Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Two Biggest fears about the search for the meaning of life

The first fear comes from a novel I read many years ago. It was one of the Larry Niven RingWorld Novels although I can't remember which.
To explain the fear I have to first explain to you what ringworld is.

The ringworld is a ribbon about 100 miles wide that circles all the way around its sun. It revolves to give gravity and on the sides of the ribbon are enormously large walls to keep everything contained. The walls extend up into the clouds. This next graphic shows you what I mean. The image on the right is the ringworld around its sun. Everything, including people and creatures live on the inside surface of the ring.
But here is the interesting thing about ringworld. If you are on the surface of the world you can see the ring far off in the distance as it curves. You can follow it up then back down the opposite horizon. By looking at it you think that it is some kind of structure far off in the distance that crosses the entire sky. But actually its just the ring you are walking on. SO, if you walked toward it you would never actually get to that structure sticking up in the horizon you would just be walking on it.
Now the Fear
There is a heroic character in the novel who has made it his life quest to walk to the structure jutting up on the horizon. He has been doing it for a very long time and will not stop until he gets there. Also, he is taking life extending drugs which extend his life into the thousands of years. SO he continues to walk.
It's a tragic quest for understanding, and it was doomed from the start. Yes there is a structure sticking up on the far horizon but yet there really isn't . It is beyond his ability to comprehend.
So, where does that leave me? Am I on a tragic quest that just can't be known? Is it simply beyond my ability to understand? Dunno, but I do know that my quest is my quest and I will continue.
Okie, That first fear was traumatic enough. I will give you the other fear in a future post.

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