The truly general principle of relativity, I am suggesting, could just as well be called a principle of kindness (as in the word kin) or a principle of compassion or a principle of sameness or a principle of difference. According to my theory, as it were, the structure of existence (i.e. of experience in general) corresponds exactly to the single best symbol of this principle of truly general relativity. Physics, then, being identical to that symbol, would chiefly be understood as signifying the existence of others, i.e. as signifying the supposed fact that the individual (alias soul, observer, quantum/particle of reality) is not alone. A pleiad rather than a monad, I say, such individual is supposed a member of a set of kindred and literally influential individuals, infinite in number and including the singularly absolute God relative to Whom the rest of the set is in a state of submission, meaning “underneath yet (mysteriously) with.” Belief in this set is, I think, the most beautiful belief. A completely successful physics based on this belief (i.e. principle) alone would be a best, most beautiful physics.
Such physics would be fundamentally complex, Red/Dionysian. In this book I have pointed up especially the unfortunate domination that the simple, White/Apollonian paradigm has exerted over the Red/Dionysian since 3200 BCE or so. What’s more I have suggested that this domination is destined to end during the present century and that we are thus entering a new Golden Age. This destiny, like any other, we can understand but not control. We can, however, control the fear and anger and such that accompany it. In terms of the perennial, Golden/Legal philosophy and only in these terms we can beautifully enter the new age.
Yin is Red, Yang is White; their basis,
the plenum or matrix, is Black.
Apropos of this epochal passage are the following:
What Archimedes said of the mechanical powers, may be applied to Reason and Liberty. “Had we,” said he, “a place to stand upon, we might raise the world.”
The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics. So deeply rooted were all the governments of the old world, and so effectually had the tyranny and the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition of man. Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, — and all it wants, — is the liberty of appearing.
— Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1792
If it is the highest and the greatest that you seek,
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In addition to souls which run and shriek and devour ... might there not be souls which bloom in stillness, exhale fragrance and satisfy their thirst with dew, and their impulses by their burgeoning? Could not flowers communicate with each other, by the very perfumes they exude? Becoming aware of each other’s presence, by means more delightful ... than the verbiage and breath of humans? From “inside” comes the voice, and from “inside” comes the scent.
Gustav Theodor Fechner, Nanna, or the Soul-Life of Plants, 1848
Now, patience; and remember patience is the great thing, and above all things else we must avoid anything like being or becoming out of patience.
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Scant hope theirs or ours to escape life’s high carnage of semperidentity by subsisting peasemeal upon variables. Bloody certainly have we got to see to it ere smellful demise surprends us on this concrete that down the gullies of the eras we may catch ourselves looking forward to what will in no time be staring you larrikins on the postface in that multimirror megaron of returningties, whirled without end to end.
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Imagine there’s no heaven
— John Lennon, “Imagine”
As Sartre said, Hell is other people. So too is Heaven. Fundamentally abandoning space, we fundamentally abandon death as well. “A deep relation exists between space and death,” writes Spengler. Belief in space and death can be superseded by belief in an infinite set of finite yet eternal and extremely pleiadic souls, together not in space but rather in mystery itself, each interpenetrating, influencing all the others, each suspended, crucified, if you will, on all the others God included.
I’m a dreamer like Finn is a dreamer. We are all dreamers really, all Finns, Jacobs, Zeus's. Each of us a god. Yet we would do better to dream more during the day, as did Joyce, and T.E. Lawrence, and Alexander, Caesar, Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, King, Lennon, and so many others.
As there is but a single absolute God, there is ultimately but a single dream, a single myth, a single destiny, which singularity, by the same token, is extremely complex: an optimal combination of simplicity and generality; in a word, beauty. Heroism is underwritten by that dream.
The Great Reversal is destined to be reversed by such heroism. In this respect, and in the precise terms of this book, I see burgeoning what might unfairly be called a Holy War against the merely White/Apollonian paradigm (i.e. that paradigm decoupled from the Red/Dionysian paradigm and what’s more from the Golden/Legal philosophy and from Black/Baroque reality/existence itself). Far from suggesting that the White/Apollonian should be surpressed, I am saying it will naturally be addressed and honored (if not accommodated, for its essence is apotheosis and more generally extension) in a re-articulated, re-affirmed, re-invigorated yet but exemplary Golden/Legal philosophy.
