Carl Sagan. Always….

Essential viewing…..For those times, when the inexplicable injustices of the world grip you (such as several recent miscarriages of justice in Florida’s legal system), for those tumultuous political/social times when a form of hateful discord grips people of different communities, colors and religions – and you understand the futility of such group-think, for the times you need answers or just peace or closure – helpless at your inability to reconcile with justified anger at certain man-made systems, for the times you wonder about your “place” in the world, for the times you need to get out of the abyss of excessive navel-gazing myopic views and understand the fallacies of our anthropocentric world; and for the times when the sheer scale of the Universe and imagining its immensity becomes akin to a spiritual experience……… For the times when perspectives of a wise and ethical astrophysicist, ecologist, anthropologist or scientist-philosopher, and based on proven facts, makes much more sense than any subjective opinions blindly followed……..For the times when knowledge sets one free, while ignorance merely buries.

carl-saganI feel very lucky to have been exposed to the work, shows and writings of Carl Sagan at an early age. What an incredibly wise man he was! Wish there were more objective scientist-philosophers like him. Wish he hadn’t passed away so soon.  When I met the “father” of landscape ecology research Richard T. T. Forman at Harvard in 2008, I gushed like a teenager. But wish I could have met Sagan, at least once, before he died. He was also one of those few great men, whose private conduct had integrity and ethics, and did not differ from his public image – a disparity oftentimes sadly seen in many creative or public figures who may seem very alluring from the outside, but have hypocrisies within. Carl Sagan even transcended that – by all accounts he was good, wise, humble and ethical, both publicly and privately. Yes, he truly was a great man.

Here are two well-made videos by a fan, with Sagan’s narration. There are many more videos of him out there, of course, and his must-have series “Cosmos” which is a testimony to the good that great and intelligent television shows can do, as opposed to the murk it more often churns out.

On my blogroll section is a link to “Carl Sagan quotes.” And a chapter from his last book can be found here: * Billions of stars * Billions of sports fans

Wishing you wisdom………and billions of warm wishes from the ravenous July heat of New York City.

3 thoughts on “Carl Sagan. Always….

  1. I’ve been putting off finishing Cosmos the book. At the top of the page I’m on is one of my favorite quotes: ‘”We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” -Tombstone epitaph of two amateur astronomers…’ Very comforting. I also like how he says “We did the best we could.” in that video. When I heard that for the first time I felt a sudden sense of relief. Am I too hard on myself regarding the knowledge, achievement, and virtue I have not yet won? Are we as a race? Sometimes I take it for granted that just because I am a conscious being with some degree of free will I should be mentally invincible and infinitely capable. There is so much that can be done, yet it seems nothing is ever accomplished without a measure of grace (to steal the word back from religion). “To carry us to the stars.” It’s a beautiful dream. Reach for the stars, indeed. <3

    • Of Carl Sagan’s books, I found “Billions and billions” to be particularly insightful, prophetic and philosophical. It was also written while he knew of his imminent death.

      I think you are being too hard on yourself; the fact that you are a conscious, introspective being already makes you more advanced than those who do not even question life and its choices. Besides, good writers are somewhat neurotic too ;) Two great books I read in the last couple of years which were pretty darn good and quite therapeutic were Daniel Gilbert’s :Stumbling upon happiness,” (he’s a great fellow too, met him a few times at Harvard – he’s funny, genial, grounded) and Andrew Potter’s “Authenticity Hoax.” That was pretty good. I also like Hesse – especially Steppenwolf. and of course, Arthur Schopenhauer.

      It is impossible to be happy and inspired all the time, it is part of the human condition; but I find remembering how comparatively lucky we are, is always useful. I have a feeling you’ll get quite a few answers in the Dan Gilbert book.

      • Very cool. Yes, you are right. I will read those books soon in time, probably in that order. Incidentally Hesse is my absolute favorite writer and an old friend to all of us – at least it feels that way. The Glass Bead Game is my fav, Steppenwolf second. Schopenhauer makes me laugh (!) in a good way… but I prefer Nietzsche – as the other side of the same coin – in the end. ; ) Come to think of it, maybe the fact that I find mirth as well as truth in Schopenhauer’s philosophy makes me a true Nietzschean! ; )

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