1) The Paradox of Place “… if everything that exists has a place, place too will have a place, and so on ad infinitum”. – Aristotle Physics IV:1, 209a25
Where you are: Nowhere. But everywhere is somewhere. Every place is someplace. Yet where you are: noplace. It simply does not compute.
So you explain—
Before you, in a bluish light, a failing light, is a shotgun mounted on a wall. This could be anywhere, and if it could be anywhere, that is as good as nowhere. The shotgun is mounted on the wall in the room where you are standing. Scarcely more enlightening. The room where you are standing is in the house you purchased years ago. Yet where are those years? Where is your house? If someone asked, as they might, where you lived, you could not respond, “In the rooms of my house;” although, upon reflection, that answer is more truthful than any other. Perhaps. The neighborhood: Fort Sanders. Random fact. And should you bring it up, you would most likely have to explain (oh, how you love to explain) the history of the name “Fort Sanders” (detail upon life-saving, life-affirming detail). But sooner or later, you find, “Fort Sanders” is no better than “wall,” “room,” “house.” The city: Knoxville. The country: the United States of America. Alas, there are ten Knoxvilles in the U.S.A.: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas. You claim you are in Tennessee. That the continent is North America which, before the Panama Canal, was fully connected to South America. That these continents are in the Western Hemisphere. (The Western portion, of a globe?) On planet Earth. That Earth is in the Solar System. That the Solar System is in the Milky Way galaxy. That the Milky Way galaxy is in the universe. Yet where is the universe? It must be somewhere. It must be someplace. Because if the universe is nowhere, then your precious details are meaningless. And what of the place where the universe is? And of that place’s place? And of that place’s place’s place? And so on. Yet you persist: before you, you think, you believe, in a bluish light, a failing light, is a shotgun mounted on a wall. False. Before you, there is someone else. Someone who resembles you, yes. But not you. No. And before that person is a shotgun. If the dimming light can be trusted. Wherever it comes from. If, indeed, it comes from anywhere. If, indeed, it isn’t an illusion (anywhere being as good as nowhere). An illusion as are “wall,” “room,” “house,” “Knoxville,” “Tennessee,” “the United States of America,” “North America,” “the Western Hemisphere” (!), “Earth,” “the Solar System,” “the Milky Way galaxy,” “the universe.” And what potential can we find here?
Where are you? Everywhere is nowhere. Everyplace is noplace. So what can happen here? Everything. Nothing.
2) Achilles and the Tortoise “In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead.” – Aristotle Physics VI:9, 239b15
Who you are: Sisyphus. And the one before you before the shotgun: Anton Ulysses. Yet character is defined through action. You, Sisyphus, are inactive. Your doing is the same as your not doing, and that, in turn, is your undoing. Who you are: no one.
You want to stop Anton Ulysses from reaching the shotgun. Previously, you wanted Anton Ulysses to get the shotgun. It was part of the plan. The foolproof plan. But now, you are not so sure. Now you want to stop Anton Ulysses. The man before you. The boy before you. You can never view him as a man. To you, characters are not defined by action but by thought. Boys are action. Men are thought. And you want to stop Anton Ulysses. You want to explain (oh, how you want to explain; oh, how you love to explain). You want him to understand. You want him to think. You want to overtake Anton Ulysses.
You never will. Anton Ulysses has the lead. And he will continue moving. He will continue acting. As is his wont. And in order to catch up, you must reach the last point where Anton Ulysses resided. And even if Anton Ulysses only moves a foot from that point, you will never overtake him. Because you will be in his last position; he will be a foot in the lead. And in order to catch up, you must travel that foot. Yet Anton Ulysses, always on the move, will no longer be there. He will still be in the lead. And on and on: Anton Ulysses progressing forward, you behind, no matter the speed. The father will follow in the footsteps of the son, ironically. You will be left behind. Anton Ulysses will reach the shotgun. Anton Ulysses will wrest it from the wall. He will spin around. He will point the gun at you. He will pull the trigger. And the blast will project outward. At you.
You? Who are you?
Sisyphus. No one.
3) The Dichotomy Paradox “That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.” – Aristotle Physics VI:9, 239b10
When it will happen: never. It must happen sometime. Anton Ulysses cannot be stopped. Your action is inaction. But sometime and notime are the same when you are only somewhere and therefore nowhere. No place. No chance. No time. When it will happen: never.
