Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15 and Galileo

TODAY is an important day for Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, composer John Adams, jazzman Henry Threadgill -- and that's just the musicians. Throw in Susan B. Anthony and Galileo, and I think it's about as good a day as there is, especially lodged as it is in the middle of the dreary month of February. (And I insist I am totally unbiased on the matter despite my Feb. 15 birthday.)

Galileo was one of my idols as a kid, coming before even, I think, John Lennon and Kurt Vonnegut. I responded not only the man's polymath genius, but his courage and resistance to the Catholic Church, which persecuted him until the very end despite his continued piety; he was an important early shaper of my religious beliefs. And just a hair over 400 years ago, Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter.

One way I'm marking the day is to post my interview with Kim Stanley Robinson, whose Galileo's Dream, a historical novel of the future, you might say, has just come out. HERE is that piece. Robinson, of course, is the environmentalist and Central California science-fiction writer with much fine work to his credit; his Mars trilogy is considered the best example of world-building since Dune.

In any case I will hoist a glass of Cava tonight to the great Florentine and the others.

1 comment:

Pete Bilderback said...

Here is my favorite quote from Galileo, from a letter to Kepler:

"My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?"

Galileo is writing about people who so feared the truth they refused to even look through his telescope. I often feel the same way today, especially when confronted with a particular kind of religious bigotry.