Black holes are the new devil. They represent a deep seated fear of being sucked into the void, propelled out of existence. It is more than a mere fear of death: when we die, it is just our conscience which is gone. Our physical bodies continue to exist until they are gradually returned to the natural world from which they came. Our children and grandchildren, our students, young people who have looked up to us, learned from us, go on and carry part of us into the future, and if we are lucky, memories of our work and our lives may survive for a long time to come.
In a black hole, on the other hand, being simply stops. Time itself no longer has any meaning. At least that’s how the physicists who are researching these strange objects model their properties: although they are describing objects in the physical world, subject to scientific scrutiny, it is hard to ignore the spiritual overtones in the way scientists conceptualize these phenomena.
A search for art depicting black holes turns up some pretty strong imagery. These artists, for the most part, have not even attempted to visualize black holes as an object in the real world – and that would be hard to do, given that one of the most prominent properties of a black hole is that it sucks up all light, and is therefore by definition invisible.
Instead, they interpret black holes as a psychological concept, a state of mind: the fragile siren song of the void that represents the “urge to jump”, or the vertigo inducing horror of that powerful, inescapable nothingness.
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