Anton Ulysses wants to reach the shotgun. Once he reaches it, his motives are unclear. And although you cannot stop him, still, he will never arrive. For in order to get to the shotgun, he must first reach the halfway point between his current position and the wall (wherever the wall is). And in order to reach that halfway point, he must reach the halfway point between his current position and that halfway point. And in order to reach that halfway point, he must reach the halfway point between his current position and that halfway point. And on and on. Anton Ulysses, always the actor, will struggle, forever if need be, will strive, heroically strive, will endeavor to complete his (Herculean) task. In vain. His journey, although it appears so brief, will expand. It will expand and expand. Until the shotgun appears miles away. Yet, mockingly, it is merely a few feet. So close by. So far away. A mission that seemed like it would take no time at all, takes an eternity. An eternity not to happen.
Happen? When will it happen?
4) The Paradox of the Arrow “If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.” – Aristotle Physics VI:9, 239b5
(Anton Ulysses has the shotgun.)
What will happen: nothing.
(Anton Ulysses has the shotgun.)
Noplace. No one. Never. Nothing.
Even though Anton Ulysses has the shotgun. For, in order to fire the shotgun, he would have to cock at least one of the two hammers, either of which may break or prove defective, although the weapon is of high quality, because, sooner or later, everything fails. Then, once he has cocked one (or both) hammers, he must pull the trigger. With a smaller gun, Anton Ulysses would have to aim. But at this distance…ah, but the difficulty of distance has already been discussed. So, perhaps Anton Ulysses should aim. Provided that his aim is true, he would next have to pull one (or both) of the triggers which will unleash the spring(s) that has/have been pulled taut by cocking the hammer(s). Much like the hammers, the triggers and the springs could very well malfunction. Not to mention that to completely pull the trigger, Anton Ulysses would first have to pull it halfway halfway halfway, etc. The spring would have to move halfway halfway… The hammers would have to move halfway… And if, somehow, Anton Ulysses is able to get the hammers cocked, the triggers pulled, the springs unleashed, the hammers pounding forward, still nothing will happen. For the gun would have to be loaded, and the gun is never kept loaded. The gun is usually kept unloaded. It is possible that it has been loaded. The gun is loaded. You loaded it yourself. It was a part of the plan. Yet even with the gun loaded, the hammer still must interact with the shotgun shell. A shotgun shell consists of the primer (the explosive cap), the propellant (gunpowder), and the shot (made of lead). If the hammer strikes forward, it will hit the explosive cap (which must create a miniature explosion) which will ignite the propellant (if the gunpowder is properly packed and pure) into yet another miniature explosion which will perform the twofold function of (1) creating greater pressure behind the shot than the atmosphere applies in front of the shot (hence, sending the shot forward), and (2) fragmenting the aggregate of shot (contrary to a bullet which is a single projectile). Yet the likelihood of any of this happening is low (see the previous sections). But even if it should happen, even if the gun mechanism and the shell mechanism all, against the odds, operate perfectly, still nothing will happen. For the shot must have been manufactured properly. Shot is made by pouring molten lead down a shot tower (such as the Sunsphere Shot Tower in Knoxville, Tennessee (wherever that may be) that is 234 feet tall and made of brick (to add more random details)). As the molten lead descends, air pressure makes it round (the taller the shot tower, the greater the air pressure, the better the product). The now round pieces of molten lead then cascade into a pool of water in order to cool. Once cooled, the balls, the shot is filtered through screens so the balls of the same size can be collected, so the irregular shot can be re-melted down, can be put back through the process. The chances of any of this happening successfully: zero. First, it involves a worker leaving his home and going to work (impossible); it involves the worker making his way to the container of molten lead (doubly impossible); it involves the worker ascending a tower (trebly impossible); it involves the worker pouring the lead down the tower (quadruply impossible); it involves the lead falling through the tower (quintiply impossible) and reaching the pool below (infinitely impossible) and then being accurately filtered through screens so manifold shot balls do not cause a shotgun jam (absolutely impossible). But even if this entire ordeal were possible (and it isn’t…at all) still nothing would happen. For the principle behind the gun is that it will move lead through a target. Yet in order to move, the shot must not be at rest. Yet all objects that occupy a space are at rest whilst in that space. The lead which appears to be moving through the air, then, is actually stationary, and no more likely to injure you than the worker is likely to make his way to the shot tower early in the morning for another day of work doing…
What? What can be done?
5) Paradox Solved “The solution to all of the mentioned paradoxes, then, is that there isn’t an instant in time underlying the body’s motion (if there were, it couldn’t be in motion), and as its position is constantly changing no matter how small the time interval, and as such, is at no time determined, it simply doesn’t have a determined position.” – Peter Lynds “Zeno’s Paradoxes: A Timely Solution”
You are falling. You do not know how. You do not know why. Your arguments were perfect. Your logic, flawless. Noplace. No one. Never. Nothing. But just before you hit the ground, the ground which seems so far away, though it is not far away, as if you were descending from an airplane, you think:
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