Friday, December 28, 2007

Why am I Still Reading "Special Topics....

in Calamity Physics"?

I ask myself on occasion, why? And I know it's because of my particular problem with book reading, that once I start reading a book I have to finish it (the sole exception being Joyce's "Ulysses", which I've started reading five times and have never managed to finish). This leads me to read books that I know the mystery ending to by the third chapter or books with extremely cliched story lines. I lament, Why oh why? but always continue reading and so I now find myself in a unique situation that usually only comes to me when I am watching a particularly uninteresting CSI. Namely, I don't care what happens. Reading "Special Topics in Calamity Physics", which is filled with a great deal of anecdotal information, I find myself not caring about the characters, the plot, the endless book references, and smart-alecky very-nearly-inside academia jokes. Even in the references that don't fly over my head I find no relief. At the greatest extent of my interest, a sorry "oh" will escape from my lips. And yet I trudge on, and will until the end of this 514 page book. Currently at page 116, I see no end in sight, but if I read the "Decameron" and "War and Peace", well then, By Jove, I will finish this little tome!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Katrina of Accord



Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night....

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sewing


I have this one sweater with shredding sleeves, quite in the process of falling apart. In turns, I rip it a bit further, then tie the black ends back together. Depending on my mood, sometimes I just play with the strings like a gentle cat, neither destroying nor mending. I like the way the threads feel and I even highly enjoy the very idea of them. That they have taken the impact of endless countertops and desks, and have ruffled many a time against the computer keyboard. This is not an insight. This just is one of those other things.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Data Coupling, Ilities, and Software Design


I am currently reading "Software Design" by David Budgen and getting all sorts of insights into the field of software architecture, design, implementation, and management. My notes are filled with words that buzz around in my brain - including the ilities (quality factors like reliability, efficiency, maintainability, and usability). Which of course leads to a poem. Here's for Meena-beana. Sorry about the Heidegger non-sense ;)

ilities

modules B and C
communicate,
being functionally related,
by parameters

with no control

element.

stick cohesive
and switch conditional
on site

the strength of bond
not quantifiable,
systematically

but by invisible metric,
relativistic,
within the scope
of periphery

existing only by no
direct reference

yet, they persist,
B and C,
iterating through
encoded maybes

likelihoods stacked up
by high
desirability


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

image recognition

feeling plural

no longer one,
now these
myriad latent insanities
jellyfish
stings tiny

against weapons of
this- can’t- be

shots that never aim true

extruded, as we are, through
diaphanous excuse

enter muppet-stage
yes, heart
yes, indeed

I see, I see

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spider Woes


this costumed wish to righteously give
what can only be had
by taking

places generosity within web
of irreconcilable
loss

where opposing strings
resonate normal

you, not so in multiplicity
sane only
by liquifying former bugs,
and drinking mummies

Next on the Reading List

So, of late, gender considerations and definitions for me are being....well...redefined by, what I would consider, leaps and bounds. So I ask the Science Fiction writer in my class for a reading list that would help me to explore this world, while fictionally, more deeply. Beware of my spelling:

Lane of Heaven - Ursula Leguin
Hammered - Elizabeth Bear
Nightrunner (Trilogy) - Linn


In terms of my C# instruction. Not all human classes inherit from their base.

--christine

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (A Review)


With only so many hours in the day, it’s impossible to read all the books that one wants to. But one should make the time for Snow Crash. As one view of the possible near future where governments have fallen to give way to franchised collections of territories, it acts as a warning as much as anything. The basis of the plot rests on language being able to perform a viral operation, like a disease being able to change the basic DNA of the system that it infects. And while the overall premise is commendable in its scope (so much historic detail is provided that the reader wants to believe in the theory), combining the visual snow that changes programmers and the babel-approach of fluid exchange that changes people in the non-virtual world does not really ever create a coherent flow of possibility. I felt that the over-the-top suppositions were not well enough supported despite the attempt at solidly founding them in some factual basis. However, I would still recommend this novel as a fantastic introduction to the world of cyberpunk.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Inappropriate


We spend our entire lives trying to live up to the expectations of others so that we may garner a modicum of trust and confidence in ourselves and in our morality - who we are depends of what we project. Perhaps, we are only ghosts of our inner selves. This lesson is taught to us early on, often accompanied by the phrase "What would people think?" All aspects of our outward appearance are carefully chosen to reflect what we wish to be. Our egos become inextricably attached to what we own and what we say.
Heavens forbid anyone trying to live outside that construct. And so, I have inside my head a little old lady chastizing me every second of my life. She used to have a general old lady voice, but it has lately become very specific. "Oh, you're not going to wear that are you?", "Stop biting your nails", etc. She regularly tells me of my inadequacies, and if I let her, if on any given day she wins, I lose and everything becomes very flat and dim and no amount of sun will fade the clouds.
However, most days, I kill her in the morning and skull-fuck her well into the nighttime. ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Loki*

interfacing a kindly
madness,

funneling devotions
into lettered nests,

this cracked to breaking
thin-boned hand

outputs purpose
via elegance



*(written while reading Chaos and Literature)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Heidegger is much like Cheesecake


I, the ontical me, wanted to create a little glossary of terms in regards to Heidegger’s work. However, instead of being strictly alphabetical, I find a stream of consciousness approach more useful (for the ontological me at any rate).

