How gravity turns me upside down


The back and piercing through the rabbit holes are very similar to real life, as a friend of the artist used to say. He often spoke of the tunnel at the end of the light, which we forget always follows the light at the ends of the tunnel. There is always the reverse, the reverse, the reverse.

Gravity draws time and space, and rabbit holes in memory turn precious stories on their heads. One key moment in my personal life story happened in 1969 as I watched Americans land on the moon along with a bunch of friendly Russians, glued to an old TV set in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. Or at least I remember. A month ago, I found a diary of that fateful year. Yes, I really was in Kharkov on July 17 (local date). No, Americans and Russians did not celebrate together. “I heard we landed on the moon,” I wrote. “But you wouldn’t know that from a local television station that only broadcasts old news.”

Even scarier, my memory of a happy evening with the water sweet guys was even more perverted. “They said they liked me as a girl,” it says in my diary, “but as Americans, they won’t have a problem killing me.”

It exists upside down. Encourages changes in perspective, revisits, necessary corrections. Many times I switched between a writer and an editor, alone and with a partner, a dog and a cat, an eastern coaster and a left coaster. I hope I am wiser for that; I know my world is bigger for that.

Besides, we always miss things the first time. One popular party that whistled at me was (okay, this is stupid) dancing on the line. These days, twice a week, I hang out with a large group of overall agents in the college parking lot, doing Korean trot, Cuban cha-cha, country classics. We dance with Elvis. Now or never.

Through it all, gravity works tirelessly – it crunches my vertebrae, curves my spine, reshapes the middle. The last time I stood in the crowd, standing on tiptoe to see, to my horror I realized that my gaze was obscured by the shoulder wall of normal people.

Of course, we do not “see” the curvature of space-time, at least not in the usual sense. However, the editor of the copy once insisted that I insert the expression “allegedly” before “curved space-time”. That still amuses me. I mean, we can’t see the air either, although a big enough blow can bring down a building. The movement of air (wind), just like gravity, is a kind of pseudo force, because it depends on relative motion. A car (or boat) moving through calm air can cause a fairly light breeze. An obvious wind, the sailors call it.

But then we experience everything indirectly. We hear the rustling of leaves and conclude the wind at work – that is, the presence of air in motion. We measure the motion of galaxies and infer the gravitational forces needed to hold a cluster together – it turns out that too much gravity can be explained by visible stars. Hence the “dark” matter – which is now considered to represent most of the matter in the universe.

Gravity is revealed to us through what makes things, including me. But it is not a force, like magnetism. It is just a landscape of local space-time. And we know that landscapes are important – not just in physics. If a supposedly “flat” landscape (playground) tends to keep some people at the top, others at the bottom, you know that not-so-invisible forces distort things.

Invisible influential people distort our world on a daily basis, mostly those we wouldn’t think about: mutating viruses, fragile power grids, nuclear bombs, plastic oceans. Right under our feet, tectonic strains are threatening to literally pull the ground beneath us – especially if you live in the northwest Pacific, located at the top of the Cascadia subduction zone, a disaster waiting to happen. Then there is the ubiquitous AI. Despite the red flags previously raised by Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, it is only now that some people are becoming upset about its power to distort almost everything – now that it is ubiquitous and inevitable, and more like gravity.

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