The Second Law of Thermodynamics: faith on a shoestring
I've been around for close to half a century now and ever since I can remember I've been asking the same dumb questions: What is nothing? What is infinity? I still remember lying awake in the quiet of that big old house on Elmwood Road wondering what nothing might look like. The frustration! Everything was always something. No fair! Or sitting under that blue spruce trying to figure out how in hell I was going to count to infinity. And I'd conclude that it couldn't be done; it doesn't exist; infinity is a lie, so what's this all-powerful God stuff? At age four I was no doubt unaware that my metaphysical underpinnings (if you can't visualize something it doesn't exist) were perhaps somewhat dubious. But then again maybe I was on to something: everything that can possibly be can be imagined; I could imagine nothing, thus nothing was something and not nuttin'.) You might think that one would go crazy insisting on the same two questions over the course of several decades and never finding an answer. Alas, life intervened. Life and all its quotidian distractions. Maybe there hasn't been enough life the past several days: Emilio Lledó's essay and other readings derived from it have been threatening to drive me to philosophical despair. (Nothing matters! It's all pointless!, etc.) But, I'm easy to convince and this morning I think I've found an out thanks to zooming in on the word tendency as it appears in some definitions I've read of the second law of thermodynamics. Closed systems tend towards entropy. So movement towards entropy is 99.999999999999999almost adinfinitum percent likely to continue. I'm holding out! Hey, it's just a tendency. Don't count out that odd exception. Order may yet be restored. Shit happens. And besides, I'm not so certain the universe is a closed system. Imagine the Creator as an alcoholic: he's got a glass of wine and Mrs. Creator says just one dear, just one glass. Big Daddy nods. So she's relieved, it's a closed system and thus Mr. Creator can't mess things up more than he already has. But, in fact, Mr. Creator keeps adding wine to his glass on the sly. Mrs. Creator thinks he's just drinking really slowly, but in fact he's getting wasted. Because it's an open system! (This is one of those rare instances where skepticism can be an inducement to faith. I'm a skeptic; I've seen lots of lying about how many. So maybe what applies to booze holds also for the universe: God's got one hand on a big, big bottle we haven't seen yet. Maybe.) Double besides: in other writings, Lledó shows great interest in friendship, a direction that really interests me. Friendship is, well, it's not everything, but it is HUGE. I think I had at least some intuition in that regard all the way back when I started to discover the world of books in the Fells Library, shown in the photo. So many stories involved great friends and I wanted to be a part of that. (And why, oh why, do I so badly want to recover a book I read when I was four years old? All I remember is that is was the story of a frog and it had simple illustrations in green ink on a white background. Not remembering the title has been a big frustration. And I have no idea why. Who knows, maybe that frog had some answers.) Now, can we get Big Daddy off the sauce and somehow have him keep us in an open system?