Ontic: physical or factual existence (actual?); whatever pertains to being generally rather than some distinctively philosophical (or scientific) theory of it (ontology)
Epistemology: branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge
See also: Chaos theory, determinism, causation, stochasticity
Definite Description ?
Ontological: of or relating to the essence or the nature of being; “What is the nature of the knowable things?”
See also: Universals, Substance (What is?)
Qua: the capacity of
*Something which exists is greater than that which is imagined.*
Process Philosophy
{reality indeed,
she said
is becoming}

Hermeneutics: the study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of texts

Exegetic: the elucidation of philosophical and legal texts
Postmodernism-Baudelaire
Prodromal?
Oneiromancers-hieroglyphic

To live by multiplication
Replacing ourselves
Until the historic We
No longer exists

.
.
Stochastically
We were never,
As now,
We are not


answer to the title: rich and creamy

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How to win friends and influence people

Dale Carnegie knew a few things about how to deal with people. He based his courses on a few solid assumptions about human behavior, namely the following: people want to feel important and this basic tenet will affect how they interact with others. This allows several more assumptions to be naturally concluded from that including the fact that no one wants to be told that they are wrong or to be criticized outright. So, the question becomes, “How does one mitigate or utilize these natural tendencies to any benefit?” In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, this question is dealt with using anecdotal information based on his wide range of experience and the experiences of those who have taken his course and then applied it to their business and life affairs. It is best to read the book as a manual, rereading those passages that seem to not be sinking or those that have particular significance. But barring going out and buying it now, I will let you in on a few easy ways to start winning friends. Smile. Don’t directly criticize. Lavish praise and attention. However,of paramount importance is to do this honestly or not at all. If you must have an example to know why, then go out and read Dale Carnegie's work.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Taken to Task

we’ve hung our skins on the coatrack,
taken our nickel’s worth of iodine
to get outside cubic

this cartilage where opinions insinuate
corkscrewing into the ribcage-
protected fist of meat

drumming out percussions’ thump
beating ors into ands like us
always echoing what

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Matter of Opinion

In a very significant way, everything is a matter of opinion. We choose whether or not to believe in something, even if the facts support it or completely negate its possibility because we always have a choice. And so, it follows that the difference between good and bad is a matter of opinion. The difficulty arises in the amount and quality of information one has that can be used to ascertain the truth. Various examples are available to demonstrate the way something that is apparently bad can turn out to be beneficial to humanity. The easiest of these demonstrations comes from suffering (death, disease, etc.) leading to an epiphany that is then shared with the rest of humanity, thereby increasing the overall level of awareness in a society. But enough with abstractions.
One maxim that can easily be destroyed is the following: It’s not good to keep secrets. Of course it is. Following the Taoist tenet of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, propagating vicious rumors is detrimental to everyone. Propagating half-truths is also dangerous, but at the same time telling the truth to someone whose ignorance twists it into something evil is also destructive. Hence, the problem arises because unless we truly know someone and every nuance of their logical process, we cannot know how they will interpret information shared with them. So weigh your words carefully and be fully aware that choice and difference with ultimately shape shared information in a way that is nearly entirely unpredictable in the long run.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fun with the I Ching

Preoccupation with prophecy always leads to interesting revelations, but how much can a random toss of three coins, six times count in life? More than one would think, especially when combined with your own natural intuition. We ask leading questions when it comes to our own fate and tend to steer it down a path towards epiphany (apocryphal or true is up to debate).

So, I ask the coins (and sometimes the cards) about my near future. Turning 27 with a multitude of possibilities yet before me, I would like a clue as to whether this week, this month, this year is going to be productive in any way. And the answer comes: 8, 8, 6, 8, 7, 7

This string of numbers translates to:
Contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe gives to the man who is called upon to influence others the means of producing like effects.
Thus a hidden spiritual power emanates from them, influencing and dominating others without their being aware of how it happens.

Oh, so that's what that tingling sensation beneath the third rib was....but it continues...

Six in the third place means:
Contemplation of my life
Decides the choice
Between advance and retreat.
This is the place of transition. We no longer look outward to receive pictures that are more or less limited and confused, but direct our contemplation upon ourselves in order to find a guideline for our decisions. This self-contemplation means the overcoming of naive egotism in the person who sees everything solely form his own standpoint. He begins to reflect and in this way acquires objectivity. However, self-knowledge does not mean preoccupation with one's own thoughts; rather, it means concern about the effects one creates. It is only the effects our lives produce that give us the right to judge whether what we have done means progress or regression.
Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm.

I think I had a lunchtime discussion about this recently. Yes. Interesting.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"And The Band Played On"


Train wrecks occur all at once with perhaps a few previous indicators to let the omniscient know of their inevitability. Faulty wiring, a drunk driver.
The time period before the AIDS epidemic was filled with countless train wrecks with too many previous indicators of destruction to enumerate, but the book "And the Band Played On" does make the attempt.
In fact, the sheer volume of unfortunate, ignorant, and clearly destructive circumstances leading to our era's Black Plague attributes to a feeling akin to swimming through broken glass to reach the edge of an ocean of suffering. Of course, we haven't reached the edge yet, but, with the newest developing technologies in prevention and identification, we believe in the edge.
This book is a literal must-read. In an era so defined by its major diseases, everyone must be aware of the history of AIDS to better fight against it and to develop the compassion towards those suffering its consequences.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Effects of Web 2.0 Technology

As we network more and more, sending e-mails and sharing blogs, the threads of connection become more numerous, but are they as strong as prior types of relational connections? Can you really know someone online from a mere profile? It is possible, but the writer must be hyper-aware of their audience and the interaction of the writer's words with their audience's belief systems. Furthermore, the extent to which one can include esoteric references depends on the collective knowledge of their core audience. In this, some cadres collectively adore commiserating over "inside" knowledge. The secret for marketing then becomes being able to relate this sort of knowledge (literature, mathematics, engineering, etc.) to a general audience, combining it with shared knowledge to make it more memorable.
Our collective unconscience and meta-informational systems are merging to a greater extent every year and it is the job of a Web Professional to keep ahead by all means of networking and information gathering available.

