Kristen Kreider & James O’Leary: Falling

Review by Dani Ferrara

Images by Garen Lavender Whitmore

(COPY PRESS, 2015)

For ease of reference, I’m going to refer to Kreider and O’Leary’s work of philosophy as a story or a mythology.

The mythology begins even earlier than this and earlier than that: a cover with letters in motion toward the core of the Earth and the body; a table of contents that requires a moon, a wire, a body, a falling, and another falling.

We listen: “Imagine a ground, untouched. Imagine further a stone, unturned in the untouched ground. Imagine its stillness and sediment. Imagine the silence. Now imagine a movement—hurtling towards it! A trajectory locked in steel!”

What is the ground if not a wire? What is the trajectory if not a falling? What is this thing falling if not a moon, a body? What is the impact if not another falling and so forth forever?

Before existence, there is no referent. This conceptual imagining struggles for referent in thought. Kreider and O’Leary explain Kant’s definition of transcendental philosophy, a thinking allowed to go beyond the need for material understanding and how it is paradoxical in its reliance on motion. Never an attempt to define their own motion: all is words, representation.

Not how things come to be, but how things are before they do.

The men who land on the moon leave behind a flag, a symbol of their being there. In this meeting of ground and air, there is a transmutation, a defining. In this impact, in this stumbling, in this unprecedented experience, ground control repeats: “Don’t lose your center of gravity.” We already are getting at a definition of grace.

Scientists can predict the path of a discrete particle.

A waveform hides.

A haze of indistinguishable photons find themselves with intuition, burrowing in multiplication, deciding where to go as they unfold.

Kreider and O’Leary predict entangled symbolism: “For a sign to become a sign, it must be repeated at least once.”

Over and over, like breathing.

Gravity is the force of motion. It “allows us to slip so easily into this world” and presents us also with “challenges.” Gravity both pushes and pulls. To see the past in the stars, expanding away from the arbitrary core of ourself. The center of gravity is everywhere. The primordial atom exploded and from the sun fell out a moon. A thing to meet.

A pre-referential collaboration of expansion and creation. Kreider and O’Leary write about magic: “careful examination of the two-dimensional motion of the stars and planets eventually revealed a third dimension, and the sky opened up into space.” An overarching singularity, experienced as split infinites.

This is a book of many empty origins.

This book was in my head. I stared at the stars and they were not yet falling down on me, and I got scared. Our earth is spherical, I thought. Our eyes curved.

Far from my body, violent heat is benevolent and beautiful. When suspended, the earth is a music note.

Do we contain our own cycles, eating our insides and spitting them out?

At the heart of every black hole, there is a region of infinite density. At the heart of our bodies, we are changing. Everything we know must become something else.

At the heart of every galaxy is a singularity of gravity. It radiates. My body can sense this atmosphere of violence, inklings in periphery. Time itself is lost, falling into the weight of cyclical repetition, anarchy, eternity.

I clamber away, exerting pressure. I contain my own clinamen.

Entanglement avoidance magnetism. I wish to surrender like light meeting light. To trust against fear, perhaps the first survival-mechanism-turned-emotion. Light to rest at zero.

What is it to displace yourself from the center of the universe?

Kreider and O’Leary say that gravity is both a natural law and a concept, an application and an entity. Yet it is invisible, beyond horizon, like the unknowable ground. What is gravity. What is the invisible world. Kreider writes, “the concept of gravity would affect a paradigmatic shift away from a universe in motion and into a world of falling…falling and rising toward the end.” Inevitability. A miracle. Exit.

Wire and moon, ourself and the rest, all multiplicitous: paradox is encompassed within infinity by default. At the limit of infinity, there is a border into the past. The entirety of infinity is a limit. Infinity did not so much beget you as forget you. The first birth is into land. From where? Cast out from other-ness, the very essence of invisible.

To breathe, to move from multiple to singular and back again, the first only and absent law.