From supernovas to composting, our universe holds true to the idea that to create things you need to destroy things. Pablo Picasso once said something along the lines of, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” From his perspective, I believe he was speaking purely of concepts, methods, and theories such that you must eliminate certain ideas in order to break free and make new ones. This is quite wise and fair to say, but for my purposes here, I want to take this idea to its final, universal conclusion.
In a physical and fundamental sense, matter itself tends to maintain its state unless coerced otherwise; that is, it wont do something new unless you make it. This follows with things such as inertia, and that which is in motion will remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force. Well, let’s look at the aforementioned supernovas and their greater role as stars that explode. When gravity has collected matter with such a force that the nuclear energies keeping the atoms together are overcome, the matter fuses and forms new, larger elements. Elements are crushed into larger elements, particles, and light. As this regular life process of a star continues on eventually the gravity and the fusion reach a stalemate where fusion energy can no longer hold back gravitational compression. If the star is large enough, then when fusion is finished the star collapses in on itself with such force that it rebounds in a massive explosion called a supernova. This implosion to explosion will form larger elements that the star previously could not under normal star conditions. From an unknowing viewer, this supernova would seem an event of total annihilation and doom as the star and it’s planets all become an expanding cloud of gas and dust; yet, in reality it’s destruction is a critically creative act. From stars crushing and supernovas spreading comes all the ingredients for our planet and our lives; we are star stuff after all.
Likewise, the decomposition you see when food waste and plant matter is broken down in a compost heap may appear purely destructive. As large items become dirt they are destroyed with the end result being equal or more life than went into it. It’s not so different than when a cook obliterates a bunch of food items and turns the destroyed bits into ingredients that form a greater whole that is a culinary creation. The demolition of a building gives space for the creation of a new building in it’s place and it’s materials can be recycled; and you have to have some creativity in order to figure out how to demolish a building in the first place. Or, the destruction of artifacts in Palmyra, where the response to this destruction lead to the creation of new archaeological and museum methods for documenting, preserving, and exhibiting history with technology. These paradoxes – whether cultural, physical, or philosophical in essence – seem to be a fact of our universe wherever you look and think deep enough. I urge you to tease out this destructive-to-creative process in our world, whether seemingly anti-creative or benign.
There does appear a trend where in some apparently destructive act, whether by man or by nature, there is inevitably creation.
Ultimately, there is no destruction nor creation, just rearrangement and transition. Regardless of this fact of energy and mass conservation, it is valid to say without destructive creation we’d live in a static world.