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Indifference and the Universe
make things
catvalente
In the morning I leave for Philadelphia and my readings there, and I don't want to go to bed. I have been a good kitten today and written two whole thousand words in my new digs--a local boutique museum owner is not staying for the winter, and so I'm taking over the tiny little museum space as as office for the cold months. It looks out on the sea and has a coffee maker and no wifi. I am very happy, walking to work in the morning like a grown-up. If I had a frosted, etched glass door with my name on it long-legged dames could walk into my life. As it is I have a Museum Closed Until May sign. But having that separate space to work looks to be making all the difference.

And all afternoon I pretty much listened to Symphony of Science on a loop--it's so beautiful I want to cry, and the videos are so gently sweet and gorgeous--I feel odd about thinking Carl Sagan was kind of hot. But looking at those scientists is bittersweet--some of them are gone now, and especially Sagan who was such a unique man (Contact is still one of my favorite books and one of the first SF ones I ever read when I was a kid) and who left so many people behind whose lives had been picked up and moved around just by him being there. And the way these people talk about the universe--I don't even find poetry like that in actual volumes of poetry any more.

Anyway, it fills me with longing. And that sincerity again, laying me flat out--because I went to buy Professor Elemental's album tonight as I adore the Cup of Brown Joy tea song and was sort of shocked to find the album called The Indifference Engine--clever, yes, but, but, I don't want to be indifferent! I don't want my art to be indifferent! Not what I make and not what I consume. I want to mean everything passionately and sometimes be too loud about it or too sentimental and yeah, sometimes I care so much about shit that it comes out angry and weird or super heart-on-sleeve like OH RIGHT NOW and I know I can be all aggro with my opinions but at least I'm not indifferent! I want to be...different! To everything! Like, the WHOLE POINT of ever being a writer was that I had all this excess FEELING and THINKING about things, and I GOT EXCITED. Indifference is frightening and cold and a little ugly, and the affected uncaring of the cool disturbs me. The SoS songs are kind of dorky but they are not indifferent, not to anything--not what the men are saying in them and not the musicians who put them together. I don't want to be cool and hang out with cool people who are cool about cool things. I want to be hot, burning, all the time, and full up of things, of books and music and beauty and trains headed south through the autumn rain. I don't want indifference! Never, never. Anything in this world but that. And though I still love the tea song I love Carl Sagan more. If you're tired of Carl, then you're tired of life.


Oh yes, <3 Symphony of Science. I haven't watched them all yet, but Poetry of Reality never fails to move me to tears and cheer me up. :)

The Case for Mars is AWESOME.

Thanks for bringing Symphony of Science to this reader's attention.

I'm going to have to admit that The Case for Mars brought me to tears, but in a cathartic sort of way.

We'll get there, eventually, I think.

...a local boutique museum owner is not staying for the winter, and so I'm taking over the tiny little museum space as as office for the cold months. It looks out on the sea and has a coffee maker...

holy crap how awesome is THAT?

Oh my god, right? I'm so, so excited and happy. I've wanted to try "going to the office" for awhile and this is perfect.


So you finally have a room of your own....

I'm a longlegged dame and I'd be happy to walk into your life or your office any time you ask. I am now, however, a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole through a stained-glass window.

The blondes get all the luck.

Alas, I have mislead you. That was supposed to be 'not' a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole through a stained-glass window. I typoed. The rest of the line, I must credit to Daschiell Hammett, but I thought you were more or less following his lead anyway. :)

I am not blonde. Hence I will never be invited, no matter how longlegged I might be, to assist in the motivation of the bishopric to commit ecclesiastical vandalism.

I hope, however, that my brunette status does not disqualify me from access to your office or your life. I do have quite long legs, for my height. And last I checked, I was still a dame.

My hat (if I wore one) is off to you

murasaki_1966

2010-11-10 10:41 am (UTC)

That is a very clever riff on one of my favourite Daschiell Hammett lines.

Re: My hat (if I wore one) is off to you

pocketnaomi

2010-11-10 04:04 pm (UTC)

Thanks! I try. :)

Thank you, that last paragraph is exactly what I needed to read.

The poetry of science

helivoy

2010-11-10 06:34 am (UTC)

It's wonderful to have a room of one's own. The feeling you describe is how scientists feel when they dreamshape the dark, when they have epiphanies, when new patterns emerge from formlessness. A bit more here: The Double Helix: Why Science Needs Science Fiction. Closing words:

"Quest for knowledge in general, but particularly the desire for space exploration, is the large goal, the last goal, if only because it guarantees our long-term survival. Earth is beautiful, but it won’t live forever, even if we husband its finite resources with infinite care. We humans may drown in our own refuse, or run through the finite lifespan vouchsafed to all species unless we speciate. We may get extinguished by an asteroid hit or the lethal radiation of a nova explosion. Even barring such statistically likely events, eventually our sun will exhaust its fuel, turn into a red giant and engulf the inner planets.

Before any of these outcomes happen, we’d better be able to take to the stars, whose fiery engines created the elements that comprise our bodies. From the stars we came, and to the stars we must return. And though science will build the starships, it’s science fiction that will make us want to board them."

