We got some nice post event publicity from Santa Fean Now.
We got some nice post event publicity from Santa Fean Now.
My friend told me that to be patient in Spanish is to study the science of peace: Paciencia comes from the Latin pax and Spanish ciencia, peace and science. I did some research and found that this etymology lesson is not quite right—looks like paciencia originally derives from the Latin pati, to suffer or undergo, which morphed over time to the Latin patientia, meaning endurance, tolerance, forbearance—but I like my friend’s version. If science is the intellectual activity of studying the ways of the natural world through observation and experiment and peace is simply freedom from disturbance (thanks, Oxford American!), then to have patience is to mindfully observe the ways of the world through observation and experiment—peacefully. That sounds about right.
I have been challenging myself to have patience with everything lately. In the past eight months since I moved back to New York, I have been constantly tempted to rush things: I’m back! I’m ready for the job, relationship, apartment of which I’ve always dreamed! But I’m constantly receiving reminders to have patience.
Peace is hard to come by when you’re waiting for something. If a child knows there’s something to look forward to later, she’ll anxiously look forward to it all day—the “are we there yet?” syndrome. It’s the same way with adults who have a treat on the horizon. If I know it’s coming, I’d much prefer for it to come now.
This isn’t always the case. I like to savor a good book, tick away the days until a B.B. King concert, and don’t get me started on the delights of foreplay. There’s a time and a place for everything, and this includes patience.
But, for the most part, if I don’t know it’s coming—if I just trust that things come, as life unfolds, because that’s the way life works, and keep showing up and paying attention but not itching about how it’ll all look in the end—then I can just relax, free from antsiness or distress.
Spiritual teachers seem to be really amped up about patience. Yogi Bhajan has a great little ditty on patience in which he booms out, “Patience pays!” in his deep voice. I hear him in my head sometimes when I start to get restive. And my friend and I watched a metaphysical-y video recently from Ra Uru Hu, who basically said, Put a sock in it. You think waiting sucks? How about you get used to it and embrace it for a change.
They’re right, obviously. Take longing and desire—the way things are at the very beginning of a romantic entanglement, that precarious place where both people have expressed interest, a sizable handful of kisses have been exchanged, but the trajectory remains unclear. These fluttery moments could be for the memory mine, to be conjured up from time to time in the future as hazy reminiscence. Or such a thing could be worth waiting for.
If it’s Option A, the former option, then in some ways, wouldn’t we all rather it be dragged out a bit? We love to pine, though we think we hate it. Truth be told, I live for it. I love the pursuit, the dance, the uncertainty and heartache and tumult. If something is given to me on a platter, I’ll take a nibble and leave the rest for the mice. If, on the other hand, something is shoved at me piecemeal in jagged little unpredictable bites, I’ll lie down on the floor with my mouth open, eyes closed, and hope the next bite is something with truffle oil and not, say, rat jerky. But I’ll take that chance, because I so adore the thrill of the chase.
If it’s Option B, all the better. If a romance is going somewhere, what’s the rush?
Only time will tell. Patience is sometimes bolstered by distraction. Take the other day: I was thinking of firing off a text message about something that felt urgent, but instead I got sidetracked by dinner with my friend, which led to a walk around my neighborhood, which led to the discovery of a new kind of macaroon and sitting on a bench in the twilight, sharing a snack and watching the moonrise. That’s the thing with patience, and with life: you never know when you might be surprised with the perfect opportunity to practice the science of peace, there in the twilight, perched on a bench with your friend from college in the last of the lambency of the day.
¡Paciencia y barajar! Keep trying—don’t give up!
You can hear Yogi Bhajan’s patience affirmation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjNBzaNxCwE
And watch Ra Uru Hu’s patience video here: http://www.jovianarchive.com/Media_Library/Videos/14/RaZen_-_Ra_Uru_Hu (and then click “Waiting”)
Yesterday–it was a lot of fun! Maybe a reading on the train next?
Organizers Elizabeth Jacobson and Miriam Sagan–it warmed up later!
Elizabeth and husband David aren’t visible but are putting up the banner! A big thank you to Michael for getting it made.
It is a little scary to expose poetry to the elements–in this case wind, trains, and great smelling but noisy chile roaster. But lots and lots of folks popped in to listen even for just a few minutes. And a typically great Santa Fe poetry audience was there throughout.
