The Aurora Borealis


“The human spirit was born when we dared to dream beyond death,” the fictional DJ at KBHR suggests in “Northern Exposure.” Optimism about the human condition is out of style, optimism about nature, even reality itself, is out of style. We place a very high premium on certainty and invariably take the engineer’s road over the mystic's. We believe mysteries are problems, solvable, boring little things, that there is a proposition-shaped answer to everything. We believe the mystic’s path is the same as the engineer’s, if it carries us forward, and otherwise, a dead end. The one who favors meaning over certainty is avoiding The Truth, that great tragedy we know to be bedrock, and it is obvious, we say, that if all the mysteries of life were solved by concrete, observable, communicable means, the mystical would be obsolete. Should we, with sufficient scientific cleverness, carry some semblance of consciousness beyond the boundaries of our flesh, mystery would be condemned here too – a balm for the heart, denying us the only solution to the ultimate problem. We’d best face the facts, sonny – truth alone is immortal. We collectively believe the human spirit was born out of our awareness of death.