If there is one constant, it’s fluctuation, and that is a beautiful thing.
In John Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez, one of my favorite books of all time, he speaks brilliantly about oscillation. Here is one example:
How simple if a star floated by unchangeably. On clear nights such a star is there, but it is not trustworthy and the course of it is an arc. And the happy discovery of Stella Polaris–which, although it too shifts very minutely in an art, is constant relatively–was encouraging. Stella Polaris will get you there. And so to the crawling minds Stella Polaris must have been like a very goddess of constancy, a star to love and trust.
What we have wanted always is an unchangable, and we have found that only a compass point, a thought, an individual idea, does not change–Schiller’s and Goethe’s Ideal to be worked out in terms of reality. And from such a thing as this, Beethoven writes a Ninth Symphony to Schiller’s Ode to Joy.
A tide pool has been called a world under a rock, and so it might be said of navigation, “It is the world within the horizon.”
Of steering, the external influences to be overcome are in the nature of oscillations; they are of short or long periods or both. The mean levels of the extreme ups and downs of the oscillations symbolize opposites in a Hegelian sense. No wonder, then, that in physics the symbol of oscillation, (the square root of negative one), is fundamental and primitive and ubiquitous, turning up in every equation.
More on oscillation:
And in a unified-field hypothesis, or in life, which is a unified field of reality, everything is an index of everything else. And the truth of mind and the way mind is must be an index of things, the way things are, however much one may stand against the other as an index of the second or irregular order, rather than as a harmonic or first-order index. These two types of indices may be compared to the two types of waves, for indices are symbols as primitive as waves. The first wave-type is the regular or cosine wave, such as tide or undulations of light or sound or other energy, especially where the output is steady and unmixed. These waves may be progressive–inreasing or diminishing–or they can seem to be stationary, although deeply some change or progression may be found in all oscillation. All terms of a series must be influenced by the torsion of the first term and by the torsion of the end, or change, or stoppage of the series. Such waves as these may be predictable as the tide is. The second type, the irregular for the while, such as graphs of rainfall in a given region, falls into means which are the funcitons of the length of time during which observations have been made. These are unpredictable individually; that is, one cannot say that it will rain or not rain tomorrow, but in ten years one can predict a certain amount of rainfall and the season of it. And to this secondary type mind might be close by hinge and “key-in” indices.
We had had many discussions at the galley table and there had been many honest attempts to understand each other’s thinking. There are several kinds of reception possible. There is the mind which lies in wait with traps for flaws, so set that it may miss, throgh not grasping it, a soundness. There is a second which is not reception at all, but blind flight because of laziness, or because some pattern is disturbed by the process of the discussion. The best reception of all is that which is easy and relaxed, which says in effect, “Let me absorb this thing. Let me try to understand it without private barriers. When I have understood what you are saying, only then will I subject it to my own scrutiny and my own criticism.” This is the finest of all critical approaches and the rarest.
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