PENDULUM

“You’re innocent, Casaubon. You ran away instead of throwing stones, you got your degree, you didn’t shoot anybody. Yet a few years ago I felt you, too, were blackmailing me. Nothing personal, just generational cycles. And then last year, when I saw the Pendulum, I understood everything.”

“Everything?”

“Almost everything. You see, Casaubon, even the Pendulum is a false prophet. You look at it, you think it’s the only fixed point in the cosmos. but if you detach it from the ceiling of the Conservatoire and hang it in a brothel, it works just the same. And there are other pendulums: there’s one in New York, in the UN building, there’s one in the science museum in San Francisco, and God knows how many others. Wherever you put it, Foucault’s Pendulum swings from a motionless point while the earth rotates beneath it. Every point of the universe is a fixed point: all you have to do is hang the Pendulum from it.”

“God is everywhere.”

“In a sense, yes. That’s why the Pendulum disturbs me. It promises the infinite, but where to put the infinite is left to me. So it isn’t enough to worship the Pendulum; you still have to make a decision, you have to find the best point for it. And yet…”

“And yet?”

“And yet… You’re not taking me seriously by any chance, are you, Casaubon? No, I can rest easy; we’re not the type to take things seriously…. Well, as I was saying, the feeling you have is that you’ve spent a lifetime hanging the Pendulum in many places, and it’s never worked, but there, in the Conservatoire, it works…. Do you think there are special places in the universe? On the ceiling of this room, for example? No, nobody would believe that. You need atmosphere. I don’t know, maybe we’re always looking for the right place, maybe it’s within reach, but we don’t recognize it. Maybe, to recognize it, we have to believe in it. Well, let’s go see Signor Garamond.”

“To hang the Pendulum?”

“Ah, human folly! Now we have to be serious. If you are going to be paid, the boss must see you, touch you, sniff you, and say you’ll do. Come, let the boss touch you; the boss’s touch heals scrofula.”

Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum.

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