March 22, 2010
Zane Selvans is an admitted Amatuer Earthling, and is happy to share his thoughts and explorations on what it means to be a member of the adolescent human species. He lives in California, is both a scientist and a cyclist and wrote this exceptional essay that in part discuses two things — 1) how he came to appreciate that the death of Carl Sagan and the corresponding dearth of new works by the deceased scientist ultimately means its up to us to move the conversation forward, and 2) how ‘joyful and persistent understanding’ are, in the words of Nietzsche, our, “highest and most proper metaphysical,” purpose. Enjoy.
Before I finished Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age in the Salt Lake City airport Monday, I found a book by Carl Sagan in the bookstore. “The Varieties of Scientific Experience”, based on his Gifford Lectures from 1985 (and published posthumously, in 2006 by Ann Druyan). I read half of it in the airport, and the other half last night. It went fast, because I’d heard it all before. The main piece of new information was that a decade and a half after the fact, Carl Sagan is truly dead to me. I’ve read most of his books, I’ve seen his television series Cosmos several times. I love his ideas; they’ve shaped me throughout my life, but I no longer hope to find anything new in them. So long as there were pieces of his mind that had been recorded, but that I hadn’t yet been exposed to, it was as if he wasn’t quite gone. He was still, from my point of view, a dynamic entity.
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