Thursday, May 17, 2007

The unpredictable and the predetermined unfold together to make everything the way it is. It's how nature creates itself, on every scale, the snowflake and the snowstorm. It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing. People were talking about the end of physics. Relativity and quantum looked as if they were going to clean out the whole problem between them. A theory of everything. But they only explained the very big and the very small. The universe, the elementary particles. The ordinary-sized stuff which is our lives, the things people write poetry about - clouds - daffodils - waterfalls - and what happens in a cup of coffee when the cream goes in - these things are full of mystery, as mysterious to us as the heavens were to the Greeks. We're better at predicting events at the edge of the galazy or inside the nucleus of an atom than whether it'll rain on auntie's garden party three Sundays from now. Because the problem turns out to be different. We can't even predict the next drip from a dripping tap when it gets irregular. Each drip sets up the conditions for the next, the smallest variation blows the prediction apart, and the weather is unpredictable in the same way, will always be unpredictable. When you push the numbers through the computer you can see it on the screen. The future is disorder. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. Its the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.
OMG Arcadia.

It is the play about EVERYTHING. Especially academics, because it is unclear to me that Tom Stoppard can write about people who aren't academics. But it's science and it's poetry and it's research and it's sex and it's love and it's ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING rolled into one, because it's ONE enthusiasm and ONE sort of emotion. And it's a bunch of actors running around the stage pretending to be total geeks, which is absolutely wonderful in its own sort of way. The scenes (like the one I quoted from above) where two people get into a heated discussion about something and then awkwardly realize that they're sitting rather closer to eachother than is totally comfortable (and yes there are a couple) are so wonderful and so true and so very much how it... how it works. Because the ideas are more important than the people.

So. Yes. If you are in Chicago, SEE THIS SHOW. If you EVER have the opportunity to see it or read it or whatever, DO IT. Because it is AMAZING.

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