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The Sciences

Oedipus and the Riddle

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollAugust 19, 2011 9:33 PM


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Thanks to Richard O'Connell for suggesting this Jorge Luis Borges poem as appropriate to the time-travel theme.

Oedipus and the Riddle Quadruped in the dawn, erect at noon, and wandering on three legs across the blind spaces of afternoon; so the eternal Sphinx saw her inconstant brother, Man. And to her rocky silence came a man who unlocked the riddle in the mirror; terrified, he saw the shattering image of his destruction and his error. We are Oedipus, doomed as he, to be the triple beast: child, saviour, suppliant- all that we will be, all that we have been. It would annihilate us in an instant to glimpse our monstrous being; mercifully God grants us issue and oblivion.

Sadly, God grants us nothing of the sort. But happily, we are not annihilated by glimpsing our monstrous being. We may be disappointed, disillusioned, or discombobulated; but those are temporary conditions that we can strive to overcome. Embrace your monstrous being! It's the only true strategy in the face of Time's relentless march.

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