Endnote No. 7

In the beginning there was the word— Then: let / there be light. The boy did everything he could / then: the world just broke him— into something indecipherable7

7 The second law of thermodynamics states that chaos and disorder increase inexorably over time; that, as the Universe ages, it must disintegrate and die. Saint Thomas Aquinas, conversely, reasoned that the Universe is a chain of causes causing other causes—way leads onto way, a poet wrote—implying a design, thus necessitating a Designer. From the first point of view, a perfect singularity bursts forth—the center cannot hold, another poet wrote—and becomes an infinity of shards and shrapnel tearing through a primordial darkness toward—what?—a somehow-dimming, placeless place where meaning ceases to exist. A thing cannot unexplode itself; when something breaks, it is broken; when something’s dead, it’s dead. At any rate: if something can die, it is always dying. So goes the argument. But for Aquinas, the Universe is no long, drawn-out death spasm, ever more devoid of meaning and life, now inching, now hurtling toward the darkest darkness. It is instead a conception. It is always a becoming, ever more unified, ever more reasoned and reasonable, ever more ordered, perfect. The Author of all this is the uncaused Cause. In the beginning was the Word. Words make more words and meaning is, eventually, the result. Or else it can be. In time. For instance: when he was in Paris, blocked, Joyce was found in his writer’s garret by a friend, despondent, his head in his hands in the dying light of the workday. Were you not able to write? the friend asked. I was able to write, that’s not the trouble. How many words did you get down, then? A blind pause. Seven. Oh. I see. Well that’s something anyway. No, that’s not it either. Well, what is it? It’s that I don’t know what order to put them in. According to Aquinas the word (or words, according to Joyce) comes first. Order follows. Or it can. In time.