Friday, March 26, 2021 7:18 AM
The power of ‘what if’ used to be a ‘secret weapon’, deployed by every intellectual in a tight place, since the world began. The power of the intellect has always snuck under the radar, until modern times. Religious leaders always dismissed it as sinful folly—if not witchcraft, needful of Burning.
Making Logic dangerous and illegal did nothing to weaken its power—while Copernicus remained afraid to expose to the Vatican his “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres)”, this seminal work of Scholarship (an even more insidious form of ‘what if’) became a familiar subject amongst the world’s astronomers and gentlefolk science-enthusiasts.
Even after his death, only Tycho Brahe would stand up for his ideas. And Tycho did not believe in Heliocentrism—he just admired the elegance of Copernicus’ thinking—and took plenty of heat for it. Then Kepler had to face the same stupid fight. Popular acceptance of our modern image of the Solar System was still centuries away.
Truth has that elegance, especially in physics. Pi, for example, is both a constant and a mystery without a solution—is that not elegant? We may have admired Euclid, even if he’d screwed up a few formulae—just for the elegance of the great ones. And friggin Newton—OMG—a mathematical relationship between two masses, and their distance, that explains ‘gravity’—a term we still can’t adequately explain any better than Isaac did, as ‘spooky action at a distance’.
There is elegance in the universe—and only someone whose hackles don’t rise at the idea of ‘spooky action at a distance’ (?!) can be calm and settled, rather than racing furious to find that elegance that can protect us from that in our infinite universe which is ‘spooky’.
Of course, America has ruined ‘what if’, just as it has destroyed every other power of manipulation, and harnessed it to Capitalism. They have diverted ‘what if’ into fantasy, wish-fulfillment, ego-stroking, excuse-making, etc…
The OG ‘What-If’ created the steam engine, MF-ers—what have you done for me lately? Right?!