KILLING TIME WITH THE BLIND WATCHMAN

Son you better be ready for love
On this glory day
This is your chance to believe
What I’ve got to say

Keep your eyes on the sky
Put a dollar in the kitty
Don’t the moon look pretty

Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind

I am holding the mystical stone
It’s direct from Lasa
Where people are rolling in the snow
Far from the world we know ( Steely Dan, Time out Mind )

”Einstein’s belief in an undivided solid reality was clear to him, so much so that he completely rejected the separation we experience as the moment of now. He believed there is no true division between past and future, there is rather a single existence. His most descriptive testimony to this faith came when his lifelong friend Besso died. Einstein wrote a letter to Besso’s family, saying that although Besso had preceded him in death it was of no consequence, “…for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.”  The theory has been vigorously and sometimes brusquely  attacked by Kirchmann and his ”Luxon” theory which just shows how controversial the concept of time is.The sands of time have not settled.

''In 1852 Charles Shepherd installed a new clock outside the gate of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. This was an electrically operated clock, one of the earliest ever made, and it was controlled by a master clock mechanism inside the main building.  While Shepherd provided the engineering know-how, the original idea had come from the Astronomer Royal, George Airy.''

''In 1852 Charles Shepherd installed a new clock outside the gate of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. This was an electrically operated clock, one of the earliest ever made, and it was controlled by a master clock mechanism inside the main building. While Shepherd provided the engineering know-how, the original idea had come from the Astronomer Royal, George Airy.''

There was an  idea that was made famous by the Reverend William Paley, an 19th century English clergyman, who argued that, just as watches are too complicated to have arisen spontaneously and must have been fabricated by a watchmaker, so life on earth must have been made by an intelligent designer. The ‘blind watchmaker’ analogy has been explored both by evolutionists as an example of an illogical and fallacious argument in favour of some god-like creator figure, and by creationists as a – perhaps initially – plausible objection to evolution. Most famously, Richard Dawkins has persuasively argued the Darwinian side, pointing out, in his ‘Blind Watchmaker’, that the forces of natural selection can produce amazing complexity. There are some inherent illogicalities of the creationist argument… but time marches on.

''The single long hand with a circle at one end and a point at the other probably shows the hours in both old and new systems. One end points to the decimal time, with 10 (0) being midnight, and 5 being midday, the other end to the equivalent old-style time. Presumably, therefore, old-style midnight (XII) is at the bottom of the dial, so that the other end can point to 10 (0). 1 o’clock (decimal) is about 02:20 old style, and the position of the hour hand in this photograph suggests that the time is 0.90 (d), or 02:10 old style.''

''The single long hand with a circle at one end and a point at the other probably shows the hours in both old and new systems. One end points to the decimal time, with 10 (0) being midnight, and 5 being midday, the other end to the equivalent old-style time. Presumably, therefore, old-style midnight (XII) is at the bottom of the dial, so that the other end can point to 10 (0). 1 o’clock (decimal) is about 02:20 old style, and the position of the hour hand in this photograph suggests that the time is 0.90 (d), or 02:10 old style.''

”In 1793, the Revolutionary Government in France decreed that the day should be divided into 10 hours of 100 minutes, and the year into 10 months of 30 days. For a few years, clock and watch makers designed some unusual pieces to help the population learn and adopt to the new decimal time system. … Every day in the new Revolutionary calendar had a object or plant associated with it, so if the current month had been Pluviôse (Jan 20 ~ Feb 18), today would be Broccoli day.”

Not that the incredulous person doesn’t believe in anything. It’s just that he doesn’t believe everything. Or he believes in one thing at a time. He believes a second thing only if it somehow follows from the first thing. He is nearsighted and methodical, avoiding wide horizons. If two things don’t fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that’s credulity. ( Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum )

” French scientist Leon Foucault realised that a frictionless pendulum would continue to swing in the same plane, while the earth rotated beneath it. In 1851 he demonstrated the rotation of the earth using a pendulum in the Paris Observatory. Several weeks later he set up this pendulum in the Pantheon, so the public could see that the earth really does move.”

