Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ghost of Copernicus


Across the bar at Founding Farmers.

Oh the rain, it does not stop. We've had three or four days of steady, soft, warm rain. I am not complaining. Those of us who suffer from springtime allergies welcome rain. It gathers the pollen and brings it down to the ground, a Very Good Thing.

The rain, along with the mild head cold I'm just recovering from, has provided an excuse to just sit around. I've been watching Carl Sagan videos (of which there are a zillion on the internet) almost obsessively. I am completely fascinated - not so much by the science he describes as by his point of view.

Only thirty years ago, we Americans were still dramatically Europe-centric, human-as-supreme-species-centric. To a fault, we believed our culture to be the center of the world. It kind of blows me away, realizing how much of an effect revisionist history has had not only on the humanities, but on the sciences as well.

Our Ptolemaic view of what western culture is/was, i.e. the center of the world, has completely changed during the last few decades. How did it happen? When did it happen? How was it that we were finally able to admit that there have been many great, complex and interesting cultures in the history of the world, that many species have great intelligence? When did we open our minds? Did the spirit of Copernicus whisper in our collective ears?

What happened to change the paradigm? I have no clue. Do you?


On the Metro train, a great common denominator of humanity.

18 comments:

Barry said...

Nope, haven't got a clue. But now that you mention it, it has happened.

Reya Mellicker said...

YES. Incredible. Though I don't like the new trend of self-loathing that we humans are so into, it is interesting that our eyes have been opened.

steven said...

mind opening seems to move in waves. meanwhile in the real world the energies necessary to move us along to the sweet spot continue to work their loving ways. so here we are! steven

Barb Mann said...

Perhaps it's just that after long enough, one's brain eventually realizes that not every person looks like one's own family. I remember one dream I had a couple of decades ago in which not only was I dreaming a crowd scene, but the crowd was fully integrated--what a wonderful thing! It didn't hurt that my own family was getting integrated, too, with two Korean neices. And once that happened, I was starting to look at people and cultures as not other but as alternative. There's a paradigm shift for sure.

NanU said...

I think there are two things that bring down old paradigms - first the accumulated weight of data that says otherwise, and second the passing away of the strong personalities that held the old paradigm dear. It's really true in academics that ideas change when the old guard retires!

Ronda Laveen said...

Also, more and more people are seeing that we and all things are. One. Technology has had its part too. Instantly, we can communicate
with anyone anywhere. I have one nephew working. and living in Spain. Two in Peru. And before that, one of those lived in Taiwan. Lines are blurring more now.

Chris Wolf said...

Loved what NanU said, "accumulated weight of data that says otherwise, and...the passing away of the strong personalities that held the old paradigm dear."

Some in the ELCA are still holding to the homosexual issue so dearly that it is breaking apart the church, yet another chasm. Sigh...I hope that this passes away, but I'm not wishing for any particular person's demise...

Great post, thoughtful as usual, Reya. Namaste,

The Bug said...

I wonder if there are economic factors involved, or just our 30 second mentality - people want to hear different stories than we've heard before & unlike our forbears it's ok for those stories to be about people who are different from us.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Carl Sagan was big when I was in college and grad school, and although he was handsome, articulate, and charming, he came across as phenomenally arrogant and professionally cut-throat. Quite a few young scientists modeled themselves after the worst of his features without being able to duplicate his charm and intelligence.

I find it impossible to enjoy his popular videos because of my time spent with his imitators. (Also, one of his ex-wives was in a big feud with my major professor, but that's another tale of arrogance.)

I remember that the Euro-centric, male chauvinist "thing" the academic establishment had going on was under strong attack back then, and I believe it's the Age of Aquarius in action. Of course, you know more about all that than I do.

Hope you feel better--I'm from Iowa and I concur with your "Midwestern" approach to head colds. Besides, it's good to sit and think.

Reya Mellicker said...

I have long suspected that all of us young people ingesting all those hallucinogenics, along with the political movements (Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Gay Rights), in concert with the paradigm bustin' music of the time, really punched a hole through what was culturally accepted.

And yes, when the old guard passes away, something can unwind.

Cool thoughts. Thanks!

willow said...

If the spirit of Copernicus helped us come to our senses, then so be it.

Steve said...

I love studying people's shoes on the subway. :)

Tom said...

neil tyson degrasse interests me as much today as sagan did in those days. i think it's the exhuberance...
we were watching a science show yesterday in which a comet broke apart and fell into jupiter...not a very awe inspiring sight...but the look on the faces of the scientists who witnessed it was priceless...
it's the excitement of the storyteller that gets ya.

Liza said...

I have been addicted to Graham Hancock's Quest for the Lost Civilization, and also another series of vids with the title The Pyramid Code put together by Dr. Carmen Boulter that are all on YouTube as well. FASCINATING stuff!

ps..I love the interior of Founding Fathers.

Reya Mellicker said...

OK. Tyson Degrasse and Graham Hancock. I am SO on it.

I remember Shoemaker Levi 9. It was a Very Big Deal to me ... fascinating.

If I had it all to do over again, I would be a scientist. I would.

Dan Gurney said...

I think it's many things, Howard Zinn had something to do with it, as did so many others. We still have a very long, long, long way to go.

Washington Cube said...

Do you know what I always liked about Carl Sagan? From the time he was a very little boy, he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up...and he was.

ellen abbott said...

Maybe we finally achieved a certain level of knowledge that has forced us out of our 'center of the universe' mindset.