From the end of Jeff Vandermeer’s gem of a book Annihilation:
I am aware that all of this speculation is incomplete, inexact, inaccurate, useless. If I don’t have real answers, it is because we still don’t know what questions to ask. Our instruments are useless, our methodology broken, our motivations selfish. (192-193)
I happened to read this book quickly (it’s short) not long after listening to this podcast interview with Nathalie Cabrol about SETI and the search for alien life.
Despite some awkward turns from the interviewer I was really struck by Cabrol’s goal of trying to understand the universe by developing our knowledge and experience of the Earth, and life on Earth. To endeavour to ask better questions, and deepen our listening to what is already around us–to see the connections between what we ask and what we hear–the call and response. And the paradox of searching for something that we really are unable to fully define.
I guess it was just proximity, but Vandermeer’s story seemed like a meditation on this theme – and the role that representation and love plays in our understanding. What a book to end the year with!