Quote for today XXII

You can look for meaning in the Mona Lisa, or a sonnet, or in a child’s smile. You can argue over the meaning with someone else, and you can both disagree and yet both be right. When something is created with artistic intent — or just simply created by the human with or without that intent — it’s open to interpretation.

But the Universe itself as a physical object isn’t like that. You can look for meaning if you’d like, but the Universe is a semi-random collection of energy and matter, and based on all the evidence I have seen was not created with intent. A nebula is beautiful in form and color, but is simply a collection of particles, photons, fields, and motions. It has no meaning outside of your personal interpretation of it. But whether you think it has emotions and is alive or not, it will still do what it does: make stars. Nebulae have been doing this for billions of years before us, and will continue to do so long after we are gone.

You might even ascribe purpose to a nebula: its job is to create stars. But that’s what’s called the Pathetic Fallacy: ascribing human characteristics to inanimate objects. The nebula doesn’t want to do anything. It just does things according to the laws of physics.

(Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, in “I object!“)

In other words, the question is “What’s the meaning of life?” — and the answer is “Mu.”

Not the cow sound.A cow, no more

Rather the Eastern utterance that I take to mean, “You’re asking a variant of ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’ again, aren’t you? Well, genital wishes to you, I ain’t answering a question that’s not well-formulated. My life means what I choose it to mean, and there’s nothing mystical in it, or nothing more I can get or need — cowsound goodbye!”

(“I have nothing against cows. In fact, some of my best friends are cows. Okay, not really. I actually eat pieces of dead cows. Regularly. Daily. And I like that. Yes, I like swallowing chewed-up nuggets of oily, pan-crisped cowflesh — and I don’t think it’s safe to leave me alone in the same room with your gerbil either. God, I’m so pathetic.”)

(This, by the way, happens when the quote is so strong you can’t think of much anything to add to it.)

One Response to “Quote for today XXII”

  1. IasonOuabache Says:

    I saw his blog post earlier and thought the exact same things. Well, not the cow stuff. Damn good quote. Now, if only he had made it pithier. More pithy? Whatever.

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