One of the remarkable discoveries which has led to us all now writing in a modernist style is that the Earth is not at the centre of the solar system and therefore man is insignificant; and in his insignificance he finds it impossible to write – in fact, understands that nothing can be written, and writes extensively on the matter (see, for instance, Enrique Vila-Matas – though I can only hazard how tongue-in-cheek he is being – and passim a certain kind of booksblog).
My mind drifts off as I’m reading books. Here’s an example: I was just reading Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s pleasingly absurd thriller The Execution of Justice and came upon the following line:
Symphonies demanded the least of your attention, you could yawn, eat, read, sleep, converse, etc., to them, their music canceled itself out, became inaudible, like the music of the spheres.
which reminded me, of course, of the Pythagorean theory of the music of the spheres which I was reading about the other day in Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle; which in turn led me to think of the passage in that book which stated that ancient scientists seemed actually to have no overwhelming human-centred desire to place the Earth at the centre of all things – were quite happy in fact not to: the Pythagoreans, for instance, placed some kind of unseen fire (not the Sun) at the centre of all things, around which the Earth orbited (as well as a mysterious counter-Earth, which cannot be seen and can only be deduced from eclipses of the moon). And then I was thinking that generally in the Ancient World, no one much seemed to think there was anything particularly special or significant about man: I thought of the Book of Ecclesiastes which, so far as I remember, spends an awful lot of time puncturing man’s self-confidence and generally doing him down.
Is it Christianity, then, with its terra-centric view of the universe, which proclaims the significance of man? – Well, not of the individual certainly. A religion hasn’t been created which spends more of its time denigrating any claim a man might have in pride of thought or achievement.
So perhaps finding we rotate in a different manner hasn’t had the effect on our literature than we’d thought. Anyway, I’ll be getting back to my novel now…