I have briefly mentioned my idea of gravity as the yin force of a “return to the center” which balances the yang force of the “quest for novelty” (Speculations on the Nature of God, 3.III.15, reprinted in More Laughter), but I want to take a closer look at it today.
One of the fundamental questions which continue to bother scientists and philosophers is, “Why is there any universe here at all, instead of just nothing?” I have also been confused by that problem, and my solution is not altogether satisfying even to me (that the universe just popped into being spontaneously, in accordance with some inevitable ultimate reality).
But I don’t want to belabor that problem anymore here – what I want to do is to accept those two opposing forces as given, and try to understand how those two forces might explain the nature of the cosmos as we know it.
I start by agreeing that the “natural” state of the cosmos is nothingness, non-being, ain soph. This is not yet “zero” – zero is already far along on the road to the manifestation of being. Now comes the “Laughter of God” (or however you like to express this mystery) which separates nothingness into two parts, All and Nothing, or an expansive force which creates and maintains a subject/object distinction, and a complementary force which resolves all such distinctions back to “the center” (the singularity which started and/or ended it all).
I am happy to see that some recent speculations on the nature of the cosmos tend to see some sort of endless cycle expanding out of a singularity and finally resolving back into a black hole, whence it might re-emerge to form a “new universe.” This has always made more sense to me than the facile postulation of an original Big Bang ex nihilo. However we may wish to explain the expansive force, or attempt to account for its presence or existence, it is clear to me that the opposite force, of reduction back to the center, from diversity back to singularity, is what we know of as the force of gravity.
Since nothingness is the “natural” state of the cosmos, some force or intervention is required to create and maintain a distinction. One of my earliest philosophical pronouncements (dating back to my book of Jokes, 1975, letterpress, miniature) is “Time is the Measure of Error.” I might slightly update that pronouncement as: “Time and Space are the Measures of Error.” Thus, the expansive yang energy of subject/object distinction is identified as some sort of error, like the grain of sand in an oyster which generates a pearl. So, as that initial force dissipates, and the distinctions resolve back to singularity, the manifestations of time and space tend to return back to zero. (A singularity, as a point of no dimensions, is indistinguishable from zero, the reverse of the First Arcanum, which refers to the emergence of the Singularity from the Zero Arcanum of ain soph.)
This whole process of the return back to the singularity is what is observed as the “force of gravity.” That is, the “force of gravity” isn’t really a force, at all; it is just the dissipation of the contrary force which generates expansion into proliferating distinction. In other words, yang expresses an active force reaching out into novelty and distinction, while yin is the passive return to the equilibrium of nothingness. The Hermetic alchemists summed up the whole process as SOLVE ET COAGULA.
So, is everything clear now? Of course I have side-stepped the whole question of the origin, nature, and meaning of that yang force of distinction, the quest for novelty. Words are wholly inadequate (which is why I resort to quotation marks so often), but to suggest that the whole “Laughter of God” is somehow based on some sort of error, or “crack in the cosmic egg,” seems to me to be hinting, in some poetical fashion, for an interpretation of the ultimate mystery of why there is anything here at all, instead of just nothingness.
The Evanescent Press