Thursday, January 07, 2010

So unimportant that is important

I seriously think humanities delusion of self-importance and arrogance will be its end. These two fantastic videos allow me to demonstrate my point.

This video demonstrates the proportions of the Earth, the Sun, the Solar System, Milky Way, other galaxies, and the known Universe. I don't think any human language has a word capable describing how small our planet earth is (*). Seen from a cosmic scale, our little blue world is vanishingly insignificant. This is the first part of mans misplaced notion of self-importance. If our world were the only significant object in the Universe, humanity might have been justified in feeling important. After all, we would be the "owners" of the universe. But this is not the case, we are the inhabitants of an insignificant rock formation in the universe, which is unspeakably bigger in scale.

However, it is precisely this spatial insignificance that makes this rock formation revolving around the sun so important. As far as we know, we are the only planet in this huge universe on which Life has evolved. It is as if we are on a sand grain on the Copacabana beach, and are the only one on the beach to appreciate the beauty of it.

However, mankind's misplaced notion of self-importance comes into play when we consider Life itself. Humans tend to think we are somehow different and superior to other life forms. The more we learn about life, the less significant these distinctions become. The next video has samples of an Orang Utan paddling a boat with her hand, with her offspring on her lap. It also features a monkey holding onto branches of two trees, forming a bridge, on which her offspring can move. Ravens, octopuses, plants which fake illnesses, bacteria cities. Intelligence -once thought to be the thing that makes humans special- is springing everywhere. Furthermore, we are literally brothers with each and every life form . Philosophers and mystics like to talk about "essence." If one defines the essence as being alive and this is transported from parent to the offspring, you and I, and the bacteria on your hands are share the same essence that goes back to the first self replicating organisms. Thus, when one considers the multitude of life, humans are again an insignificant part of a whole, which is vastly bigger.

Again, it is this insignificance that makes us humans extremely important. As far as we know, we are the only species that can appreciate and learn this fascinating cosmos. Furthermore, we are responsible for the survival of life as a whole in the planet.

These are the themes in this great remix using samples of the voices of David Attenborough, Jane Goodall and Carl Sagan:

It is also the only song I can listen to, that uses auto tuning...

(*)In fact Douglas Adams had used this fact in his Hitchiker's Guide as a torture device called Total Perspective Vortex. Thanks to American Museum of Natural History and Youtube, we can have our this device in our browsers.


atakee said...

Thanks for reminding me of these videos Ahmet, and what you've written is like a poem, nice to read, but the point you're trying to make is still unclear, i must add..

Ahmet C. Toker said...

thanks ercan. I revised my post, hoe it makes my point more clear.

i think we need a fresh answer to the question of who we are. only then will we be able to change the way live. this is what pinar wrote in her blog which i wanna recite:

Hayatımızı nasıl yaşıyoruz sorusundan daha temel bir sorudan bahsediyor bu şarkı: Ne olduğumuz sorusu bu. Bu sorunun cevabı hayatımızı nasıl yaşayacağımızı da belirleyebilir. Belirlemeli de.

e. pınar said...

I like the way you explain the whole story. We live on a very very tiny and insignificant planet
in the universe. But this planet earth is the only planet on which "life" exists (to the best of our knowledge). On the other hand,
we -humans- are just a member of the animal kingdom, more specifically we are just primates, not so different than a bonobo or tarsier. But we are the only bunch of animals trying to understand the entire universe. Very ironic. And you're right, our main problem is our self-importance.