something both comforting and distressingly real about infinity.
Lamniscates hold a fascination for what seems like every great thinker of the modern day. Whether it’s David Foster Wallace, or poor Kurt Gödel (yo-de-lay-hee-hoo); from Joyce to DeLillo to why am I only thinking of writer’s.
There’s something comforting about infinity because we can’t really verify it empirically – we live in a finite universe made of limited particles and atoms – but we know it’s there.
It’s sort of like the mathematical equivalent of god.
Think about it long enough, and in the right weird romantic mindset, and it makes some semblance of sense.
You can’t look at something infinite; hell, you can’t even think of something infinite; hell, you’re barely capable of perceiving 100 people in a room accurately; hell, Dante’s inferno has limits to its perceptions.
But infinity can be represented in so many ways; but only finitely, weirdly enough.
You have the lamniscate — the figure 8 doo-dad — and fractals, you have recursive loops and places that begin on the point where they end — I see you Infinite Jest/Finnegans Wake/Hand.Cannot.Erase/The Wall/Nonagon infinity. The concept of things never ending is something endlessly appealing .
Man, I saw that pun from a mile away, and I let it happen anyway. Fate has a funny way of being like that.
But back to the endless: infinity is never ending, it’s shapeless, you can’t pinpoint it, you can’t control, you can’t limit it. It just is. It goes on forever. It has no start, and no end. You can’t even think of it, but it has the enviable quality of limitlessness.
It is everything that humanity isn’t.
It’s so distressingly hard to realize that in the realm of infinite time, and space, 1 yoctosecond and a Googoldecaplex (Googol folloed by ten googols of zeroes…wrong google) are the same amount of time relative to infinity.
Infinity doesn’t have to worry about looking good. Infinity doesn’t have to keep a schedule. Infinity doesn’t have to care. It just gets to be infinite, and unknowable.
It is all that is theoretically possible. It is the best versions of me that I’m too ashamed to admit I’d actually like to be. It is elegant and so large as to be humanly non-sensical, but utterly honest.
It’s a comfort.
It renders meaningless, those things we hold most dear. It is the what next moment you keep asking yourself. It is that second where you anticipate the next moment, and the next moment.
And it’s easy to fall in love with.
When there is no end, there is no end. Life continues on its spectrum, but will never reach its terminus. You won’t have Severian the Torturer holding a big ass sword to chop off your head. It’s the limitless potential of man. And I’m waxing way too poetic tonight.
But again, I love infinity. and I like being self-referential. Self-reference is a thing of beauty, when done correctly.
When you’re self-referential and utilitarian, you make statements about you, yourself, your art, and whatever else you were trying to say. You create a sense of illusory accountability.
When you get meta, it’s like anti-inception. You’re taking everyone out of the dream river you’ve been letting them float along. You pluck them from the Dorcan softness and golden haired grandmothers; and you put them back in reality.
You get to make sense, even though making sense isn’t very fun.
I think the most appealing thing about infinity is that it is nothing. It is the essence of paradox. It is the paradox of paradoxes. It is like something that is very very very hot feeling the same sharp intensity of a dagger against your skin that something very very very cold is.
Like the Taoists: everything is nothing.
And that’s why there’s…