Clock Quotes

It is easier to accept the message of the stars than the message of the salt desert. The stars speak of man’s insignificance in the long eternity of time; the deserts speak of his insignificance right now.
– Edwin Way Teale

2 responses to “Clock Quotes

  1. Luna_the_cat

    I can’t get behind this. We may be individually insignificant, but in terms of species and planetary history, I would say we are at least as significant as the other various catastrophic events which have prompted mass extinctions.
    Not saying that’s a *good* thing, but just sayin’.
    Plus, of course, the claim that “humans are too insignificant to do what is being claimed” is a common fallback excuse for people who refuse to accept climate change, or the need to protect biodiversity and similar issues, as well as being completely inaccurate. So “profound philosophical statments” that play into that are not necessarily helpful.

  2. Hm… That is one way to understand this, Luna, and I can only agree with all what you say! Unfortunately I have witnessed too many times people abusing some facts to prove the opposite or to support their statement, although the very same fact I can use to support my statement, which is completely opposite from theirs. It is not an issue in the quote itself (or the fact), it is more if a person is prone to adjust that via reasoning, or is lazy and that kind of quote will only give them excuse not to move their little finger and do something.
    However, like with many other facts/things/quotes that can be used and misused, with this quote is the same: it depends on your own experience and current thinking. Now, I think this quote is great reminder, as for what I have been through, I find just the lack of humbleness in human species to be a major obstacle in any progress (I am talking about sustainable development with the most possible reduction of negative impact our species has). I think it is universal as it can be applied any time, anywhere, to anything. We tend to discuss “star” matters (say if such and such celebrity is having affair or not), but to neglect “desert” of real life, it might be your very own who suffers because you pay attention to what “stars” do. Or as a dear friend of mine said long time ago in an essay “when I was 16, I knew couple of theories about the black holes, but about people – I was completely ignorant”. Isn’t it easier to accept the message that comes from a far, thus whatever you understood will not affect you at this moment, and your ego can grow so easily, as there is nothing to say you misunderstood it, rather than step into the reality of the desert where in matter of hours, if not less, you will learn very painfully what you are supposed to do and take action. See, I spoke of hypothetical “you” that is anyone of us Homo sapiens individuals, I think quite opposite about the quote: that getting some hot headed climate change deniers into the desert might teach them lesson far faster than talking about stars. Give them a bottle of water and send them out there (I lived in Arizona, I know exactly what desert is like and what amount of respect it deserves), and let them survive for 10 days without golf courses that are spending unreasonable amount of water, or millions of pools in the middle of the desert, or insane chilled air conditioned spaces. Why do every other house has to have a pool? Why temperature needs to be so low that you need a sweater? Do they know how much of energy it spends and how much more the environment is polluted due to that extensive spending and not thinking? Do they ever think of the permanent consequences that water take has on the natural habitats? Do they know when they go fishing to the artificial lakes or natural lakes with introduced invading species what are the effects?
    How I understand, amongst other ways, as this is really universal quote, we are insignificant in comparison to other species and nature, and it will hit us hard if we don’t do something. Let’s be less ego maniacs and try to reduce our negative impact. It is not important if one has a million dollar car. It is important if you can do something to save this wonderful place. So in terms of quote: “The stars speak of man’s insignificance in the long eternity of time” is easy to disregard while “the deserts speak of his insignificance right now” is a painful reminder to do something with our own existence with more humbleness and to take it much more seriously what we do to this planet.
    I am sure, Luna, that we are on the same page 🙂