|"I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research."
- Albert Einstein
As Sagan writes in Contact, the numinous of the individual is that of awakening. What constitutes longing, understanding, and freedom is directly linked to the spiritual centers of each individual. Some find the numinous through meditation or prayer, others through work or disciple. Still, some define the numinous through family, friendship and love. Sagan's intentions when defining the numinous was to do exactly the opposite: leave the numinous open to that of the individual to seek and employ.
"You are an interesting species, capable of such beautiful dreams,
but such horrible nightmares. You feel so cut-off, so alone, but what you
don't realize...is that in all our searching, all we found is each other."
As the Ellie Arroway struggles to find the meaning of the numinous throughout her voyage, she is forced to reconcile family and love. Her attempted escapes from both lead her to re-evaluate life, and in the end she finds exactly that, life. She is a victim of her own escapes that she cannot quite abandon. Though she tries valiantly to search for voices in the stars, her answers remain within her. Her voyage to deep space reveals only her own mortality and human desire. However, both are the key to true contact.
Sagan provokes the numinous through character interaction as well as scientific debate. He continuously contrasts the religious numinous with the scientific as if each were at war with one another. He concludes through the relationship of Ellie and Palmer, that both are equally and valid and not mutually exclusive. What we are meant to learn is the numinous exists as gifts, and we must receive them as such.
| Patterns | Selectors &
Selectees | Numinous | Machine
| Novel | Film | Sagan