“The opposite of to love is not to hate but to separate. If love and hate have something in common it is because, in both cases, their energy is that of bringing and holding together—the lover with the loved, the one who hates with the hated. Both passions are tested by separation.
As soon as space and therefore separateness is the condition of existence, love contests this separation. Love aims to close all distance. Death achieves the same end. Yet whereas love celebrates the unique, the unrepeatable: death destroys them.
Supposing that the universe is an expanding universe, its maximum diameter, the limit of its possible extension, has been calculated as being 25,000 million light years. One light year is 5.8784 X 1012 miles.
Such an extension is beyond our imagination because of the terms in which it is expressed. There is a double separation: that of the statement and that of the numerical isolation.
Elsewhere—in our hearts—we learn the proposition that the force by which space was created may have been an alternating force of expulsion and attraction, extension and passion. This is why, in every language, love is found quoting the stars. But it is also why every cosmology returns to sexuality.
The ‘cosmic egg’ of modern physics and the proposed single original substance of ylem—of which one cubic centimeter would weigh, 1,000,000,000,000 kg, and from which all other matter was born—are variants of a theme to be found in most creation myths. Only the nouns change.
Once earth and sky were passionately one, yet nothing had form; everything was virtual. For the world and its forms and its extension to come into existence, earth and sky had to be torn apart and separated.
Love aims to close all distance. Yet if separation and space were annihilated neither loved one nor lover would exist. Between space and love there is the first opposition—that opposition which is contained as energy within the original act of creation.
All theories about origin are either naive or despairing, from Genesis to Darwin. Yet perhaps one misunderstands their purpose. All origins are unattainable—just as, on a personal scale, it is impossible to imagine a self before conception. Theories of origin are attempts to explain our ongoing relation to the so-evident energy of the universe around us. The energy of our consciousness in all its concentration is continually trying to define itself by and against the energy of the universe in all its incomprehensible extension. Every form of interrogation of the stars has been about this, and every theory of origin is a story invented to describe the experience of being here.
In the beginning was the creator. What followed—if there was to be any story at all—was deployment, extension, space, separateness. Ma femme.”
— John Berger, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos