A Geek Bearing Gifts


God is dead…Physics is all that we are. – C.R. Dudley

Newton’s First Law of Motion or Inertia: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

When presented with such scientific and/or mathematical postulates, even ones as elementary as the preceding example, our minds tend to shift into an analytical mode that contains little emotion or ostensible humanity.  It can almost be said that to understand formulas and theories describing the underlying “laws” of the phenomenal world, one must temporarily suspend engagement with this world and adopt a state of mind more akin to a computer program than that of an emotional and reactionary participant in the thing being analyzed.

But this is only due to the limitations of language and its effects on our outlook.  We read the above as a rather lifeless albeit accurate maxim of physics simply because that’s how it’s been presented to us all along: as information to memorize for the purpose of passing exams.  If an illustration is needed to clarify the words or the formula, we invariably choose things like apples or undefined masses of matter labeled by a variable such as X.  Rarely, if ever, will you encounter a professor who opts to illustrate the application of the formula with things like groups of people or attitudes or sociopolitical trends.

And yet…there is nothing in existence that falls outside the parameters of the catch-all designation “the workings of the Universe”.  Not even “God” or your “immortal soul”, so if you were thinking you had the perfect fly to contaminate my ointment, you need to just simmer down.  Of course, the “workings of the Universe” aren’t nearly as formulaic as our descriptions of each isolated event imply.  In fact, we tend only to look at an effect as the natural outcome of a cause without understanding that it’s actually an ongoing perpetual circular motion of an effect following a cause which in turn causes the effect to become a cause affecting the next event.  It is an infinite process.  But since most of us tend to view reality in relation to the confines of our own lifetimes, the built-in stabilizing element of the system is considered unimportant.  If the force of motion – whether inducing a positive, negative or neutral effect on our lives – is strong enough to keep such aspects energized for the better part of a century (not even a drop in the bucket of “eternity” which cannot be contained by even the most massive of buckets), then what comes next is of no significance to us. (“What does the future of the species matter to me if I won’t be alive to experience it?”)

The mass hallucination called the United States of America is younger than 3 successive human lifetimes as roughly defined in the previous paragraph.  A mere baby among many older and often wiser mass hallucinations across the globe.  Truly, it hasn’t existed long enough to have achieved a level of “greatness” that needs to be recaptured “again”.  But the actual people living within the mass hallucination represent varying levels of intellectual, emotional, social, political and cultural evolution.  As usual, those who have stagnated in their evolution are the most vocal and forceful in demanding that nothing be done to upset the status quo.  And in their minds, the “status quo” is a white, male-dominated top-down system that affords them the best opportunities and the least criticism for the cowardice underlying this fucked up vision of Utopia.  In a sense, there was a moment in modern times when this was almost the way things operated and that probably occurred sometime in the early 1950s.  Just before a large swath of Americans re-learned the power of protest resulting in the counter-culture movement of the sixties, things weren’t just easier for white Christian males, they were unquestionably so, as if it were the God-given right of the majority to be the majority.  But just a quick glance back at the simplest maxims of Newtonian physics shows us why this was an untenable situation that could not have persisted indefinitely.  Forward motion brought the situation to where it was at that time, but the motion didn’t stop simply because a few people found themselves in an undeservedly fortunate position.  It kept going, ensuring that this desire for rights and freedom and economic security started to infect everyone who lived within the nation’s borders: women, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBT, Asians, Muslims, etc.  Therefore, anyone who proudly dons a stupid baseball cap bearing the acronym “MAGA” is fully ignorant of the most basic laws of physics.  If there hadn’t been preexisting communities of minorities throughout the country at the time of this pinnacle of white male dominance, some other division would have eventually arisen to restore balance to this unevenly skewed landscape.  Perhaps guys with mustaches would have banded together to protest the unfair advantage held by the clean shaven.  Whatever.  See, the specifics of who one considers inferior or a threat to his lifestyle are irrelevant.  Bigoted whites don’t hate blacks specifically because they’re black.  They hate them because there is an observable physical “difference” and ignorance is incapable of grasping subtleties such as interconnection or the troublesome implications of a genetic distinction as infinitesimal as .0001%.  In other words, what they really hate is change.  As such, it is the scariest thing imaginable for them to internalize the fact that change is actually the only constant “law of the Universe”.

