Activating Defaults

Ms. Tippett: I think that also you draw analogies between how a whole community works, which is incorporating that fragility as part of its living being and even what you know about how the Earth works.

Dr. Le Pichon: Yeah. It’s true that — I was very, very impressed by one of these things, which is the way earthquakes are fabricated, which is that in the lower layer of the Earth where the temperature is high, then the defaults that are within the rocks are activated, and the rocks are able to deform without fracture, become what we call ductile. They flow.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Dr. Le Pichon: But when the temperature is low and cold — it’s cold like in the upper few miles of the Earth — then they are rigid. These weaknesses cannot be expressed. And as a result, the rocks are much more resistant, much more rigid, and they react by reaching their limit of resistance. And suddenly — bing — you have a major commotion and an earthquake.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Dr. Le Pichon: And so the difference is that, in one case, the defaults play a role in putting weakness in that and making things much more smooth. And in the other case, it’s very rigid. And I find, in the society, it’s very often the same thing in the community. Communities which are very strong, very rigid, that do not take into account the weak points of the community, the people who are in difficulty and so on, tends to be communities that do not evolve. And when they evolve, it’s generally by a very strong commotion, a “revolution” I would call them in French.

Ms. Tippett: Right, right. You make that distinction between systems that incorporate fragility and evolve, and then systems that become rigid and then need revolutions to move forward.

Dr. Le Pichon: Yeah … ”

Xavier Le Pichon, conversation “The Fragility at the Heart of Humanity”

earth fissures.jpg



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