Force, Geometry and Being

It is clear to anyone who has survived a spell in the universe that there is a great deal of force to it. Ask any sailor, any electrician, any fireman, any soldier, and even any economist. All these people deal daily with force and often it is with force beyond their ability to comprehend. The songs of country-western and shanana are songs of hearts that have been steamrollered by force.

For that, take a lover's stroll in a summer night and lie on your back in the meadow studying the stars of August. What is there? Pure, violent, unsensing, unqualified and ineluctable force.

Since the days of Egypt, man has had a sense that there are constancies among chaos and truer truths to be found among the random impacts of brute collision. This notion is a purely Human Idea: that orderly space can conquer disorderly force. From this intriguing vision has been born the triangle, the circle, the wedge and the plane, the lever, the wheel, and ultimately the space shuttle.

There are no right triangles in the world as it goes about its forceful way. Half of an engineers work, out defining roadways and bridge ways, is to find perspectives from which he can impose these sturdy mathematical forms onto the chaos of things at large, so that the truth of order can tame the floods of chaos. He struggles up hills to plant theodolites and marks in places where rugged Time has left only chaotic scars. Using these marks, he plants finely rolled steel girders and concrete forms in place, and fills the whole with hot, wet stone mush. A week later there is a highway crossing a chasm, a neat surface bisected by a dotted line, with aluminum guardrails on the edges.

All this is interesting from the perspective of how space is seen and how it is handled.

Another note to this contrast is that, in experience, space is proportional to the power of individual beingness. Largely, this power derives from the ability to comfortably enter spaces of all descriptions: mental, physical, emotional, psychic -- and occupy them without flinching. As the engineers teach us it is fine to have an orderly bit of Truth such as Pythagoras' theorem, or trigonometric tables to impose on the chaos one is perceiving. But first one must stand tall in the midst of chaos without flinching.

It is the inability to do this in human spaces that makes such a mess out of politics. There, no geometric truths have reached home; the chaos of "natural" self-interest destroys such ideas before they can be imposed except by the strongest will.

And it is a peculiarity of human spaces that when they are ordered by other-determination, they do not hold the order well or truly. Witness the brief history of the Soviet Union, whose greatest strength lay in the ability to suppress a human communication line.

But though they are acting in different theaters there are still commonalities between the engineering of material space and form in defiance of the world's great chaos, and the ordering of human thought and feeling. In other words there are truths against which thought and feeling can be arrayed and in doing so they prove a strength greater than chaos. Straight lines may not exist in nature's hairy nest but they can be laid out clean in shipyards, in mills, and in the hearts of men. When being is sufficient to create space rather than simply beg or rent it, any geometry, any truth, can spring out into the world and lay chaos to its heels in flight. And so may it be.

# # #

Previous Essay / Next Essay / Table of Contents