To this end: Technorati Profile

;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Static:

in "Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science"

Static, by confusion, redefines. With its dual paradoxical meanings, it is etymologically off to a good start. When applied to poetry, we have a non-metaphorical collusion of cosmic principles.

The study of poetics, for me, has never provided an exact answer for the very pertinent question of why one writes poetry. But during the course of my reading, I have found that the poetry I love and the poetry I write generate static.

Now, static means the following: non-moving or noise (in the mathematical sense, a chaos). And by poetical static I of course mean mentally chaotic eddies. Like the definition of chaos, great poetry explodes meaning into ambiguity where it at once coalesces into significance.
In addition, “the reading process instantiates the symbiotic relationship between complexity and noise, for it is the presence of noise that forces the system to reorganize itself at a higher level of complexity(1).”
The life-altering poetry causes previously formed mental connections to rearrange themselves according to a higher understanding.

(1) Ed. N. Katherine Hayles, "Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science", pg. 20.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Reading Between the Lines - "Ex-Gay Ministries"


Readers make certain assumptions when reading an article. For newspapers and magazines, unless the article clearly states that it is an opinion piece or an editorial, they assume that the information is unbiased, fair, accurate, and inclusive. They assume that the experts cited are truly experts in their field. Of course, those at GLAAD know that this is not always so and in no case have I found this more evident than in the articles I have been reading about the ex-gay movement from the ex-gay ministries’ position.
The articles at the Christianpost.com website attempt to create the appearance of being fair and, even to a certain extent, scientific. Where claims based on faith are dubious, surely science will provide the answer.
In the article entitled “‘Ex-Gay’ Remarks Draw Fire” by Lillian Kwon, posted on the Christianpost.com website (June 20, 2007), the vocabulary reveals the biased, unfair, inaccurate, and non-inclusive stance of the writer. Even the placement of quotation marks reflects the biased view of the reporter. The title refers to comments made by Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International (quoted in the article as being “the nation’s largest evangelical referral ministry on homosexual issues”). In the LA Times, he said that he had never met an ex-gay. While Kwon’s article does not clearly state “he’s wrong”, it does fill the rest of its paragraphs saying that this man is wrong for various reasons.
The seemingly honest vocabulary honestly scares me. Even calling this matter a “homosexual issue” where issue can easily mean problem, undermines the professionalism of the article. However, “issues” is just the first instance. She then goes on to quote Stephen Bennett extensively, labeling him as president of his “pro-family” (my quotes, not hers) group Stephen Bennett Ministries. Pro-family, as if homosexuality were somehow anti-family. Kwon then quotes Bennett saying that Exodus International is the “largest information and referral ministry in the world on homosexual issues” and that he was shocked that they could make such “irresponsible and false statements”. Reading it over again, I see that Lillian Kwon opened up her article by poorly paraphrasing from Bennett.
Other examples of biased language use include the following: saying that anyone is “engaging in homosexuality”, using quotes around “survived” when someone said that they had survived the ex-gay experience, using no quotes when mentioning “homosexual conversion”, treating “gay tolerance” as a disease by saying that it has reached record marks, and saying that “less than a majority of Americans say homosexual relations are morally wrong.” She writes, “less than a majority”, not writing the statistic the other way around as we normally would – namely, that a majority believe that homosexual relations are morally correct. This is one amongst the many “scientific” airs put on by this article.
Lillian Kwon also uses hearsay and quotes other articles out of context. The worst case of this is when she cites the June 25th article by Michael Kinsley in Time magazine (a pro gay rights article I might add, entitled “The Quiet Gay Revolution”), and uses the one paragraph in it that could be taken out of context and used in a negative manner, “Kids grow up today with gay friends, gay parents, gay parents of friends and gay friends of parents…Kids are also exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant.” Kinsley meant this in a positive light, later writing of the positive role of Ellen Degeneres in television. Kwon took the quote and changed it into something more akin to “Geez, their dominating culture now. We have to stop it.”
More pseudo-science is related to the unwary reader as words like “genetic predisposition” are thrown in. Matt Barber, of Concerned Women for America (who once compared allowing gay marriage to another Hurricane Katrina in his column “Gay Marriage – It’s Alive”), said that there was no evidence that people are born homosexual. He’s the expert?
The last eight paragraphs compare homosexuality to alcoholism and, with one quote per paragraph, manage to call it a sin or temptation five times, even going so far as to relate it to cocaine addiction and bulimia by quoting one poor soul who had suffered from each of those afflictions as well being homosexual.
I didn’t necessarily expect a well-balanced article about ex-gay ministries on the Christianpost.com site, but it is always surprising at what extremely biased misinformation is passed off as fair and accurate reporting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Head is Filled with Strange Attractors

Now larger than many grasshoppers stacked on eachother's exoskeletons, I'm reading four books, two of which are delighting me to no end with their interconnectivity - Heidegger's "Being and Time" and a collection of essays (not Heidegger's) entitled "Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science." Of course, it wasn't random happenstance that led me to buy these books. My head is filled with strange attractors.
In other words, I (heart) chaos and I am quite fond of Being. Now for the turbulence that sparks creation - But Time and Order are mere consequences. In fact, they might not even exist at all.

