A Christmas Wish.

Things fall apart, Yeats wrote. He didn’t know the half of it.

He was obsessed with trivia: Humanity, Good and Evil, angry imaginary gods. But it’s not just some rickety social construct coming apart at the seams. It’s the whole fucking universe. There’s no second coming for our cosmos, no Big Crunch after the Bang, no comforting closed cycle of annihilation and renewal. Einstein’s accursed constant pushes galaxy from galaxy, world from world, in a spiral of endless increasing isolation; it may have been Let There Be Light back at the overture but after all this drama the final curtain falls on an empty stage. We get lonelier with each second. And if somebody doesn’t do something in the next ten or fifteen billion years, everyone else ― everything else ― just vanishes.

If I say yes, maybe I can get a head start.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday December 25 2013at 10:12 am , filed under fiblet . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

26 Responses to “A Christmas Wish.”

  1. Thanks Peter, i thought i was going to go all Christmas without feeling isolated and lonely!

  2. It’s worse than that. It might already have happened.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-12/uosd-cot121213.php

  3. Great. Jusssssst great.

    Merry fucking Christmas, Universe.

  4. Guessing there’s reason for condolences. Very sorry, whatever that may be.

  5. Well, the center of your back did not hold, anyway…

  6. Good to see the back isn’t making you grumpy and negative!

    Hope you and your family have a good holiday

  7. I myself generally feel like crap in the short days of winter. Most people seem to be either unaffected or able to deal with it by putting on party after party after celebration after observance. Sadly, for me and for a select few others — generally very smart people with plenty of emotional capacity — the only reasonable thing to do is to retreat from the parties and blow off the observances and humbug the celebrations.

    Sure feels like the universe is ending! The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder and the lines at the stores are getting longer, and clearly there will be some point at which it all folds in on itself and poof it’s all one big black hole of ick, now and forever. We’ll be in some collapsed universe where daytime is measured in negative numbers, and the population of the entire universe is all stuck in one endless unmoving queue out there in the snowdrifts. And then you start getting e-mails on your cellphone telling you that the only way to get your Target store credit card information fixed is to respond to the mail with your most secret numbers and phrases.

    Fortunately, in this present life, once the solstice has gone past, everything except for the Target phishing scams will improve. The lines go away, daylight comes again and more of it comes every day, ice melts, and finally people don’t need any excuses to have a party, it’s the spring party season and it’s true celebration of return of life, rather than desperation fending off mournful thoughts skirting the edges of morbidity and death.

    As to the universe, collapse is imminent, film at eleven, I used to live in abject terror of the sun becoming a Red Giant star and swallowing up all of the inner planets, including earth. And I’ll be in even worse abject terror if I should live another billion or so years and actually see this come to pass. I guess it’ll be the worst ever if I should live so long as to see the whole universe collapse and not rise to greet us on the next Easter morning. ;)

    Summary: Sure, ultimate death of the universe may be inevitable and final. In the meantime, take heart from the words of “the Preacher”, commonly known as “Ecclesiastes”. Now there was a man who knew how to express depression and the pointlessness of it all… and to find ways to go on living to become famous long after his death, even putting the lie to his own words “…and in the days to come, they who live then will remember nothing of us or our times”.

    In the meanwhile, as I wait for the irrevocable end of the universe, I suppose I could read a few more Peter Watts stories, if he’d be kind enough to write them.

    Best wishes for longer daylight,

  8. whoever,

    Note that this post is categorized as a fiblet (i.e. a fiction fragment) — possibly a follow-up to the “Hot Shot” fiblet posted earlier this month.

  9. Doh! Thx.

  10. My Christmas’s misanthropist wish:
    That this…Bent, twisted, crooked, warped, contorted, deformed, misshapen, out of shape, irregular’s homo sapiens species star to become extinc at once and for the good of earth and the rest of the universe and for the good any other sapiens and non-sapiens alien species that could make first contact with us sooner or later.

  11. Thanks, Peter. The perfect antidote to my uplifted mood, due to a wonderful concert of Christmas music with everyone singing, being happy, and enthused by being drawn together.

  12. I actually find myself laughing out loud at this, enjoying the Hulk-smash to the head trueness of it. Christmas? Fun, momentary, delusional. The end of our particular universe? Crickets. I’m still chuckling.

  13. Posted under “fiblet”? In abject embarrassment I stand corrected for my circuitous little pep-talk. Sorry folks, thought I’d detected suicidal mentation, not the artist’s depiction of that.
    So just paint me red, blue, and flightless and call me a dodo. Peter, that was convincing as fuck. I think.

