Aside from “Pygmy”, the new novel from Chuck Palahniuk, I am also reading, “Six Easy Pieces” by Richard Feynman. It isn’t so much an actual book, as it is portions of his famed lectures given in the late sixties.
I have taken passages from his books in the past, and with good reason, the man was what everyone should mean when they utilize the term ‘genius’. However, the passage I love the most in anything I have ever read from him is merely a sidebar, an afterthought at the bottom of a page in small print.
Here it is:
“Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars- mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is “mere”. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination- stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million year old light. A vast pattern- of which I am a part- perhaps my stuff was belched from some forgotten star, as one is belching there. Or see them with the greater eye of Palomar, rushing all apart from some common starting point when they were perhaps all together-”
“What is the pattern, or the meaning, or why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined!”
“Why do the poets of the present not speak of it?”
“What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Richard P. Feynman. Nobel Prize winning physicist, Brazilian samba band member, Manhattan project member, the list goes on, and on.
I took the liberty of putting my favorite portions in bold italics.
People speak of Whitman, and Frost, and Dickinson, and so many other poets whose work has lasted generations.
Nobody will ever mention Richard P. Feynman in the same breath.
But they ought to.