Optimism and the Orion NebulaPosted: March 25, 2013
When I see a photo like this my impulse is a pessimistic one: to say that against a cloud bigger than our minds could ever comprehend we don’t matter. Not at all!
It’s our very perspective that brings us to that conclusion, one which invites us to subvert it. Take another look. We’ve seen those clouds before – the lines as malleable as they are intricate, the ghoulish blend of black into green through which modest lights pierce. And they’ve been found on earth in their own forms, be it the aurora borealis or that piece in the Tate or a field: it’s a description that after all fits into the English language. This thought that a gas cloud 26 light years wide can be captured and compared with what we see everyday is, I think, an optimistic one: although we shouldn’t forget how incredible the universe is, it should not be used to make us feel tiny and insignificant. We define it!
(About the Orion Nebula from Slate here.)