Without the eyes of knowing Man,
Creation’s glory, vast but blind,
Is but a slumb’rous, burning plan
That leaves atoms and light behind.
We may be motes, the butt of jokes,
As in that silent gulf we sit,
Yet, through that quiet, our thought pokes
And makes a noise that wakens it.
“True beauty to the fleeting clings,” I also wrote in that same epic poem long ago, and I still believe it. If we sped up time a thousandfold, we humans, and all living things, would appear to rise up, grow, tremble in place or zip about, reproduce and then decay rather quickly, having temporarily made use of the elements and energy around us to house our existences. And yet, to my way of thinking, our very impermanence is what makes us beautiful in the cosmic sense. Unlike rocks, we live and die. When I hear reports of billionaires searching for machine bodies to make them immortal, I cringe, knowing that at some point, their ability to feel newness will fade and a terrifying repetitiveness will invade their beings, having lost the arc of natural life. Hopefully they will have built themselves an escape hatch, once the boredom becomes unendurable. Whether Erigena, Nicholas of Cusa, or Marius Victorinus wrote it, somebody once said, “God is an intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” and living things can be envisioned that way, too. Each of us is a center that is everywhere, linked by the mysteries of information–that which makes us up, and that which circulates through us.
In science we have the Law of the Conservation of Energy. But with the advent of an intelligent species like us, I’ve been convinced for decades that a kind of “informational light” now exists (and probably does everywhere across the universe) slightly outside spacetime, and I’ve come to think of it as the Law of the Conservation of Information. In other words, nothing that has ever happened anywhere can ever be unremembered within this informational realm, which hums alongside our narrower occupancy of time, matter and energy. Although it’s not part of the electromagnetic spectrum, it’s interwoven with it subatomically in ways we’re still just discovering. God might well be that informational realm which simply remembers everything, and cannot forget. And when our thought awakens Creation, we become its eyes.
As someone who sees evolution occurring everywhere all the time, I’m quite content to know I have arisen over time from lesser forms (or, less complicated ones) that without language, logic, mathematics and memory experienced life differently. Viewing the fossil record, or at least the one that lies on Earth’s tectonic surface at the moment, it’s hard to escape one thing above all others: there is a progression going on. A gathering together of increasingly complicated neural networks capabable of increased knowing. Back in my twenties I named it the Sacred Process of Cephalization. Still works for me.
And so perhaps the meaning of life is that sacred process we’re a part of, gradually enabling more and more of us–since certain adept folks already do it–to poke our heads up, ever further into echoes of the past and what the future is weaving together, while doing our best to enjoy being alive now.
~Odds Bodkin is a professional bardic storyteller, musician and author of The Water Mage’s Daughter: A Novel of Love, Magic and War in Verse.
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