Gravity is a Harsh Mistress

March 30, 2024 By arne hendriks Off

The Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote is based on Mark Twain’s description of a coyote as “a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry.” Twain then continues to make an unsavoury comparison between coyotes and native Americans. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that insatiable hunger describes the state of the contemporary human species rather well. In fact, unlike coyotes and native Americans, no amount of food, or anything else for that matter, seems to satisfy us. We cartoonishly embrace a permanent state of gravitational incognizance as if ignoring the challenges will somehow make them go away.

Gravitational incognizance is a fictional state of suspended disbelief in which a character hanging in mid air doesn’t fall until they realize their predicament. The law of gravity only takes effect upon realizing the imposibility of the situation, in which case they fall or start scrambling back to where they came from, sometimes even managing to reach the ledge. It’s about time we scramble.