My thanks to Rev. John Heagle for pointing out to me a New York Times link to cosmology, superstring theory, and "relative state" cosmology that led to this column. Fr. Heagle is a one-man instantiation of what the Catholic Church should be, in terms of integrity, spirituality, justice, inquisitiveness ... and just plain indomitable good humor. Being friends with him is like being friends with the late Thomas Merton.
I have been thinking a lot lately about landscapes. Now, by “landscapes” in this context, I do not mean physical landscapes like the ones painted by, e.g., Albert Bierstadt, members of the Hudson River School, or Monet’s haystacks, etc. I mean landscapes that result from the possibility that other Universes, other Kosmoi, may exist other than the one we see around us.
In 2007, Harvard University Press published a remarkable book by Yale professor Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers (hereafter Failure). Best I remember, I read the book because I was startled by the sacrilegiousness of the title: Ackerman was violating the cultural canons mandating unqualified awe of the Founders and Framers by suggesting that, in writing the Constitution, they had failed in some way. (To say that the Framers failed because they compromised with the slave States to get the Constitution ratified is a truism. Ackerman had something else in mind, however.) He convinced me, though I persist in believing that the “perfect storm” of synergistic malfunctions that very nearly deadlocked the election of 1800, and that almost led to the dissolution of the Union
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
-- Alexander Pope
I cannot remember when I first fell in love with the English language, but subjectively, it seems like I could have fallen in love with it in utero. (My parents tell me I talked at an exceptionally young age, and both times I took the GRE, I blew the top of the scale off the language-skills section.) So it always irritates me to no end to look at the way people misuse and abuse the English language. (It also irritates me when people misuse foreign words that are imported into English, like the German Weltanschauung and Angst, but these are rants for another time.) Sometimes the frustration cro