Thursday, December 28, 2006


the world we live in

I defaced a book. The above-pictured-book was sitting on the top of a pile of books at the Bins. For those of you unaquainted with the the phenomenon affectionately known as the "bins," imagine a warehouse. Imagine large plywood bins, about waist-high and as wide and broad as a car. Now fill them with the flotsam and jetsam of a crass materialist society; from last-year's fashions, to broken appliances, to stale decorative objects. Savvy buyers wear rubber gloves and bring their own bags. Everything is past its date, passe, quaint, obsolete, a has-been. I saw this book and I immediately wondered whose world were they are they talking about? The illustration reminded me of the old sixties covers of the Ring Trilogy. I was so taken by the "world" it presented with such assurance that I tore it off and purchased it. I have never seen that place. I have never even seen a full eclipse. Joshua trees I have seen in abundance, but not juxtaposed with livid poppies and palm trees. Yet the cover confidently states "the world we live in."

This Won't Be a Science Lesson

This entry was originally going to be about the "infinite complexity" of God. Then I felt completely inadequate for the task, especially after I looked it up in the wiki. I realized that if I succeeded, no one would be any closer to God and I would sound arrogant and ridiculous. I have been seriously questioning what I thought about God lately. Not that that changes who or what God is, but I was more intrigued by my own assumptions, experiences and how that papered my inner landscape.

More Dissonance

I was talking to a friend recently, and he went on about God-this and God-that and after a while I realized that his concept of God did not match up with mine at all. While the words were the same, the underlying concepts were startlingly different. What made my God better than his? Clearly my God was more likable, a little less involved and spent a lot of time painting the sunsets and making dragonflies. His God sounded like sounded more like a cosmic Dale Carnegie-- deeply involved with forwarding his career and full of good advice, but hardly touching anything poetic or numinous.

But God is Not a Tree

I wondered how God could continue to be His unchanging self, yet present different things to my friend. That is why I thought the idea of "infinite complexity" could be helpful. Trees are in a limited way "infinitely complex." If God was a tree and I was an ant crawling on a twig, I'd experience something like a Y. The twig branches, and I'd have a choice which branch to continue to crawl on. If I was a child, the tree would still be a Y, albeit, much bigger. I could start at the trunk and swing on the branches. If I was a giant, the tree would be small, but it still would have a Y nature. Even if I was a worm, digging in the dirt in the roots, I'd still be finding Ys.

Resolution, Schmesolution

Its the end of the post, and I still can't find a resolution between the books in the bins, other people's gods and what I know.


John B. said...

This is a rich, suggestive post; too bad my comment cannot be the same. I think a place to start in your search for a resolution, though, might be in thinking on the composite nature of the cover compared/contrasted with how, as you note, we don't--we cannot--experience the world (and certainly not God) whole and entire.

chiefbiscuit said...

This is an exquisite piece of writing - yet know it is more, far more, than that. It's healthy to question - I love your questions. My God likes to paint and make dragonflies too! Maybe they should meet up, they might get along!

LOVE that cover - it looks like a world gone forever somehow ...

Camille said...

hey John B, thanks for the thought-provoking comment. You are giving me more to think about. (gah!)

and chief, as ever, thanks for the cavalcade of encouragement. :)

Lori Witzel said...

Found you through Blog Meridian, which I found through something else I can't recall, which leads me to believe I'd get lost wandering through my own living room.

Anyway, this was just a peach of a post -- flavorful questions, implicit controversy, good writing, and a mysterious book cover depicting a fevered time when commercial artists roamed the world with gouache.

I sure hope I remember to come back and visit more...(Ah! Yes! Must use the bookmark thingie!)

Paul Decelles said...

Nice post...I am reminded of something Richard Dawkins says in the God Delusion. Namely that if God were to be involved in every aspect of the Universe-being all knowing all seeing, God would have to be at least as complex as the Universe and Dawkins finds that very improbable. Whether he is right about that I don't know.

Be very careful about the use of the word complexity. Fractals may be infinately recursive but be produced by a very simple procedure and hence not complex at all.

The picture made me think of Gauguin, its a wide eyed idealization of the world; a world as the painter might want it to be versus what it really is.

The elevens said...

Chesterton on God and nature:

"For grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony, but perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy seperately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore."
From: Orthodoxy, Chapter 4, 1908.

Not sure what, if anything, this illuminates, but your sunset-painting, dragonfly-making God reminded us of this one.

The elevens

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