In a recent interview with John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” he talked briefly about the title, based on the famous passage from William Shakespeare’s, “Julius Ceasar:”
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” — Act 1, Scene 2
Green believes that there are components from our experience of the world of fate (in our stars) and our choice of actions (in ourselves) that go into determining the outcomes of our lives, and it’s not simply in one or the other. We cannot control everything that happens to us (fate), but we can act definitively in our own best interests (our choices), in spite of whether or not we are required to do so by circumstances.
Caravaggio – “The Fortuneteller,” — circa 1595-98 – Paris – Musée du Louvre
Long ago, when our ancient ancestors had not yet developed a spoken language, communication between individuals likely amounted to posturing and body language which had to be interpreted by one another. By the time we developed sufficient brain capacity and skull architecture to allow formulating rudimentary speech, our intuitive instincts had already developed greatly, and in combination with speech, became all the more compelling as a means to further our ability as humans to construct language.
Two individuals, sufficiently open to intuitive responses today, can almost eliminate the need for speech altogether in the right circumstances, even though we often choose to confirm our intuitive responses through language. Locking eyes with another human being, particularly if it is being done in a positive way, can sometimes communicate far more efficiently than pages of detailed explanations. Under favorable conditions, especially between two individuals mutually inclined, an exchange of eye contact and openness to intuitive sensitivities can produce an urgency toward speech that might not have existed otherwise. This sense of urgency may well have been one of the most important factors in the development of language in the first place.
Emotional responses can also occur without an overtly obvious verbal stimulus and may be the result of intuition, independent of our deliberate intent or conscious choice, and even without our conscious awareness of its presence. When we pick up on intuitive responses, consciously or not, the fault may be in our stars as cognitive and emotional creatures, or it may result from viewing the stars themselves.
A while ago, I took out my telescope and stood out on the back porch gazing upward at the crisply clear wee-hours-of-the-morning sky. The moonless night is most advantageous for stargazing, and after a hectic day or a rough patch anytime, it feels good to connect with something far away. The heavens were dazzling this particular early morning, and as I stood under the canopy of darkness, punctuated by groupings of stars, I felt a twinge of awe. No matter how many times I look up at the starry vault, I can’t help but feel a bit humbled by the implications of the immensity of the world out there. Hundreds of thousands of light years away, some even hundreds of millions of light years distant, are suns of epic proportions, churning out virtually limitless volumes of intense energy, only reaching the mirror at the back of my telescope after a mind-boggling journey from unimaginable distances.
I am inspired by the stars because of the mystery they evoke, the beauty they embody, and the knowledge that they are, in many cases, enormously larger than our own familiar star at the center of our own obscure Milky Way galaxy, created by the same process that is responsible for producing our sun, which provides our life sustaining light and warmth, and governs the cycles of the seasons here on Earth. Our fault is not in our stars, dear reader, but it is not in ourselves completely either.
…more to come…
5 thoughts on “The Fault in Our Stars”
Your eloquent words seem to be a direct contrast to the idea that words can be intrusive but I do enjoy the mind twisting conundrum. So much can be “spoken” with the eyes and the body if both individuals are connected with the soul. According to your writing here, you lean more heavily toward an evolutionary tract so you may find that statement absurd. However, I must wonder what is it that you see when you look at the vastness of space? Does your mind reduce that awe inspiring view to balls of gas, rock, dark matter, and voids just tumbling around haphazardly until two suddenly collide and create the spark of life? As you stated, our own galaxy pales in comparison to many of the enormous giant systems our scientists have located but what about the ones we cannot see yet? The possibilities of life beyond our puny planet are almost certain and our place in all of it…what is it? What is our meaning, why do plod through our daily lives if there is no greater meaning than the possibility of higher evolution? And if we reach the ultimate level of evolution, if that is at all possible, then what happens? Fate is meaningless if we have no end goal. It matters not if I decide to wipe out an entire species on a whim if we are all just tumbling through space waiting for the next stage of evolution to advance us. How many will be able to reach this stage and how likely will that occur since most of humanity is stuck in the dredges of everyday existence preventing them from looking beyond the eternal?
