Gravity and other laws

mysteries_of_the_universeHumans are fond of observing things, and calling what they observe ‘laws’.

This is the big hobby of scientists, whatever scientists are.

Isaac Newton, for example, had a thing for apples. Most people might simply eat them, but not Newton. He preferred to observe them falling from trees, instead, and form wily hypotheses as to why this happened.

“Hmmm. There must be this invisible force at work”, he mused, “that makes things fall to the ground. And so I must now call this invisible force something. But while I ponder what I may call it, I will go inside and eat my Sunday lunch”. Whereupon he sat himself down before his plate of roast beef and potatoes, picked up the gravy-boat, and dropped it all down himself, liberally dousing his waistcoat in gravy. “Damn and Blast!” he exclaimed. And so Gravity was born.

Whether, or not, there actually is a law concerning what has become popularly known as ‘gravity’, lies beyond my ability to decide. Certainly it appears to be so, rather often. But like that old tree falling in the forest tale, where none are present to hear it, does it still remain law-like, when humans have had their day?

I saw a crow, once, the actual crow, my own crow, sitting on a branch, head to wind, poised for a bit of mystery. He stuck his wings out, and adjusted his flight feathers, just so, and suddenly gravity ceased to exist.

A little twist, a slight camber, a hint of incidence, and a sprinkle of angle of attack, and suddenly, without a single flap, he rose from the branch, like a wobbly helicopter, and levitated, effortlessly.

This continued for an unknowable span of time, because when I observe such things, the second-hand on my non-existent watch ceases to move. On and on it went. While I gaped in wonderment.

And finally the bird settled back down on the branch, folded its wings, and thought no more about it. In fact, I venture to remark, that it never thought about it at all, in the first place.

So what happened to the ‘law’ of gravity there? Wings only work when there is a velocity vector. Don’t they? This was magic. Pure and simple. Typical crow-stuff.

There was a reason I started writing this. I know there was. Always, some motivation to write precedes the writing, itself. But now the reason has departed. Like gravity does, sometimes, leaving one able to fly, even without any wings…

Oh yes. Laws. Now I remember…

Scientists and mathematicians agree, as a group, to ignore certain minor inconsistencies, in order that they can have these comfortable little things called ‘laws’. Physics is dependent upon them, even though everybody knows that these ‘laws’ are not absolute, and that sometimes they simply don’t behave lawfully. They do, however, behave reliably, enough of the time, that it can be conveniently overlooked that sometimes they don’t.

Quantum Physics, however, is becoming the cosmic jokester, as it illustrates, again and again, that any state, and any law, is temporary, at best, and verges, in fact, upon the purely random.

This is an uncomfortable state of affairs for scientists. Many have an intense dislike of randomness. While others – the minority, of course – delight in it. Mystery rocks their boat!

I can relate, man: it rocks mine, too. Is that ‘rocks’, or ‘floats’? Whatever. Randomness creeps in, sometimes, and all I really need to say, in compensation, is: “Do you know what I mean?”

Anyway: some of us are liberals, you see. Uncomfortably many of us are, in fact. And those that are, like to deal in ‘laws’. Things that are always just so, no matter what. This is why such phenomena as ‘God’ must be legislated away, and replaced with science. Because legislation makes us feel that things are just so. And that whatever we legislate is just so. And thereby, control is established. Over everything, all of the time.

It must be nice, to be able to exist in a state where everything is always just reliably so. The sort of state induced by things like anti-depressants, and social-counseling. Rosy it’s-all-just-fine-ness. I can see its appeal. I can also see its absurdity. Which, unfortunately, makes me an outlaw. In the eyes of those who see only ‘laws’.

No. I prefer Reality. That lawless thing that is whatever it is, whenever it is, wherever it is, in any way it is, for as long as it is, and that lies completely, and forever, beyond any sort of control exerted by me, and probably doesn’t even know – or care – that I exist. I know this thing as ‘God’, and it is what I respect, admire, and revere. I try to work always with It in mind, so as not to annoy it, or cause it to overtly notice me.

And if you were able to make any sense of any of that, then you’re a better man than me, Charlie Brown.

