between two points

In my parent's house there is a grandfather clock that my dad built. Or maybe it's not really a grandfather clock, but more my dad's interpretation of what a grandfather clock should be: a large wood slab, about 7 feet tall capped by a small peeked roof -- much like a traditional roof on a house smashed a bit flat -- and through a small hole at the top of the slab, under the eave of the squashed house, are the hands of a clock that would typically sit next to a traveler's bed, sweeping away in something close to obscurity. As an object it's comical if you were able to take away the craftsmanship and detail that has gone into its design that gives it an almost omnipresent feel; the conversation between small clock hands and monumental wood feels tongue-in-cheek. And its "grandfatherness" -- the thing that makes a grandfather clock what it is, much like the webbed feet of a duck that are so defining in its creation -- becomes the small ticking that reverberates from this timepiece within this giant slab of wood; the ticking reverberating in wood becomes an implicit nod to the idea of a mass used to keep time, versus the explicit masses usually present in a grandfather clock: large pendulums swinging or gears ratcheting away behind some glass panel (a peep show of time).

Of course watches and clocks don't all need a large mass to make themselves step forward deliberately into tomorrow, they can vibrate with crystals or springs to create the same effect. An energetic monotony that takes the place of the object monotony that is a pendulum. At the end of the day energy and mass really are the same thing (thanks Einstein!), so for the sake of fluidity of narrative we will say that all time is kept through some mass moving through space. And this mass that we give the job to as time keeper, what faith can we have in it to stay as it is? The kilo locked away in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures outside of Paris, which we use to measure all other kilos against, is getting lighter (

If the pendulum that swings with a perceived absolute regularity, suddenly isn't the pendulum I thought it was from the day before, what does this mean for the time I expect it to keep? While its period will change based on a changing world it flickers in and out of, I can still agree on the apexes of its swing: those moments at the very top of an arc where it will sit with the anticipation of a 100 children at the top of the largest peak of a rollercoaster track; arms ready to be flung into space in order to scream with the weightlessness of a decent promising to accelerate them towards some infinitely dense center. 

Between these two apexes are moments of fluidity and generalization. Speculation. When was it at the bottom? The fastest? Could I yell out in a moment of clarity for those moments. No, I can only have the apexes to hold to; apexes in relationship through a curve cut across space; apexes as discrete moments tied together by the continuity of a silent WOOOOOSHHHH through air. In some ways a pendulum is a perfect vessel for holding discreteness and continuity together as one. A pendulum is John Archibald Wheeler showing that information theory is tangled up with quantum mechanics: binary states are fundamental to states that exist across a multitude ( 

An infinite set of possibilities set between two points that seem (so close, but not quite) to be carved from time itself.

And here is where the hum of a swinging mass starts to feel like watching a person living their life. It is like the creation of absolutes within a Self that I tie myself to in order to create narrative and a sensation of forward motion. My internal timekeeping. There are large absolutes of narrative, usually around belief systems, but the smaller ones are maybe more interesting: like brushing my teeth. Brushing my teeth is an apex of the pendulum of some clock in me. It keeps time in my day in a way that is consistent. It feels grounding, although quite arbitrary. If I try to explain to someone what it feels like to be in a new place, I usually am trying to describe to them the sensation of small absolutes of the day that give it structure: brushing my teeth, walking to my studio, meeting a friend at our usual time in a park (I've actually never had this as a regular occurrence in my life, but it sounds nice). And it is impossible to convey the way the relationship of these events feel. It is like describing the exact swing of a pendulum. We all understand that days pass, but its hard to describe why some feel different than another. How would I describe the exact languid motion or energetic bounce of a pendulum? A bunch of apexes that are the absolutes of our narrative -- the masses within ourselves -- touching from one to the next, with the space in between unimaginably continuous.

These narrative points of our stories -- these masses that live within us -- bookend the continuity of our time. Large events in my life I talk about as having weight. I talk about the "heaviness" of a situation. The language that I describe my narratives with end up giving mass to the events that I see as being absolute and unchanging. The more weight they feel, the more absolute they are. But just like the kilogram outside of Paris, these masses change. My timekeeping appears consistent but only in some internally relational way. I think an intriguing output of this idea is that all of these masses within me have a duality in their nature: they are equal parts markers of end points as well as of some continuity. Like the apex of the pendulum, the events I see as absolute only become discrete at the end of some story. Some loose trailing figure, like trash bags floating down overflowing side streets. All these absolutes are the top of a bell curve that seeps out into the surroundings: never isolated as an individual moment, but held as such to help me keep some rhythm of time within myself.

