Sunday 7 June 2020


Though this image is just about three years old, one of the parting shots of the Cassini probe before it descended into the atmosphere of Saturn, we appreciated the reminder, a sense of proportion that’s much needed right now, from Strange Company of the Earth and the Moon framed by the Encke Gap of the gas giant’s rings—see previously—and for couching it in the POV of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Total Perspective Vortex, a device (see also) originally built as a heuristic tool to demonstrate causality by extrapolating a model of the Cosmos from a single atom.
In application, however, exposing the mind to such a humbling vision of reality was overwhelming and the technology was mainly useful as an instrument of torture—execution, that is, with a final moment of clarity and transcendence. The only biological brain subjected to the Vortex to survive unscathed, protagonist Zaphod Beeblebrox, was only able to do so through the protective bunker of a computer-generated universe that was created specifically to shield him, and with the confidence, hubris that he in fact was the most important person in his paracosm was able to get through the ordeal with minimal amount of insight to put him in his place.