The Fantasy of Reality

Luis Bunuel wrote in his autobiography My Last Sigh, “Our imagination, and our dreams, are forever invading our memories; and since we are all apt to believe in the reality of our fantasies, we end up transforming our lies into truths.” bell_de_jourGreenlandic explorer Knud Rasmussen reflected in his journals from the Fifth Thule Expedition, “Here on this lonely spit of land, weary men had toiled along the last stage of their mortal journey. Their tracks are not effaced, as long as others live to follow and carry them farther; their work lives as long as any region of the globe remains for men to find and conquer.” knud Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, “A geographer is too important to go wandering about. He never leaves his study. But he receives the explorers there. He questions them, and he writes down what they remember. And if the memories of one of the explorers seems interesting to him, then the geographer conducts an inquiry into that explorer’s moral character.”  geogAnd finally Italo Svevo offered these musings from Zeno’s Conscience: “Simply, I believed I had made an important scientific discovery. I thought I had been called upon to complete the whole theory of psychological colors. My predecessors, Goethe and Schopenhauer, had never imagined what could have been achieved by deftly handling complementary colors.” zeno's conscience“I should say that I spent my time sprawled on the sofa opposite my study window, from which I had a view of a stretch of sea and horizon.”

Exoplanets and Us

Along with ourselves, there are seven planets in this solar system: Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury.

The latest composite image of Mercury

The latest composite image of Mercury

As well, there are dwarf planets – like Pluto – asteroids, comets and moons.

Europa, one of four Jupiter moons

Europa, Jupiter’s ice-bound moon

We have a rough idea of what these worlds are composed of and are quite certain that none of them can sustain us. princeExoplanets are the planets outside our solar system, all of which invisible by telescope and instead detected by the disruption in light from distant stars. Kepler 22b, 600 light years away, is an exciting find because it is similar to earth in size and orbiting distance from its sun.

Kepler 22b

Kepler 22b

It is estimated that there are some 100 billion planets in our galaxy alone and a septillion – a thousand billion billion – planets in the universe. As Carl Sagan says, that’s more than all of grains of sand in all of the beaches on Earth. m16 image by travis rector.  correction layers added by mark hannaThere is little doubt that many of the planets out there have life on them; the question is in their level of intelligence and what kind of shenanigans might occur when we finally meet.

Survival Guide: An Upward Turn

As you start to adjust to the imminent end – now just three days away – your life should become calmer and more organized. You are in the upward turn. (That was quick!) Your physical symptoms lessen, and your depression begins to lift slightly. The closing of Mozart’s La Nozze di Figaro just might be, as artist Ragnar Kjartansson suggests, the most beautiful minutes of music ever recorded. Put it on a loop and listen again and again. Phone 167Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is an absolute treasure, combining sophisticated story-telling with joyous detail and wit. I guess my point is, we’ll eat tonight, and we’ll eat together. And even in this not particularly flattering light, you are without a doubt the five and a half most wonderful wild animals I’ve ever met in my life. So let’s raise our boxes – to our survival. mrfoxThe Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is also something to behold. It’s short and lovely and there’s pictures too. All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.princeIt’s time to get out there and do something active. Ride a bike, go for a walk or a swim, do anything but a run. That’s bad for your knees and hips.