07/17/2014 09:03 am ET Updated Jul 17, 2014

The Sheer Terror Of Being Alone With Our Thoughts

Robert Decelis Ltd via Getty Images

I recently thought about Pascal while crossing Terminal B of the Philadelphia International Airport.

No, not Pascal the computer programming language. I mean Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician for which the programming language is named.

A line of his came to mind as I looked up in irritation at one of the dozens of televisions blasting CNN throughout the terminal. The racket reminded me of the piped-in music that passers-by are subjected to while strolling down the sidewalk outside of strip malls near my home in the Philly suburbs. And the overly loud pop tunes that are regularly played as not-quite-background music in restaurants these days.

Which brings me to Pascal's haunting aphorism: "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."

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