Einstein's Space-Time: Eight Escape Routes

by Richard Paez

{Bond of Union}

"So let us then try to climb the mountain, not by stepping on what is below
us, but to pull us up at what is above us, for my part at the stars; amen."

We dance in a circle. We rise and fall
to the drum. Smoke rises from the pit
at our center as our reflections scale
the smooth wall behind us, forming
an endless tessellation: man and devil,
man and shadow.

A pair of spirit dancers climb down,
break their pattern to join us, to dance with us,
to remind us that each of us broke a pattern
to join the circle. Now we reach the far side of the ring,
where man meets devil head-on, where man
and shadow shake hands and together praise the light
that made both possible.

When the music stops the circle breaks.
A new tessellation forms: the
Devils climb, one
on one atop each other. Each one, reaching the peak,
curses the rising smoke because he is no closer to escape.

We too curse the smoke. We are ants, newts.

There is a thief at the center of

Her knees sink into the mud, her hands busy digging
holes, caressing her plantings, removing stones.
She hunches over the kicking weight in her belly, mulls
over the parallels between the seed in her womb
and the seedlings in her garden. She doesn't know
I'm watching her, and I think it best to not disturb her.

Walking here along the dirt road, I came across a Puddle
nested in tire tracks and shoe prints, smooth as a mirror,
reflecting sky, trees, sun. I see iguanas in the branches,
and dream of

Do not ignore the possibility that there is a thief at the center of relativity. Einstein's first revelation was that there are two ways to achieve immortality: to move at the speed of light or to come to a complete stop. His second revelation was that both are impossible. We are constantly moving particles in a constantly moving universe; no particle can reach light-speed. You are not sitting still now. There is no solid ground. We are demons possessing inertia, but it is the power of Gravity that compels us, which brings us low by its constancy. There is a built-in fail-safe, a bottle-neck, in the litany of the universe: the faster we go, the slower time passes for us, the heavier we become, the stronger gravity pulls on us, the greater our energy expenditure must become, the harder, the more impossible, it becomes to speed up. We spend our lives approaching, approximating, impossibility. But it is equally impossible to slow down. Inertia penetrates everything: since the beginning, matter has been propelled outward by the big bang. Stellar objects propel matter outward constantly, exhaling billion-year sighs in response to the cold emptiness of space. Your father propelled his sperm outwards; your mother propelled you outwards; and since space is nothing but the sheet of time bent by the winds of gravity, your life is nothing but a ripple in the fabric, propelled forward from its moment of beginning, only occasionally passing another ripple closely enough to feel its turbulence, to pitch on its wake, to be slightly redirected by its eddies. We are constantly leaving and left behind. Go visit your childhood home. It isn't there anymore. It has moved in space-time, it is never where it just was. Its particles have shifted: electrons have leeched away, others have been added. Atoms sink. Even the glass in the windows is different than you remember: glass is a slow-flowing liquid, never solid; every time you come back, the bottom of the panes are thicker, the tops thinner, than they were last time you were here. And that is the thief in action. When he steals a moment, he replaces it with inertia. When he steals inertia, he replaces it with gravity. He is the trickster, Prometheus. His magic bag contains everything, and nothing. And we will never reach him, never be able to catch up to him to take what he has stolen from us. So we kneel. Our knees sink into mud. We mull over parallels. And dream of stars. Anything to ignore the cold emptiness, the billion-year sigh, the reality that everything is relative, that everything we hold meaningful and constant is just turbulence, eddies on the surface of space-time, that nothing changes because everything is constantly changing.


Author's Note: This is not a poem. It is an attempt to create a patchwork in multiple dimensions. There are eight escape routes, eight ways an Other found to escape Relativity. No; they are routes, but they aren't really escapes. They are self-reflecting, self-reflexive nodes; they turn back in on themselves, just as we do. They are iguanas in branches, just as we are. Have you seen the stars yet? Humans experience Reality as a series of hyperlinks; nodes and pathways. Roofs, ceilings are self-evident constructs--it is the arches that support, the parabolas that subsume, the formulas {y = -(x2)} that supersede the firmament.

Posted on 03/18/2005
Copyright © 2020 Richard Paez

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