A visual trail opens up. It passes through light, sound, and water, goes up skyscrapers, and makes its way through clouds into the Sun. It is the same old path that starts off with concepts and reaches into the physical world. A theory of harmony spans over an invisible abyss. A bridge connects an array of correspondence principles, first thought of conceptually, then in the most concrete ways. Ideas, too, are conveyed by colors of light, wavelength, and sounds. They, too, spring from a host and need a medium to reach receptors whose spatiotemporal location is intrinsically linked to an inner self of past images and ancestral memories. Do reason and logic have anything to say, or does freedom lead the way beneath the surface of things?
the Infinite has become an infant; he, upon whose shoulders the universe doth hang, hangs at his mother's breast; He who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation, hath now become so weak, that He must be carried by a woman!
Hubble 25th Anniversary: Pillars of Creation, NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)
The Pillars of creation have been studied over the years, providing us with new insights. Snapshots taken since the very first time the structures were captured with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 are fragments of a moving scenery. They are located in M16, one of the nebulae “with stars” listed by Charles Messier in his original catalog of 1771, which Jean-Philippe Loys de Cheseaux first observed based on a list he compiled in 1746. Messier wrote that in the night of June 3 to 4, 1764, he (re)discovered a cluster of small stars, which appeared in the form of a nebula.
The Universe is made of views of events which unfold as each piece of information is passed on from one event to the next. As with the formation of stars and planets by accretion, when events go through stages, they add newly integrated features to living mechanisms. Whether nebulae move away, asteroids face the Earth, or galaxies are seen face-on or edge-on, image processing attempts to produce a unified picture that converts a set of composite data into assigned colors.
Mystic Mountain Dust Pillars Hubble (Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA; Processing & Copyright: David Forteza)
Pillars are common in star-forming regions, notably the Mystic Mountain in the Carina Nebula. Like light and shadow on a face, their curly plumes in infrared light reveal a complex morphology, outflows of translucent gas, embedded stars, and stratified structure. It is speculated that their transitory existence is contingent upon the explosion of supernovas and that their shape is subject to change until they break off and tumble down.
Pillars of creation may be as wide as the distance separating the Sun from Barnard’s Star, and the tallest could stretch from us to Proxima Centauri. Their life span may be a few million years in the grand scheme of things. Their heads are ionized and photoevaporated by the nearby cluster NGC6611 making the clouds look like mare’s tails in the sky. The first pillar to the left consists of two separate entities. The upper part flows behind the ionizing stars with tails of evaporating cometary globules pointing away from us. The lower part stands in front of them with tails pointing toward us. The pillars are divided into three principal components, with the third shape being unspecified, like a horse with no name.
Pillars of creation rise in the midst of the Eagle Nebula, like stalagmites on a cave floor. The eagle with dark wings hovers over a secluded cove, the nest of ascending cloud chains. Its bird’s eye view catches the physical and spiritual sides of things. Pillars are ethereally anchored on a ridge, drawing mass and energy. The limpid folds of gas and dust are stripped of their substance by hungry stars.
Webb’s near-infrared image fused with its mid-infrared image (NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI))
On the visual trail, fundamentals co-arise as trains of thought rapidly succeed. Poets rise early to catch the Sun’s eyes. They listen to the inner voices of the past, present, and future until they float back down in the light of the setting Sun. They tell stories of their encounters with shapes and forms of the Universe. A journey through space resembles a stroll into the woods. The play of shine and shade on the trees feeds their inspiration.
Into the dark Woods of the Universe, there are trees whose roots grow beneath the surface of things. Pillars are gigantic tendrils of cosmic dust reminding poets of tree limbs. Once scale falls from their inner eye, pillars become winter trees wrapped with naked vines, filiform bodies reflecting light in the nebula’s den, sculptural figures. The subtlety of all things lies within the collapse of spacetime, the riddance of scale.
Misty-topped columns bursting with activity are spiritual beings whose subtle presence earth-bound receptors feel. Niched within hollow cavities of nebulae, they stand tall like slender buildings of the New York skyline as if they, too, were part of a laboratory for architecture, a nursery for creation. Gas pillars and concrete skyscrapers become one, merging into a shapeless Universe.
Pillars of Creation are castles built of sand echoes repeating an unuttered feeling endlessly that there is no agency without space, no sentience without time, no consciousness without gravity. They reveal the outline of a hermit who stands face to face with three bodies sitting upon each other shoulders, all asking the same thing: “Why, on Earth, would we live and die if not to achieve a higher purpose?”
Thrusting boldly into the heart of the cloud rises a huge pinnacle like a cosmic mountain, the celestial throne of the Star Queen herself, wonderfully outlined in silhouette against the glowing fire-mist, where, as modem star pilgrims have learned, countless new stars are to be born.
Robert Burnham Jr. saw the silhouette of the Star Queen in the outline of the middle pillar (from the right). In my mind’s eye, I see an alchemist in her workshop working on the agency of physical and spiritual processes, transforming chaos and forming stars. She weaves a network of intricate connexions within the ever-changing architectural structures, funneling a timeless essence through spacetime. She feeds the genesis of things and keeps a fragile balance shuffling matter with energy.
The star queen I draw below is made with beads from my old necklace, strung on a thread. They create a subtle chain of rings precariously balanced together on top of each other like a house of cards, the house of everything. They form a dancer who, I imagine, pirouettes around an axis of loops. Information cuts across lines. Circles intersect. I only have an intuition. I only feel a little nudge in that direction.
The circularity of a debate around fundamentals meant to explain the inner causal relations of the Universe calls for a move upward. I draw a roof over the theoretical house of everything under which circles of fundamentals perform their dance. Three intertwined swirls circle out of the rooftop, and a physical tree grows out from within. Time, the quantum Universe, and nothingness are the three spiraling Universals.
Our fragmented Universe grows out of spacetime through the quantum realm in which probabilities exist. The geometric mind recreates the geometry of its surroundings intuitively. It assigns the number zero to nothingness and one to the wholeness of the quantum Universe. Zero and one set off the geometry of numbers, unraveling basic mathematic riddles.