Pick a sitting rock and Let's Discuss.

--Christine Rosakranse

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Definition (Being and Time)

It's not Heidegger's fault, I say. This question of Being started before reading his work, but now the reasoning takes on a new vocabulary. Which what why? At the end of a long and rainy day, I can only question, "What is your product, machine?" I have many answers, but what is the answer?
So if I need an answer, I read a book. I've only just started reading "Being and Time", so luckily I am still in the "forming the question of Being" phase.
And, evidently, somewhat circular reasoning (back and forth) is acceptable in these more rarefied echelons of thought.
One problem I find though is the physical evidence versus the soul, as far as prejudice is concerned, but let me hold on a second to that thought. First the question, I suppose, and then the answer. No good to be too divergent at the beginning, unless all is chaos. And then that would be perfect. After all, am I divergent? And collective, as well?

--Christine Rosakranse

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Father’s Flowers


Time freezes in an image. In the case of my father’s flowers, their visual essence is captured by my camera. Sound is not an issue, but for the breeze as it caresses the leaves and this is so soft as to be ghostly. It is rarely remembered when compared to the passion of the image.
My father has a fondness for daylilies. I must admit that so do I. In Upstate New York, an abundance of orange flowers overwhelms the otherwise green landscape. This sunrise hue punctuates gardens throughout the Tristate area, at least during the summer months. However, my father’s garden holds yellow, pink and crimson varieties with dark centers and curly petals, as well as the more persistent orange blooms. Not the average daylily. And therein rests the fascination.
I ask my father whether he breeds new varieties, thinking that perhaps some breed he has created is catalogued somewhere. He says no, but that the bees do it themselves. While I do enjoy the hybridization process that growers all over the world undergo, I enjoy also knowing that nature will continue as it always has, and that life is still evolving under its own recourse.

to read why the bees are dying: http://www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=16891&gclid=CKuSmMHfnY0CFRlsTAodWhae3w
(The Silence of Bees)

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Teaching Experience


Education is: everything. Anything known must be learned, though sometimes this basic tenet is forgotten. The power any one person may have to create change stems directly from their knowledge, which acts as a limitation for those without it and a freedom for those who do have a larger store of knowledge. The greatest need for education, therefore, lies where there is the greatest need for change. In New York City, the low-income neighborhoods represent this "high-need." The cycle that keeps the children of low-income families from becoming high achievers or going to college is one that must stop. The only way out of this loop is through education.
I began tutoring Mathematics (Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus) at North Miami Beach High School to fellow students (a mix of middle and low-income groups) and continued my education at MIT to earn a B.Sc. in Mathematics with a minor in Spanish. Teaching undergraduate classes at MIT in Number Theory, instructing test preparation skills and High School level math for the GRE, SAT, and LSAT for the Princeton Review (including low-income students through special programs) and becoming an Adjunct Professor at the New College of California while matriculating for my MA in Poetics and MFA in Writing and Poetics placed me further down the path to education. On this path, I began to realize the need for well-trained teachers in every field of education, especially math and science. These two subjects were always the ones I heard students complain about. I've even had some adult students say, "It's all Greek to me." Some of the SAT students coming in were unfamiliar with the basic rules of algebra that belonged to skill sets two grades below their level. Helping them to understand was both difficult and delightful, once they discovered they could do math. They would find out that, indeed, it was not a foreign language to them. In San Francisco, I also volunteered as an Assistant Instructor for Lyric House, a program designed for the students at high-need elementary schools to help develop there creativity and communication skills by writing their own lyrics and performing their songs. In this way, with music, the young students were able to share their emotions and struggles with a greater audience in a therapeutic and educational way.
Lyric House was a wonderful experience because it brought the point home that sometimes an alternative approach is needed, something outside the textbook. One of the most necessary skills an educator can have is the ability to modify teaching methodologies to each specific student. Some students are more visual, some more kinesthetic, while some are most comfortable with audio stimulus. Realizing this and being able to use an individual student's optimal learning strategy is key to effective teaching. I am able to do this while working with a student on the individual level, such as private tutoring for the Princeton Review. If a student is not able to understand a basic mathematical concept from the textbook explanation it was my job to word it in such a way that they could grasp the concept, be it with a diagrammatic approach or with a story-like explanation. This is especially needed for such an apparently "abstract" subject, like math. How does one relate the beauty of math to a student? I am always thinking of better ways to approach education and would love the opportunity to learn more about what makes a teacher great.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"one teacher in 10"

