Of Comets, Clouds and Bees
On a wonderful summer night you lie in the grass - gaze into the dark sky, and let your thoughts wander - that shiny thing over there is an airplane, this a distant star, ISS disappears in the earth’s shadow - what a tiny box to be in! - where are the planets, how far can I see? You observe falling stars that are whizzing through the atmosphere at a delightfully high rate.
Why are there so many of them that night? Why do comets return? When? What is this strange thing called infinity. And why does infinity only go one way - infinitely into the future, but not infinitely into the past; infinitely far away, but not infinitely close, infinitely hot, but not infinitely cold, infinitely loud, but not infinitely silent? Why do things never end but did start at a certain point?
The air is clear and warm. No artificial lights anywhere. The moon is lingering lazily in the trees lining the river. Some fireflies are having a good time, switching their glow on and off rather randomly - in one group they seem to synchronize but then it is random again. It reappears: a few bugs are flashing simultaneously at first, then more of them join in, and then even more until a huge cloud of insects is flashing in tune.
Are they doing this on purpose? Do they even know that they are glowing? Do they have a will to turn their light on and off? Obviously they do communicate. But why? How do they do it?
Or don’t they?
A field of clouds is passing the pale silhouette of the moon. Why is the moon so big tonight? Do you see the ripples in the cloud-structure? A very regular hatching. What amazing regularities! How do the clouds know how to organize? Obviously the droplets communicate. But how?
Or don’t they?
The delight of looking at the world in utter amazement is followed by a strong emotion when something appears to be not completely random or even decidedly regular. In those satisfying moments there appears to be a driver, a concept, a big hidden meaning of it all.
The interaction between the individual and the world is sensual at first. Some sight, some sound, the summer-heat. It is the vegetative reaction. With those sensations - clearly located in the deep archaic parts of our brain - we don’t differ much from our early ancestors.
Or do we?