Icarus Transfigured by m. l. teague (page 65)

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Chapter Twenty-Six

Dear Grasshopper,

In truth, we find as much order in this world as blind and cutthroat chaos, and where chaos is viewed as the sole architect of all we survey, we cannot satisfy our intellects for how it taught itself to see. Order, if not design, is accepted prima facie; and like a giant who is too large to get under a microscope, it is nevertheless appreciated for providing shade at picnics.

Fifteen billion years of random Evolution could never spell out all the works contained in the Library of Congress with dead leaves in a fast moving river current; and so the bullyboy of infinity, which is not science’s friend in any other regard, is employed by science to improve the odds:

The Infinite Monkey Theorem allows that even one monkey, typing randomly on a typewriter for infinity, could write Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ However, why should there be precisely 26 alphabetic characters at one end and Romeo and Juliet at the other? This analogy assumes more than is presented in the analogy, for if there were 25 characters in the alphabet set, the play could not be written. It is similar to Simmel’s mathematical refutation of Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence, where a number combination that sets off a production of random numbers is never itself repeated.

Infinity is not even a friend to itself.

Yet where cracks cannot be serviceably papered over, or sketched in with broad, to-be-finished-later detail, one must pass over the ‘in medias res’ nature of reality without comment; and with the bureaucrat’s faith that where one set of unanswerable questions leaves off in one field of study, they are picked up without interruption in the next. Reductivists simply assume that the inherent ontological state of things to “be” what they “are” and “do” what they “will” requires no suppositions before single cell organisms, and no explanations after random adaptation.

Still, some who are discomforted by these conundrums feel compelled to speculate, and beyond making cynical appeals to typewriting monkeys: If the universe is infinite, they argue, then to say God is infinite is only to rename the same thing; and why is personality needed where infinity does not imply it: God, ergo, becomes an unnecessary noun.

This is to get it exactly backwards. Most people are less affronted by the idea of an uncaused God without end than by a causally connected universe without end. This is because God’s Ontology does not lie in the conceptual but in the intuitive.  

The poet Auden, when he set his ethic in opposition to mute and distant stars, described himself as “the caring one.” Infinity cannot be reformed since it does not care. Its domain, as Jorges related it, is as the corrupter and destroyer of all other concepts. Intuition, through its immediate and occasional door, tells us we are not ‘parent-less’ in a sea of infinite begettings, only intellectually estranged.

Nietzsche said there is always a drop of cruelty in our desire to know, and when Adam partook of The Tree of Knowledge, to exalt his mind over his domain, he lost, temporarily, the salient virtue of an intuition that warned him off vanity. ~Omar

          Infinity

The Peek-a-boo Motel would be ten minutes by the main highway, but seeing celebrating students were still thick on the bypass, the motorist opted to take the old state road, which effectively doubled the distance. He took this road twice before with the photographer, though remembered more road signs.

A gas station blazed ahead over cornstalks, and just when Aloysius turned onto its lot, an old red and white Cady ambulance peeled off it. A store employee chased after the vehicle waving a pistol in the air. It was too late to reconsider the turn, though the traveler wisely stopped short of the pumps and dodged several toppled pumpkins from a stand. Once the disgruntled fellow returned inside the station, Aloysius felt it safe to follow him in.

The cashier rounded the counter, still huffing. He dropped his gun among scratch-off lotto tickets and sticky buns and snarled, “Damn college students! The world’s going to hell and they’re out stealing pumpkins!”

A radio blared next to the register, and the lad was quickly engrossed in its program.

“What is it?” Aloysius inquired apprehensively.

“Haven’t you heard, mister? We’re under attack! Damn Martians have landed back east!”

The traveler missed only a beat, and explained, “That’s Orson Welles you’re listening to. This is a radio rebroadcast of his famous Halloween prank, the teleplay for The War of the Worlds.”

 “I don’t know squat about pranks,” the attendant complained, “but spaceships are dropping out of the sky like bird shit and I don’t get off work ‘til midnight!”

“Try another station.”

“There ain’t other stations.”

Aloysius saw the futility of his argument. “Am I on the right road to Eastfawn?”

“Follow the signs,” the teenager grunted.

Scene: Several miles down the darkening rural road, the motorist encountered no further traffic and felt like he was on the Moon. The little used highway narrowed, and when the shoulders all but disappeared, it was feared that pavement would soon turn to gravel. A stand of pines formed an impregnable wall along the passenger side of the car, and after a quarter hour of this uncomfortable monotony, a breach was reached where an embankment provided a way across.

Climbing the gradient, train tracks under his tires sank in ruts amid shards of bitumen, yet in obtaining a rare summit, a red orange Sun (long thought to have set) illuminate his rear window. He was already driving out of its glare, though it was more like plunging into a black ravine. The bumper of the car crunched, and since he had yet to turn on his headlights, he could not see the ground at the moment of impact. His Saturn had swerved off the road and into a thrumming hail of branches. Crows squawked overhead, blowing free in a shroud, yet leaving little of the ebbing light behind. The embankment had not merely eclipsed the Sun, but had shunted it from the sky.

The driver did not know how long he had been sitting there staring at his illuminated dashboard, but a wrecker truck with flashing yellow lights was behind him; a man, holding a substantial chain, puzzled over the rear of his automobile. Aloysius got out and stumbled around his mental obstacle. “I went down grill first,” he reported.

“You were dragged,” the man insisted, pointing away from his tail lights to where a superabundance of night bugs fled the disruption.

“Dragged...?”

“By a train.”

The distance settled out of the dust and twilight, and Aloysius saw where he was a good hundred feet or more from the inclined road, which, even in encroaching darkness, was not so high or dangerous as he had imagined.

crows

While the car was secured, dazed Aloysius surveyed the overgrowth along the railroad track. Some ways further down, a road sign was spotted—his first one in an hour. Eerily it was turned into trees, with no evidence of motoring terrain, either in use or abandoned, anywhere near it. “Why is there a road sign there?” he asked the assisting man.

The fellow grumbled dismissively, “To be read.”

“By whom?”

A shrug followed a second grumble. “By whatever approaches from the other side.”

The woods were disconcertingly thick and impenetrable from the other side. “Why do you say ‘whatever’?”

The wrecker driver amended his remark, “whoever…”

 They drove to a filling station, and Aloysius’ preoccupation with signage did not let up. Surely the township’s welcome sign was across the highway from the garage, though it was set too deep into the night for any passing vehicle to avail itself of its proclamation.

As his few options were contemplated, an attractive young woman in a mermaid costume strolled up to him from a display of windshield wiper blades. She spoke with a Spanish accent. “Your head… Your gash…”

The concerned party clasped his forearm; only then did he feel pain in it; dried blood formed a rivulet over his eyebrow.

“I am a nurse,” she said. “Do you have a ride?”

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