Against the Day Weblog

November 30, 2006

Mechanical analogies

Filed under: Notes,Questions — basileios @ 9:07 am
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“Water falls, electricity flows – one flow becomes another, and thence into light. So is altitude transformed, continuously, to light’ (page 99)

Electricity (and heat) as a fluid were a concept which was around for more than a hundred years (I believe Benjamin Franklin was one of the main introducers of this). The key aspect in this passage though is the understanding of the light and electricity through the mechanical analogy of the water flowing and transforming into an other type of fluid. This was a key element in the scientific community of the time and ‘understanding truth’ was inconceivable without the building of such a mechanical analogy.

However, what is also crucial is the fact that experiments like the Michelson & Morley described earlier in the book and eventually the the theory of relativity destroyed this approach into smithereens. Another aspect of change embedded in the book?

Another interesting point is the paragraph on a connexion between spirituality and science that is brought in the previous page 98. I am rather sceptic at the moment on this spirituality attitude Pynchon is keeping with Against the Day. I ‘d very much like to see where this is going.

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