An echo of the mystery infinity entails

Last night i read a wonderful post titled Infinity and beyond, about tiny snowflakes that are first to fall in winter and the nearly infinite possible ways these majestic ice crystals emerge.

I  too, am fascinated by the concept of infinity.
The title for the poetry book I am working on is called Be infinitely just and natural. The poetry book will be finished this month (February), printed next month (in March), and finally put into good hands debuting at the Austin International Poetry Festival.

In thinking/reading about infinity, here are a few historical anecdotes and quotes i have found interesting:

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”
-attributed to Albert Einstein (reputedly said at a press conference in the 1930’s)

“So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite’ em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.”
-Jonathan Swift, On Poetry

Eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote of infinity in 1926

“We have already seen that the infinite is nowhere to be found in reality,no matter
what experiences, observations and knowledge are appealed to. Can thought about
things be so different from things? Can thinking processes be so unlike the actual
process of things? In short, can thought be so far removed from reality?
Rather is it not clear that, when we think that we have encountered the infinity
in some real sense we have merely been seduced into thinking so by the fact that
we often encounter extremely large and extremely small dimensions in reality.”

Hume wrote that “The capacity of the mind is not infinite, consequently no idea of
extension or duration consists of an infinite number of parts or inferior ideas,
but of a finite number, and these simple and indivisible…”

English philosopher John Locke also thought we could not conceive of an infinite object,
but is suggested we could take a finite chunk and repeat it over and over (with the idea
that if the repeating did not stop we could conceive of infinity.

He wrote that, “[The infinity of space] is nothing but a supposed endless progression of the Mind,
over what repeated ideas of space it pleases; but to have actually in the Mind the Idea of a Space infinite,
is to suppose the Mind already passed over and actually to have a view of all those repeated Ideas of Space…”

Humorously, he said “But yet if after all this, there be men who persuade themselves that they have
clear positive comprehensive ideas of infinity, it is fit that they enjoy this privilege: and I should be
very glad (with some others that I know, who acknowledge they have non such) to be better informed
by their communication.”


“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite”
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II. ii. 133

“They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars- on stars where no human race is
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.”
-Robert Frost, A Further Range (Desert Places)

“Man’s unhappiness, as I construe, comes from
his greatness; it is because there is an Infinite in him,
which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite.”
-Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, Book ii, Chap.9

“For the past and boundless eternity during which God
abstained from creating man is so great, that,
compare it with what vast and untold numbers
of ages you please, so long as there is a definite
conclusion of this term of time,
it is not even as if you compared the minutest drop
of water with the ocean that everywhere flows around the globe.”
-St Augustine, The City of God, Book XII.12

“In this unbelievable universe in which we live there are no absolutes.Even parallel lines, reaching into infinity, meet somewhere yonder.”
– Pearl S. Bucj, A Bridge for Passing

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.”-William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (A memorable fancy)

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, 1


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