A Brief Exchange Regarding Infinity

J.T. Nimoy, The color of art is #A79F94, 2009

J.T. Nimoy, The color of art is #A79F94, 2009

A: “Since then, in the infinite course of the universe, the world is fleeting, we must regard it as precious. This world, its lives and deaths, its towering glories and spectacular failures, and we ourselves, must be regarded as merely a local glimmering of significance in a meaningless universe. But this is no cause for fear or sorrow: it is a great liberation. Our only duty is to burn as brightly as we can in the short time the universe permits.”

Z: “But you have failed to recognise the monumental indifference and claustrophobia of infinity. Your thought is shot through with aesthetic desire. You speak of the world as a glorious flash, like a firework, or the life of a butterfly: fragile, short, beautiful and therefore precious. But all these things unfold in time: you are actually delighting in quickness, lightness and intensity. In a truly infinite universe, neither the momentary nor the epochal count for anything. Infinity is not the the infinite possibility of value, but the end of all value. Conversely, to imagine the universe’s origins, ends and branches: all of this is motivated by an aesthetic desire for the sublime: the desire to be dwarfed by something unspeakably huge. But eternity does not follow hugeness. On the contrary, the eternal universe would be the triumph of mundanity: it would be neither a cruel master against which we strive for survival, nor a glorious blossoming. Contemplation of this universe is neither fearful, nor wonderful: in doing so, you are neither a hero, nor a poet. The eternal universe would be like the sickly grey plastic of this keyboard; the slight headache produced by flickering strip-lights. It would be the casual death of slavery. It is a wonder you can keep from groaning as infinity pours through your letterbox in the form of real-estate magazines. We must hope desperately for the destruction of the universe, which is long overdue.”


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