As you stated, fate and our own faults contrive to lead us to an outcome of our own choices. So that would mean that each choice we make, even when we are young and foolish leads us toward the fulfillment of our fated goal. But what is that goal and who determines it, ourselves? God, I hope not for we would all still be clawing our way from the primordial ooze from which your evolutionary ideology suggests. Human beings take most of their lives realizing that their turn on this earth is so brief as to be a whisper in the wind and that each moment they have should mean something, anything, but something. Then you take those who actually come to this understanding, which is a small fraction indeed, and reduce it again to contain those who decide to pursue their purpose and place in creation. Now, we are dealing with a very small portion but it is here where we see wisdom, knowledge, understanding, compassion, love, enlightenment, spirituality in the purest form a human being can obtain. People who reach this apex of their existence understand that the corporal container of their soul is meaningless, that most of human pursuits for greatness are utterly nonsensical, and that evolution is not an alternative to the creator/creation ideology but an accompaniment. If our ideas, thoughts, behaviors, core beings do not strive to evolve toward greater understanding then we become stuck and hope dies with our failure. The rest of the world look at us who dip our wondering toes into the vastness of existence and see odd balls, intellectuals, spiritual nuts and they deem us as abnormal. I agree, wholeheartedly, I never want to be judged normal by the standards of mankind, for I despise what they accept and consider normal.
When humanity looks to the stars they see vastly different things. Some see balls of gas and are able to calculate all the scientific phenomena that they think is occurring, others see fortune and fame through prediction, while still others look and see beyond into a realm that our minds cannot imagine. The sheer overpowering vast beauty of all the possibilities that lay before my eyes allows my soul to soar. How incredibly insignificant I am as an individual and yet, my God chose to create me, me. This is such a humbling thought when looking at all the beauty and majesty surrounding me but especially when looking into the heavens. He created all of this, worlds upon worlds, innumerable universes containing wonders we can only imagine but still he chose to create me and you. Your belief in a creator matters not, for you are here and you are already contributing toward your fate with every choice you make. We hold our destinies in our own hands but there is one who is holding us in his.
Thank you for this great post! I love to think beyond the parameters of the everyday.
Let me begin by expressing my genuine admiration, and great appreciation, for what may well be the most thought-provoking and articulate response I have ever received to date. It was especially gratifying to know that something I wrote inspired you to “think beyond the parameters of the everyday,” and your willingness to share so thoroughly your own personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings, is most welcome at anytime. I am planning to respond at length in another follow-up posting, and I hope you won’t mind if I reference your response when I do, but I feel compelled to respond at least briefly here, since you went to such lengths to share such a considered view.
Since I expend so much energy and effort to share words here, I think I ought to be forgiven for being in favor of providing them and using them in the interest of expressing my ideas at length, and while I agree that in certain circumstances words can not only be viewed as intrusive, but also as superfluous, it is more my feeling generally, that language can, when used sparingly and with the right intention, enhance and supplement what is “spoken with the eyes.” I suppose it is a bit of a conundrum how words can both impair and enhance our experiences depending on the circumstance, but it seems to me, from my research into the development of language in our species, the early humans, when they were finally able to produce vocal utterances in a meaningful way, they did so because there was a compelling advantage that resulted from whatever efforts developed in the process. Obviously, we have no way of knowing definitively how that process unfolded, but since we now possess an extraordinary capacity for grammatical language, there must have been some sort of compelling advantage that was responsible.