It takes a book like “one teacher in 10” to reanimate my book report writing brain cells, but the necessity of its message is truly remarkable. A great deal of what we choose to do in life is dependent on our level of anxiety. Sometimes we are able to overcome this anxiety if a certain feeling of righteousness or need prevails, if the “must” overwhelms the “can’t”. In the case of whether or not to reveal one’s sexual orientation, anxiety often runs the life of those who have borne witness to crimes and prejudice against their lesbian, gar, bisexual and transgender peers. If revealing your sexual orientation opens up the possibility to being tied to a fence and left to die, then many reactions may surface. One, we choose to continue hiding for fear. Two, we choose to continue hiding for convenience, perhaps to mask fear, saying, “I don’t need to. It would just complicate things.” Three, we become outraged and come out as a statement.
Sometimes another choice rises, which is to not place yourself in a situation where the subject is broached. However, the fact of being queer is so central to identity that only a handful of occupations arise that do not involve revelations of orientation. Being a hermit, for example, would allow one to make the question quite moot.
In the case of a future LGBT educator, however, the choice to become a teacher often involves the decision of how to deal with their sexual orientation. In some cases, in some regions, the choice of coming out to the principal and staff is a difficult one to make, let alone coming out to students and parents. In some cases, it seems impossible and even dangerous. Some teachers wait until they get tenure. Some never out themselves.
The fact that some potential teachers refuse to become educators because they fear coming out or being “discovered” is only one of the problems of living in a society where social norms overwhelm basic rights. However, when coupled with the dearth of qualified professionals to teach our children, especially in math and science, this source of anxiety is detrimental to an entire nation of youth for more varied and complex reasons than most think.
The book “one teacher in 10” sheds light on the LGBT struggle in the school system, whether in coming out or going further in order for a teacher to create a LGBT club at their school. The essays are written by teachers at every level of administration and in every subject. It speaks of their passion and dedication, providing an enlightening example to any educator that needs support. It’s a necessary book for teachers, parents, gay and straight. It’s a book that will help to make our educational system more just and complete.
There are simpler things to do in life than to educate the youth of today, though nothing as satisfying. Any teacher reading this collection of essays will find the strength and support to make their school safer and more understanding of the equality of all people.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The New Science of Poetry

“Meaning is the extension of the hands of something other: something unimagined.” Science and poetry both search for the essence of truth and existence. For this reason, they have served as a rich store of new ideas for one another from the very first spark of intelligent speech along the path of human evolution. From Shakespeare’s metaphysical “The Phoenix and the Turtle” to Miroslav Holub’s “Brief Reflection on the Theory of Relativity” the poet has utilized the emerging technologies and current theoretical thought of the time to inspire, provoke, and share new insight. The soul of science is an innocent one that along with poetry seeks beauty and harmony.

The connection between science and poetry rests on parallel modes of consciousness. Examining the similarities in thought from a phenomenological perspective, we see how the two modes reveal the ways things are perceived and how perception itself has been altered in both poetry and science. This symbiosis in thought, language, and belief from contemporary Anglophone poetry interacts with several fields of international science.

For example, German scientists and poets both write in German, but the scientific work will be published worldwide in English. The German poets’ work will only be translated if they become famous first. If a German scientist discovers the nature of uncertainty, years later an English-speaking poetry student will be writing an “Ode to Heisenberg” because of what she once read in her high school science book.

The interstices between science and poetry are many and all are possibilities for the poetry of Italo Calvino, Alan Lightman, Al Zolynas, Lavinia Greenlaw, and their peer poets. In this, we see the exchange of ideas through the discussions between science and poetry truly dissolving the once impermeable borders between all nations.

-christine rosakranse

Madness and Genius



If we say that the gentle poet with gentle words is elegant and graceful, but to most invisible, then the big ideas, strange in their newness, must be required to get the attention of the public.

So what is madness? A misfiring of dendrites, creating connections in the brain where none should be or the opening of inspiration’s floodgates? Both. Then genius flows through the "mad" mind for where is writer’s block if no stop-thoughts can exist in your brain? Every place becomes a beginning. The only problem, for some, is that there is no end. Some control of this process has been lost and sleep or medication becomes the only pause.

Now there is also self-imposed madness, in the form of intoxicants, which due to metabolism have shorter durations than forever and ever. Though after long periods of use they may change the map of your brain to permanently alter perception, or to activate some latent psychology, accidentally waking the bipolar or psychotic sleeper in your genes.

The “good” side when considering madness is that there is no internal editor, no person or social restriction to coming up with the most unique perspective of the situation. Why is it that Shakespeare’s most remembered words are those of mad rants? How could he so picturesquely portray madness if he was not just a little more mad than the average man?

The Phenomenology of "Metaphysical Ideas and Scholastical Quiddities" - Poetry Paper