Athena

Re: The poetry of science

murasaki_1966

2010-11-10 10:43 am (UTC)

One of my favourite lines from Babylon Five "Deconstruction of Falling Stars

"We have built the world you would have wished for us, and so we leave the cradle for the last time"

One of the biggest reasons why I so adore Carl Sagan was that he suggested that science needn't be excluded from the realm of artistic beauty, and that the universe is constructed of a symphony of sights, sounds and delights to marvel the works of any poet living or dead.

He's one of those authors who opened up my eyes to the world.

Absolutely - walking to the office makes all the difference when in artist-in-self-doubt mode. In my opinion it is second only to "no wifi". For a couple of weeks I now had a cheap and warm workspace a couple of minutes form my apartment, and going there in the moring, boiling water for a tea while setting up for work is fantastic. I wish you many productive stays in your museum!

That last paragraph is beautiful. Thank you.

To this day certain bits of the Cosmos soundtrack can make me tear up. I remember seeing it for the first time and being so fucking transfixed by the image of Carl Sagan on the bridge of the spaceship.

I was- 24? 25? Never forgot it. Still sometimes have that image pop up in dreams.

SoS will likely end up having the same effect.

You just reminded me really strongly of this quote by Jack Kerouac: "... the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!""

The most interesting people are the ones with a passion for someone or something.

i don't think you could ever NOT be hot and burning. It's who you are. No cold, dark, dwarf star fate for you!

WOO on a room of your own! And what an awesome room to go to - I quite envy you your island spaces. It is amazing how much more productive we can be when we move the energy around where we're working.

Thank you so much for that video - I had no idea about those songs, but I'm about to get my geek on. When I was ten I wanted a loom large enough to weave all the wormholes of the universe together so that I could dance along the strings and laugh at the music. And I don't even like spiders - go figure.

Safe journey.

Yeah this song just makes me sniffle with tears of joy. So cool. Never read CONTACT but the movie makes me bawl every time I see it.

Now this: "the WHOLE POINT of ever being a writer was that I had all this excess FEELING and THINKING about things, and I GOT EXCITED." THat says it all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank. You.

You MUST read the book. It is very, very good and MUCH BETTER than the movie.

BOOK CLUB?!

I thought the movie was great. Can olnly imagine how great the book will be!

Book club cannot just be y'all read my favorite books! (Hogfather is december's)

Yes. Oh, yes.

You are a firebird. You must burn to *live*.

*grins* I suppose I must at that.

I feel odd about thinking Carl Sagan was kind of hot.

It's not just you.

No, definitely not just you.

Definately, you're not the only one in the room feeling that way....but then, I've always found smart men a turn on. That's one of the reasons I married who I married.

Ooo, this is my first encounter with SoS. I think I'm going to be obsessed now. I enjoy being passionate about things. I think I have to enjoy it because that is just the way I am. I'm tired of hearing "you shouldn't take things so seriously."

I remember when I was a very young and I realized that my aunt and uncle had both gotten to take lectures with Sagan in college (they met while studying at Cornell). I was so very jealous, even then! Sagan still amazes me today.

I think you've just clarified for me the essential point of difference in my most recent relationship. I am all about the passionate feelings, and he is all full of indifference (he wants differently, but not enough to actually make it happen). Some of this is brain chemistry, but enough of it is just really his personality. Hmm.

Oh my gosh, that music video; what a WONDERFUL way to start my work day. THANK YOU!

I love that song, it's on my geek playlist at Playlistnow.fm.

(Any excuse to use one of my favorite lesser-used icons!)

Wow, what a way to start the morning, thank you so much for that. I'd never heard of the sounds of science. I'll have to check them all out now.

I remember watching Cosmos when I was 14 and falling in love with science all over again (as well as developing a major crush on Carl Sagan.) I'm not sure this is how he meant it but it makes me think of that Frank Lloyd Wright quote "I believe in God only I spell it Nature," -- feeling of wonder at the beauty and mystery of the universe.

On a related note I've been reading "This is Your Brain on Music." and have been repeatedly having my mind blown by it, we're remarkable creatures.

Agreeing with everyone on the last paragraph. Thank you. Great reminder.

" If you're tired of Carl, then you're tired of life."

Ah, Carl...I just want to lick his gorgeous brain. (Metaphorically speaking, that is. ;) ) My ex-husband is a massive Sagan fan and introduced me to his work, which I promptly fell in love with. Hearing him speak about how things work, the passion and awe he felt towards the Universe and everything in it is so amazingly infectious that you really can't help yourself.

Passion is such a huge part of who we, as a species, ARE, that indifference is a little terrifying. There is just so much to be present for!

... Dear Ms Valente, could I admire you any more? I mean, obviously there's always room, so the answer is 'yes', but... I don't check Lj much these days and someone pointed me to this post because I'd been telling her about how much I adore SoS and how much of an impact Sagan's writing had on me as a child (I still remember the copy of 'Cosmos' my father gave me on my tenth birthday; I bought 'Contact' three years later), how much he inspires me even now.

What the SoS videos have done, among other things, is to remind me how vital and beautiful his words are. I think it's the 'We're all connected' video that includes the quote ''The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together''. No, wait, there's also the INCREDIBLE ''We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.'' So much love. So much hope.

Thank you for this post. I think I'll go read 'Cosmos' again.

*grin* I am glad I am not alone in my lurve.

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