Today is Ash Wednesday, and the battle between Carnival and Lent has been decisively won for another year by the roundheads.
Given that the date of Ash Wednesday is determined by celestial data (Easter Sunday is held on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox), it is cosmologically appropriate (I suppose) that today it was revealed to me that 70,000 years ago our solar system was host to another star, a dark star that passed through the Oort Cloud only 0.8 light years from our sun. This is a tiny distance. The star, being a dark star, is now 20 light years from earth, and it would never have shown as more than a star of low magnitude; but the thought of such a vast body passing through our galactic home, so to speak, is rather shocking.
I am sure there are cosmologies (personal, if nothing else) in which both Ash Wednesday and all that it entails and the appearance of another star in our solar system would be compatible. And come to think of it is many years since I read the Book of Apocalypse, who knows what is revealed when those seals are opened.
And where there are gods and zodiacs, there are demi-gods and heroes. I read today (and unfairly wished on one of my students, whose job in industrial robotics has only a tenuous link with the subject) a very lengthy but very interesting article in the New Yorker, an interview with/profile of Jonathan Ive, head designer at Apple, responsible for the iPod, iPhone, iPad and iWatch, and also now the various operating systems (IOS – Apple apparently calls the software design department Human Interface, to distinguish it from Industrial Design).
Ive discusses his approach to design, his impatience with poor design, his obsession with angles and bezels and ‘transitions’; he talks about the pressure of taking decisions that could cost billions in lost revenue, reveals a hazy notion of office geography (he thinks all the buildings in the Apple complex, known as the Infinity Loop, are linked in the same way his and Jobs’s were – they are not), and most of all talks about the Watch, the first Apple product that takes on a technology older than the company itself.
I am neither an Apple fanboy nor a ready believer in non-material cosmologies, but Jobs and Ives I would suggest are already entered in the lists of mythical beings, untouchable heroes due for astralization, so remote and placidly deific (Jobs really only because he is now dead) are they. Ives’s natural habitat for the moment is the dust-free, clutter-free minimalist design studio at Apple; he would be just as home in the dust-free, clutter-free expanses of interstellar space.