“‘Knowledge’ has killed the sun, making it a ball of gas, with spots; ‘knowledge’ has killed the moon, it is a dead little earth pitted with extinct craters as with smallpox; the machine has killed the earth for us, making it a surface, more or less bumpy, that you travel over.”
~ D. H. Lawrence, from “A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover”
Apparently this quote is famous or infamous, depending on whom you ask. I guess it’s been used by Luddites and anti-science people to rail against scientific advances, which isn’t my point at all. And I don’t think that was Lawrence’s point either.
I think we should by all means continue to make scientific advancements — I just think that we shouldn’t allow those scientific advances to cloud our view of a universe that is beautiful, amazing, and awe-inspiring. We should never allow anything to cover our eyes. No advance should obstruct our wondrous inner vision. As William Irwin Thompson said, “we have separated humanity from nature, subject from object, values from analysis, knowledge from myth, and universities from the universe.”¹
Perhaps Lawrence should’ve added these simple words at the beginning of his statement: “We have allowed…” Because that’s what we’ve done. We have allowed knowledge to kill the sun, the moon, and the earth, or at least nearly so.
And I don’t think we’re going to be able to bring them back from the brink without uncovering our eyes.
¹ This is from The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light, one of my favorite books. Highly recommended.