3 nov. 2011

The Little Prince and the Infinite

Recently I met with the Little Prince of Saint-Exupéry. 
He is just as described by the writer, his disordered hair seems as made of wheat fields and his smile is charming.
But the writer was a little scarce in the description of his character.
You can not tolerate him!
He is insistent until death... maybe as several children that I know. 
Once he asks one question, he expects the best answer. 
 
This was my situation the day when I saw him.
I was in a 2 hours cue to ascend to the Eiffel Tower plus 2 hours cue to wait for the elevator to go to the half of the tower. I did not want to continue and preferred to see Paris during an hour among hundreds of crazy people, cameras and flashes. Then, I waited other 2 hours cue to the elevator that took me down… I felt that I was waited an infinite time until then.

It was a profound night when I ran to look for a metro stop to be finally able to return to my hotel. I was tired walking in the avenue plenty of people selling champagne bottles.

Suddenly and without any consideration of my state, that boy appeared in front of me.
‘Wow! Are you the Little Prince?’ My eyes did not doubt that he was that character 
‘What is infinite?’ He looked at me fixedly without answering me
‘What?’ I said to him admiring his perfect Spanish with B-612asteroid accent 
‘What is infinite?’ He repeated impatiently
‘Why do you ask for it?
‘You said some time ago that you had waited during an infinite time. That time was 7 hours. Is that infinite?’ It nailed me his inquiring look. 
‘My God! No, it is not. It was only 7 hours’ I agreed despite the fact that for my perception that time had seemed eternal.
‘And well?’ His foot began to move. ‘What is infinite then?’
‘And well, how I explain it to him?
 
I told him to count numbers.
 
It was the easier way for me to explain the infinite, I thought. When we counted 12345 numbers (he counted very quickly) I told him ‘do you see it? You never finish counting and that is the infinite’


Their eyes looked at me disappointed. 
 
‘Is the number of stars in the sky infinite?’ He tried to help me when he realized that I was a little discouraged by my lack of dexterity when tried to explain it.
‘No’ I responded him while the stars shined in the dark of the beautiful city. ‘You can never see more than 5000 stars in a clear sky. Here in Paris, they are much less because there is a lot of illumination


‘Is the number of stars infinite in the universe then?’
‘I don't know’ I was really desperate. ‘In our galaxy they are 100 000 000 000 of stars and if our universe is closed…’ 
‘Closed?

I realized that the situation was more and more complicated for me to explain and my eyes were very tired. I knew that the theories say that the universe can be closed or finite, that would mean a finite number of stars. On the contrary, if it is open, then the number of stars is infinite and you would never finish counting the stars.
 
In that instant the Little Prince showed me an album of drawings. 
 
‘Look’ he said with some compassion but without giving up in his question. ‘Maybe it is easy for you drawing the answer. I new a pilot once and he drew me a lamb. 
 
A drawing? Yes sure, easier… The truth was that I only wanted to sit down in a Parisian café and enjoy a coffee and a croissant. (Some people call anxiety to this).

‘Hey you! Draw! I do not have your time’ He insisted to me, that bloody boy. 

I drew him this:

‘Is the number 8 the infinite?
‘Non man, turn it, you are looking at it in the wrong way. This is the symbol of the infinite.
‘Mmm. This could be its symbol, but what is infinite?
‘Sorry you are right. This is only the symbol’ The Eiffel Tower seemed to get lost in the distance in the dawn and seemed to approach from the distance as it could be come from the infinite.
Brilliant! My brain was working. Nevertheless some days later I found that maybe it happened during my dreams. 
‘Here you have. This is the infinite’ I said triumphantly, showing my drawing: 


‘Wow! Thank you. I like it. I will keep it in my album and some day, I will take my rose to know it.
 
His smile shone so much that he and the sun were an only one thing. 
 
My eyes finally closed while the noises of the cars sounded behind my room’s window.

Despite of being so insistent, I am sure that I will miss him. I thought in my room while I was counting lambs only visible through the small holes of a box.

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