Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beyond Comprehension by Louis Evan Palmer

Beyond in the sense of beyond any "normal" perception and conception. For example, consider the following extraneous tidbits of knowledge:

  • A muon lives for 2 millionths of a second and then it decays
  • More than 50 trillion solar electron neutrinos pass through the human body every second.
  • The Sun consumes about a 650 million tonnes of fuel (protons) per second
  • It is estimated that the average human adult body contains about 10 trillion cells.
  • In the fully mature human lung, approximately 400 million alveoli provide a gas exchange surface of 100 to 150 m2.
  • The radius of the observable universe is about 47 billion light years.
These are facts that we can only know by extending our ordinary in-the-moment wisdom through mental constructs like mathematics and ingenious fabrications like electron telescopes.

So it seems to suggest that we are extravagantly unprepared to understand our world the way we are. This in turn suggests that we can only progress by advancing in the endeavours of mental constructs and ingenious fabrications or that we have for some unfathomable reason forgone innate abilities and knowledge that would have either answered any questions or rendered them unimportant.

Even things like language, where mathematics & music are special cases, fall into this category.

But is it really these things, these constructs, that have allowed us to gain knowledge? Is it possible that these inventions merely give us something around which to drape other types of knowing?

Taking language for example, we have a given sound for the idea of a "circle" or the number "one" or the concept of "hot". Each language has its own sound(s) for it yet the idea is the same. Is the Chinese "circle" different from the French "circle"? Is it not the idea of a circle that takes precedence and the particular sound we attach to it is secondary?

The amount of fuel the Sun consumes exists for us as the light and heat we feel on a given day or as a string of measurements and meanings that we understand and remember. Either way, it is mediated knowledge three, four or five times removed. It can be translated into a direct interaction in some cases which then validates our abstracted musings and empirical deductions. In other cases, it is firmly ethereal - unproven and unprove-able.

It all seems like an image that appears in a cloud, persists for a short time, and then dissipates; to be replaced in a while with another image. Our mind makes the image and gives it reality but nothing is able to spin it into permanence or make it seem like an answer to anything.

Beyond Comprehension, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


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