In doing research for the “Subterranea” thread, I have been reading the book: Tales from the Underground by David W. Wolfe, a professor at Cornell University. I must admit I don’t have a scientific mind or even an overly logical one, for that matter. My thirteen-year-old seems to understand scientific premises better than I and somehow explains them with a certain no-nonsense facility I admire.
As a storyteller, I tend to read science more as narrative. So when I read in the introduction Wolfe’s very succinct explanation of life, it reminded me of a passage I had read in William H. Gass’ book of essays: Finding a Form.
Wolfe: “Living organisms have successfully battled entropy by evolving mechanisms to harvest external energy (the gathering of solar energy by photosynthetic organisms, for example) and use it to go uphill, to driver thermodynamically unfavored reactions.”
Gass: “The successful execution of any long and difficult project [e.g. writing], especially one done alone and without support of any social structure, requires the cooperation of every significant desire one has—the theft of their energy, if you like—in order that more determination can be found for the task than its own allure might generate.”
One interpretation: the act of artistic creation is an aegis against entropy. Wolfe notes that death is the state when the organism can no longer harness outside energy and catabolic processes kicks in. For those driven to write, giving it up is a little death.