By its nature this distinct Golden/Legal redress is not violent. Kindness is the chief quality of the Golden/Legal warrior. This warrior, this warriorpriestpleiad, is distinguished insofar as heshe exemplifies the belief at once passionately, patiently, peacefully in the principle of relativity, multeity-in-unity, kindness. Corollary of this belief is the notion that character is destiny. In this greatest respect recall the myth of St. George and the Dragon, and likewise the myth of Pallas, as well as the equivalency I recognize between the Palladium and the Statue of Liberty. It is in such light that we can understand the so-called “isolationism” at bottom of the United States of America. That isolationism is not simple, not static. It is the complex, dynamic isolationism of the proto-mythological George who already has heroically left his tribe, gone abroad (or West), and contested for and been sacrificed by (cuckolded, in one sense or another, emasculated) and hence identified with the Tree Goddess, the Triple Goddess, alias Terre/Tara, the 3 Fates, the 3 witches of Macbeth, chief among whom is the femme fatale, goddess of love/beauty (bel, kal, hel) and war (again, bel, kal, hel; war is hell, war is Helen): Venus/Andromeda/Core/Magdalene/Pallas/Electra/Helen/Livia/Liberty. The isolationism at bottom of the U.S. is that of this warriorpriestpleiad the Tree Man, 3-Man, Odin, Adonis, Attis, Odysseus, Athamus, Tammuz, Adam, Atum, Aten, Hades, Ate, Atlas, Atman, Pan, King of Pain/Passion/Patience/Peace, the Bread Man who knows a sort of solipsism is the basis for a belief in others. (The Vedantic/Hindu Atman = Brahman corresponds to the Christian Jesus = God, and these equations likewise correspond to the Joycean Leopold Bloom = Ulysses and Everybody = Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. In these respects note that, generally speaking, equivalency is different than identity.)
In 1821 the U.S. president John Quincy Adams, echoing George Washington, expressed to his Congress the exemplary dynamism I am referring to:
And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind?
Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.
She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.
She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.
She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.
She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.
She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.
She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.
[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.
Yet if our protagonist George-the-American is chiefly like Odin and the rest engaged in a determinedly Red/Dionysian process of self-sacrifice, of mediation, he is likewise nevertheless at once in a Black/Baroque (existential, vegetative) state and engaged in a determinedly White/Apollonian process of rising up / striking out again. He builds his skycrapers, he travels on his Apollo missions to the Moon; and, albeit with significant reluctance, he fights wars in Europe and Asia and elsewhere especially now in Afghanistan. Yes, he must be Finn again, even though he is chiefly Thomas Sawyer (i.e. Tammuz the Tree Who Cuts Himself Down). We should therefore expect and in a fundamental sense accommodate his naturally sophomoric and indeed phallic extensions. But we should remind him that as such extensions mature into self-sacrifice (feminization, as it were), his natural way home according to ineluctable proto-mytho-logic is by way of the realization that he cannot really go home again.
None of us especially this so-called superpower George should underestimate the myth. The myth is the only true superpower, and each of us is understandable and uncontrollable only insofar as we are equivalent to it. I’m reminded of Plato’s description, in his Critias, of how the gods of old acted on humanity:
But they did not compel us by exerting bodily force on our bodies, as do shepherds who drive their flocks to pasture by blows, but rather, by what makes a creature turn course most easily; as they pursued their own plans, they directed us from the stern, as if they were applying to the soul the rudder of Persuasion. And in this manner they directed everything mortal as do helmsmen their ships.
Kindness especially may be uncontrollable, but if you think it and its corollaries anemic, feckless or otherwise impractical, you should recall the recent examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King; and you should recall Sun Tzu, from his Art of War: “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” The word finesse stems from the Latin finis, which means not only “end” but also “fine,” i.e. of highest quailty, “acme,” “peak,” “height.” Finn is finesse. The end is miraculously a beginning, and the end and the beginning are resonant throughout. This is the nature of a finity, and it is the basis of a belief in infinity. Hence, too, a final physics is in our destiny, but only inasmuch as physics can be significant of the greatest possible mystery, the greatest possible kindness.
