Saturday, April 17, 2021

Earth’s Song of Misery and Famine

In 1618, Johannes Kepler published his last major work, the Harmonice Mundi (The Harmony of the World). The poverty, prosecution, and ostracism that he had experienced in his lifetime had left him bitter and pessimistic, and he had become convinced that the earth was a celestial ball of everlasting misfortune. In a footnote to the Harmonice Mundi, he writes: "The Earth sings Mi-Fa-Mi, so we can gather even from this that Misery and Famine reign on our habitat.” 

Kepler makes this comment not just because of the sense of doom and gloom which was pervading his mind during the final years of his life—he actually believed that the speed at which the planets move through space is proportional to certain notes of the Latinate musical scale popular in his day: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do. He rationalized that the sound of a planet corresponds to the character of life that it supports, and that the earth’s notes were mi-fa-mi.

The last one year has given me an insight into the smugness of the twenty-first century man before the vast perils that he faces. If the twenty-first century man who commands vast intellectual, technological, and economic resources can be so smug, then humanity has no future. Perhaps Kepler was right about misery and famine being the reality of life on earth. Can mankind be free from the misery and famine—I don’t think that a permanent solution to these problems is possible. People might become happy and prosperous in some parts of earth at certain periods of time but the happiness and prosperity never lasts. 

The happy and prosperous societies are the first to be judged on the metaphorical Judgement Day; this is because their happiness and prosperity makes them morally, psychologically, and intellectually weak, and unfit to survive. When they decline and fall under the weight of their weaknesses and immoralities, they pave way for the rise of another society in which the human mind is regulated by the harsh whiplash of misery and famine.

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