Paul Malone : Theory Bars : The Inconstant Heavens

Theory Bars : The Inconstant Heavens : Perspex, aluminium section, text on acetate and fabriano, fixtures. 100 x 2.5 x 2 cms : 2011

These units are made by embedding text and other elements behind perspex strips and enclosing them in aluminium 'U' sections. They can be stacked in vertical assemblages on the wall.

The historic texts are taken from the philosophies of the night sky which are broken into fragments and pasted together in poetic assemblages. Behind each text is a section of star map and other elements related to astronomy. These are the same texts as appear in the '00 Scale' tanker wagons which are repeated here below the 'Details'

Details below :



Texts of 'The Inconstant Heavens'

'Cicero Firmament'

In the firmament, therefore, there is no accident, no chance
no aimless wandering, nothing untrustworthy, on the contrary
all things display perfect order, reliability, purpose, constancy...


'Critas Baleful'

He [Sisyphus] said the gods resided in that place
Which men would dread the most, that place from which,
As he well knew, mortals have been beset
With fears or blest with that which brings relief
To their tormented lives - there, high above,
In that great circuit where the lightnings flash,
Where thunder's baleful tumult may be heard,
And heaven's starry countenance is seen
(That lovely work of Time's skilled joinery),
Where molten stones of stars descend ablaze,
And wet rain starts it journey to the earth.
Such were the consternating fears he sent
To men, and such the means by which the gods
Were settled in their proper dwelling-place
(A pretty trick, accomplished with a word);
And thus he quenched out lawlessness with laws


'Kant Absence'

"the absence of space, though we think it as empty of objects
ever new and increasing wonder and awe - the starry heavens
a universe without a purpose
What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope?
own existence proves the existence of objects in space outside
intuitions, and therefore, with us, to sensibility, because in no other way
Whoever wills an end, ought to will the means" Kant


'Newton Principia'

The six primary planets are revolved about the Sun in circles concentric with the Sun, and with motions directed towards the same parts, and almost in the same place. Ten moons are revolved about the Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, in circles concentric with them, with the same direction of motion, and nearly in the planes of the orbits of those planets; but it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions, since the comets range over all parts of the heavens in very eccentric orbits; for by that kind of motion they pass easily through the orbs of the planets, and with great rapidity; and in their aphelions, where they move the slowest, and are detained the longest, they recede to the greatest distances from each other, and hence suffer the least disturbance from their mutual attractions. This most beautiful system of the Sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being

Isaac Newton 'Principia'


'Newton Opticks'

For it became who created them [the celestial bodies] to set them in order. And if he did so, it's unphilosophical to seem for any other origin of the world, or to pretend that it might arise out of a chaos by the mere laws of nature; though being once formed, it may continue by those laws for many ages. For while comets move in very excentrick orbs in all manner of positions, blind fate could never make all the planets move one and the same way in orbs, concentrick, some inconsiderable irregularities excepted, which may have arisen from the mutual actions of comets and planets upon one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this system wants a reformation. Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary system must be allowed the effect of choice

Isaac Newton 'Opticks'


'Donne Anatomy'

And new Philosophy calls all in doubt... And freely men confess that this world's spent, When in the Planets, and the Firmament They seek so many new; then see that this Is crumbled out again to his Atomies. 'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone... So, of the Stars, which boast that they do run In Circle still, none ends where he begun. All their proportions lame, it sinks, it swells.

Donne 'An Anatomy of the World' (1611)


'Hooker Polity'

Now if nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, thought it were but for a while the observation of her own laws; if those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now as a giant doth run his unwearied course, should as it were through a languishing faintness begin to stand and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be defeated of heavenly influence, the fruits of the earth pine away as children at the withered breasts of their mother no longer able to yield them relief: what would become of man himself, whom these things now do all serve? See we not plainly that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world?

