The Pit and the Pendulum

0 Conversations


Time has an almost mystical reputation. At the mention of a pendulum people normally think about time, some would think about the periodical cycle. As time goes by, a pendulum will cycle back and forth. A master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story called, “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Poe connected with the horror of things we cannot control that cycle ever closer to our destruction. 


The mind has at its core an ability to recognize patterns. These patterns are strongly attuned to temporal interactions with the five senses. Our memories not only offer what happened, but also tell us when it happened. As with Poe’s story, we recognize patterns within patterns. We obviously see some weight swinging side to side. But then we realize that the weight gets a bit closer with every swing.


Anthropologically, we recognized cycles of each day, lunar period, and solar period with great advantage. Most cultures perceived many cycles in the orientation of stars. We noticed the wondering stars, planets, which were out of sync with the rest of the starry pattern.


In October 2012, Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew released a book called, “Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future.” In that book they explore social cycle patterns. What they pick up on is a social cycle of “We” becoming “Me” and back to “We” occurring over a twenty year period during several cycles. I find it more compelling to note the cycles between the “haves and the have-nots.” That cycle is portrayed by the “We-Me” cycle but I believe much may be lost.  


Social Cycles are more complex than the Physics of a pendulum. Nevertheless, just as Physics must take into account many other forces affecting the swing of a pendulum, it must be clear that there are many more forces affecting social swings. Even so, the profound weight of the system provides us with temporal patterns we can recognize.


As we perceive some negative or positive result, we adjust. Too far right, we move left until we perceive we are to far left. Rarely do we identify center and plan for that balanced position. In automation we may have the same problems. To achieve a set temperature, the automation applies energy when below the set-point, and removes energy when above the set-point. More advanced automation can avoid temperature cycles by planning for the set-point. Some of the most advanced automation systems have used models of neural networks to avoid errors in the control cycles.


In Physics it is called the point of equilibrium. In life, it is called dead. In a bigger picture, we see things die and “return to the dust.” Then the elements that once made-up those living things are reassimilated in other living things. A life cycle is ever ongoing. Although we may accept the life cycle of other things, many of us struggle with people dieing what we see as a premature death. Many can enslave a horse or cow, but not a person. Why? But more to my point, how do we adjust to situations about people differently than situations about other things?

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more