Vollmann on Copernicus:

I myself can’t help but wonder how high his aspirations were. I imagine him sincerely hoping to solve all celestial problems, to save the appearances and likewise to explain them. I see him as one of us, a man who lived on Earth and will not come again, a man whose dreams were greater than could be achieved, a lost one, enchanted by something beyond him, a man who gave his best to something, died, and left his accomplishment rusting into obsolescence. He was long ago and we cannot remember more than scraps of him. And this is what it means to be one of us in this sublunary world, a person whose hopes will al sooner or later be superseded.