21 February 2005

The pit and the pendulum

Imagine a heavy pendulum swinging to the outer reach of its passage. It hovers fleetingly as gravity pulls, then building speed it swings gracefully back then slows gently to a halt at it’s central point.

This scene unsettles the viewer. It defies our understanding of the world. It breaks the known rules. Instinctively we expect the pendulum to gather pace through the centre of its drop then slow gradually as it nears the opposite end of it’s arc.

I slid into a pit. It took me many years of stumbling in there before I realised what had happened to me. I looked up and saw the steel edged blade of a huge pendulum. I became mesmerised by it.

Beneath each swing I heard the sharp rush of sliced air. The blade began to swing faster as if propelled by an invisible hand. Finally I lay pinned to the ground watching the shining blue steel flash closer to me with each pass.

I passed out. When I awoke I had climbed from the pit and was sitting free, watching that vast pendulum from a distance. I observed it for several years marvelling as it maintained momentum, never slowing.

I was safe but I could not take my eyes from the scene. I was watching the wild swing in my behaviour. A powerful force had hauled me to one side and an equally powerful effort had redressed the balance.

Now I see clearly the extreme pull exerted in the pit. I realise I will always hold the strongest of views about life inside and outside that region. So I have come to understand that the pendulum can never rest in the centre, all apathy and inertia.

The pendulum swings forever and touches the strength of my former addiction on one side and the sweet relief of freedom on the other. I can never be ambivalent to its massive influence, I can never sit calmly in the centre. It is always with me and I am alive.

Title courtesy of Edgar Alan Poe 1842.


Mere Existence said...

Nice. I don't have an intelligent response, but know that I appreciated this one.

Grace said...

What an INCREDIBLE analogy! Addiction and Newtons laws! Centrifugal and centripital forces!...."for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Is it possible do you think to write a mathematical equation for addiction?!! I've always been fascinated how the laws of physics can be applied to multiple systems in nature. I've looked at this with chaos theory. Now theres a challenge, you got me thinking now!! Or maybe I'm just mad!!! I'll be reading this again!!

Grace said...

Also, Edgar Allen Poe stories always fascinated me and dont you think there was so much more to those horror stories than the stuff churned out today? So much more to the imagination. God, I'm getting old!

Perfect Virgo said...

You're kind Mere Existence, I visit your site regularly and love what I read. It's very inspirational.

Perfect Virgo said...

Grace you sent me to my dictionary for help with 'centripital'. Let me say that's a rare foray considering virgo perfection! No I'm kidding, I check there all the time for reassurance!!

Yes why not a mathematical equation. As you say maths turns up everywhere. Even Chaos Theory when unravelled reveals intricate patterns if I'm not mistaken. The beauty of an azure blue sky is nothing more than reflected light which I guess can be reduced to some simple formula.

Hey this doesn't mean you can grab a quadratic or simultaneous equation and say it's just homework you know! I jest of course my friend. As a youngster I loved Poe's short macabre stories and you're so right, what drivel is served up as horror these days. My son brought home 'Saw' and I think I mostly laughed. Exorcist though, still does it for me now. Probably because it is understated and so clearly could happen.