There's awe and wonder when you first see the photos from the James Webb telescope, out there now orbiting the Sun at 1.5 million kilometers from us.
There's shock, then eery recognition, at such beauty throughout our Universe, each bit of scattered incandescence holding worlds of galaxies and mysteries within, such...wait, am I feeling queasy?
I felt it before, a kind of Sartre's Nausea welling up to near-vomit, in the face of our multidivergent reality. It was in '90 or '91 at the San Diego Zoo. I was there with my daughter, her baby carriage hanging with the day's necessities. The zoo is also a botanical garden of plants and trees from all over the world, along with its astonishing array of animal species.
Taking in the looming biomorphic shapes around me, I felt a kind of 'empathic distress,' as Joan Halifax would call it. Like fractals, the shapes repeat themselves, organic and inorganic merging in a dance of curves and lines that could have been otherwise, but isn't...each contingent figure folding in and out of its invisibly guiding contours...
I was glad I'd bought the yearly ticket for the zoo instead of the single admission, so we could come back.
And I will. Come back. I promise.
15 JULY 2022