Wondering what a star is

Image result for stars

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, 
How I wonder what you are!

Probably as a child we wondered. Now we no longer wonder. After all, we have studied physics in school. We now know that a star is nothing but a huge nuclear reactor blazing away to glory far far away. So what is left to wonder. Most things in life have such prosaic explanations. There is nothing left to wonder about. That is the materialistic view of reality. 

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

But wait! You cannot shut down wonder so easily. "But why?" you ask. I don't care if it is a nuclear reactor or a twinkling diamond. What I am interested is why does it shine in the sky. 

When this blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, through the night.

Of course, isn't the answer self evident? The star is there to show us light when it is dark. It is there to show us that there is something to give us light even at the darkest hour. That is all that matters - the idea of light in the hour of darkness. Thus we move from materialism to idealism.

All that is fine. But what does the star's purpose got to do with me. I am a simple man going about my day to day life, toiling away at an office to earn my daily bread and coming home for a peaceful sleep.

Then the traveler in the dark

Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

On days, I go out in the night, there are stars in the sky to give me light. That is all that matters to me. Fro my experience I know it won't be pitch dark even on a new moon night. There will still be the stars to give me some light. That is all that matters to me. A pragmatist I am.

But how would things be from the star's point of view. Is the star just driven by the thermonuclear reactions or is some unknown force causing it to convey a message to humanity? Does the star have no will of its own? Does it have to strive tirelessly to do someone's bidding?

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye
Till the sun is in the sky.

Am I also like the star? With no free will? After all I am a sentient being and the star is not. If the star were a sentient being it would choose its own destiny. Each star will choose for itself. One star may decide it does not concern itself with the traveler's welfare and choose not to twinkle in the night. Another star may decide it does care about the traveler's welfare. A third star may decide it cares about the traveler but helps him develop self reliance by not guiding him and choose not to twinkle. A fourth star may not care about the traveler but just likes shining and so shines. The stars take on an existential view of things.

The star, while it may have a semblance of freedom may not be fully free. After all the nuclear reaction cannot be shut down at will. So despite its choice it may have to twinkle after all till it finds a way to switch the nuclear reaction on and off at will.

As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Or maybe it doesn't matter what I choose and what I do. All it matters is that it is there. Beyond the twinkle, the light and the guide in the night there is something deeper - the essence of the star's being. The core experience of being a star. The phenomenon.

But then why am I breaking my head over a silly rhyme. After all reason triumphs over rhyme. I try to personify a star and derive its motives. But a star is no person. It is just a thing. So it is absurd to think of it as having a motive or a purpose. What makes sense is that the star twinkles. For a star by definition is something that twinkles in the sky. If it did not, it would lead to contradiction and hence it is analytic. Also the fact of the star being up above the sky so high can be proven if he had means to measure how distant is the star. Of course we need definitions of how high is high, what exactly we mean by sky etc. If we do that, we have synthetic reality that can be proven on disproved.  That's the linguistic analysis. 

I guess I am done wondering about stars. If all this makes no sense, it is not my fault - the fault is in the stars.


umashankar said...

I love these depositions on the Nursery Rhymes. The gamut of associations brought to bear upon the popular poem is fascinating. The subtle undercurrents of the argumentative temperament embedded in our culture are hilarious.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot for the kind words, Umashankar.

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