”There is, however, even more to Foucault’s pendulum than the brilliant proof of the Earth’s rotation. The experiment works because the pendulum is hanging from a fixed point. Or is it? If you think about it, the building from which the pendulum is suspended is moving along with the Earth, which is in turn rotating around the Sun. The Sun, too, along with the rest of the solar system, rotates around the center of the galaxy, and so on. So it’s really not correct to think of the bracket on the ceiling as being a fixed point. And yet, curiously, it’s not just movement of the attachment point that the pendulum ignores—it ignores the movement of the planet and even the galaxy. The swing of the pendulum remains aligned with, apparently, the universe itself—or, to make it more comprehensible, think of it as being aligned with some very distant star. So the pendulum acts as if it’s hanging from some absolutely fixed location deep in the center of the universe. Whether this is simply an illusion or a deeply meaningful metaphysical discovery is still a matter of some

ate among the few scientists and philosophers who worry about that sort of thing.”

Foucault pendulum located at the Gravity Discovery Centre near Gingin in Western Australia.

The first experiments of the Foucault’s pendulum was experimented at Paris in 1851 In January 1851, Leon Foucault installed in his cellar in the Arras street in Paris a pendulum. This pendulum constitued of a of 2 m (6,56 feet) long wire supporting a 5 kg weight. Leon Foucault observed a small movement of the oscillation plan of the pendulum. In February it renews its experiment with a 11 m pendulum at the observatory of Paris. The oscillations of the pendulum were longer and the deviation was more visible. Because Louis Napoleon Bonapartre had been informed of Foucault’s works, he asks him to carry out the pendulum experiment in a prestigious place : the Pantheon of Paris.The experiment took place on March 31, 1851.The sphere was 28 Kg and the wire was 67 m (219,8 feet) long.

Umberto Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum. The novel has little to do with the pendulum as such, but some of the characters muse over its philosophical implications, particularly truth and illusion and their uneasy coexistence. Also, how the contradictions between faith and science, though neither is sacrosanct, can cause one to descend into the realms of uncertainty and madness. The  climax of the story takes place at the site where the original pendulum is now hanging—the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (Conservatory of Arts and Trades) in Paris.

lifeasfiction.com ''Often forgotten amongst Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin is silent comedy master Harold Lloyd who, a year before Keaton's special effects bonanza in Sherlock Jr., created a comedy of lively proportions in Safety Last! Most famous for the image of him dangling from a clock atop a Roaring Twenties skyscraper''

lifeasfiction.com ''Often forgotten amongst Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin is silent comedy master Harold Lloyd who, a year before Keaton's special effects bonanza in Sherlock Jr., created a comedy of lively proportions in Safety Last! Most famous for the image of him dangling from a clock atop a Roaring Twenties skyscraper''

In 1848, Foucault noticed something extremely surprising about a swinging pendulum. Even if you turn the point from which it is swinging, the pendulum continues to swing in the same direction. Foucault thought this curious behavior of pendulums; their refusal to be bothered by the position of their point of suspension; might be used to make a stunning visual proof of Earth’s rotation.

Cat guards Foucault’s Pendulum. Paris, September 2009. Photo by Juan Chua.

By Foucault’s time, the rotation of the Earth was no longer in dispute, but there was still no direct way to demonstrate or measure it. Foucault reasoned that if he hung a pendulum from a fixed point and the direction of the pendulum’s swing appeared to change, that could only be because the Earth itself was moving underneath the pendulum. Over the course of a 24-hour day, if his theory was correct, a pendulum should trace out a complete circle—at least, it would if it were located at the north or south pole; at the latitude of Paris the offset would amount to a circle every 32 hours or so.

There was a complication, though. Because of the effects of air resistance, gravity, and friction, a swinging pendulum will eventually come to a stop, and in order to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth, it needed to swing for a significant period of time, at least an hour or two. To increase the inertia of a pendulum, and therefore the amount of time it will swing without stopping, you can increase either the length of the wire, the mass of the ball at the end, or both. So Foucault hung an 11-lb. (5kg) ball at the end of a 6-foot (2m) wire in his basement, and sure enough, before it stopped swinging the angle had rotated slightly clockwise.

