A circle with the center everywhere April 3, 2008Posted by Alexandre Borovik in Uncategorized.
A collection of quotes:
Hermes Trismegistus, “thrice-great Hermes” “God is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.” Book of the 24 Philosophers.
Alain of Lille “God is an intelligible sphere, whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere.”
Pascal: “The whole visible world is only an imperceptible atom in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. In short, it is the greatest sensible mark of the almighty power of God that imagination loses itself in that thought.”
Also apparently, “Let him contemplate all nature in its awful and finished magnificence; let him observe that splendid luminary, set forth as an eternal lamp to enlighten the universe; let him view the earth as a mere speck within the vast circuit described by that luminary; let him think with amazement, that this vast circuit itself is only a minute point , compared with that formed by the revolutions of the stars…All that we see in of the creation, is but an almost imperceptible streak in the vast expanse of the universe. No idea can approximate its immense extent…This is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, but its circumference nowhere. In short, it is one of the greatest sensible evidences of the almightiness of God, that our imagination is overwhelmed by these reflections.”
In “Pascal’s Sphere,” Borges’ narrator lists dozens of variations of a single image, a circle that stands alternately single image, a circle that stands alternately for God, nature, the universe, infinity. Culminating his enumeration is Pascal’s image for the universe: “an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.” Indeed, Borges himself adds to the list in his story “The Library of Babel,” the Library is described as “a sphere whose exact center is anyone of its hexagons and whose circumference is inaccessible” (Labyrinths 52).
According to Borges, Pascal hated “the universe. He was sorry the firmament could not speak; he compared our lives to those of shipwrecked men on a desert island … and he expressed his fillings [saying nature] is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.”
[Seems to me from the quotations, especially the second, that Borges had Pascal wrong.–D.C.]