An object in itself is a matter of perception. The same holds true for both words and for their collective amalgamation in poetry. As such, the sphere of meaning inhabited by each word suffers attrition and mutation over time, and so do terms and poems. Phonemes mingle and mash until doh and blog find their way into the OED, and become words. Diametrically opposed to these new formations, many good words have died for lack of use. One word has survived by adding new meanings onto itself like grammatical camouflage in this anti-rhetorical world.
My first recollection of the word metaphysical harkens back to my middle school days. My friend Ariella turned to me in class and said, "My dad cheated on his metaphysics exam… He peeked into his neighbor’s soul." I started cracking up, laughing that uncontrollable laugh that gets you sent out of the room. That was the definition of metaphysical to my young self. With the introduction of the term metaphysical poet, I have rediscovered its original meaning. With a little logic, the two definitions, both in their own way, can be construed as correct. After all, as Merleau-Ponty says, "poetry… is essentially a variety of existence."
When we read or take in any sensory information, our dendrites create chemical pathways. So, any one memory is not stored in a cell, per se, but in a series of connections deep within the brain. This chemically neurological factor will allow for both definitions.
The term metaphysical has undergone a radical ideological transformation in its everyday use since its inception and since it was utilized for poetry and prose writers in the 1600s. The first instance of this term, literally meaning after the physics, is found in the title of Aristotle’s treatise on first principles that followed his work on physics. Later, Samuel Johnson coined the term metaphysical poet in his Life of Cowley, writing, "about the beginning of the seventeenth century appeared a race of writers that may be termed metaphysical poets." He borrowed this term from Dryden, and before Dryden the term was used by Drummond of Hawthornden who wrote of poets who make use of "Metaphysical Ideas and Scholastical Quiddities".
In addition to its root-based and original definition of something "based on speculative or abstract reasoning", the term metaphysical, in the 21st century idiom, also signifies, as in the joke, the immaterial and supernatural. In this paper, I will make the term metaphysical undergo a reclamation of meaning by dissecting the term from a phenomenological perspective, and then sewing it back together by example into its "fine and witty" self.
The simple definition of a metaphysical poem is one marked by conceits. A conceited poem is not one that would have a title like "You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Paper is About You", but one that contains an extended or exaggerated metaphor or simile. In the language of the contemporaries of the 17th century metaphysical poets this poetry was defined by "strong lines." Lines, in this case, mean lines of logic or reasoning, strands of thought that run through the piece, holding it together, as it were, like a sartorial thread.
The reader must unravel the poem. In 1591, Anthony Bacon, when recommending Sir Henry Savile’s translation of Tacitus, extolled Tacitus because he "hath written the most matter with the best conceit in the fewest words of any Historiographer", and followed with "But he is hard. Difilicia quae pulchra; the second reading will please thee more than the first, and the third than the second." The direction of poetry, therefore, became one of "More matter and less words."
With respect to these ancients, the poetry of the time turns denser, more tightly interlaced, and, in most cases, more brief. This concentration of style can be seen in both the poetry of Ben Jonson and of John Donne. One of the more apt descriptions of the style is "sinewy". From the metaphor of the threaded argument, we now turn to a metaphor of exposed musculature. Indeed, the well-written and well-thought out conceits of these poems can be seen as a complex body. In doing so, we can find its "soul". In Maurice Merleai-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, he states, "It is well known that a poem, though it has a superficial meaning translatable into prose, leads, in the reader’s mind, a further existence which makes a poem."
This brings the reader to the second characteristic of metaphysical poetry, its use of conceits. This is where density of words combines with density of thought. A conceit is an extended metaphor or "comparison whose ingenuity is more striking than its justness, or, at least, is more immediately striking."
Long conceits set a task of proving the likeness to the reader. John Donne’s A Valediction: forbidding mourning introduces the conceit of two lovers being a compass, where, in this case, his wife was the fixed foot. This excerpt reveals his conceit:
If they be two, they are two so
As stiffe twin compasses are two,
Thy soule the fixt foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the’other doe.
And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth rome,
It leanes, and hearkens after it,
And growes erect, as it comes home.
Such wilt thou be to mee, who must
Like th’other foot, obliquely runne;
They firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end, where I begunne.
The method of the conceit is obvious, as described by Donne, and quite visual. While the reader must admit the connection between the relationship and the compass, at the same time, the reader will keep in mind the "unlikeness." It is the dual nature of these conceits that allows the term metaphysical to claim its modern meaning. The connection is immaterial, perhaps beyond natural, but quite real, as is represented in the feeling and notions felt by the reader. That which unites the dual meaning is the metaphorical correlation inherent in the metaphysical poetry.
But this knowledge must be worked out. In the words of Dame Helen Gardner, "It does not attempt to attract the lazy and its lovers have always a certain sense of being in a privileged class, able to enjoy what is beyond the reach of vulgar wits." In a phenomenological way, the conceit hits home in a more deserved manner.
Neurologically, the chemical pathways in the brain that determine memory are more rigorously utilized while reading metaphysical poetry, and, in the case of repeated readings, the pathways are continually redefined. Therefore, the memory is more permanent. The moment of "aha," more sublime. These poems use language in such a way that "the existential modulation, instead of being dissipated at the very instant of its expression, finds in poetic art a means of making itself eternal." It is this characteristic, as reflected and magnified by the seventeenth century metaphysical poets, that allows both definitions of metaphysical to be used in its description.

