catapult magazine

catapult magazine


I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning


Feb 16 2005
01:23 am

not only are there varying levels of hopelessness, the mathematician Georg Cantor demonstrated that there are varying levels of infinity

While studying a problem in analysis, he had dug deeply into its “foundations,” especially sets and infinite sets. What he found flabbergasted him so much that he wrote to a friend: “I see it but I don’t believe it.”. In a series of papers from 1874 to 1897, he was able to prove among other things that the set of integers had an equal number of members as the set of even numbers, squares, cubes, and roots to equations; that the number of points in a line segment is equal to the number of points in an infinite line, a plane and all mathematical space; and that the number of transcendental numbers, values such as pi that can never be the solution to any algebraic equation, were much larger than the number of integers. Interestingly, the Jesuits also used his theory to “prove” the existence of God and the Holy Trinity. However, Cantor, who was also an excellent theologian, quickly distanced himself away from such “proofs.”

which begs the question: which infinite abyss are you suggesting we have fun exploring?

Honk if you love non-sequitirs.

On a more serious note, true hopelessness is the absolute negation of being, which is to me a good description of damnation. Even the bleakest, most Beckettian, most existentially absurdist play/book/film/song contains a glimmer of hopefulness, because the very act of creation is fundamentally an act of hope, no matter how dark the subject-matter. I don’t think we ever experience true hopelessness (fortunately) in life, but I think a lot of what we see comes close. Some people cut themselves as a relief from the numbness they feel, just to remind themselves that they CAN feel. That comes close. Maybe it would be worse if they simply accepted the numbness, but we seem to have a pretty powerful built-in need to feel, to resist damnation in spite of everything, like an animal that will chew off a leg to get out of a trap. Even suicide, horrible as it is, is sometimes understood as a need to assert control, to act as an individual, to make a choice, even if it is so clearly the wrong choice.