While I could not remember who exactly—Anaxagoras, Democritus, Plato, or Aristotle–somebody had claimed that for all things that come into being, there is decay. And me, I had for most of my life, for the eternity of it, held this precept as close to my chest as Roy Batty holds a white dove to his own. For that is not all. No, there are moments of decay’s beautiful impermanence to behold. Seeing the child looking at the sand pouring from between the small fingers of the child’s even smaller hands. The paws of raccoons having left their marks behind the overturned garbage cans in the mud. The smiles on photographs of unknown relatives before they are burnt up behind the closed metal doors of the woodstove forever. The sweetness of the smell of blackberries in a large, glass bowl just picked. The ubiquitous rattling of a brood of cicadas portending my death if not in the next seventeen years, then in the next seventeen years after that. And after summer rainstorms, too, the forest is spotted here and there with the wildest growth of things—mushrooms and fungi of different colors, different shapes. They stand so briefly whose spores will fall out in a day or two like red rubies tumbled from a fallen crown. While alive they have an animation that defies the natural order of things, as if to say they alone have the privilege and the momentary pride to halt time itself, for just as long as they are able to support themselves, and no more.
It had been an aside in a chemistry lecture. Maybe there had been some sort of presentation about covalent bonds, or spdf orbitals, all of which was forgotten over time. Well, not exactly. The understanding of quantums and the minimal amount of energy necessary for an electron to move from one level to another stuck with him. This meant that when people referred to “quantum leaps” as meaning huge jumps in reasoning, or sudden galactic increases in human understanding or technology, he knew how wrong that was. Really, a quantum leap or ‘jump’ was the least amount of barely anything measurable, or, for that matter, imaginable.
But the real point to Introduction to Chemistry, was Dr. Pearson’s stray comment, the aside mentioned here at the beginning: “Nature doesn’t care an iota for the life of Man.” This was just an objective fact being asserted, just as a chair with three legs that is supposed to have four will fall down. It was a slap in the face to the more palatable, and more acceptable, evolutionists’ notion that Nature cared not about survival of the individual but survival of the species. Well. Who cares? Nature not.
This basically blew apart to smithereens the anthropomorphic conceit that was critically observed by John Ruskin and subsequently referred to as the “pathetic fallacy,” in literary circles. But, without having to go there (just click the link), even crazy android Roy Batty subscribes to this Man-nature-love in his famous, last “Tears in rain” moment during the closing minutes of Blade Runner, which we all have seen, or which we must. Here, the idea of human sadness as represented by wet tears is connected directly with the wet raindrops in Nature. In fact, they have converged. Their confluence makes them indistinguishable. Nature is sad, people are sad. They are both wet and sad. Such is his own technical induction into the world of his own moribund humanity, alas the day. Well, maybe Nature does not, but Do Electric Sheep [Still] Dream at Night?