First Poetic Response: Omar Khayyam

The road to Khayyam started with Forough Farokhzad. She was an Iranian poet writing in the sixties, who changed the face of Persian poetry by adding the one aspect that had been missing for 2500 years: the female voice. Unfortunately, she died rather young but her works still echoes its peace-seeking refrains through all of the Middle East.
Looking at her influences, I saw that of Omar Khayyam, a mathematician/poet of the late 11th century. He died in 1123 AD. According to Paramhansa Yogananda, from a relatively young age he was allotted a pension from Sultan Malik Shah that allowed him to devote himself to scientific and literary pursuits.
He was a Sufi mystic. "His ‘theology’ was no reasoned system, but encompassed all religions as well as no religion – that is to say, though he loved God, he embraced no formal religion.
The book I have is translated by Edward Fitzgerald, English poet and translator, born 1809, died 1883. The first translation was not well received until the poet Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Swinburne touted it. "Omar offers a delightful alternative: the nectar of divine ecstasy, which leads to diving enlightenment, thereby obliterating human woe permanently."
His greatest work was "The Rubaiyat" or The Quatrains. Of these, I will relate a few of my favorites:
{46} For in and out, above, about, below
‘Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play’d in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom figures come and go.
Commentary: This quatrain directly questions the nature of reality. The everyday we take for granted is but a shadow aspect of the true nature of the universe. The delicacy of style renders the reader wholly incapable of feigning disdain.
{45} But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which make as much of Thee
Commentary: Awesome!! The "Wise" are but those that think themselves so. No one should take things seriously because not only is life but a "Hubbub", we are the game-players, too.
These translations are easily read for they rhyme as did the originals, but they also take a lifetime to unravel. These are but two of my very favorites, and ones that I believe everyone should be aware of. The others include many more metaphorical references as to the nature of creation. The sixty-plus quatrains each shed light on some aspect of the human condition. For this, Omar Khayyam must be commended.

We Live in Interesting Times

When my brother came back from the first Gulf War, he slept with his eyes open. And you did not sneak up on him, under any circumstance. He had been on the front line, first troop into Kuwait, with a few "kills" under his belt. Though he had never seen the faces of those that he had killed, shooting them in the dark from a good distance, he had killed. And when he came back, he was a little different. More religious. More hard. And very cautious.
I know (gods willing and the creek don’t rise) that I will (probably) never have to kill a man, but if I do, I know that I wouldn’t want to see his face while I do it. I am not humanly evolved enough to lay down my life without a fight, and not medically informed enough to just wound a man instead of going for the kill shot. And that is the nature of war. My brother never saw the faces of the men he killed, but imagine if he had. What dreams would he have then? What if he had killed an innocent in the line of fire? Would he think it an acceptable loss?
We, the civilians, cannot possibly understand the horrors of war or even the brainwashing involved when the new recruits go through boot camp. They are reduced to cogs, called maggots and dirt, not even good enough to die for their country. Then they are built back up, made honorable by duty and medals and hardship and brotherhood. Then they are good enough to die. They are never told that they are good enough to live. The Armed Forces of the United States is a factory devoted to making killing machines, and a killing machine must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. By the time a soldier gets to the frontline, he is not the same little boy that had gone into the military straight out of high school in order to get the scholarship for college. He is a tool, a deadly weapon, a bomb.
They are told that they are killing for their country, and they are dying for an ideal.
I could write a poem about the atrocities of war, and before I was done I would have used every image I could think of to describe suffering and pain. I would run out of words for blood and flesh. I would run out of ways to describe the screams of mothers and babies. And when I was done, I would have nightmares. Terrible nightmares, but they would be tame compared to the reality of being in a kill or be killed scenario.
There are atrocities in the world that I will never experience. Terrible mutilations and sacrifices in the name of war that I will never have to bear witness to. No one should. Life is sacred. On the individual level, we must be willing to die, to be killed, rather than kill, but that is not in our programming. We are wired for survival. And this is the string that the generals and presidents pull to have an army.
As a nation, it is easy to go to war. The body of the machine is made of men, just millions of cells ready to die, programmed to find death glorious, death from above or death at the hands of a voracious enemy. The thousands of white gravestones at the military cemeteries are supposed to provide comfort to the family. Your son or daughter was one of many to die for their country, the silent stones say. What is one cell in a great body? That we have war at all is the fault of the brain.
Our current government heads are myopic and dim-witted. The president does not know the meaning of his own words. Take for instance the word necessary, which means required and needed. This would mean no other option, but War is not Necessary. War is Obsolete. However, the brain of the machine is rusted and rotten. It keeps forgetting. It will not listen. How do we relate this terror to someone who will not listen? To an entire government that refuses to listen?

