Heraclitus, Fragment 74 (D 59)


Of letters [or of writers] the way is straight and crooked (the working of what is called the kochlias, spinning around in the carding-comb for it goes both upward and around, it goes round and returns), it is one and the same. (S 59, Cp. R 59, K 74)

Heraclitus here points out how the ancient carding comb, which was an instrument with movable teeth, used for printing, displays a fundamental truth of metaphysics. Technical devices, like the carding comb or, as we will see, musical instruments, through contrary movements and tension, create a unified product. In the case of the carding comb it is print; in the case of an instrument, a harmony.

Both in nature and in techniques, parts that push and pull in opposition create a whole that is unified. As light and darkness comprise the span of day, and winter and summer, a year, in technical objects, too, a unity is created from opposing movements and tension.


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