Monday, March 13, 2006

Resistentialism. (Don’t lock your doors.)

You’ve all heard of existentialism, right?

An online dictionary defines “existentialism” as:

“A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Okay, so what is “resistentialism?”

(Are you ready for this?)

“Resistentialism” is defined as:

“The theory that inanimate objects display malice towards humans.”

(By the way, this word was pointed out to me by regular reader and phenomenally talented artist r.e.wolf. Check out his site to see some of his work! Thanks, r.e.!)

Anyway, my point is: I did NOT make up this word, and this “theory” (pretty darn much proven fact, by now) has been acknowledged by many for decades!

Need MORE proof? Read the following article, made available to you through the marvels of Google:

The Clark-Trimble experiments

A convenient point of departure is provided by the famous Clark-Trimble experiments of 1935. Clark-Trimble was not primarily a physicist, and his great discovery of the Graduated Hostility of Things was made almost accidentally. During some research into the relation between periods of the day and human bad temper, Clark-Trimble, a leading Cambridge psychologist, came to the conclusion that low human dynamics in the early morning could not sufficiently explain the apparent hostility of Things at the breakfast table - the way honey gets between the fingers, the unfoldability of news-papers, etc.

In the experiments which finally confirmed him in this view, and which he demonstrated before the Royal Society in London, Clark-Trimble arranged four hundred pieces of carpet in ascending degrees of quality, from coarse matting to priceless Chinese silk. Pieces of toast and marmalade, graded, weighed, and measured, were then dropped on each piece of carpet, and the marmalade-downwards incidence was statistically analysed. The toast fell right-side-up every time on the cheap carpet, except when the cheap carpet was screened from the rest (in which case the toast didn’t know that Clark-Trimble had other and better carpets), and it fell marmalade-downwards every time on the Chinese silk. Most remarkable of all, the marmalade-downwards incidence for the intermediate grades was found to vary exactly with the quality of carpet.

The success of these experiments naturally switched Clark-Trimble’s attention to further research on resistentia, a fact which was directly responsible for the tragic and sudden end to his career when he trod on a garden rake at the Cambridge School of Agronomy. In the meantime, Noys and Crangenbacker had been doing some notable work in America. Noys carried out literally thousands of experiments, in which subjects of all ages and sexes, sitting in chairs of every conceivable kind, dropped various kinds of pencils. In only three cases did the pencil come to rest within easy reach. Crangenbacker’s work in the social-industrial field, on the relation of human willpower to specific problems such as whether a train or subway will stop with the door opposite you on a crowded platform, or whether there will be a mail box anywhere on your side of the street, was attracting much attention.

Well, I could go on and on, but those of you who are interested can conduct your own Google search and read as much as you like.

Murphy or no Murphy, resistentialism is alive and well.

And locking your doors won’t help.


r.e.wolf said...

Great post! I knew you'd appreciate the validation, John. It HAS been around awhile!

Shesawriter said...

“The theory that inanimate objects display malice towards humans.”

ROFLMAO! This reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode with the guy who hates machines, and they all gang up on him. LOL!


Hale McKay said...

I stumbled across his once, John. I have his and a couple of his links on my Blog Roll under "references." Using words like 'existentialism' and 'resistentialism'would make me want to refer to you as "suaviloquent." (swa vilo qwent)
In other words you have a sophisticated manner of speaking.
...You might get a kick out of my recent post, "Meeting of the Minds." It deals with working in an office environment.

robotjam said...

A fascinating read as usual Duke.