Kindness is acausal, yes; its action is purely mysterious; but it is the only force. This statement is akin to Leonardo da Vinci’s: “Nothing whatever can be moved by itself, but its motion is effected through another. There is no other force.” Replace Leonardo’s “another” with “(all) others” and you have Mach’s Principle and something very close to the truly general principle of relativity, i.e. the principle of kindness. The principle of inertia was called the Principle of Leonardo until Newton published this principle as his First Law of Motion, in Principia. Motion caused by a single soul we call animate; motion caused by all we call inertial. Motion dynamism in general is ultimately identical to the occult force, the “active principle,” which Newton mysteriously plumbed not only in terms of physics (especially gravity, space and time) but also in terms of alchemy (gold, copper, fire, iron ) and myth (Hermes, Aphrodite, Hephaistos, Mars ). Orthodox physics’ principle of extreme (alias “least”) action is reducible to this principle of kindness, this one true force, which force is minimal in its singularness yet is otherwise maximal. Only upon this force can one truly stake one’s life; for to believe that it does not exist is to believe that one is utterly alone (i.e. utterly free, in contrast to at liberty), that there is nothing greater nor lesser than one’s self, that one is identical to God.
Clearly (and precisely) I am an extreme optimist, a Silenus heralding a considerably lost yet at least tenuously ever-present and indeed obviously developing Golden Age. Accordingly I’ve hereby tried to confide most powerfully and strongly what I feel as (and what I think is) a natural, extreme but ironic humility: I’ve emphasized my own minimal yet quantum (i.e. irreducible) existence among an infinite set of others, which set includes a single, absolute God relative to whom this book is meant to be an expression of submission. I am a radical conservative — as was Caesar, as was Leibniz, as was Einstein, as was Joyce. When I regard my particular foolishness in general I can fairly say it is increasingly commensurate with Blake’s aphorism: “If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise!” In this respect I have reached an extremely personal yet extremely general threshold — an artistic threshold, really, perhaps the artistic threshold, akin to a herm and to an omphalos and of the sort Nietzsche described as a signal recognition: “That, only I can do that.”
Such a recognition strikes me as especially consonant with the famous Sufi aphorism, “Freedom is the absence of choice.” I’ve long considered this aphorism a sort of ineluctable monolith which beckons one and all to its top. I’ve now left an honest record of my ongoing attempt to address that insurmountable summit, which summit, I expect, is ironically an understanding and really an extremely complex existential moment identical to nothing less than God: a moment of quantum gravity, of multeity-in-unity, of beauty, of nirvana, of compassion — of peace.
Likewise this present volume and moreover the Gravity trilogy as a whole may be considered a call to contrast if not to conflict (much less to war): to the ultimate and only necessary, only understandable, only uncontrollable contrast, which is the internal and eternal contrast and by singular principle, namely the principle of relativity, the extreme contrast with others in general. This is to say, the Gravity trilogy is a call to the contrast which is Peace; a call to the character which is destiny; a call and a prayer to God; an ululation, a song of Ulysses, he being the red-haired, bow-legged “angry one,” the king — god, lord (Adonis, Antony, Andvari, Ottr, Odin, Aten, Adam, Attis, Outis, Odys, etc) — of pain, passion, patience, pax, pas, god of the Sea, god of the Earth, god of the Tree, god of the Middle, the merchant, the messenger, the traveler (from the Old French travaillier, “to torture, labor,” the latter as in opera and Ops and optimum; and this travaillier from the Latin tripalis, “having three stakes”), the trickster, the evasive, complicated, complex One. Linear time and space are merely concepts. Anachronism and hierarchy are the nature of nature. The future and the past are in the present; they are radically conserved; they are in you and in every other soul; they are the very words on your tongue; they are likewise your uvula which hangs in your throat and which is the crucial instrument in ululation, that owl/Athena/Pallas/Libya/Livia-song of and especially for Ulysses, this word uvula stemming from the Latin uva, “bunch of grapes,” as in the Pleiades and as in Dionysus and being cognate with the Greek oa, “service tree,” and with the Old English yew (genus Taxus, which evergreen tree provides the wood of the ancient archery bow) and likewise with the Old Irish eó, as in Jew and Leopold and Earwicker. Yes, the future and the past are your very tree-like, fractal body. Your hydrogen atoms, they represent the full body of existence, the true, fractally hierarchical, eternal cosmos. Future and past are ready as they will ever be for you to appreciate them, for you to signify and characterize them, for you to fulfill your destiny and contribute to the destiny of the world. The great heroic gate is everywhere and always wide open usually upon the middle ground and generally upon the simplest and most complex ground, the most facile yet the most difficult, the most beautiful yet immediate the only ground of and for the hero. Tended by Janus (alias Peter, Cepheus, the Green Man, Humbaba, Odin, Dionysus, Osiris, Attis, etc) this gate this ground, this tree is equivalent if not identical to you. You, you are the one who must save yourself and hence transform the world. You are fast Ulysses upon the mast.
Where Out is in