It's interesting to think about a typical shape of a pendulum in all of this: the cylinder. They seem to reflect the shape of a candle, which burns at some given rate, releasing energy that speaks to a mass that once was. Candles speak to time and illumination; a careful taking of stock of a surrounding; a tool for storytelling and intimacy. So then it makes sense that a pendulum would have this relationship in shape. I think within myself the absolutes of my narrative are consumed to create some larger illumination. The larger the mass -- the larger the event -- the better it will serve in finding some broader relationship within Self.

The grandfather clock my dad made has a small sun and moon on the hour and minute hand. They're slightly domed through dapping, also causing the metal to take on a texture like scales on a fish. At night they reflect ambient light from the street, and I lose sight of the large wooden slab they are a part of: the mass of the clock floats away to be replaced by silver and gold that somehow becomes equally massive, with light languidly seeming to bounce between their two shapes: a lazy game of pong performed endlessly on the face of a clock.

1 can be divided by 2, 3, 4 ...

I wrote an email to a friend a couple weeks ago and I really liked the content of it, so I’m going to go ahead and write about the same topic here, but I will try to stray from exactly the same wording although undertaking this does give me a slight feeling of anxiety, like a dog glancing behind it to check for its owners as an endless forest stretches out before it.

(Actually to go onto a tangent right away, in a separate email — an email blunder — I was asking a friend for feedback on an idea I had about a project I wanted to undertake. The email, while personal in the sense that it tried to honestly lay out my emotional connections to this particular project and the reasons for pursuing it, was not actually personal towards this friend as a person, made even more clear as I had cut-and-paste it, verbatim, from an email to my aunt. Unfortunately I also cut-and-past the greeting to my aunt, throwing my email self under the bus. What I love about this particular friend, however, is that after I wrote an apology for cut-and-pasting an email to her, she admitted that her last email to me was composed in the exact same manner. I feel a bit like we are couple who just burped in front of each for the first time, shrugged, and continued to eat our meal.)

The meat of the email I wrote was about the idea of indivisibility which, as most ideas that float into one’s field of view, approached me from what was at first a single point of reference, but then suddenly became a salvo of relational and tangental references. My entry point, out of all places, was a church: more specifically a Romanian Catholic church in Cluj, which I entered during the beginning of a service being given in Hungarian. 

(On a historical note: this part of Romania used to be part of Hungary, then went back to Romania, then (part) flipped back to Hungary, then (that part) flipped BACK to Romania, in what is a real land tug of war. It’s an interesting read: Also what is interesting is that a castle that’s in Translavanyia, Vajdahunyad Castle, was recreated in Budapest, which I guess is sort of like dating someone that looks just like your ex. In a similar relationship analogy, many Hungarians and then Romanians asked me about the other nationality and what I thought about them. I’d demure on this front, which would be met with a comment indicating the asking party thought the other nationality probably hated their nationality. It felt a bit like a random man or woman coming up to me on the bus and asking, “What is your father/mother saying about me?” as if I was some child from their failed marriage.)

When I travel I like to bounce into churches as I enjoy what they smell like and I’m a sucker for spaces that make me gaze upwards as well as gold leaf and any paintings of saints that have super flat halos and oddly bent necks. 

(I always thought that 14-15th century Spanish religious art really struck this chord perfectly, given museum research, but I’ve been in a lot of Russian orthodox churches that really blew me away on the super flat front. I had this ex-girlfriend who’s dad was Russian and he would sometimes go to church, while her mom waited out in the car reading a fashion magazine. I went with him once, standing in a room vacant of seats, looking around at walls painted like Jesus’ fever dream: all color and overlapping people and limbs and every nonhuman object placed in a way that seemed to indicate it was a symbol for something else, but for the life of me it was a single hand gesture in a game of charades where I had none of the same base knowledge as the other participants. The one guy I remember in the whole scene was this man in a blue robe, standing off to the side of a big group of similarly dressed people, and he was pointing off into the sky with a very serene look on his face. By coincidence, or divinity, he also happened to be pointing at an air conditioning vent.)

