"Ah de la vida..."
The past few days I've had Francisco de Quevedo's famous sonnet "Represéntase la brevedad de la vida..." on my mind. It begins "¡Ah de la vida!... ¿Nadie me responde?" (Translated be Alix Ingber as "Calling Life! And no one answers me?") Yes, any one out there? Quevedo was a truly fascinating character of 17th century Spain. Polemicist, satirist, brilliant, curious, outrageous... a real baroque figure for a baroque time. He was full of contradictions. In his 1641 essay "God's Providence", a kind of late Scholastic text, Quevedo seems to reveal his own agnosticism: the text is directed at atheists and attempts to "prove" rationally the immortality of the soul. But he was a smart guy. It's hard for me to imagine he really believed it. In any case, maybe I was reminded of Quevedo when I came across the Out Campaign earlier this week: an initiative led by noted atheist Richard Dawkins to get atheists to "come out of the closet" (but no 'outing' other atheists). The link to the website is here. My brain is quite limited, but I keep coming back to the big bang. Didn't there have to be a "match" of some kind? Something to ignite this process? Isn't that the divinity? But that isn't much consolation is it? It seems that force could care less about our fate. A new metaphor: God is driving down the interstate smoking a cigarette. He tosses the butt out the window and it lands on a puddle of gasoline in a very dry field. Kaboom! The fire is HOT, and sets off quite a chain reaction... But God is long gone, isn't aware of the fire... He never turns back. Well, at least I've advanced a little bit: I now understand that metaphors of this sort are no good to the extent that there is no "time" before the big bang. So the idea of "God coming down the highway..." just doesn't work. It was actually a video I came across that gave a visual representation of Einstein's insights into the space/time relationship in the General Relativity theory that helped me finally begin to grasp this concept. By the way, Quevedo was a drunk. I can imagine.