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Lost in the Cosmos

Lost in the Cosmos

Titel: Lost in the Cosmos
Autoren: Walker Percy


    The Strange Case of the Self, your Self, the Ghost which Haunts the Cosmos

    How you can survive in the Cosmos about which you know more and more while knowing less and less about yourself, this despite 10,000 self-help books, 100,000 psychotherapists, and 100 million fundamentalist Christians

    Why it is that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos—novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes—you are beyond doubt the strangest

    Why it is possible to learn more in ten minutes about the Crab Nebula in Taurus, which is 6,000 light-years away, than you presently know about yourself, even though you’ve been stuck with yourself all your life

    How it is possible for the man who designed Voyager 19, which arrived at Titania, a satellite of Uranus, three seconds off schedule and a hundred yards off course after a flight of six years, to be one of the most screwed-up creatures in California—or the Cosmos

    A Twenty-Question Quiz which will not help you become rich or more assertive or more creative or make love better but which may—though it probably won’t, considering how useless self-help books generally are—help you discover who you are not and even—an outside chance—who you are

    A preliminary short quiz which you can take standing in a bookstore and which will allow you to determine whether you need to buy this book and proceed to the Twenty Questions

    A short history of the Cosmos, including a semiotic theory of the Self which explains why it is that man is the only alien creature, as far as we know, in the entire Cosmos

    A space odyssey which gives an account of what can happen to an earthling astronaut if there is somebody out there and what can happen if there is no one out there
    Preliminary Short Quiz
    so that you may determine whether you need to take the Twenty-Question Self-Help Quiz. If you can answer these questions, you are not lost in the Cosmos

IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE reading a book about the Cosmos. You find it so interesting that you go out and buy a telescope. One fine clear moonless night you set up your telescope and focus on the brightest star in the sky. It is a planet, not a star, with a reddish spot and several moons. Excited, you look up the planets in your book about the Cosmos. You read a description of the planets. You read a sentence about a large yellowish planet with a red spot and several moons. You recognize both the description and the picture. Clearly, you have been looking at Jupiter.
    You have no difficulty at all in saying that it is Jupiter, not Mars or Saturn, even though the object you are looking at is something you have never seen before and is hundreds of millions of miles distant.
    Now imagine that you are reading the newspaper. You come to the astrology column. You may or may not believe in astrology, but to judge from the popularity of astrology these days, you will probably read your horoscope. According to a recent poll, more Americans set store in astrology than in science or God.
    You are an Aries. You open your newspaper to the astrology column and read an analysis of the Aries personality. It says among other things:
    You have the knack of creating an atmosphere of thought and movement, unhampered by petty jealousies. But you have the tendency to scatter your talents to the four winds.
    Hm, you say, quite true. I’m like that.
    Suddenly you realize you’ve made a mistake. You’ve read the Gemini column. So you go back to Aries:
    Nothing hurts you more than to be unjustly mistreated or suspected. But you have a way about you, a gift for seeing things through despite all obstacles and distractions. You also have a desperate need to be liked. So you have been wounded more often than you will admit.
    Hm, you say, quite true. I’m like that.
    The first question is: Why is it that both descriptions seem to fit you—or, for that matter, why do you seem to recognize yourself in the self-analysis of all twelve astrological signs? Or, to put it another way, why is it that you can recognize and identify the planets Jupiter and Venus so readily after reading a bit and taking one look, yet have so much trouble identifying yourself from twelve descriptions when, presumably, you know yourself much better than you know Jupiter and Venus?
    (2) Can you explain why it is that there are, at last count, sixteen schools of psychotherapy with sixteen theories

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