Unreal Nature

July 10, 2015

The Egg is Broken

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… So man, the short-lived midge, is reaching into and observing events he will never witness in the flesh.

This is from the essay ‘The Lethal Factor’ found in The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1978):

… The individual animal or plant in the course of its development moves always in relation to an unseen future toward which its forces are directed: the egg is broken and a snake writhes away into the grass; the acorn seedling, through many seasons, contorts itself slowly into a gnarled, gigantic oak. Similarly, life moves against the future in another, an evolutionary, sense. The creature existing now — this serpent, this bird, this man — has only to leave progeny in order to stretch out a gray, invisible hand into the evolutionary future, into the nonexistent.

With time, the bony fin is transformed into a paw, a round, insectivore eye into the near-sighted gaze of a scholar. Moreover, all along this curious animal extension into time, parts of ourselves are flaking off, breaking away into unexpected and unforeseen adventures. One insectivore fragment has taken to the air and become a vampire bat, while another fragment draws pictures in a cave and creates a new prehensile realm where the shadowy fingers of lost ideas reach forward into time to affect our world view and, with it, our future destinies and happiness.

Thus, since the dawn of life on the planet, the past has been figuratively fingering the present.

[ … ]

… A few months ago I read casually in my evening newspaper that our galaxy is dying.

… Out there millions of light years away from earth, man’s hands were already fumbling in the coal-scuttle darkness of a future universe. The astronomer was foreshortening time — just as on a shorter scale eclipses can be foretold, or an apparently empty point in space can be shown as destined to receive an invisibly moving body. So man, the short-lived midge, is reaching into and observing events he will never witness in the flesh. In a psychological second, on this elusive point we call the present, we can watch the galaxy drift into darkness.

-Julie

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