Mr. Numinous

A beautiful still of Carl Sagan from "Cosmos: A Personal Journey" 1980

A beautiful still of Carl Sagan from “Cosmos: A Personal Journey” 1980

Blogatious greetings to one-and-all in the collective love-fest that I call “The Cyber-Cosmos” So, what up here in Wiestworld? Lot’s of things (all of which are vying for their very own Blog title…and so it shall be…) but in the meantime, I’d like to talk about my morning today: Thursday, April 10, 2014. Hey, a blog is the most self-indulgent thing next to a mirror, so why not?

It was a good morning, indeed…it turned into a GREAT morning. First of all, I finally listened to my all-wise wife Carmen (always a good thing to do. ) and decided to get a work out in on my stationary bike (literally, the least I could do for my poor body) And, as it turns out, she was right! (She always is, but I try not to think of that…for obvious reasons of self esteem and my on-going fanciful notions of being a sentient being…but I digress…) I do feel better after I work out and my blood converts out of its natural molasses-type state into a mercurial substance that is more inclined to actually flow. Amazing what a little blood flow to the brain can do, really.

So, in order to enjoy said healthy bike ride, I often go to trusty ol’ Youtube and fire up a documentary (No need to concentrate on the wails, moans and general gnashing of metaphorical teeth that my lovely 57 year old classic-antique body sends forth from the 10 second point of my workout all the way until the moment the exercise ends…so a documentary takes my mind off of it…kinda) .

I had just posted a short blurb about my happiness that the venerable science show “Cosmos” had returned with the great Neil deGrasse Tyson at the helm. So Youtube decided that I needed some more, and automatically provided many Cosmos and Cosmos-related video options in my You-Queue (Youtube…you get me…your really get me man.) Glancing at the choices, my eyes were drawn to a familiar face from my young adult years and the namesake of this here blog: Carl Sagan.

I first became aware of the word “numinous” (as did many others) from Dr. Sagan’s use of it in the classic sci-fi novel “Contact.” Bloggist Jonathan Coleman does a great job describing this cool word with this treatise. Here is a snippet from said page:

“Numinous” refers to the experience of being in the presence of something holy and divine. Sacred. The word expresses a feeling of wonder and awe at that which cannot be wholly understood on its own terms. Which is to say that it is something beyond our experience, something that is Other. (from Jonathan Coleman’s post “The Numinous”)

Jonathan also includes the mind-boggling opening scene to the movie version of “Contact” on his blog where we follow the journey that our own radio waves have taken from Earth out into the universe- kind of a race through time to hear all of our transmissions in reverse chronological order from the present day to the very first transmissions…

Stunning footage no? One might even say “numinous” if one really tries to imagine what the film’s opening sequence depicts and experiences it as fully as one’s imagination will allow.

And watching this scientist, this astrophysicist, this author, this grand communicator, this…”Mr. Numinous” again (thanks to Youtube) was like coming home to my earliest universal awareness. Carl’s delivery is at once reverential, childlike and brilliant. In short, it feels very, very numinous.

If you haven’t seen the original, here is the first episode. And as Cosmos co-author Ann Druyan says: “…even though it has been 20 years (and now 34 years), the original Cosmos required very few revisions and was indeed rich in prophecy.”

Check it out, and be ready to get your numinous on 🙂

To me, the numinous is my awareness of God and all of his absolutely stunning creation. I believe that science is the key to achieving a higher understanding of how all of this works, how it was made, and how we can be better room mates together in the cosmos. And I believe that faith and science walk hand-in-hand.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced the numinous? I do every single day…and it never gets old!

Pretty cool eh?



Wow! How did I miss THIS! Here is an archive video of the live streaming Q&A session that was part of the big rollout of the new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyessey. It has the folks you would expect such as host Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-author co-creator of the Cosmos: A Personal Journey Ann Druyan, but it also includes some people you DON’T expect like Executive Producer Seth MacFarlane… What WHAT?! and the Cosmos home is Fox… What WHAT? I say BRAVO! I do believe in my heart-of-hearts that we can all walk together and have fascinating conversations about the universe, the human condition and perhaps the non-human condition 🙂 Why not?

The comments under the Youtube post are sadly typical of the lethal non-civil dialogues that plague the U.S. these days, but consider the video: a group of VERY diverse people from wholly different walks of life having a fun and groovy discussion about….everything.

There is hope for the world it seems…

This captures the mood during this Q&A of the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Pre-Screening streamed live on March 4, 2014. This panel includes Host Neil deGrasse Tyson, Executive Producer/Writer/Director Ann Druyan, Executive Producer Seth MacFarlane, Executive Producer Mitchell Cannold, Executive Producer/Director Brannon Braga and Co-Executive Producer Jason Clark. 


About swiest2

Steve Wiest is a Trombonist-Composer-Cartoonist-Author and Coordinator of The 21st Century Music Initiative at The Lamont School of Music: The University of Denver
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4 Responses to Mr. Numinous

  1. Hambone says:

    Well, first off, I want to know where Tyson got that vest. My youngest and I watched a documentary on Netflix featuring Tyson, although I don’t think it was “Cosmos.” The documentary was about early discoveries that upended the conventional thinking of the time such as the world is round, and not the center of the universe. It was great, although Cosmos looks like it has better graphics and production value than the documentary we saw. For those of us still in the grasp of “appointment viewing” when does it air?

    • swiest2 says:

      My MAN The Hambone! 🙂 Well…I know right? I want me a vest like that. Goes good with jeans (but then everything goes well with jeans) Yep, the show you saw was indeed Cosmos. About Bruno right? I think it was this episode:

      As far as when it airs…alas, I have joined the legion of folks who grab a show only on the internet. I now watch “computer” rather than TV. Kind of cool though not having to wade through all those truck commercials 🙂

      • Hambone says:

        Nope. Not the show we saw. So do you watch on a laptop or tablet? Is your tv linked to the internet someway? I am a simple cave man, not accustomed to your modern ways.

        • swiest2 says:

          Ha! I too am a simple caveman…but I am wired to the hilt with 21C techno magic. I watch all television shows after-the-fact as they become available on free internet (something that I hope stays around for awhile) Usually YouTube or a posting from a show’s website, or via some of my favorite news sites. Jimmy Fallon is good about that kind of stuff and leading the way with free content. Jerry Seinfeld is of course my hero with his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”… in my not-so-humble-opinion: the most brilliant show on the air today.


          And no, my TV is not hooked up to the internet unless you count the “airplay” thing that Apple TV does. I can see most of what is on my laptop on the big screen with that interface.

          I’m lovin’ me some 21st Century my friend!

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