Sunday, November 27, 2011

Science Saved My Soul and A Personal Journey

I would have expected to have heard of it, particularly given the size and cost of production, (see below) but the mini-series, Napoleon with its cast of thousands, was totally new to me.

Napoleon is a historical miniseries which explored the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 2002, it was the most expensive television miniseries in Europe, costing the equivalent of $US46,330,000 to produce. The miniseries covered Napoleon's military successes and failures, including the Battles of Eylau, Austerlitz, Waterloo and the retreat from Russia.

It also delved into Napoleon's personal life: his marriage to and divorce from Josephine de Beauharnais, his marriage to Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma and daughter of Francis II, and his affairs with Eleanore Denuelle and Marie Walewska. The series draws from Bonaparte historian Max Gallo's bestseller.

The miniseries was produced by GMT Productions in France and co-produced by Transfilm in Canada and Spice Factory in the UK. In the United States, it aired on the Arts and Entertainment (A&E) channel. Wiki

So having spent a few evenings watching the thing this week past, I breezed through some of the other uploads courtesy of fellow atheist, (the Unicorn part always being a good indicator) Lady Amalthea Unicorn.

Not being the type of bloke that instinctively follows the herd, but when a fellow sees a clip on the subject of science that boasts over a million hits, a chap has no option other than to click play and see what all the fuss is about.

And what a good move it was. Not just for its content alone, or for the argument that the clip made, but rather, because I could relate to the thing in such a personal manner.

So personal in fact, that the narrator describes to a tee, one of the definitive experiences of my life. But even had the clip not been relative to my own experience, it is still the best presentation on the magnificence of the universe (and argument for no God) that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. So please watch this excellent clip and I shall then elaborate.

With that fresh in your mind, might I ask you now to read and understand this below in a context to the Milky Way and our place as individuals in the universe. This is not something that I have just cobbled together, it is in fact something previously written, such was the magnitude of the impact of the night in question.

Light pollution, sure their wasn't a hint of it, somewhere near midway 'twixt France and Ireland.
There was just the one colour, black. A perfect black canvas that played its part in the creation of the few lines at the end this piece of prose; originally being writ as a stand alone few lines.

Some two or three years after the creation of those few lines, I joined for a brief spell, a little circle of writers who would meet every two weeks and read out whatever we had written on a subject chosen at the prior meeting, in this case "A starry night"
So then I composed the long intro of events leading up to the birth of those few lines. And here I cannot stress enough just how magnificent a sight it was.
I hope you can get a feel for the moment.
I employ a hybrid of Northern English vernacular with a biteen of Irish thrown in to add a little flavour, I hope you enjoy.


I got the job where most all jobs is got; in the pub.
Would I ship aboard a trawler going to France, and tow a boat back.
Giving it a bitteen of thought, and not wanting the sole company of two other men, I says “If Herself can come, you’re on”
“It’s a bit rough on board” says the skipper.
“Sure she’ll be grand, not a problem”
So off we sets; it were fair lumpy day; thought to me self,
I’m glad Herself’s with me, at least we can keep the bunk warm.
There’s nothing much to do on those kind of jobs, it’s all steaming.
Skipper weren’t up to much, he were a Kiwi, I think he’d
been to one of them antipodean charm schools, but that’s another story.
Next day, it were glorious, so we thought we’d soak up some rays.
We dragged the mattresses up onto the foredeck, just in front of the wheelhouse, it were the only place you could sunbathe.
True to form, Herself, not bein’ one for false modesty or bikini tops,
gets ragged off, and its tits out for the lads.
Now you can call me biased, but she’s a fair bonny lass, and I’m
sure lads in wheelhouse agreed wi’ me.
It must have made watch keeping a bit more interesting.
In fact if it weren’t for autopilot, I don’t think boat would have ever got where it were s’posed to.
But got there we did, and made ready the tow for next day.
Well Herself had brought her glad rags, so we hit the town
and got her lit. Herself with her long tanned legs n all glittery, she looked a million dollars, and I felt like one.
What’s all this got to wi’ stars? Well as the Manx say, “Traa-dy-Liooar” it’s a bit like manyana, only no where near as urgent, “Time enough”
So off we sets back with this yoke in tow. Now for them of you that
don’t know what a yoke is, well it’s a grand Irish word, and if you does
a bit of writing , then it’s a right handy one to have.
A yoke is anything, a big yoke, a small yoke, a grand yoke altogether, you gets the idea.
One crystal clear night, there’s Herself and Himself, that’s me, sat on a couple of fish boxes on the blunt end off this old yoke we were sailing on.
And there it were, in all it’s glory, the Milky Way. It just blew us away, I just haven’t got the words in me to describe it.
It were like we were little atoms, no them little things inside ‘em, them neutrons or protons or whatever they're called.
We were speechless, it were a wonder we’ll never forget.
It were some time later, I couldn’t get this sight out of me head, and then didn’t a few little lines appear, just like magic, and them lines were these.

