Clinamen – “at no fixed place or time."

Clinamen is the Latin name Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms, in order to defend the atomistic doctrine of Epicurus.

According to Lucretius, the unpredictable swerve occurs “at no fixed place or time”:

When atoms move straight down through the void by their own weight, they deflect a bit in space at a quite uncertain time and in uncertain places, just enough that you could say that their motion has changed. But if they were not in the habit of swerving, they would all fall straight down through the depths of the void, like drops of rain, and no collision would occur, nor would any blow be produced among the atoms. In that case, nature would never have produced anything.

This swerving, according to Lucretius, provides the “free will which living things throughout the world have”.

Bloom defines this as “poetic misreading or misprision proper”. The author makes a swerve away from a precursor, alluding to the proposition that the original work was only precise and accurate up until a particular end; at which point, the successive author makes the corrective motion.

 

Short film by: Greg Kotler & Andy Abzah