View from Ninth Avenue

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Cosmology /
@ K. 2006 09 03

I was just thinking typical pk thoughts about conventional theology, perspective, and cosmology when I recalled the New Yorker cover by Saul Steinberg from decades ago.

Saul Steinberg, View
Saul Steinberg
New Yorker cover

See Science News, article by Ivars Peterson on map-making.

New Yorkers are vain in the extreme about their cosmopolitanism, their sophistication. Steinberg drew a map reflecting our geographical parochialism. Westward from the New Yorker offices New Jersey looms huge. Further westward details get very fuzzy. New York dominates the cosmos, most of the rest of the earth is elided. And that precisely fits my view of our inherited cosmologies, theologies … sciences.

God is put above us. Good, we need something above us. But nothing is allowed above God! We benefit; he’s put in an impossible situation. It’s like defining infinity as the other side of my back fence.

George Washington used King George to gang up on the squatters. Washington surveyed land being rapidly developed by colonials without reporting the state of development of the parcels. King George agree that all that land belonged to Washington, Washington then proceeded with evictions. The settlers no more knew what George was talking about that did the Japanese or the Aztec when some RC pope gave half the world to Spain and half to Portugal.

Good. Now the dispossessed settlers can wait for God to restore their land to them and throw George Washington and King George into hell. And in the Christian idea of Judgment that might happen: ’cause it was Christians grabbing land from Christians.

But what if one settler developed land not in use by human beings, another settler developed land very much in use by a family of beavers, and a third settler killed the native family that was hunting all over and farming part of specific land? The Christian god may know no more of the native family or the beaver family than did King George. the Christian God may make things right for the settlers in eternity that went wrong for them in time, but I recommend that the Christian families not spend quite all of their capital in heaven against the day when God judgment is judged by a god who loves beavers. or a god with strong sympathies with the Cheyenne.

When we all live in New York, we have to trust maps made by New Yorkers. But once maps can be made by people who’ve visited every state, and crossed the Pacific, the old maps have to be devalued and new maps replace them.

And so long as time continues, there is no eternity, no infinity, no objectivity: no judgment that can be trusted beyond immediate concerns.

Neither Alternate Universes nor Judgment Day had been my subjects here, but now that I’ve jotted the above you see how all can relate: the God we know, the one who favors Europeans, whites and so forth, can have a Judgment where the whites get to keep the natives’ land forever; then the God who favors kings who’ve never set foot on the land they rule can see to it that George Washington owns all the land stolen from the not-royally-connected Europeans for ever … and there can still be an infinite number of universes left in which the beavers prevail and all the humans go to hell: and still more in which the god who loves ants can correct the judgment of the god who loves beavers.

And finally Chaucer’s Saturn, god of chaos (see The Knight’s Tale), can have an earthquake which will tumble all the other gods into the mud.

Meantime, most people’s maps will show a lot of New Jersey, or a lot of ant hill, or a lot of beaver dam.

Cosmology, Theology

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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