  14. I don’t buy the universal expansion model — it doesn’t fit the elegant symmetry that informs the rest of existence (i.e. expansion and contraction). As you and I discussed once, we simply don’t know enough to make any sort of absolute statements on the topic. I prefer to believe in renewal — if there’s evidence either way, or so little evidence we can’t make a good call, I’ll put my bet on the theory that doesn’t suck.

  15. @Mr. Non-Entity

    I’m still half-thinking he chose that snippet due to back pain.

    I pried a dead 10″ rat (body length) out of a friend’s stove top for Christmas. I’m thinking that’s more Harmony Korine than Werner Herzog, but still in the holiday spirit.

  16. Fiblets and Christmas puddin’ … is there a better combination?

    Totally OT:
    Beyond the Rift. Thanks Peter.

  17. Merry Christmas to you too, Peter :p

  18. “In those moments, which were eternal I assure you, I had no location in the universe, nothing to grasp for that minimum of security which every creature needs merely to exist without suffering from the sensation that everything is spinning ever faster on a cosmic carousel with only endless blackness at the edge of that wheeling ride. I know that your condition differs from mine, and therefore you have no means by which to fully comprehend my ordeals, just as I cannot fully comprehend yours. But I do acknowledge that both our conditions are unendurable, despite the doctor’s second-hand platitude that nothing in this world is unendurable. I’ve even come to believe that the world itself, by its very nature, is unendurable. It’s only our responses to this fact that deviate: mine being predominantly a response of passive terror approaching absolute panic; yours being predominantly a response of gruesome obsessions that you fear you might act upon.”
    Thomas Ligotti, ‘My Case for Retributive Action’ (‘Teatro Grottesco’).

  19. “Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of ‘world history’, but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. – One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.”
    Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’.

  20. “In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It’s just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It’s like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that’s now been taken away and hidden. The graphite’s not important. It’s just the means of revealing the indentations. So you see, astrology’s nothing to do with astronomy. It’s just to do with people thinking about people.”
    Douglas Adams

  21. It turns out we might be able to leave.

  22. Nice fiblets, of late :-)
    Sorry ’bout your back. I did howl though, but uhm. Yeah. Count me as another little sociopath. Get well soon! Keep the fiblets coming…

  23. “And if somebody doesn’t do something in the next ten or fifteen billion years…”

    BBC Far Future timeline

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140105-timeline-of-the-far-future

  24. Ben Trafford,

    Have not seen the previous discussion you refer to, but you seem to imply that there was some agreement between you and Peter Watts that the evidence for the expansion of the universe was something that, “…we simply don’t know enough to make any sort of absolute statements on the topic.”

    Perhaps any knowledge of cosmology developed since the 1920s, including any knowledge of the work of Edwin Hubble has completely escaped you. Or perhaps I am feeding a troll–I see no way that it would have escaped Peter Watts.

    But I like to maintain a positive outlook, and it isn’t as if the heat death of the universe will occur next week. So I choose to “believe” or “buy” that Traffordian levels of ignorance exist purely to provide me a brief moment of entertainment. Which you have done, and I thank you. If it was a willing act, I doubly thank you for the very clear sacrifices you have made, and I can but hope that you will publish your methods, that others may remain as ignorant, and entertain me as well.

  25. “Let us assume that we can speak meaningfully of a somewhat unified force of anthropathology. Where, though, can we place its origins? This is the subject of anthropathogenesis: where did man first (and subsequently) ‘go wrong’? Of course, there may be a degree of nonsense in the term ‘first’, as if we could scientifically pinpoint the moment or even era in which this definitively took place (although see DeMeo, 2006; Taylor, 2005). And the putative ‘wrong turn’ was presumably not in any sense a consciously chosen or avoidable one but is, rather, a retrospective hypothesis. But we do have ample myths and clues and it is open to us to speculate. How far back must we go ? Some historical analysts limit such time travel to the industrial revolution, the Dark Ages or the Biblical era. There is some logic in limiting ourselves to the time of ‘man’ during evolution. But it is tempting to ask whether we have any signs of ‘things being awry’ even before humans evolved. Indeed, theologians have had to wrestle with such questions for many centuries (Vardy, 1992 ). Similarly, ethologists and psychologists studying cross-species psychopathology ask to what extent there are commonalities between problematic human and non-human behaviour, and why (Maestripieri, 2005). Technically, however, this raises the objection that anthropathology might then cease to be the correct term. Are we searching for clues to prehuman or parallel zoopathology, ontopathology or cosmopathology? Or even a pathology of God (if we were to concede that ‘he’ might exist)?”
    Colin Feltham, ‘What’s Wrong With Us.The Anthropathology Thesis”.

  26. “Except for one. The one. The only question I’ve ever wanted an answer to – is she the one? The answer bloody well isn’t forty-two, it’s yes. Undoubtedly, unequivocally, unabashedly yes. And for one week, one week in my sad little blip of an existence, it made me happy.”