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The Cosmic Question

By       Message Les Adler     Permalink
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                        The Cosmic Question


Planck Satellite heat map of early universe
(Image by European Space Agency)
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Planck Satellite heat map of early universe by European Space Agency
  

     "To have squeezed the universe into a ball

     To roll it toward some overwhelming question"

     The astounding Planck image of the early cosmos as it existed as an expanding ball of highly energized particles scarcely 375,000 years after its fiery birth in the Big Bang brings to mind the relationship between the inspired metaphor central to T.S.Eliot's classic"Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock and our most critical earthly dilemma today.

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     Poised on the unfamiliar shores of a newly modernizing age, Eliot described a world of anxious indecision with indistinct figures, like patients "etherized on a table," wandering and digressing in a dreamlike fog, never quite able to "force the moment to its crisis."   Again and again the poet asks:

    "Do I dare? and, "Do I dare?....

     Do I dare

     Disturb the universe?

     In a minute there is time

     For decisions and revisions which a minute will

     reverse."          

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     In an era, much like our own, where every thought or hint of action is immediately undone by reversals and revisions, or what the poet calls "a hundred indecisions,"  the great and overwhelming question--whatever it might have been--is left to expire quietly by the wayside, ignored and unexplored.  Would it have made any difference, the narrator concludes, 

     "To have bitten off the matter with a smile".

     To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

     Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all."

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Les Adler is professor emeritus of history in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University. A specialist in twentieth century American history, his academic publications have dealt with America during the Cold War Era and on (more...)
 

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