Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nothing Says I Love You Like, Well ... Nothing

Paul Dirac, one of the 20th Century's science superheros - proved the existence of the quantum field, antimatter and those spooks of the cosmos, better known as virtual particles, among other things - was by all accounts a very weird bloke. For one thing, he rarely, if ever, spoke. In the Dirac biography, The Strangest Man, a 'friend' recounts a 'conversation' he had with the physicist in a London restaurant over lunch. He, the friend, was jabbering on about the politics of the day, art, women, current trends in science, the London theater scene, the rising prices of haberdashery, etc. After an hour or so, Dirac looked up from his soup and replied, "Hmm." Thirty minutes later, having finished his lunch, Dirac stood up, perhaps contemplated saying goodby, decided against it and walked out of the restaurant.

Niels Bohr, another of the quantum mechanical masterminds, once said, "This Dirac seems to know a lot of physics, but he never says anything."

Sounds sort of ideal.  A friend who never speaks. Could be some kind of a genius for all we know. Given the benefit of the doubt, and all, because, let's be honest, isn't it when people start talking that the disappointment tends to kick in?

Hey, you want a friend who don't talk? Go get a dog.
I already got a dog.
So get another.

I knew a guy who only dated mutes. Claimed it enabled him to better control the conversation. Then one day his girlfriend said  "            ."    He took it hard, hid her notepad when she wasn't looking, considered reading a book on Existentialism.

On the other hand, Hank, the paradigmatic, alter ego, homeless guy, a deranged genius of the first magnitude, has a different slant on the issue; he being of the opinion that to stop talking is nothing less than a surrender to the harsh and, not to put too fine a point on it, irreversible contingencies of non-existence. 
"We all ooze nothingness," Hank says. "Close your eyes and the world disappears. Embrace the vacuum, moron. As scary as the nothing is, it's all we've got to ride home on."

I love it when Hank almost makes sense.

Then there's Hank's take on the ultimate cosmic mystery:

"Something, maybe the void, maybe a truly whacked-out God, burped, or hiccuped, or possibly farted,  and the Universe popped up, out of nothing, the ultimate free lunch, but not for long, see, cause for every particle there was its exact opposite, an anti-particle. The two cancel each other out. Pop, pop. Universe, no Universe. It's happening every single second. You say hello, I say goodby. But not this time, this time there's a discrepancy, a so-called quantum fluctuation. For every one-hundred-trillion or so particle-anti-particle pairs, there's one extra particle, a loner, riddled with uncertainty, like some homeless guy staring down the barrel of infinity. The entire universe and everything currently in it is based precisely on such a mind-altering misunderstanding. You, for example, are nothing more than the byproduct of an infinitesimal quantum discrepancy. So go meditate on that, wise-ass."

Sounds crazy enough to almost be true. Too bad I stopped listening after 'Something.'
"Say again, Hank."
"Fuck you! You are NOTHING!
"I love you, too. You may be a crud-covered foul-smelling doppelganger, but you're my crud-covered foul-smelling doppelganger."
"Tell me something I don't know."
I quote Max Planck.  "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die."
"Blah, blah, blah," Hank wheezes. "I'm a lot more dead than not and I still ain't buying into your eerie evil rap."

I decide to pepper his severely depleted brain cells with a little Bukowski:
" We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus. That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing."

"Much better," Hank says, drifting off into a quasi-psychotic muttering session. "Pluck a flower, move a distant star."
"Wait a minute, didn't Dirac say that?"
"Hey, you just spent the better part of an excruciating day trying to convince us that Dirac never spoke."
"Okay, then he wrote it."
"So write this," Hank says, somehow finding the strength to raise his middle finger and jab it in my direction.
"They denied Jesus, too," I tell him.
"Yeah, well, you ain't him."


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