Vibratory Modes

Dear C,

We’ve often used the metaphor of two orbiting bodies to understand the development of the FàD, slingshotting past each other in an elliptical dance whose center of mass itself meanders through the universe influenced by other gravitational bodies.

A beautiful metaphor, but not to be taken too literally, as it has certain blind spots. This spatial metaphor suggests a discernable position, like the Bohrian model of electrons orbiting the nucleus that we are first taught in high school. But I don’t know where I am, and I don’t know where you are. The more contemporary distributional model in which we are fields of potential, oscillatory vibratory modes of complex probabilities seems to capture more of the rich mystery.

Our system is non-linear — energy is constantly exchanged between the vibratory modes, either directly or via their own interactions with the environments. Like the vibration of a gong where one frequency moving across the surface naturally mutates into another.

Unlike twin planets hurtling through the icy void of space, each with its own distinct location, the vibratory modes occupy, indeed are constituted by, exactly the same space. However they are not the same, each is unfolding separately, which is no more paradoxical than two ripples passing over each other despite being made of the same pond.

What then, makes these two vibratory modes different from all the others sharing the same substrate? It’s hard to say — but something about the particular structure of this substrate, unknowable yet felt through its effects, has led to a tight coupling of these twin ripples. Energy in one rapidly sets the other to oscillating, but at its own tune.

Sometimes these tones are discordant, dissonant, sometimes harmonious, neither state to be held on to too tightly, though maintaining the interchange of energy is essential. Thankfully this a beautiful feature of an oscillatory system — it can be kept moving without excessive force, as long as that force is applied judiciously. Like a child pumping on a swing, or a wine glass singing from the light touch of a finger. The art is knowing when, where, and how hard.