Volleyball Universe

Jean-Pierre Luminet, the cosmologist, proposed that data hint at a finite universe. He compares the universe to a volleyball, a dodecahedron, the union of twelve pentagons that results in wrap-around movements of the objects within it.

Can infinity exist within a finite housing? Maybe so if I conceive of infinity as the power of passing on the capacity for love, knowledge, understanding, curiosity, and creativity. Unfortunately, some darker qualities, too. It is in this way infinite in its power and infinite to the degree one receives, embraces and lives these elements and passes them on. Therefore, they are potentially infinite, but exist for a time in the finite housing we inhabit, this body, this mind, this volleyball. The dodecahedron. An enclosed kind of infinity.

Max Tegmark, cited in the article about Luminet’s volleyball cosmos (Dan Vergano 2003), suggests that most evidence favors an infinite universe rather than one with limits. That is a notion too big for my mind, but I can grasp the idea that most of us build walls and define spaces to move within, and I come back comfortably to the volleyball.

Like Pac-Man, as Tegmark says, the Volleyball Universe suggests that we disappear from one edge only to appear again entering from another side, ever passing by. I find this concept disturbingly familiar as I see, thumbing through through years of my  journals, poems, and essays, the same themes appearing in different guises, while surely I thought I had been exploring new images for new thoughts every time. Maybe all of us live in our own individual world of themes, chewing on them one way or another, hoping to figure them out eventually. Maybe we pass them on, for better or for worse. Maybe they stay infinitely in space for others to grab and use as stimulus for their own thinking, imagining them entirely unique.

I began writing Fell Street Footnotes in order to keep in touch with friends, acquaintances, family, and other writers during our November, 2014-November 2015 sojourn in Baltimore. Now we’re settled back in our home in Nashville where rich soil and green grass, tall trees and gardens and the songs of crickets and tree frogs surround us in place of harbor waters and boats, the deep horns of freighters in the night, cobblestones, taverns, and the busy soup of city life. I wrote about my observations of a new city then. Now I live in a city I’ve been a part of since childhood–with a hiatus or two–but a city that changed greatly while we were away and is changing even more radically before our eyes. It’s more challenging to write about a place one has always known, but as vibrant as this one has become, there should be plenty of stimulus if I wish to observe from new eyes and write what I see and hear, and the textures I rub up against. More likely, I’ll write from within the volleyball of my own themes, bounced around as they may be by the experiences, people, books, conflicts, and joys I encounter. I hope you will join me every couple of weeks to see what’s passing from one edge to the other.