that. Maybe those times where you feel that everything is a joke is a faint understanding of how infinitesimally small everything you experience, think, feel and perceive actually matters in the grand scheme of things. That’s not to say that we are unimportant. But when you put our individual lives beside the Universe as a whole, how laughable and ludicrous it is to think that whatever is going on in our lives is the be all, end all of… of anything.
It really is quite funny when you think about it. No, really. Let’s think about it for a moment. Consider the three images I have included in this post’s header image… Continue reading The Great Joke
“It’s easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?” — Lorien
More sci-fi philosophy…
This quote is from Babylon 5, Season 4 Episode 2 ‘Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?’. The series as a whole has some great quotes, but this episode alone had a bunch of powerful lines, most coming from the enigmatic character of Lorien, ‘The First One’.
The quote above comes from the beginning of an exchange between the character of Sheridan and Lorien, which ends a few lines later with these two lines: Continue reading Worth Living For…
It’s a pop sci-fi action / adventure TV show, talking about a bunch of super-evolved alien ancestors, but it also seems to be saying so much more; a more I happen to agree strongly with… Those who are truly “enlightened” do not force, judge or condemn those who have yet to find it; know that it is a never-ending quest; and are aware that there are many different paths to find it.
“I can’t speak for everyone in my galaxy, but in my own humble opinion, I don’t believe that any individual or society can achieve enlightenment through fear-mongering and force and servitude no matter what power is presented as evidence… Don’t get me wrong, we should all be trying to better ourselves. If Ascension is the ultimate end we’re all trying to achieve, then so be it, but we should all be allowed to get there or not of our own free will. Kill me for saying that, but that is what I believe. Nothing you say or do will ever change my mind.” – Daniel Jackson, Stargate SG-1 S09E03 “Origin”
“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” – The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by JONATHAN GOTTSCHALL
I haven’t read this book, but stumbled on this quote which I really like and it rings very true for me. I may decide to check this out from library, as it has good reviews, doesn’t sound too technical and it supposedly a quick and entertaining read. Regardless, I want to remember this quote.
I finished watching Season 1 of The Last Kingdom, the TV series adaptation of the first two books of Bernard Cornwell‘s Saxon series of historical novels set in 9th and 10th century Britain. I liked it a lot and hope they renew it for a second season and continue to adapt the books. Very well done.