At the present, American politics is in a seeming ideological stalemate.  The way to describe this in the language of classical physics is the situation of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.   But fortunately, that is a paradox in itself.  If a force were truly irresistible, it would follow that no object could be considered immovable when acted upon by said force.  If an object were truly immovable, there would be no such thing as a force that it couldn’t resist.  So we will move on.  And we will move forward.  There’s no sense speculating about what the “end result” might be, because as we’ve already covered, there is no such endpoint to this or any other process.  But we can at least take comfort in this: tribalism and its constituent aspects of bigotry and hatred for “outsiders” (otherwise known as xenophobia) is what appears to be the “immovable object” right now.  But this is only because the soon-to-be temporarily “irresistible force” of progressive acceptance and cooperation hasn’t yet gathered enough strength to demolish the object.  It’s powerful enough to move it – we might have witnessed that in a few of last night’s election results – but this object isn’t a can to be kicked down the road, it’s an eyesore to be destroyed.  We who embrace change can be patient and hopeful in the knowledge that sooner or later, the spirit of cooperation and compromise will prevail in the eradication of the object, just as those who stubbornly cling to it know that its elements will begin to gather and coalesce into a similar stagnant phenomenon immediately upon the disintegration of its current form.  “Luck” means being alive during that sweet spot in history and geography when either the winds of change blow unhindered or they’re kept at bay by a massive blockade.  Which of those is considered a fortunate situation depends upon your personal values.  Those who value freedom and inclusiveness find the unobstructed flow of the wind to be most soothing while those who value predictability and stagnation cling fearfully to metaphorical rocks.  However, every rock must disintegrate sooner or later but the wind will continue to blow.

So cheer up, my fellow good-hearted citizens.  Physics is on our side.

21 thoughts on “A Geek Bearing Gifts

  1. And who can argue with that? The odd analogy I came to is the breeding of dogs. The purer the breed, the greater the instability of the genetic core of that breed. They are more susceptible to cellular breakdown than a good ole, watered down collection of multiple dog racess Patches the Mutt.

    So, I have a new slogan. MAMA: Make America Mutty Again!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this post. You’re quite right about the laws of physics seeming somehow detached and rarely being applied to humanity. It is as though we think we are somehow above all of that stuff; that it only applies to the world we live in. But when we become aware of the ego illusion it becomes obvious: the ever flowing, ever changing universe is what we are but a miniscule part of, and we will move with it whether we stamp our feet and let our petty prejudices show or not.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Caroline! Truly, this post wouldn’t have been written without your influence. Remember when I was commenting on your book, I said that there were several passages I highlighted for future inspiration? Well, the quote leading into this post was one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Paul! It’s a huge compliment to know I have inspired somebody else and sparked off new thoughts – that’s what it’s all about, I think. I should probably in turn give credit to Nietzsche for at least half of that quote though 😉

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I can simplify it: the laws of physics encompass everything — including our opinions, emotions, politics, culture and social systems. So if entropy states that every system eventually breaks down, that also applies to personal or collective philosophies and not just the biochemical effects of them on our physiology.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. “The mass hallucination called the United States of America is younger than 3 successive human lifetimes … Truly, it hasn’t existed long enough to have achieved a level of “greatness” that needs to be recaptured “again”.”

    Quite simply, wow. In that brief succession of sentences you destroyed the MAGA movement altogether, and reduced the entirety of our nation’s existence to the length to three saeculum.

    We are babies. Our democracy may yet prove to be the most important political invention in the history of mankind, or we may just be some forgotten society delegated to a single sentence in some future tome.

    “The United States of America, founded in the late 18th century, was the last of the modern societies to ban slavery, the only nation to unleash an atomic bomb in a populated area, and is best known for inventing Coke.”

    Make America great again. Try doing it once.

    The very definition of “conservative” lends itself to the fear of change you assert. The rock-to-the-wind analogy was brilliant. You and Caroline are absolutely correct: god is dead; physics is our salvation. The problem for the limited of scope is that nobody’s found the body yet, and it’s so damn hard to prove a negative.

    But I will take your final words to heart. We will prevail. Logic demands it. 🤘

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So I’m a Canadian and Canadian’s as such are somewhat apolitical, for better or worse. But we are not immune to the hypocrisy of bigotry, ignorance and hate. Through your art that is your words and writing, I see the truth of fear. Fear is such a powerful emotion. I have a strong belief that there are only 2 emotions in the world, Love and Fear. It’s unfortunate that fear is used as a tactic to support the status quo, which we see time and time again. There is not much more I can add, Don’t Hate Just Write!! Or Hug…who doesn’t like hugs!? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is precisely why I view Canadians as so much more level-headed than your troublesome southern neighbors will ever be. And I agree with you 100% that love and fear are really the only two baseline emotions from which all others spring!

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s