In a recent interview with John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” he talked briefly about the title, based on the famous passage from William Shakespeare’s, “Julius Ceasar:”
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” — Act 1, Scene 2
Green believes that there are components from our experience of the world of fate (in our stars) and our choice of actions (in ourselves) that go into determining the outcomes of our lives, and it’s not simply in one or the other. We cannot control everything that happens to us (fate), but we can act definitively in our own best interests (our choices), in spite of whether or not we are required to do so by circumstances.
Caravaggio – “The Fortuneteller,” — circa 1595-98 – Paris – Musée du Louvre
Long ago, when our ancient ancestors had not yet developed a spoken language, communication between individuals likely amounted to posturing and body language which had to be interpreted by one another. By the time we developed sufficient brain capacity and skull architecture to allow formulating rudimentary speech, our intuitive instincts had already developed greatly, and in combination with speech, became all the more compelling as a means to further our ability as humans to construct language.
Two individuals, sufficiently open to intuitive responses today, can almost eliminate the need for speech altogether in the right circumstances, even though we often choose to confirm our intuitive responses through language. Locking eyes with another human being, particularly if it is being done in a positive way, can sometimes communicate far more efficiently than pages of detailed explanations. Under favorable conditions, especially between two individuals mutually inclined, an exchange of eye contact and openness to intuitive sensitivities can produce an urgency toward speech that might not have existed otherwise. This sense of urgency may well have been one of the most important factors in the development of language in the first place.
Emotional responses can also occur without an overtly obvious verbal stimulus and may be the result of intuition, independent of our deliberate intent or conscious choice, and even without our conscious awareness of its presence. When we pick up on intuitive responses, consciously or not, the fault may be in our stars as cognitive and emotional creatures, or it may result from viewing the stars themselves.
A while ago, I took out my telescope and stood out on the back porch gazing upward at the crisply clear wee-hours-of-the-morning sky. The moonless night is most advantageous for stargazing, and after a hectic day or a rough patch anytime, it feels good to connect with something far away. The heavens were dazzling this particular early morning, and as I stood under the canopy of darkness, punctuated by groupings of stars, I felt a twinge of awe. No matter how many times I look up at the starry vault, I can’t help but feel a bit humbled by the implications of the immensity of the world out there. Hundreds of thousands of light years away, some even hundreds of millions of light years distant, are suns of epic proportions, churning out virtually limitless volumes of intense energy, only reaching the mirror at the back of my telescope after a mind-boggling journey from unimaginable distances.
I am inspired by the stars because of the mystery they evoke, the beauty they embody, and the knowledge that they are, in many cases, enormously larger than our own familiar star at the center of our own obscure Milky Way galaxy, created by the same process that is responsible for producing our sun, which provides our life sustaining light and warmth, and governs the cycles of the seasons here on Earth. Our fault is not in our stars, dear reader, but it is not in ourselves completely either.
…more to come…