The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.
The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife. Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.
“Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day. And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her.
And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion. [Zaphod] opened the door of the box and stepped in. Inside the box he waited. After five seconds there was a click, and the entire Universe was there in the box with him.
-Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the Center of the Universe
Wurman is married tot he novelist and lyricist Gloria Nagy, who has said that he views himself as a little piece of shit at the center of the universe.
– Richard Saul Wurnan, 1000.
Having no information makes you an idiot Having some information makes you arrogant. Having a lot of information makes you feel small, tiny, and humbled. To quote from above,
if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion. There is always someone somewhere out there doing the exact same thing you are doing, and if they are not, then you have not found them yet. In
Calculus was discovered co-currently by Newton, and Leibniz. Alfred Russel Wallace came upon the idea of evolution independently of Darwin. Edison, and Tesla. At every critical junction in history, as well as those not so critical junctions, there are many people independently working on the same idea. In this age of digital connections, everything can be searcheable, and found quickly, so that one cannot avoid the echoes of another’s hammer.
Tonight, surfing the internet and reading about campus entrepreneurship, I was humbled by NYU’s developed infrastructure. Brown is behind the curve, and the train has not only left, its been gone for a while. We still have a chance to catch up, but it is a catch up game. We have the advantage of paved rails, and engine specs, what matters now is implementation.
It is such a big world out there. Immense.
欲与天公试比高，须晴日，看红装素裹，分外妖娆. – Mao Ze Dong,
(If you desire to compare heights with God, on a clear day, watch the red horizons, how beautiful they are!) Any sense of perspective makes you wonder- why try? What can you hope to do on this broad sweep. Look out into the world, see the incredible lives that Wurman collects in 1000.
There are so many people who populate this world, all of them trying to accomplish great things.
But at the same time, as Randy Komisar says in an interview, what matters most in life is the journey and not the destination. This thought offers a sweet consolation, that in your life, you don’t have to be the best, or achieve the most. Enjoy the process, and despite the difficulty that faces you, you will still find interest in making a way through.
Thank God we still have Dinners, to marshal our way through.
Having a great camera = beautiful food.