Anyways, I’ve recently been on a streak of hitting the beginnings of services. Or I should say a streak for me: 2 in 2 years (the previous was in Poznan, Poland, which has a really nice town square with a clock tower where two goats come out and butt heads on the hour. I was dating a woman here and those two goats seemed to be a metaphor that cut both ways. On the one hand we had a phyiscally overpowering reaction to each other that seemed in line with the base insticts of goats defending their territory, but on the other hand we maybe were just destroying one another.) I sat a bit before the service started and was immediately intrigued by the two people nearest to me: the woman to my left had a neck that seemed unusually long, but with lines that evoked carefully designed Italian cars from the 60s, and the woman in front of me was kneeling at her pew, but was somehow able to place the inside arch of each of her feet flat on the ground as she was kneeling. If you were to stand directly behind her and look down, it would appear as if a letter T was being written with human legs. 

For some reason at this moment the idea of indivisibility hit me; in particular indivisibility and the holy trinity and my realization that the holy trinity is one of the only things that make sense to me in Christianity; or maybe not one of the only thing that makes sense to me — I’m all for loving my neighbor, not killing and whatnot — but it seems like one of the most honest ideas presented. Because units are such an important part to the construction of knowledge basis. In math, you get units in numbers like 1, e, and pi, but these numbers are revealed as being arbitrary, in a sense, because they expose that there are different unities in different contexts. We need unities so we can build from them — we need packets not waves, to build some ontology — and the holy trinity is acknowledging this by saying there’s three things in one thing and we’re supposed to focus mostly on the one thing in order to build out the whole idea, but really all things can be viewed as other units. And that’s an idea I can get behind: we’re limited as humans, but we’re trying our best.

Because of cultural bias (read: war on Christmas… just kidding) and various personal encounters, I’ve never really had a warm stance towards priests, and in these wandering thoughts I added onto my dislike that a robe is basically a way to make a person look more indivisible by hiding the usual associations of a body being a trunk with a handful of appendages. This is obviously my own bias being revealed, but I couldn’t help but feel the honesty of the holy trinity was being hidden in robes. And while I don’t believe in god, I do believe the usual role people play is making murky the water of anything that seems honest, whether that water has god in it or not.

And I guess this makes me think about people who claim indivisibility as part of the structures of thought that they propose. It makes me think that concerns of indivisibility are concerns with control; concerns with ones own aptitude and worth. A cloying NEED for something seems to be present.  Bohr with quantum mechanics and the Pledge of Allegiance (to the United States of America) make me think of this when they toss the word “indivisible” around. It seems to be the word to build a plank that you eventually step a little too far out on and fall into an ocean of bewilderment. Indivisibility in the sense of constructions of thought seem to be like gold. They seem to be statically present, but really they are slowly disappearing (, its just we tend to be stuck in a very small finitude of scale when we think about most things. The only time “indivisible” can stick around is in a completely closed information system, like with integers, or the characters in M*A*S*H.

In some ways the Pythagoreans and Darwin showed us how the indivisible parts of an open systems can fall apart from a mechanism within the system itself; which makes me think about being a kid and trying to run across a dark street at night and completely overlooking a low siting, black car that I subsequently ran directly into: my goal was very clear and obvious, but I didn’t foresee how the mechanism for completing my goal would be my undoing. In the case of the Pythagoreans they believed that the entirety of the world could be described in whole numbers, an indivisible fact of the world, only to have their study of a right triangle with unit length sides show the existence of a number that had no end: the square root of two. In a bit of a lesser way, but also like running into a parked car, Darwin was discovering the consequences of heredity and genetics while being married to his first cousin, which began to dawn on him as not the most genetically ideal situation (Rudy Giuliani, infamous ex-mayor of NYC, on the other hand, can not claim a late scientific discovery to explain his marriage to his second cousin.)

