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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
Giving a glimpse into the formative years of comics and beyond.

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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 12/13/2004
Vol. 2, #151

I do not weep in wonder when I learn that black matter may constitute a large part of the universe.

I do not sigh with desire when I learn that every part of our physical bodies is governed by the activities of only recently known microbial behavior.

I do not thrill with joy since learning that before Leevanhoeck's microscope, we didn't even know the microbial world existed and governed much of our physical existence.

I do not dance with excitement when men walk on the moon which humans once thought a celestial body forming part of the canopy in the setting of mother earth.

My heart does not turn over at the discovery of black holes swallowing dying quasars.

The big bang leaves me without a sympathetic tremor.

Whether the universe is speeding apart or slowing down concerns me less than keeping a personal date on time.

I could write a long list of what does not stir me very much, but I'm more concerned with the fact that most of the time we spend in learning is precisely on such matters, matters of well, at best, idle curiosity. Even systems that are far from equilibrium that are likely to go completely out of balance and lead to some new dissipative structure, well, the likelihood of even that, doesn't seem to make my heart swell.

I consider all these things on which our world, our science, our secular belief systems are built and wonder why they seem so distant from me when we seem to spend all our important time finding them out.

And why do I spend more of my feeling and attention on trivia like literature -- even literature about superheroes, guys like supes and spidey, for example -- about vague things like love and caring and yearning for someone's touch or attention that hold no scientific interest at all.

So why is what's IMPORTANT so unimportant in my life and feelings, and things so important of no interest whatsoever in most of the important research being funded today. Logically, I should love the space shuttle more than my beat up old car, because it can tell me more about this universe we inhabit. Then I realize, we don't really "inhabit" a Universe as much as accept being told that we're in one, then never give it a second thought.

I'm puzzled until I come back to Blake's old poem:
I went to the garden of love
And saw what I never had seen
Priests in black gowns were making their rounds
And binding with briars my joys and desires...
And somewhere else, pursuing the same thought, Blake says: "Desire is the holy spirit." And then I understand where I really am. In the drives of my desires are my real world. There I will also find myself. Out of those desires, I act out what is important to me, the work of my hand and the love of my eyes.

I cling to life for those desires. Otherwise why bother? Does playing a musical duet with my son, Orin, not seem much more important than a distant star going nova? Ahh, but in a science fiction story, I DO get involved when a star goes nova, because it may mean the end of those duets, let alone me and my son.

Strange how many new things we discover about the universe year upon year, more details, more capacities to learn about matter, about how our bodies function, about how everything that preceded, even though sons and fathers played duets together throughout all these varying cosmic theories, all completely changed, even wrong -- yet not changed at all. And how could sharing music with my son be wrong?

Once we lived in caves and, presumably, our lives were nasty and brutal and short. Now we've discovered so much more and live in such vastnesses, amid such physical luxuries and practise brutalities beyond our most primitive imaginings, yet have not changed an iota about the things that matter to us, our stories, our music, our desires...

So, have we really gone anywhere or changed anything? I'm no longer so sure. What about you? Myself -- I've just explained why I'm a storyteller.

-- Alvin

<< 12/06/2004 | 12/13/2004 | 12/20/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.


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