GIVETHEREADERSWHATTHEYWANT!
One writer's experiment to tackle any subject his friends come up with.
10/10/11-GARY BENNETT

To Love Fate

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche had become insane in December 1889. He was 44 years old. After a short time in an insane asylum his mother took him to live with her. In 1893 his sister took over his care and took responsibility for his writings, exploiting the fame he had recently obtained. He lived to be 55, dying August 25, 1900. After his breakdown, Nietzsche wrote a few letters that reflected his mental state. There is no record of his writing anything of consequence after that nor could he communicate in any rational way.

What I would like for you to do, Cole, is to write about those years between his breakdown and his death as if had had a stroke or some other ailment and lost his ability to communicate but did not suffer any diminishing of his cognitive ability. In other words, his mind was clear, he was fully conscious of everything around him, and he was able to continue developing some of the ideas he had written about before his breakdown. He was completely sane, but could not communicate that to anyone.

Now for the hard part. Nietzsche posited several controversial philosophical positions. One was the idea of the “eternal recurrence” which basically says that everything that has ever happened will continue to recur over and over eternally. I have not read everything N wrote but in what I have read, I have not found where he has developed this position in a coherent way. At least not in a way I can comprehend. He just seems to accept it as if it were a fact. One of the things your story should include is how N further developed the idea of the eternal recurrence that would explain it as a legitimate philosophical position.

 

I wake, struggling to emerge from a consuming whorl of thought. A myriad of cycles and repetitions have pushed through into my dreams, patterns that only become apparent after their infinite depths are repeatedly plumbed. I lie in bed and grapple with the concept of infinity. The human brain, its limitations – infinity may be an alien concept, completely antithetical to our existence. But I’m willing to try. My mind is active, my body still. My sister and other caretakers try to bring me out to themselves, make me part of their world. I’ll join them again soon. Today I will focus on this concept. Today this idea, this exploration, is all.

Infinity is not time. It is not a measurement. It is everything, beyond understanding. It comprises all material, all thought, all that is not thought, all that does not exist. It is not limited by our own bounded comprehension. It is not a great amount of time or space. It is the known and the unknown, the being and the void.

I imagine an atom on a single journey through time. For convenience, we will chart its course from the birth of the universe, the explosion which launches all matter forth. This atom is one of hydrogen, and flies on its path across unimaginable miles, comes to rest and coalesce with others of its kind, collecting into a ball of nuclear fusion that will commonly be called “fire” by the mammals that grow up circling it on their own small ball of nickel and iron. That atom is disassembled by the violent reactions ongoing in the core of its star, is reconstituted into material on that small planet. It passes through reaction upon reaction, compounding with other atoms, joining and separating through chemical means: emulsion, catalyzation, fire, bonding and loosing those bonds. The components of that atom become parts of our earth, our very dirt, the same dirt we are born from and buried in, the same dirt that is consumed and produced by the worms that enliven our planet while feeding on our bodies. The atom is born into bacteria, travels to nematode, fish, primate, plant, air, bird, earth again, thousands of lives it helps bring to life, all the while cycling and transforming, all webbed into all other creatures, never a definitive part of any being for any measureable part of its life in the infinite. That hydrogen atom, its neutron and electron, its quarks and subparticles, are all reassembled, as before, within the physical mind of a man now sitting on his veranda, ignoring the entreaties of his own flesh and blood sibling as he contemplates the nature of his existence and his own certitude that this has happened before, and will happen again. The memory of this previous existence is buried within this atom, and is brought forth to the man, has come to his calling, as he presses the universe for its secrets.

This has happened before. Inifinity guarantees it. Matter and energy cannot be unmade, although they can be transmuted, even one to the other. All matter that was shall be again, in one perfect reiteration of this present universe, and that one atom, and every other atom its neighbor, shall meet in that same relationship, shall live that same life, and shall reach the same conclusion, during its dimensionless recycling of itself. Infinite worlds, infinite re-creations of worlds, as our one universe opens and collapses on itself unendingly. All that is has been before, and shall be again. My caretakers feel I am addled and unthinking, but my thinking of late has become other than theirs, unrelatable, set into a different timeline. I will rest now, and come back into their lives tomorrow, to bring these insights to surface within the present world, to effect my realizaion on the consciousness of others. For now, the cycle is complete.

*****

  I wake, struggling to emerge from a consuming whorl of thought. A myriad of cycles and repetitions have pushed through into my dreams, patterns that only become apparent after their infinite depths are repeatedly plumbed. I lie in bed and grapple with the concept of infinity. The human brain, its limitations –

 

 

Copyright Cole Bennett, all rights reserved.

 

 

8 Comments to “10/10/11-GARY BENNETT”

  1. Cole Bennett says:

    Dad, I thought I said no softballs!

    :)

    This stuff fascinates me. Surely that counts for something. A week should be plenty of time to reconcile Einstein with Nietzsche and send them off on a picnic together. Should be fun!

  2. Gary Bennett says:

    And just think, you will do this over, and over, and…

  3. Pat Bennett says:

    Wow! Your thoughts are so far above mine! You must have inherited that capability from Gary.

  4. Gary Bennett says:

    Cole,
    This is great stuff. I look forward to talking to you about it. I especially liked the second paragraph. It seems to me that most people think of infinity as time going on and on, never ending, eternal. Perhaps that is where god comes in. People just need an explanation.
    Thanks,
    Dad

  5. Gary Bennett says:

    Cole,
    I also thought you handled Nietzche well. I cannot imagine undertaking the task considering the constraints within which you are working.
    Dad

  6. Cole Bennett says:

    Thanks Mom, thanks Dad. It’s always seemed pretty clear to me that thinking about infinity in terms of duration is the wrong approach, and that the nature of it may have to be cyclical. I don’t know how well I expressed it, but I saw this one as being either a simple, single vignette, or another magnum opus like Deus In Machina. I wish I had the time! And Dad, I’d love it if we could sit and mull over this stuff. Whenever we find the time… :)

  7. Adam Gillett says:

    You should have taken our little hydrogen atom on a detour through the sun, where it would be transmuted over the course of thousands of years. It could have doubled the length of the story! Or, from the character’s perspective, it would have been exactly the same length. http://www.howstuffworks.com/sun3.htm

    • Cole Bennett says:

      I did read up some on the fusion reactions involved in the sun, and how a hydrogen atom is formed through a series of built-up reactions (I think it was 4-stage, rather than 4 neutrons hitting all at once (but I could be wrong (and probably am))). This is a great little article, though, and clarifies something I never had any idea of: that “With so many interactions occurring between photons and gas molecules in the radiative and convection zones, it takes a photon approximately 100,000 to 200,000 years to reach the surface.” Holy cow! I guess my tour through the ball of “fire” was pretty brief.

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