And in the final piece of this, not a piece that will necessarily tie all of this together in some way, but instead is more of a “huh, would you look at that?” sort of addition is that of a thought that pops up in the book Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton. Hyperobjects, whether you are on board with them or not, are pretty aptly named as they are objects that exist beyond what we typically think of as objects. (As an armchair/backseat philosopher please allow my terminology to exist in the best light you can possibly find. Perhaps put all this text by a window overlooking a nice view of a meadow.) Morton tackles the topic by draping it over the hyperobject of Global Warming, but I find it easiest to just think of the entire universe being objects in objects (where there are no voids to speak of, no infinity of space) and one of those objects that is either wrapping or being wrapped in this thought experiment you will find to be very “unobject”, as you typically think of an "object", and that there is your hyperobject. 

Hyperobjects have the saucy property of being nonlocal, which means they don’t exist in one place at one time. With our different ways of perceiving the world we slice into hyperobjects with different perceptual plans and get these little peeks at them; like cutting a multilayered cake at odd angles and getting all kinds of different strata. While this means with more abstract objects like Global Warming that we have a hard time describing them, because we can never really see them in totality, I’ve been wondering if ALL objects are really sort of like hyperobjects, but statistically it is so rare for them to present with a new phenomena to us, that they appear static: I don’t expect my pencil to suddenly fall into quantum disarray, because the likelihood is very very very small (although it isn’t impossible.)

Indivisibility can also then be related to the desire to fix the phenomena of an object. And maybe in a human scale these things do seem indivisible, but to believe that they are in their essence also indivisible, seems to misunderstand something basic about the foundations of our experiences; it puts in our mind a mechanism for our thoughtful undoing.

we are all a movie

Tom went on his first date with Andrea in a park that had a duck pond behind a very tall fence constructed from thick iron bars. The fence was such that it allowed a minimal view of the actual animals within. In some ways the view that took place as you walked along the pond's edge was like an old pre-cinema projector: a magic lantern or perhaps more accurately a zoetrope. Slits in the fence lined up like dominos separated by the voids created by fencing. This modern incarnation of the zoetrope gave the impression of robotic animals behind the fence: ducks of colors unknown, flicking about with disjointed wings and broken legs as 3” iron bars, painted a green that has never occurred in nature, stole their middle states of animation. The flicker of ducks made Tom think about how his intentions never found their reflection in the environment around him.

Earlier in the day he had watched Zlatan Ibrahimovic play his first game with the LA Galaxy. Tom was a big MLS fan; the only one among his friends to have such a passion. For this game, waiting for his favorite player to take the field, he had listened to the pundits dissect the career of Ibrahimovic as if all that was left was for him to take the field as some token to greatness; he had been put carefully back in his original packaging and now this castrated version of him was being seen on the field. And amongst talk of Ibrahimovic having passed his prime, he launched into his first game, striking a volleyed ball at midfield, scoring a miraculous goal, on par with anything he had achieved in his Premier League days.

Tom felt he shared something with Ibrahimovic in this moment; some sort of talent, or hidden spark, that people had told him he didn’t have and he was waiting to create some performance where it became obviously, fully known. Unlike Ibrahimovic, no one had ever seen the talent in the first place. It languished in his mind and stayed hidden just beneath the nerve endings of his extremities. 

So when walking at this caged duck pond with a woman who, in affect, seemed unclear if she wanted to be there, he tried to jostle his limbs into a representation of something that approached what he thought his greatness was; the presence and continuity that he felt he had with the world around him. Playful, smart, and carefree. As they approached a flock of pigeons he threw a leg out towards them, to spook them, with a little cackle of a kindergarten boy running towards a puddle that he plans to leap into with wonder and the energy of a pure moment. 

With the swing of Tom’s leg, the pigeons swooped to the air in that chaotic order that they always tend to do, eyes wide and necks outstretched like biathlon skiers trying to be the first across the finish line. Near the front, a single pigeon, however, flicked his head with careless concentration, whipping his head tetherball-like around his, in retrospect, thin, below average neck. With this drunken swing of its head, the pigeons flight path was altered from that of a retreating trajectory to one that intercepted perfectly with the swing of Tom’s cueball foot, stuffed down to the bottom of his tube sock leg. With geometric precision they each became legs of a physics problem triangle, meeting precisely at one of its corners, the pigeon connecting with all laces. The impact sent the pigeon directly into the duck pond fence, dropping it limp to the ground. 

It’s unclear if the shoe or the fence was the cause of death, but the ducks all sat behind their old theatre fence, thinking to themselves, “this must be intermission”.