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Thursday, 7 January 2010




There remains the problem of not being able to see one's loved ones again, up against the problem of never having really seen them in the first place. Were they simply too close to be looked at? All one would see would be the irrelevant detail, like the pile texture of the grey towel the confined defenseman threw over a camera in the penalty box. A coarse grainy fabric approximately the texture of brain tissue, going out over the satellite, like the cry of the blind muezzin in the mosque, a star of incalculable feeling in the great algebraic night.

File:Image-Al-Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-l-muqābala.jpg

Muezzin in his mosque in Mali: photo by Ferdinand Reus, 2008
Page from Al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hasab al-jabr wa-l-muqbala (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing): Abu Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, c. 820 CE. (from The Oxford History of Islam: John L. Esposito)


human being said...

such a pure and poetic flow of emotions running on the sands of our existence sinking softly down our soul...

the last image brought tears to my eyes...

this should be somehow in line with
that theme of remembering and forgetting... now seeing and not seeing...
"too close to be looked at"

yes Tom how deeply you've probed into man's relations in this marvelous work...

and a while ago i wrote to a friend how this virtual connection we have is closer to our essence as the physicalities do not distract the attention of our souls...

really loved this!

love and peace to you dear poet friend for reviving the world with your words


TC said...


Thank you for finding this one. It began in tears so I suppose it's fitting that it should end that way for you. Not everybody responds emotionally. The study of the stars and the invention of algebra seem real to me, abstract to others. Likewise prayer ("the cry of the blind muezzin") never fails to strike me as an expression of feeling. I forgot how to pray, long ago. But the person whose passing this oblique little confession of infidelity is concerned with never lost faith in the power of prayer. Hers was a God of consolation and mercy not a God of defence or of permission for aggression. Maybe there are as many Gods as there are believers. Then again, maybe there are absolutes. I have friends who observe the hours of Salat every day and are given strength, dignity, composure and (it seems) inner peace in this practice. But divinity remains for me more distant than the stars. Perhaps it is simply there beyond them, and beyond my reckoning, and I should trust in what I do not know. Which at this point seems to be almost everything.

But yes, "too close to be looked at"... what is this blindness or shyness or self-absorbedness that keeps us from seeing and accepting fully the reality of loved ones until they are gone and it is too late?

And as to "how this virtual connection we have is closer to our essence as the physicalities do not distract the attention of our souls..." -- this I do understand. Strange perhaps, but then again perhaps not so strange. Sometimes I feel that in this virtual way we are able to look *into* one another whereas in the physical world we are constrained by our separateness, and so reduced to simply staring *at*, or even worse, *past* each other's deeper realities. This endless complication of distance and the human.

(The towel in the penalty box was the unhappy defenseman's device to avoid being "seen" by the camera.. but of course there's finally nowhere to hide.)

So grateful for your words always, may blessings and peace come to you.

~otto~ said...

Always with the great endings: " the great algebraic night." So good.

TC said...

Many thanks, O. You're definitely allowed to keep saying that over and over. Feels better every time.

Maybe not as good as that porn dance party happy ending, but still...

(Funny thing is, I was always terrible at algebra. Once in a sort of mini-protest I snuck from my seat to the light switch at the back of the classroom, switched it off, then swiftly slunk back. But being the obvious Sole Suspect -- even then -- I paid for this bit of cleverness to the tune of numerous bruises around that useless organ, the head. Strange how little effect corporal punishment will have on a terminally unteachable mathematics student, however...)

Elmo St. Rose said...

history in the calligraphy

alegbraic night
the calculus of flight

set theory
imaginary numbers
fision fusion
mass confusion
should calligraphy
not awaken to history
endless night from
which there will
be no flight

TC said...

Yes, waiting so long here in the dark on Standby.

(Last time on an airplane: 1995, Denver/SFO.)

"Don't know much about history" is a great song line but I've latterly thought it a disingenuous statement, nobody's ever not been part of it nor at least in some infinitesimal part failed to know as much, e'er since we "came down from the trees".