Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Dust of the World, Part 2

The dust of the world (will) fall(s) on the world itself.
From this we can garner two sensible derivations. There is an extremely mundane reason for these two derivations, and a more upscale reason for them, one that only grew up from an initial confusion of mine. When the sentence popped into my head, I knew it was somehow important, or an interesting use of prose at least. A few moments later, though, I could not remember in which tense it first popped into my head. Nor can I rest upon one of the words, which I have neglected. Did it pop into my head as "The dust of the world (will) fall(s)" or "The dust of the world (will) settle(s)"? I cannot be sure of this either, and I will return to it later. For the moment lets assume that dust falls, or that it will fall, upon that irreducible body of the world.

Here are the two derivations:
The dust of the world will fall on the world itself.
The dust of the world falls on the world itself.
The change of tense is the first thing to note. The first sentence places the action of the dust falling in the future. We are anticipating that the dust will slowly drift down towards the earth, or pelt down as if from some erupting volcano. Either way, there is an expectation voiced within this sentence, an expectation that this will happen.

There is also a prediction being made. How does the speaker (me?) know that this "will" happen? Has he divined it, predicted it through some sort of supernatural agency, a popping into existence of a sign or a thought of what will definitively bear its own fruit in seeing itself come through?

Has he seen it happen so many times before that he is sure it will happen again, as a solemn scientist, a student of all things? Perhaps.

But note here that the sentence just stops short of assigning universal significance to the event of the dust that will fall on the earth. It is displaced, and presented (possibly) as a one time event. There is nothing to indicate that it happened before, or is happening, or that it is some sort of universal constant. Like the second coming in the Book of Revelations, this exists as a point which the universe is building towards. It thus gains singularity and uniqueness in this derivation; an event that will happen, with the assumption of it as an event on its own, somewhat derivative, yes, but its own thing, certainly.

The speaker is certainly not experiencing dust falling on the earth itself in his experience of the present moment. There is also the possibility that he never experienced it before, that it is a piece of received wisdom that came down to him from ages past. Or there is even the possibility that he is being insincere, attempting to deceive us, that he made the whole thing up. It may also be metaphorical, insincerity's nobler cousin.

Whatever the case, on face value the event is displaced, treated as other in time, perhaps even in space. It places itself away from the eternity of the universal, something that is true for all places, at all times.

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