"A Kleptomaniac of the Mind" - Poetry Paper

On Marianne Moore’s explication of the everyday in its interconnected reality

Marianne Moore drew poetic inspiration from every source available to her, filling her many notebooks with "random" sayings, odd facts, curious details, and scientific truths. She had an excitement for the reality of the everyday, and brought these revelations to the fore in her poetry. One of her many leitmotifs is the question of the subjective versus the objective, questioning where the poet ends and the observation begins. This paper will focus on the scientific and analytical inspiration behind Moore’s poetry in a manner that will reveal (with examples from the poem "An Octopus") an evolution of thought behind Moore’s work, developing her poetry into "observations."
Upon reading the first stanza of the poem "An Octopus", we come across an octopus of ice, the nature of which is revealed to us as one of deception based on falsity. It is "deceptively reserved and flat" with "pseudo-podia" or fake feet. It is an "invention" by definition, something which is written of and exists only in reference to the poem. Further relating the speciousness of the octopus we have that, although it is in some places five hundred feet thick, it is of "unimagined delicacy" "misleadingly like lace."
Moore is, of course, relating much more information to the reader than a simple description of a scene, real or imagined. She is expressing her own questioning nature and that of any justly poetic work. In the process of relation and description, the poet utilizes metaphor and other literary devices, much like a scientist must when explaining phenomenon. However, for Moore, problems of semantics arise, explosive as a volcano. We are attacked by what Costello refers to as "particularity of a nonpoetic nature [that] overwhelms association."
The trap is set for the logician/reader. The question evolves as to the true nature of something which cannot necessarily be well-defined. What happens to the reader and poet alike when faced with the problem of subjective discourse?
"Completing a circle,/ you have been deceived." The reader has been reading along, following the chain of logic, when the poet informs the reader that they have been fooled. "You have not progressed at all," she says. It was only a circle, as are all chains of logic that may be connected beginning to end.
She develops the image of "The Goat’s Mirror" for its false reflection. Through this, the poem states one of the problems that surfaces when writing poetry, that in pointing out one fact, conversely, the writer must leave out others. One develops prejudices, perhaps for beauty, or in the case of this writer, for exactness.
The list of elements located in the first section beginning with "vermilion and onyx" is now revealed to be incomplete. Reading further into the structure of the mountain, there is wondrous life, but "concealed in the confusion." We are still dealing with a verisimilitude of an environment with its "waterfall that never seems to fall." After this, we have a confession that seems to come directly from the poet, the true "fear of being stoned as an impostor." Can the reader be "happy seeing nothing?"
It is never truly known to a writer if the audience of the poem gets every little detail and is able to put it together in their minds in the same way that the poet intended. Doubt rules. She returns to fear, but does not get wedged into this needling idea, instead comparing this situation with a similar one faced by Henry James. The poems corrects itself with the line "not decorum, but restraint" which is, to her, the quality required for writing with this type of exactness with relation to the inherent subjectivity of the writing process.
At one end of the spectrum we have every fact and every nuance of existence, including the darkness of the soul, crime and excess. Marianne Moore does not include certain aspects of the scene. In fact, critics argue that she was polite to the point of prudishness, that "there is no sexuality" in the poetry of Marianne Moore. To both sides, she is "first and last a proper lady." But there is science and like science, she evades the crude and improper. She almost says, "Let’s take the fact of it up an octave," bringing the art of exactness in poetry to a celestial level. She espouses "Relentless accuracy" through the "octopus/with its capacity for fact."
Grace Shulmen relates this philosophy of Moore: "set forth in "Poetry" and reiterated throughout her work, the artist may never attain ideal perception, or "the genuine," but it is all in the trying." In the end, we ask ourselves if Marianne Moore did achieve "Neatness of finish!" Knowing the eye would dissect the last lines for exactness, she carefully chose and placed each word with, yes, neatness. She is nice, as in precise.
From the great to the little, we small humans as readers are placed in direct contrast to the grandeur of the mountain of poetry, in its wide-reaching scope and voluminous sources of inspiration. In a poem where each word is a gem itself, and the related imagery goes far beyond the readers’ eyes, Moore does indeed help us to realize "the humanized sublime" with her observational dialectics.
Costello, Bonnie. Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possession. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.
Shulman, Grace. Marianne Moore: The Poetry of Engagement. New York: Paragon House, 1989.
Title from: the class reader, MM and the 17th Century Prose

An Information Architectural Destiny

We hold these truths to be self-evident, which means obvious.
That everything is Everything being connected to everything else…that in fact, there is nothing else, but that everything requires some definition.
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A list of definitions will help the matter of is-ness. We define in two ways. Saying what something is and saying what something is not.

Sometimes the lines are ambiguous, but ultimately decisions are made and these each have a ripple effect into other realms of society.

For example, Where do YOU end?
Your fingers, maybe, and your toes. And your hair, at those split ends are you split? Perhaps that’s your answer. And that’s it.
Well, what about your stomach? It’s inside you, right. The food inside it, that came from outside of you, through digestion becomes you, your muscles, your blood. So sometimes you are food. And your lungs occupy the inside of your chest, right. And the air inside them, that came from outside of you, through the alveoli enters your bloodstream. So sometimes you are air.

So where do you end? At the skin? Don’t be silly. What about the air and the food and the drink and whatever else that was?

Or maybe you are like Superman’s outfit, magically indestructible because it was within one centimeter of his body. Do you end one centimeter from your body?
Does the idea that "Any part of you can be taken out of you" scare you? Maybe you’ll say that they can’t take my heart, but you know that’s wrong even before you say it. The heart is an organ with a plastic equivalent. Oh, but they can’t take out your brain and replace it with a new one. Nope, not yet. They can take out most pieces though. Are you a brain stem?
So you are a little self inside of the Big Es Self.

We want to know "How do actions affect the world from the one-person reality?"

My belief is as follows: The way to happiness is (and we all want to be happy, even if your happiness is monastic) BEING fully conscious of circumstance. No man is an island. Let’s say being happy to you, in the small sense, is (the American dream): a family, a car, a home, and money enough to secure food and all the necessities. More specifically, you would want a happy family, a happy home, a happy car, and happy money. Why? Could you be happy when your spouse is crying or your children are screaming? If that is your happiness, then please throw this away and don’t tell anyone about it. In fact, please shut yourself in a cave somewhere, for my sake. Make me happy.
So happiness in the general locale of your being is important for you to be happy. Well, then everything sort of echoes out like rings in a pond and for the people around those other people to be happy, then the people around them have to be happy. And so on. You’ve seen the opposite happen everyday. Some coworker is cut off in traffic while driving to work. So, he’s pissy and takes it out on the secretary when she walks in. Then she sends out an e-mail about how crappy Bob is with a funny photoshopped picture of Bob at the company picnic with devil horns. Then someone ccs it to Bob and he goes home and beats his wife, who slaps the kids, who kick the dog. Happens every day.

Treat your fellow human brother like your arm, like an organ because he is a part of you. And also, something that is not you.