Tuesday, March 15, 2011
One Thousand and One Nights
It may have been just a dream but I remember I woke up once in the middle of the night so haunted by those first two lines that I cried.
What is it about darkness that's so exquisite? Sometimes I feel it's partly conceit. That we're special and the universe somehow makes an effort, no matter how little, to make sure we suffer beautifully and to our satisfaction.
Maybe it's related to what Carl Sagan said in Contact that we feel so alone. Our solitude makes us aware of this imbalance, the improbability of our existence. It's either we invent a companion god (was it Nietzsche who said something like: there isn't enough love in this world to assign it to other beings), or we humble ourselves with the thought that it would be an awful waste of space if it were just us. And then there's this, we take small hidden pleasures in hardship. We anticipate. Like every civilization must have come up with its own version of apocalypse. Not for that light at the end of the tunnel, not for the lessons to be learned, just that basic reassurance that our position in the cosmos is that of frailty.
In the book One Thousand and One Nights (popularly, Arabian Nights), the primary story is that of a Persian king who weds a wife every day and beheads the one from the night before. That is before Scheherazade. She would tell him stories each night that would be cut short by dawn and this way the King was forced to spare her life. In the book, after one thousand and one nights, there are no more stories to be told, but the King has fallen in love with his storyteller and thus it ends happily.
Yet, I suspect,"one thousand and one" refers at the same time to infinity.
Posted by Aleph's id at 11:36 AM