Copernicus: (n) Polish astronomer
I wonder what people would say about Ludwig von Beethoven if he’d never written music.
Absent being able to consider his art, any relatives who passed along an impression of him would be offering trivial details:
“He belched a lot—he always had a problem with gas.”
“I think he heard better than he pretended.”
“He had a bad temper.”
“He disrespected women.”
“He was kind of crazy.”
“But overall, a nice guy.”
You see, if you don’t create an entity separate from your everyday life that can be set apart as evidence that you thought about something other than yourself, then the memories of you end up being whether those who knew you were inconvenienced by your personality.
Beethoven wrote symphonies—so people don’t talk much about how grumpy he was.
Abraham Lincoln helped free the slaves, so if he ended up being a little bit gay, who in the hell cares?
John Kennedy helped us come through the Cuban Missile Crisis, preventing World War III. We will allow him a couple of boinks with Marilyn Monroe.
Copernicus pissed people off because he told them that if you looked through a telescope, you would discover that the Earth and planets in our solar system actually revolve around the sun, instead of everything circling the Earth.
It made people angry.
Was it because they wanted the Earth to be important?
Was it because they hated the sun?
Or were they aggravated because they couldn’t afford a telescope?
We may never know—but Copernicus was right. And even though he may have made an amazing goulash, we will never know—because he will forever be known as one of the first dudes to tell us the truth about our little Universe.
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