Nicolas Nelson Sec 1A, Midterm

Nicolas Nelson Sec 1A, Midterm
Des|MA 9, Lecture 1, Section A. General education requirement fulfilled, 5.0 credits earned. One more gear in the machine that is our undergraduate program here at UCLA, itself an infinitesimal yet invaluable gadget in the wheels of our lives, which turn, in turn, the hands of time itself (we have debated as to what those hands are made of—an additional dimension, freedom of motion, what?).
In any case, on paper and for some in practice, this course is ideal. “Easy GE,” you might say. But for the aspiring renaissance men and women enrolled, this is a vortex in the space-time of our lifelines. Whether it’s perceived as a massive turning point or a quick blip, I doubt anyone can deny the gravity of what we are exploring. Although I personally may not be able to delve quite so deep or articulate quite so acutely the conceptions we ponder, but I do know that my whole life science (to which I formerly equated technology; I know better now) and art have been integrally conjoined. From the beauty of zero to the robotic age, this course has been surreal to me, not because of the bizarreness of our topics, but the fact that we are finally seeing—hearing—discussing—creating all the things that have been coursing the recesses of my mind from childhood but never found the courage nor the time to slide down out my tongue or crawl through a pen out of my fingers. And here it is, quantized into a physical medium. Although I suppose our thoughts, at an indecipherable level, are chemical and quantized in themselves…
I think it’s interesting that our worldviews are formulated through such limited measurements. Certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation make up the light, and we can decipher it and its amplitude and map the obstacles around us with binocular perspective. Pressure waves stimulate our ears. We can balance via internal fluids, and sense where in space our bodies are oriented. We can detect deep and light pressure, temperature, and irritation. Odors from stimulated air in turn stimulate the taste buds. And that’s it; five sentences wrap up how we take the world in (each susceptible to distortion from things as simple as synesthesia and color blindness, or even illness, drunkenness, and death), yet there’s such a wealth of knowledge, or at least what we accept as truth. “Mortal” is truly a beautiful and enigmatic word.
Why is it that mankind has questioned its own mechanism and sought to make its sentience an empirical device? Isn’t appreciating its complexity and transcendence enough? Or is one impossible without the other? I leave question marks because I do not know the answer, though I would tend to lean toward the latter. The “third culture,” whether they believe and set off to find proof or seek proof in order to believe, follows the latter approach, endeavoring though scientific hands and artistic eyes to build up the edifice that is our race. Some build for health, some for beauty, some justice and truth. I suspect many don’t know why they build, as long as they are building “up.” And so the desperate chase for artificial selection ensues.
This pursuit is too slow for humankind biologically, so instead some turn to industrialization, and so ensue robotics, kinetic art, and manufacturing over breeding. Surely the great contributors’ names are heard again and again, as is fitting (so that advancements remain attributed to humans and their sweat, not cold truths born and assembled independently by the cosmos): Tesla, Edison, Westinghouse, etc. Those who cannot produce a reproducible legacy fade faster upon the backdrop canvas of history. In a sense, the movers and shakers are less mortal, and perhaps greatness is their curse; we, the unheard creators, though we may never be what a world in constant spin would denominate as “great,” are unique and mortal indeed. If there were a such thing as a “spirit”—100% human—and it was self-aware, personally I think it would rather inhabit a silent “tortured artist” or “mad scientist” than a great politician, but any mortal would do—one whose death is a snuffing microscopic to the celestial scale, yet each infinitely exceptional.
I firmly believe I have learned that it is a beautiful thing to live and therefore die—great bookends to a greater experience. Come, Father Time—take all I have! John Keats can finish for me: “When old age shall this generation waste,/ Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe/ Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,/ “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” - that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” (“Ode on a Grecian Urn” l. 45-50).

Comments are closed.