Science as Authority / Science as Model / Science as Poetry

Albert Einstein, "Special Theory of Relativity" (1905)

--------.  "General Theory of Relativity" (1916)

        The publication of these two documents began to change world culture in two ways.  First, it changed our imagination of "reality" and the universe.  Second, it made possible geopolitical events, including the possibility of the total destruction of all living species, that previously had been properties humans typically identified with gods.  Both effects changed literature because they challenged the authority of poets (and theologians) to tell us what gods were, what the origins and destiny of the universe were, and countless other things, by associative implication.  Simultaneously, physicists grew politically important (because of the second change) and their way of making knowledge became an envied paradigm in the Euro-American university system. All disciplines began to aspire to a quasi-scientific methodology.  Philosophers discovered mathematics and physics.  Art historians began to study the neurology of beauty.  Literary scholars discovered "objective criticism."  And physicists began to write like poets.

"Henceforth, space in itself, and time in itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality."  Herbert Minkowski (1849-1909), mathematician and poet of "spacetime."