Richard Hooker 'Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity' (1593-97)


'Whiston Principles'

Yet comets by passing through the planetary regions in all planets and directions... seem fit to cause vast mutations in the planets, particularly in bringing on them deluges and conflagrations, according as the planets pass through the atmosphere... Tho'indeed they do withal seem at present chaos or worlds in confusion, but capable of change to orbits nearer circular, and then settling into a state of order and of becoming fit for habitation like the planets; but these conjectures are left to further enquiry, when it pleases the divine providence to afford us more light about them

William Whiston 'Astronomical Principles of Religion Natural and Reveal'd' (London, 1717)

'Boulanger Terrors'

We shall there see the origin of the terrors which throughout the ages have alarmed the minds of men always possessed by ideas of the devastation of the world.

There we shall see generated the destructive fanaticism, the enthusiasm which leads men to commit the greatest excesses against themselves and against their fellows.

The spirit of persecution and intolerance which under the name of zeal makes man believe that he has the right to torment those who do not adore with him the same celestial monarch, or who do not have the same opinion as he does about

His essence or His cult.

Nicolas-Antoine Boulanger (1722-59) 'Encyclop├ędie'


'Galileo Great Wonder'

"I cannot without great wonder, nay more, disbelief, hear it being attributed to natural bodies as a great honour and perfection that they are impassible, immutable, inalterable, etc.: as, conversely, I hear it esteemed a great imperfection to be alterable, generable, mutable, etc.

It is my opinion that the Earth is very noble and admirable by reason of the many and different alterations, mutations, generations, etc., which incessantly occur in it... I say the same concerning the Moon, Jupiter, and all the other globes of the Universe...

These men who so extol incorruptibility, inalterability, etc., speak thus, I believe, out of the great desire they have to live long and for fear of death..."

Galileo 'Dialogue on the Great World Systems'


'Heavenly Hydrocarbons'

Heavenly Hydrocarbons : a selection of organic compounds present in the Molecular Clouds of Space
Ethane C2H6
Cyclopentane C5H10
Allene C3H4
Methylcyclohexane C7H14
Piperylene C5H8
Methylcyclopropane C4H8
Cyclooctane C8H16
Decane C10H22
Nonane C9H20
Methane CH4


'Hume Dialogues'

The modern system of astronomy is now so much received by all inquirers, and has become so essential a part even of our earliest education, that we are not commonly very scrupulous in examining the reasons upon which it is founded. It is now become a matter of mere curiosity to study the first writers on that subject.

David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), Part II.


'Norden Vicissitudo'

The antique Poets in their Poems telled Under their fondest Fables, Mysteries: By Phaeton, how heaven's Powers rebelled In Fire's force, and by the histories Of Phyrrha and Deucalian there lies, The like of water's impetuity, In part concurring with divinity - The Priests of Egypt gazing on the stars, Are said to see the World's sad ruins past, That had betide by Fire and Water's jars: And how the World inconstant and unchaste, Assailed by these, cannot alike stand fast. Earthquakes and Wars, Famine, Hate, and Pest, Bring perils to the Earth, and Man's unrest.

John Norden 'Vicissitudo Rerum' (1600)


'Kant Practical'

Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

Kant 'Critique of Practical Reason'


'Laplace Summary' The axis and the movement of rotation would be changed. The seas would abandon their ancient positions, in order to precipitate themselves toward the new equator; a great portion of the human race and the animals would be drowned in the universal deluge, or destroyed by the violent shock imparted to the terrestrial globe; entire species would be annihilated; all monuments of human industry overthrown; such are the disasters which the shock of a comet would produce, if its mass were comparable to that of the earth. We see then, in effect, why the ocean has receded from the high mountains, upon which it has left incontestable marks of its sojourn. We see how the animals and plants of the south have been able to exist in the climate of the north, where their remains and imprints have been discovered; finally, it explains the newness of the human civilization, certain monuments of which do not go further back than five thousand years. The human race reduced to a small number of individuals, and to the most deplorable state, solely occupied for a length of time with the care of its own preservation, must have lost entirely the remembrance of the sciences and the arts; and when progress of civilization made these wants felt anew, it was necessary to begin again, as if man had been newly placed upon the earth. Laplace Summary


'Hesiod Foolish Perses'

Work the work that the gods ordained for men, lest in bitter anguish of thumos seek your livelihood amongst your neighbours, and they heed you not.

Hesiod 'Works and Days'