While all the postures described above are accompanied by animals such as horses, dolphins, monkeys and octopuses, falling requires an eminently human figure: the Fall of Man. We have been cast from paradise because we didn’t fit. As Michel Serres said, animals don’t have history; only humans do because they are bound to lead technical lives. Our falling, then, is a permanent falling, which we can’t distinguish from floating. The Falling Man of Richard Drew shows this in the most horrific manner. All falling is the falling of dice. The Epicurian and Lucretian model of the universe turns out to be pure media theory: all is falling, then swerving, then colliding, then images are emitted from these collisions. Accident and coincidence. Virilio tells us why accident is fundamental to technology. We then extend the notion of ever-falling to Pascal’s Triangle and the Galton Board, to number theory, and to that great group of writers: Oulipians such as Calvino and Perec. (By the way, falling strongly relates to comedy too.)

Falling: The Reckonings of Chance (part 1a): accident

This lecture theorizes the most radical figure of the five, Falling. While the figure of (groundless) Standing finds itself in a central position it is intersected by two axes, with on one axis the figures of anti-gravity, Jumping and Floating, and on the other the figures of gravity, Hanging and Falling. Every religion lays some sort of claim, not only on the grace machine, but especially on the workings of grace in relation to gravity. This offers us finally an opportunity to discuss Simone Weil’s work, especially her posthumous Gravity and Grace.  We follow her argumentation of a first and second degree of grace, one that first works against gravity via what she calls “decreation”, then downward, in the same direction as gravity, recreation. That looping movement involves an acceptance of death, of the void, as well as a certain opening up, what she calls “attention”. Step by step we link her ideas to the traditional split between efficacious and sufficient grace, as defended respectively by Pascal and Leibniz, then to the latter’s Principle of Sufficient Reason. We end with a long discussion of how grace is structured linking sufficient grace to self-sufficiency by bridging Weil’s practice of attention with Nietzsche’s amor fati.

Falling: The Reckonings of Chance (part 1b): accident

We are now expanding on the relationship between falling, accident, and images. For Leibniz probability already meant that things not only become events but also start to contain their own appearances, becoming self-sufficient even on the level of consciousness. Surprisingly, we see a similar turn in the ideas of Lucretius. Usually his famous De rerum natura is described as a purely materialist probe into the nature of things, but our analysis leads us in an alternative direction. For Lucretius falling is primary: all things fall. Then, they swerve, and after colliding and conjoining with other things, they start to emit images, thin film-like semblances. However, these three movements are continuous: things turn out to be packets of images, becoming ever denser and opaque toward the core, yet never dark. When we turn to Virilio’s argument that technology “produces, provokes, and programs” its own accidents, we quickly find that here too accident constitutes the substance of things and allows them to appear. We discover a fundamental relationship between technologies of movement and image at this point: the world of light and transmission does not record events and accidents but in fact precedes and causes them.