Divine Neutrality, Blog. Science, Philosophy

Adagia

June 18th, 2014

Adagia Set In Stone

stepping stones

The path to the house demanded stepping stones. It could be a muddy walk without them. To make a stepping stone is merely a matter of pouring cement into a wood frame set on the ground. You remove the frame when the cement hardens. But a slab of wet cement calls for words to be inscribed in it.

What words merit being set in stone?

Not moral strictures. No “thou shalt not”s.
Not words about what people ought to do.
No instructions on how to live.
No complaints.
No visions of how the world ought to be.
No fantasies. No prayers. No incantations.

My choice was this: Laconic surmise from observations on the mechanics of being. Notes on how the world is. Telling how it works with a paucity of words. Statements about nature; inviolable because they describe nature. We can’t do anything about these laws. We can’t change them. We can rejoice in knowing them.

Some examples, from physics, of immutable laws are these:

• That every pair of bodies in the universe attract each other according to their masses; the law of gravity. Nothing is exempt from this law.

• That, for every closed system, there exists an ethereal quantity called its energy, which is indestructible. It is conserved. Meaning that it doesn’t change no matter what inner turmoil the system suffers.

These laws are used to engineer things – like bridges, engines, computers, space flight. Not by being circumvented or repealed. But by being understood.

Such abiding statements are what I wanted for my stepping stones.

Here is one: WITH LOVE COMES WORRY.
worry love

It sounds like a complaint. A joke, perhaps. A reason to avoid affection. We perceive the word worry as something negative. To be eschewed. And the word love as positive. To be embraced. But the adage is not meant as a rule to live by. Personal guidance is not the object.

Love is precious, worry notwithstanding. There is a symbiosis between the two. From love comes the worry of selfless caring.

You worry about your loved one’s welfare. You cannot help it when it is love that possesses you. The mother is helpless before worry in her love for her child. The devoted lover must succumb to concern for his wife’s well being.

With the blessing of love comes the penalty; the loss of being carefree. The relationship between the two is not something you can fix. It’s embedded in the deliciously perverse nature of things.

The young man objects. “There are people I love and I don’t worry.” Thus announcing to all his hearers, in cocky innocence, that he doesn’t know love. He stands naked, undressed by his own words.

The great humanist, Erasmus of Rotterdam, called by the name, Adagia, his collection of proverbs published in 1500. Here are pieces, already posted, on my stone-inscribed adagia.

RESTRAINT IS VALIANT

RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION IS A TEMPER TANTRUM

NOTHING SO HINDERS UNDERSTANDING AS NOTIONS OF JUSTICE.

THE WORLD WORSHIPS EXCESS. WASTE IS THE SIGNATURE OF PRIVILEGE.

MAY GOD PROTECT US FROM RELIGION

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Comments

  1. 1

    What is gravity? What is energy? Are they really indestructible and universal, or shorthand labels for something our mind has not yet penetrated? They are perhaps absolutes within the range of human understanding at the moment, and in that sense immune from human meddling for now. We describe laws of physics and numbers in terms of constant relationships among entities our brains have defined, and project them to an imagined universe of things. This is a psychological safe haven of certainty, comforting, economical, perhaps necessary for survival. It seems an act of faith to carve them forever in stone. Ultimately I am as agnostic about the character of these things as I am about the call of the faithful to their gods, though I find physics and maths a better currency to live with than a godly faith in miracles. As for love, that stormy brew of chemicals, who would choose to live without it? Gravity, prime numbers, it seems safe to take them for granted in the workaday world. Yet all the excitement and tragedy of love comes from the endless juggling act to keep love’s wayward ingredients in some kind of balance. Stones are content with gravity, but love is about being alive.
    https://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay

    - Thor May @

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