Nocturne

The Night, Number
Eight, & the Infinite

A completely unscientific survey shows that, in some languages, the word night is made up by the letter ‘N’ and the number eight. Thus, eight night, in English, ocho noche, in Spanish, huit nuit, French, acht nacht, German, otto notte, Italian, oito noite, Portuguese.
Given that N is the mathematical symbol of infinite, and eight also means the same, those who pay attention to that sort of thing (conspiracists?) conclude that night must have something to do with the void, the end, the dark. Which seems obvious. Or not. Whatever.
It’s all coincidence, say those who need a bit more of scientific basis before jumping into assumptions about philology. That list of languages, they say, which also should include Hindi (aat raath), are all derived from the Indo-European branch, so they are all related. Bummer.
And then, of course, they proceed to demolish the argument by mentioning all the hundreds of other languages in which the words night and eight have no way of knowing anything about each other, so to speak. Linguists of all accents were ecstatic, and so were everyone who simply can’t stand another pseudo Synchronicity.
No wonder so many tongues are disappearing. By the way, the fact that many false theories percolating the Internet these days would be easily dismissed if more of us would’ve paid a bit more attention in school is just a small consolation. In this case, however, is also a bit sad.
That’s because the theory was so elegant, we’d have loved if it’d made any sense. But even as it doesn’t, the implicit imagery of the flawed connection between the word, which rules when the sun is away, and the number that’s essentially two stacked up zeroes, soothes our jaded minds.
THE NIGHT HAS EYES
Is it the fact that, squeezed in there somewhere, there’s also the concept of slumber, dreaming, and even the Big Sleep itself, with its closing of the eyes and cessation of all possible senses? Or is just our own grey matter, again playing the tricks it learned once it no longer relied on its Reptilian past?
We’d add two other, completely unrelated and also as unscientific as they come, arguments to justify if not the illusory link, then our own volition to go along with it: one, we’re lazy. Secondly, we’ve been searching for a (noble?) excuse to publish these two amazing pictures. Yes, there you have it.
The Earth at Night (above), a cloud-free composite picture that NASA has put together out of over 400 satellite images of nighttime lights, has become one of the space agency’s most downloaded images, and that’s saying a lot. It was originally compiled to ‘study weather around urban areas.’

Exploring the Night, which depicts the Milky Way rising above Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, with a hiker (and the photographer) as sole witnesses, was taken by Jason Hatfield in May, 2012. It’s the 11th of the 50 finalists of the Smithsonian magazine’s 10th annual photo contest.
We could’ve called this post Below the Horizon, or Why Not Talk About Nine, or even Why Six Is So Afraid of Seven. But they all would skin over what the night does to every living being, and the tides, and nature itself. Also, they all ignore the Moon, which is something else entirely.
But as for the infinite, we really know nothing about it.

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One thought on “Nocturne

  1. eremophila says:

    You’ve put a smile upon my face, for reasons I cannot fathom, yet, there it is, and I thank you 🙂
    I love the ‘Exploring the Night’ image, except it makes me homesick for camping out up North……

    Like

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