The Polish French artist Roman Opalka noted that ‘we are, and are about not to be’.  To try to make sense of the flow of time which takes us from finite being to infinite non-being, he began painting numbers, starting with ‘1’, with a view to getting as close to infinity as he could (his last number was 5,607,249).

He had thought about this for years, wondering how he might visualise time.  He did not mean the time of clocks or calendars or hour-glasses; those were merely instruments of convenience for fixing points at which to have coffee, or feed the cat.  That was time you could even reverse, by winding back the clock or tipping the hourglass over.  He meant the irreversible continuum of time that flowed through him, the pulse of his life approaching his death within the vastness of infinity.

Let’s make the most of our temporary being before stepping (or stumbling or soaring) to infinite non-being!

Source: Obituary for Roman Opalka, The Economist, 20 August 2011

Photo credit: Emile Séguin at unsplash


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