Watchmen by Alan Moore

Joe Hutton

The piece I am about to read, Freya loved. She loved it because she had thought of many of the ideas herself but said that the author expressed these themes and half-thoughts in the exact and perfect words that epitomised how she felt about every felicitous happening and chance event that led to her, only her, and the sheer statistical improbability she felt that led to her being surrounded by so many people that she loved.

The piece looks at why humanity, with all of its quirks and foibles, strengths and weaknesses, joy and pain is so momentous, so unique and so precious.

Why?

Thermodynamic miracles – events with odds against it so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing.

And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter.

Until your mother loves a man, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilisation, it was you, only you, that emerged.

To distil so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air into gold; that is the crowning unlikelihood; the thermodynamic miracle.

But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget. I forget.

We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away.

Come… Dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; that clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly.

Dry your eyes. And let’s go home.