Friday, August 07, 2009

What Is The Opposite Of Transcendent?

Wednesday night the Moon was west of Jupiter.

Thursday night the Moon had shifted east of Jupiter.

This is a dynamic in the sky human beings have been observing for thousands of years. Every month, night by night, the Moon shifts gradually eastward against the backdrop of fixed stars toward the rising Sun. Every year against the backdrop of fixed stars, night by night, Jupiter shifts slightly eastward too and, sometimes, stops and moves westward for a time before resuming its eastward motion.

Throughout most of human history nobody on Earth had any idea what was going on in the sky. Nowadays school kids learn many details of astronomy just as part of normal schooling. Even Jupiter’s odd motion westward, retrograde motion caused by the Earth shifting in its orbit, is junior high science class stuff.

I know there are people today who couldn’t find Jupiter in the night sky even if someone told them Jupiter is just east or just west of the Moon. Jupiter, to them, would be only another star, only another point of light in a sky full of points of light. Some people have no interest in that kind of thing.

I know, too, there are people who pretend to be interested in that kind of thing.

The dynamics of people who pretend are as big a mystery to me as the dynamics of the sky used to be to our ancestors who looked at the sky and wondered what was going on up there.

Looking at the sky, studying it, trying to figure out its mysteries, is a way to experience the beauty of nature, to participate in the wonders of nature. In a Thoreau kind of way looking at the sky, studying it, trying to figure out its mysteries, is—at the very least I’d guess—something like transcendental.

Trying to figure out people who pretend is—on the other hand I’d guess—a waste of time.

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