Delight the night
For hidden by day
Delight the night
We sailed the Milky Way
Our chariot of rust and rattles
Our space ship on the sea.

Nuff said?

As a perfect foil to the above, the video below, original title, How Big Is God? tries to use a similar argument for the existence of a god and creator. Due to the original being unembeddable and certain copyright issues, I captured the thing and re-uploaded it giving it the title, Not a Good Argument.

Which of course, for anyone with two neurons bolted together, is just that. Begging the question, why would the god of a 12,000 mile diameter planet, create a 136 billion light year universe? Originally posted under title: Thought For Today: God and His Creations

A couple more clips from the site of our Lady Unicorn, the first highlighting some of the less attractive traits of this benign creator that loves us all so.

And what post on religion could possibly be complete without a rant from the ubiquitous Pat Condell?

I would at this moment of writing, like to give proper attribution to the producer of the clip, and at this moment I am waiting for conformation that he and the uploader are one and the same. So of that, hopefully more later.

Another program that I had occasion to watch this week, one featured featured as it happens, on the Youtube channel of 'philhellenes' although my path to, Is There Anybody There? was via Richard Dawkins .net. Here again I have a personal interest in the program, Ballinspittle (home of the moving virgin) not being unknown to me, and not least me telling my best friend in Ireland not to talk out of his arse when describing the goings on regarding the all moving all dancing concrete statue of the Virgin Mary at said location. About eighty minutes, so it wouldn't be everybody's cup of Darjeeling.

"Is There Anybody There?"

Nicholas Humphrey's devastating study of religious miracles and other paranormal phenomena. Featuring the apparition at Knock, the Enfield poltergeist, the Woodbridge UFO, the moving virgin of Ballinspittle, and much more. A one and a half hour "special" for Channel Four, 1987.

I have just had it confirmed that 'philhellenes' is in fact both producer and uploader of the clip. To him, admiration and sincerest thanks. And the moment I have put this post to bed, I shall take a good stroll around his page. You might wish to do so yourself at:


Anonymous said...

A beautiful, eloquently written poem H.

"Not tonight Jos̩phine" РNapoleon Bonaparte?

There is no evidence whatsoever that Napoleon ever uttered these words. It could be a piece of anti-Napoleonic sentiment, which was rife in England, it may be that it refers to some real or imagined event in Napoleon and Joséphine's life.

It is unusual but not completely rare.

"England is a nation of shopkeepers." - Napoleon Bonaparte (abducted from Adam Smith)

Thank you, great post M

Himself said...

''Coming home; don't wash.''

Lots of reference to it, but couldn't find a definitive source. Legend or not?

I did come across this though. Not without interest given the times we live in.

The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished.

It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.

The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know.

Lots of other interesting snippets here.

And thank you kindly.

Anonymous said...

Himself said...

Bon jour mon petite tulipe.

Merci. I did read where the letter was to be auctioned, but I hadn't read the result until now.

Big bucks!