15 Comments

  1. NotTheDude says:

    I loved this post. We do tend to look for hard and fast laws. It has dawned on me that that is a fault of our times, much like burning women as witches has been because men were uncomfortable with the thought of women having power in society that they did not. Maybe they didn’t fit in with what men saw society and themselves and God. I am coming around to the way of thinking written in this post. Things don’t always work out how we’d expect and like, so we arrest this mysterious ‘God’ and tie Him to the stake on trumped up charges and burn him out of fear.

    1. crow says:

      My wife really likes you and your comments :)

    2. If we can quantify what’s outside as a hard and fast law, it makes us feel more secure inside, like there are fewer doubts, ambiguities and challenges (DAC) that we must face.

      1. crow says:

        That’s a comment.
        Strangely, the opposite is true, for me, and so this serves as true insight into the way that others operate.
        I am undoubtedly at my best when there are big problems to surmount.
        Comfort, security, predictability, and convenience, are the very things I feel most smothered by.

  2. John Parker says:

    In our present “Age of Quantity”, everything must have an absolute value that is quantifiable, utilitarian and demystified. The result is a world that dethrones beauty, truth and the transcendent spirituality that gave us meaning and purpose to be replaced by decultured materialism and a global monsterstate to hold it all together.

    1. Elijah says:

      Boom! Spot on.

      We keep spiraling downwards until all is destroyed or an awakening occurs.

      1. Most people are never going to awaken, what you have to do is stir up the upper middle class and show them their lifestyle is about to go away, then you get changes quickly.

    2. It’s only equal if everyone can assess it, which requires it be numbers or “objective” measurements that even an idiot can discern. Ambiguity, depth, meaning, breadth, significance, context? Those are hard, and hard stuff rewards only the smart, so it’s fascist.

  3. The problem with focusing on troubles is that then you bring them into your soul. We thought our troubles would be cured by getting rid of the proximate forces that made us shape up, but instead, we’ve removed the goals we have and so now we know only what shapes us. The tool has become the master. Great piece!

  4. I do like this piece of writing quite a bit, but want to throw in my contrary opinion here. I think gravity is a law, and that we observe our world to find many such laws. The problem is not laws or words but that people then sabotage the meaning of these ideas by substituting their own meaning for the actual meaning. For example, liberals would claim it’s a “law” that “reality has a liberal bias.” They would like us to use the word “racism” to mean anything but open and frequent admonishment of others for not following a multicultural pro-miscegenation agenda. Those are misuses of laws and words, not a problem with laws and words themselves. I do think crows can levitate however because while gravity is a law it can be counteracted, it’s not deterministic.

    1. crow says:

      I see gravity, and other things like it as more ‘probabilities’ than ‘laws’.
      True often, but not always. Mostly true, but sometimes paradoxically mysterious. Producing surprises, when least expected.
      My world is like that. But then, it would be, wouldn’t it?
      I am a crow :)

  5. Elijah says:

    Laws, or our observations of the universe, have lost their inner value. Your post connects directly to Ted Swanson’s and elaborates on his point. At one time, all observations of the material world would connect us directly to a higher plane of thought. Knowing a thunderstorm was the work of mystery and beauty evokes that sense of awe, wonder, and beauty.

    Now we pursue a materialist reductionist point of view. We say “nope, no beauty there, just you being mislead, actually it is a simple law” and can even be described in such a way as to bore an adult and child alike to the point of not wanting to point out how nice a thunderstorm is again. Every act of nature then is materialistic, the work of bunches of “equal” minute particles of matter (we manage to mimic our form of government and state in our world descriptions, so even these people can’t escape “as above so below”) and serve only a utilitarian, drab, humanist function. How dreadful!

    1. John Parker says:

      Agreed, humanism’s dreadful legacy of death to beauty and mystery, has been our reward for making man the sum of all things. The iron age will run its course until the earth rejects man’s hubris and balance is restored.

  6. Brad says:

    You idiot – gravity doesn’t change for the crow, the crow flies within the limits of gravity. It is a hard and fast scientific LAW. I know you’re using it as an analogy for something else, but ffs, choose something more apt.

    1. crow says:

      So, you know how things work for a crow, do you?
      Even though you don’t know how time works.
      Article written.
      Article published.
      Article read.
      Article commented upon.
      Article unable to suddenly have different premise at your whim.
      It is what it is.
      Like you.

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