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About jamesm334

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  1. Wow. Thank you, everyone, for all of your thoughtful responses. You all have found ways to articulate some important ideas that are not easy to put into words. Brantuk, your idea that we have an "innate desire" to "understand" and "tell stories" was a great way to begin the thread. Telling stories is what we do, isn't it, regardless of what language we use (verse? physics?)? James, the human condition is at the root of lots of literary studies, and for you to tie it into the "story" of astronomy was very helpful. Our "insignificance" was a common topic, and I suppose I would add that--if we are to invoke Heisenberg, as some of you have--our "insignificance" might be flipped to become "significance" according to how we observe our place in the cosmos? Other answers spoke to our inner and outer universes (great metaphor there), as well as finding simplicity or simple answers (think about how much more effective it is to give someone a simple answer even in everyday life, as opposed to one that is long and drawn out). And aren't we trying to offer answers that sum up grand ideas, even in this very thread? Also, although I know Carl Sagan isn't for everyone, I believe the references to his work speak to his passion and talent for introducing the stars into people's lives (including mine - 'Pale Blue Dot' had quite an impact on me when I first read it). The poet I'm focusing on for this piece is Robinson Jeffers, who embraced many of these ideas in some way in his verse, and you all have helped me uncover several interesting parallels between his work and some of the popular philosophy of his time (Modernism/early 20th century). He was discovering his place in the universe (as Hubble had described it and as we understand it when we're first learning astronomy), and it seems that we, as lovers of the stars, share a lot of the ideas he expresses in his poems. If you are interested, please feel free to continue this thread or start similar ones with questions of your own. I am very grateful for your reflections, and I have very much enjoyed the responses (particularly the ones regarding kit-vs.-clouds! ). Gratefully, Mitchell (jamesm334)
  2. Greetings, all: I am writing a Master's thesis on astronomy and literature (specifically poetry), and I am looking for a good introduction on what the two share in common. I have been reading Chet Raymo's essays in "The Soul of the Night", and those have been quite helpful in thinking about the topic. But I thought it would be much more helpful to cast a net here. Does anyone know any particularly poignant statements on why we look at the stars or why we write poetry (or, ideally, both!). If you don't know any good quotes, please feel free to share your own thoughts. Certainly this many keen minds can arrive at a poignant statement of our own. Why do we look at the stars? Why do we write literature? Are writers and astronomers looking for the same thing in the end? Gratefully, jamesm334
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