Foucault then repeated the experiment with a much longer, 36-foot (11m) wire in the Paris Observatory, and the effect was again just as he had predicted. In 1851, he constructed an even grander, 220-foot (67m) pendulum in the Panthéon in Paris, and held the first public demonstrations, promising the crowds they would “see the Earth go round.” Sure enough, the giant pendulum made a slow but predictable clockwise motion. Later, Foucault tried the same test with a spinning rather than swinging weight. It worked, and this led to his invention of the gyroscope.

Reinstalled in the Panthéon in 1995, this pendulum was initially installed by Foucault in 1851. It is 67m high and its mass weighs 28kg. Once running, oscillations last for 6h. Its period (round trip) is 16.5s and deviation is 11deg per hour.

At the center Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum is The Plan. Signor Garamond, seeing the profit to be had from publishing New Age books sets the three protagonists, Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon, the task of creating a series of books on occult topics. They decide to use a submission from a now apparently murdered man, Ardenti; taking his original work as a starting point for “The Plan”, which describes a grand occult plot involving the Templars, the Rosicrucians, the illuminati and other occult groups all interwoven with factual history.  Unlike many of the “Diabolicals”, Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon are highly educated. In their hands The Plan takes on great richness, and in fact takes on a life of its own that they had not intended in a case of being too smart for their own good and underestimating the power of occult forces. In the end, The Plan starts to suck them into its orbit: what starts out as pretending becomes belief. Others, the Diabolicals that Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon are satirizing with The Plan, become believers as well, to disastrous end.

Stendal Clock. Germany

Stendal Clock. Germany

The Plan was a joke by the educated on the ignorant: it was a work of intellectual arrogance. Diotallevi believes that by rearranging letters and words one can come closer to the true Torah. But the rearranging must be done as prayer, with a pure heart.The three authors of the plan have rearranged history and occult literature, tying it together with their own narrative as a joke. But it backfires on the creators: it becomes a golem that haunts them and takes them prisoner. They believe the pendulum but try to play metaphorically with the forces attaching the pendulum to the universe.

”A little background on our dubious protagonist. My first encounter with Belphegor came from a cursory study of demonology, a by-product of reading Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco ”
Umberto Eco

Foucault’s pendulum is rooted in the idea of an approximate measure linked to forces where  creation  in the pure, ideal, sense, is given to humankind as in the form of a glimpse, a tease and like the notion of time we fall into its trap of  repetition and acceptance. In Eco’s novel, The Plan, which outlines the existence of mystical secret societies, is seized upon and imitated by thousands, who claim to be its representatives. Even this story is not original, since we are told earlier in the novel that this was precisely the history of the Rosicrucians  who seem to have been created out of myth and rumor into concrete, but inauthentic existence by imitators and false claimants.

And so the broken fragments of their enormous plan are adulterated and brought to life by people claiming to be the bearers of actual historical secret societies. This is sometimes referred to as ”phantomatic production”, as part of what Jacques Derrida  might characterize as an adult quest for identity. The mode of phantomatic production can perhaps be summed up as a mode in which the production of a social reality through the projection  it in an environment where ideology has strong effects on behavior, much the same way as the original Foucault pendulum assumed the same assembling forces.

Eco takes his story to a neo-liberal critique  by asserting  the state which organizes not ideas but desires, is extremely effective, though also extremely expensive, but worth it for the social order it establishes. Neoliberalism then is associated with the atomizing effects of modern capitalism, of which it is really just a mode. Neoliberalism focuses on the individual consumer, who must be stripped down to essentials, demographied, and marketed to, and then recreated in the image of the mass consumer created by ad companies, ‘branding corporations, in the same way measurement by the pendulum and tranching by time frame is accomplished.

So the Sefirot, from the Kabbalah and Rosicrucian perspective in the novel,  like Neoliberalism, allows you many different choices, all of which are upheld, although a ranked hierarchy is necessarily maintained; all choices are possible, but some are better than others. But not all choices are indeed possible. Instead, Neoliberalism, like the cosmography of the Sefirot, does not allow for choices outside of the scripts of desire and consumption dictated by the media and its commercial enterprises, which organize and shape desire as distinct from needs in a consumer economy. For example:The desire for a new ipod, a specific brand of clothing, or the latest shampoo with specially formulated free-radical destroying pantheons. The synthetic financial products and derivatives for which Goldman Sachs has been pilloried for is simply a reflection of what is happening on a more subtle level.

