Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT October 18th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we close-read the an excerpt from “Bewilderment” by Richard Powers, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write about knowing that the world is alive.”

More details on this session will be posted, so check back!

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Wednesday October 20th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

Powers, Richard. Bewilderment. 2021. New York: W.W. Norton. [page 173]

Yet Kepler never saw a single planet straight on. It cast a wide net, watching for the faintest imaginable dimming of suns many parsecs away, and it gathered that light with a precision of a couple dozen parts per million. Infinitesimal dips in the brightness of stars betrayed invisible planets passing in front of them. It still stupefies me: like seeing a moth crawl across a streetlight from thirty thousand miles away.

         But Kepler couldn’t give me what I wanted: to know, beyond all doubt, that one other world out there was alive. I don’t know why it meant so much to me, when it left so many people cold. Not even my wife really cared all that much one way or another. Robbie did.

         To know for certain whether a planet breathed, we needed direct infrared images fine enough to yield detailed spectral fingerprints of their atmospheres. We had the power to get them. For longer than Robbie had been alive—longer than Aly and I were together—I’d been one of the researchers planning a space-based telescope that could populate my every model and decide forever whether the universe was barren or alive. The craft we were backing was a hundred times more powerful than Hubble. It made our best existing telescopes look like old men with dark glasses and service dogs.

         It was also a wild fling of cash and effort that made no practical difference in the world. It wouldn’t enrich the future or cure a single disease or protect anyone from the rising flood of our craziness. It would simply answer the thing we humans had been asking since we came down from the trees: was the mind of God inclined toward life, or did we Earthlings have no business being here?

3 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT October 18th 2021

  1. al3793

    Write about knowing the world is alive.

    Well, I’ve been studying them nightly for the past four months, and they are putting on quite a show. Jupiter is the charioteer of the lot leading the way. It’s biggest and brightest and the others seem to rotate around it, like a micro solar system. Saturn is due west and a little lower in the sky and it rotates to the horizon like a fly on the end of a clock’s hand as it touches the half-hour. Venus’ passion testifies to life out there hovering over St. Francis’ shoulder who stands alone just at the horizon in an elevated garden, along side plants seen only in silhouette.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. About knowing the world is alive~~~

    I cried tears of joy at the birth of my granddaughter.
    I cried tears of sorrow at the passing of my brother.
    I laughed when my puppy fell head over heels racing after a bouncing ball.
    I felt excitement as I watched the Blue Origins space flight lift upward with its precious cargo.
    I felt longing as I saw a formation of Canada geese leaving for the season.
    I felt warmth in my heart as Mother cat watched over her kittens.

    Living life comes at you in bits and pieces,
    fragments of joy and sadness.
    I am here to receive all the world has to offer me and maybe, just maybe
    I have something to offer to the world in return.


    • al3793

      The experience of the fragments of sadness let the reader experience the fragments of joy vividly and make them more able to offer joy to the world.
      Such a beautiful narrative, Michele. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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