Pascal’s Sphere

In Coleman Barks’ introduction to Chapter 16 of his Big Red Book, he quotes Carl Jung (1875-1961) as saying:

“The Self (God) is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere.”

C.G. Jung and Herman Hesse:
A Record of Two Friendships

Miguel Serrano (Schocken 1968).

I recall reading an essay by Jorge Luis Borges
(The Fearful Sphere of Pascal) in which he explores the development of this quotation through history.
In typically chilling Borgesian fashion he finishes
the essay thus:

“In that dispirited century, the absolute space which had inspired the hexametres of Lucretius, the absolute space which had meant liberation to Bruno, became a labyrinth and an abyss for Pascal.
He abhorred the universe and would have liked to adore God; but God, for him, was less real than the abhorred universe.  He deplored the fact that the fragment did not speak, and he compared our life with that of castaways on a desert island.  He felt the incessant weight of the physical world, he experienced vertigo, fright and solitude, and he put his feelings into these words:

“Nature is an infinite sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
[Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)]

Thus do the words appear in the Brunschvicg text;
but the critical edition published by Torneur
(Paris, 1941), which reproduces the crossed-out words and variations of the manuscript, reveals that Pascal started to write he word effroyable: 

“a fearful sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.””

The Fearful Sphere of Pascal,
from Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
Penguin 1970

Here are some of the other variants of the quotation, as found in the afore-mentioned essay:

“The Divine Being is like the mass of a well-rounded sphere, whose force is constant from the centre in any direction.”
Parmenides (late 6th or early 5th Century BC)

“God is an intelligible sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
Hermes Trismegistus (3rd Century AD?) discovered by Alain de Lille (1128-1223)

“..that intellectual sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere
and which we call God.”
François Rabelais (1483-1553)

“We can assert with certitude that the universe is all centre, or that the centre of the universe is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.”
Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)

WP_20150625_010

And apropos of nothing (wait for it!) here is
Leonard Cohen singing You Know Who I Am
taken from his Live Songs LP (1973);
exploring sexual politics, creatio ex nihilo
and binary notation…Nice!

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