The Melancholaholic

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To Apprehend the Incomprehensible

📚 Robert MacFarlane:

“Above all, geology makes explicit challenges to our understanding of time. It giddies the sense of here-and-now. The imaginative experience of what the writer John McPhee memorably called ‘deep time’ — the sense of time whose units are not days, hours, minutes or seconds but millions of years or tens of millions of years — crushes the human instant; flattens it to a wafer. Contemplating the immensities of deep time, you face, in a way that is both exquisite and horrifying, the total collapse of your present, compacted to nothingness by the pressures of pasts and futures too extensive to envisage. And it is a physical as well as a cerebral horror, for to acknowledge that the hard rock of a mountain is vulnerable to the attrition of time is of necessity to reflect on the appalling transience of the human body.

Yet there is also something curiously exhilarating about the contemplation of deep time. True, you learn yourself to be a blip in the larger projects of the universe. But you are also rewarded with the realization that you do exist — as unlikely as it may seem, you do exist.”

See also: The vast reaches of the cosmos viewed through the James Webb Space Telescope. The Duino Elegies. This. And this, this, and this.

All things that till the soil of my imagination, allowing me to apprehend the incomprehensible. What does this for you?