What I SEE when I observe the vastness of space isn’t as important as what I FEEL. It may be that I am an aberration in this regard, or perhaps just more sensitive in some way, but I feel CONNECTED to the vastness. In a strange and inexplicable way, I feel as though that open expanse of the universe mirrors something inside me. In a future posting I hope to address this idea in a more comprehensive way, but I hope you will allow me this ambiguity for now, and appreciate that whatever it is that I feel when I look out into the depths of space, that it matters and is important in ways that may not lend themselves well to articulation. I can tell you though, that my view of it is that the depths of space contain much more than simply the elements and components of matter that formed the many galaxies, and my subjective experience of the world we live in, as well as my view of the world outside of our galaxy, intrigues me beyond words.
I think it’s interesting that you expressed some uncertainty about what purpose or point there might be to an evolutionary viewpoint. I do not imply any significance or purpose to the universe beyond what might be possibly discerned by us cognitive sentient beings, but it seems much more likely to me that there must be some purpose to it all, and while evolution works fairly well as a means of describing what we observe in our world, it is not a replacement for purpose, nor does it rule out, in my view, the possible existence of some foundational contribution or resource by a transcendent energy. Evolution is not a theory anymore. It has been established well enough to be considered scientifically sound as a principle. There is more than enough evidence to argue that it is not just likely, but clearly evident as the way the universe works.
I would also argue that there is a much higher percentage of humanity who are NOT “stuck in the dredges of everyday existence,” and I do not agree that “Human beings take most of their lives realizing that their turn on this earth is so brief as to be a whisper in the wind and that each moment they have should mean something, anything, but something.” While we may not fully grasp the meaning of each moment, at every moment, our species, and the many different cultures within it, have cultivated and constructed a variety of frameworks that assist the individuals within those cultures, to not only discover some useful meaning to their existence, but to understand that meaning may only be possible to discern in retrospect. Looking back over a year, or a month, a day, or even just several hours, if we are sufficiently awakened to our world, it may be possible to infer meaning without spending a lifetime in order to achieve it. Your own experience of the world, however broad it might be, may not encompass what the majority of the human species has been able to accomplish in every corner of the world, and I would not presume to characterize the majority of the world by any single criteria, without a more expansive and thorough examination of the broad swath of humanity. This is a debatable area of investigation, and I do not pretend to have a definitive view to share with you, but my feeling is that you may be underestimating humanity somewhat.
Whatever understanding it may be possible to achieve in a lifetime, even achieving a BEGINNING to a greater understanding should, in my view, be heralded as worthwhile, and if we somehow become stuck, I do not believe that hope dies with our failure necessarily at that point. However the world may judge those of us who “dip our wondering toes into the vastness of existence,” it could very well be that those who do ARE normal, and “being normal” should never be a goal or an aspiration, regardless of how the world might judge us in view of how we measure up to whatever standard applies in our time.
No one of us is insignificant. No matter what degree of understanding we have; no matter how we view the stars all around us; no matter how much or how little significance we ATTRIBUTE to our existence, or to the existence of the vastness of the universe, every moment of our existence is a contribution to who we become, and who we become inexorably creates ripples in the universe, like a pebble that is tossed into still waters. We cannot know in advance, and should not underestimate, the importance of our personal contribution to the universe. We cannot affect the consequences of fate. Fate implies circumstances which are beyond our control. Destiny is possible to pursue or to ignore, but we CAN work to achieve our destiny, and to mold it and shape it as our spirit directs us. We must open ourselves to the potentials existent in the universe, or we may atrophy and fall short of achieving what is possible. Even failure contributes to our understanding, and we should not fear it.
Thank you so much for your fabulous comment, and PLEASE continue to share your thoughts and feelings and ideas with me. I welcome your participation with enthusiasm!
Warm regards….John H.
John, your words enthrall my mind and titillate my reason. I love your eloquent use of the language and it becomes almost melodic as my brain interprets each word. You make several good points and I look forward to your next installment. I will reserve further comment and expression of thought until then as it would be redundant for you to answer further until your thoughts are fully revealed. Thank you for your interaction.
Thank you for the privilege of sharing in your engaging and insightful thought process, and for being so nice to me. You have challenged my capacities in a most pleasing way, and I look forward to our continued dialog.