More Updike

Apropos Kerouac’s Sal Paradise feeling like “a speck on the surface of the sad red earth,” the following from John Updike on the influence of science on our sense of our place in the universe:

The non-scientist’s relation to modern science is basically craven: we look to its discoveries and technology to save us from disease, to give us a faster ride and a softer life, and at the same time we shrink from what it has to tell us of our perilous and insignificant place in the cosmos. Not that threats to our safety and significance were absent from the pre-scientific world, or that arguments against a God-bestowed human grandeur were lacking before Darwin. But our century’s revelations of unthinkable largeness and unimaginable smallness, of abysmal stretches of geological time when we were nothing, of supernumerary galaxies and indeterminate subatomic behavior, of a kind of mad mathematical violence at the heart of matter have scorched us deeper than we know.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, A Far Distant Howl, and biophemera all, for leading me this passage.


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