Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nothing Is Random

    Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishingly frigid winter after another. Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are told. Of this, one can be certain.

   And yet there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined; it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all happened at once, in less then an instant, and time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given—so we track it, in linear fashion, piece by piece. Time, however, can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was, is; everything that ever will be, is—and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we imagine that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or, rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but as something that is.

—From Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale

(I love this. If you try to get in a discussion with me about predestination, etc, I will bring it back to this. Time has already happened. Nothing is predetermined; nothing is random, because eternity happens outside of time. And this is all beyond us. Because we have no way to talk about anything without referencing time.

So I guess, what I’m most grateful for about this piece, is its attempts to crumple and throw away certain concepts we need to get used to the idea of letting go of [time, etc.]

This is kind of where I stand here. Anyway, I am delighted by this piece and by Mark Helprin and am very grateful.)

1 comment:

Katie said...

Love Helprin... And LOVE the book you gave me. I wrote a few of my own favorite sentances down too. So profound at times. I can't wait to finish it, but I'm too tired tonight.