There is no way in cabalistic thought to identify in any positive sense with gross matter unilluminated by the sefirot’s light. There is no acceptable way to identify with real communities in neoliberal regimes. Instead, we are told to identify with phantoms, mass-market demographic study-created images of happy human beings, or human beings with needs that products can fill, or patriots, dissenters, revolutionaries,  fitness buffs, yoga participants etc.

Whatever we call it, that’s what is happening in Foucault’s Pendulum. Collectvities begin to emerge out of fantastic desires organized into a possible process, by people who are not themselves (they suppose) also drawn by those desires. Although the Plan outlined by the three friends is imagined into being for the purposes of entertainment (and to make them feel superior to those they are forced to flatter, the crazy conspiracy theorists), the Plan they imagine becomes a form of reality as those same conspiracy theorists begin to announce themselves as members of this secret society. This is reality at a second order, like digitally generated images, compared to  a reality created in a phantomatic mode of production, to use  Derrida’s term. We might simply gloss this as ‘life imitating art,’ though the implications go much farther than any limitation to the normally-categorized ‘arts.’

The Plan gave focus and shape to the conspiracy theorist’s desires, which were shaped prior to their encounter with the plan, but which were welded into the Plan knowingly by the three friends. They welded the objects of the conspiracy theorists’ desires into a conspiracy intended to satisfy their desires. And instantly, the conspiracy theorists transform themselves into conspirators. They are now a collectivity, and quickly become capable of acting as one. However, the imaginaire is not necessarily in the control of those who work on it. It can be appropriated by others who take it much more seriously than its creators, and put into action.

” A noted historian and semiotician before he brought these sensibilities to bear on major novels such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, Eco has spent almost two years in residence at the Louvre. His chosen subject is “The Infinity of Lists”, a tour through art, literature and music based on the theme of lists and motivated by his fascination with numbers (until 13 December). ”

”Eco presents us with the notion that our symbols and alphabets are merely constructs, mirrors that reflect back only what meaning we desire to see. But if these devices are only containers for meaning, what then is meaning itself? Is meaning universal, relative, or completely artificial? How is meaning related to belief? Does our belief engineer our reality, or is it the exact opposite? Is belief a prison, or is it a form of ultimate freedom? What power have we placed in belief, in secrets, in mysteries? And what if the essence of something is concealed – does revelation await the diligent, or merely layers and layers of signifiers with no objective reality? Does the mystery of belief lie in the concealment of these “truths” to all but the devout? And if there is some kind of universal truth, how can it be realized in a universe guided by ostensibly random and meaningless principles? And given all this, what then is the difference between belief and madness, or between doubt and madness?

In one particularly brilliant chapter, Casaubon’s girlfriend uses common sense and a trust in simplicity to refute nearly the entire history of the occult, overturning countless hermetic secrets with a simple wave of her hand, reducing a network of conspiracies to the importance of a laundry list. In many ways, this chapter acts as an almost Borgesian refutation of the entire novel, and undermines any confidence we may have in an ultimate resolution.”

”The two most highly recognized physicists since Einstein made similar conclusions and even made dramatic advances toward a timeless perspective of the universe, yet they also were unable to change the temporal mentality ingrained in the mainstream of physics and society. Einstein was followed in history by the colorful and brilliant Richard Feynman. Feynman developed the most effective and explanatory interpretation of quantum mechanics that had yet been developed, known today as Sum over Histories.
Just as Einstein’s own Relativity Theory led Einstein to reject time, Feynman’s Sum over Histories theory led him to describe time simply as a direction in space. Feynman’s theory states that the probability of an event is determined by summing together all the possible histories of that event. For example, for a particle moving from point A to B we imagine the particle traveling every possible path, curved paths, oscillating paths, squiggly paths, even backward in time and forward in time paths. Each path has an amplitude, and when summed the vast majority of all these amplitudes add up to zero, and all that remains is the comparably few histories that abide by the laws and forces of nature. Sum over histories indicates the direction of our ordinary clock time is simply a path in space which is more probable than the more exotic directions time might have taken otherwise.”( www.everythingforever.com )


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