The Japanese girl
at the hot springs
coos over a nest
of swallows, takes
a cell phone photograph
then, when everyone else
does the same
winces, don’t hurt
their eyes, and in childish panic
covers her own, exclaims
what if they fall out of the nest?
but they don’t–
her boyfriend, flits off
To see the whole poem and a great site: http://thedrugstorenotebook.co/2014/10/10/octobers-poem-of-the-month-is-here/
POP-UP POETRY READING, Saturday, October 11th, 10am-11:30, AT THE RAILYARD (during the Farmers’ Market), UNDER THE WATER TOWER! FEATURED READERS INCLUDE: Arthur Sze, Carol Moldaw, Miriam Sagan, Joan Logghe, Stella Reed, Barbara Rockman, Tony Hoagland, Elizabeth Jacobson, Michael G. Smith, Monika Cassel, and others…. In between the featured readers we will invite poets from the audience to POP-IN for an open mic reading of 1 poem each. IF YOU ARE A POET, We Welcome You To POP-IN! This event is a collaboration between Cut+Paste Society and Tres Chicas Books. We hope you can join us!
Fractals in Nature and Mathematics
One way we see, model and construct/deconstruct the world is by the use of traditional (Euclidean) shapes of geometry, i.e. circles, squares, pyramids, spheres. For example, we can design and build a house (or deconstruct one) using such regular shapes. However, how would an irregular- or fragmented- shaped object, such as a mountain chain, coastline, tree, a snowflake, the Grand Canyon, a sprig of broccoli be modeled or constructed? If one looks closely at such objects, they might see that they can be broken apart into a shape that is a “reduced copy of the whole”. For example, the two-dimensional surface of mountain range can be modeled as a collection of triangles. Mathematically this is accomplished by taking a “seed” reflective of the whole, plugging it into an algorithm and continually iterating (repeating) the algorithm again and again. In this process, called recursion, the seed feedbacks on itself, further adding to and refining the resulting object.
The mathematical objects created by such iterative processes are called fractals,
a term coined by Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975. Fractals have their root in fractus, meaning broken or fractured. The dimensionality of a fractal is fractional, i.e. 1.39 or 1.67, and often between 1 and 2. Since the number of fractions is much greater than the number of whole numbers (0, 1, 2…) the number of fractals, and hence fractal dimensions and objects, dwarfs our habitual 2-D and 3-D views of the universe.
A well-known example of fractal mathematics used to model a a snowflake begins with an equilateral triangle (a triangle whose sides have the same length). The middle third of every side of the triangle is replaced with a pair of lines that form an equilateral “bump”. The result is called a Koch snowflake when iterated. A video of the process http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal shows that only a few iterations will transform a triangle into a snowflake. I encourage you to watch the PBS Nova special (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/hunting-hidden-dimension.html) about the history of fractal mathematics and to see how other objects are made.
To summarize, a fractal is a mathematical object that begins with a seed and grows, or as a friend of mine said, “as above, so below”. And, much like poetry and art, fractal mathematics is a geometry that finds order out of chaos.
Fractals in Art and Poetry
The recursive nature of fractal mathematics is often employed in media, animation, and digital art. Computer screensavers are one common example. Fractals are also found in “traditional” art. Computer analysis has shown fractal patterns appear in the paintings of Jackson Pollock. Why might Pollack’s paintings have fractal regions embedded in them?
Intentionally and unintentionally poets write fractal poems. A fractal poem is one that employs a seed phrase, uses symmetry and repetition of word-types and sounds, and considers dimensionality. Diana Der Hovanessian, with a nod to Edna St. Vincent Millay, beautifully describes the transition from Euclidean geometry to fractal geometry in her surprising poem Fractals (see http://aurorastyle.blogspot.com/2010/09/fractals-by-diana-der-hovanessian.html). Fractals is iteration on the traditions of mathematics and poetry!
Below are four other fractal poems that exhibit different aspects of fractals. Consider the following questions while you read the poems or say them aloud:
What is the seed, or seeds, of each poem?
What words or word-types add texture and dynamics to the poem and help move it? Consider the multiplicity of meanings that some of the words have;
How does the scale of the poem progress? Does it move outward, inward, or in another direction? What does this reveal to the reader about the author’s life or scene?
How does the author “escape” the fractal iteration and end the poem? What might this hint about the things that lie beyond the poem?
Escaping the Mandelbrot Set
The coffee is fine
Though it could have been stronger
And cream would be nice.
The weather today
Is, yes, fine, though cold
For summer and more rain likely tonight.
The summer’s going well,
Of course awfully fast and won’t last
Long enough to get done what she’d planned.
The marriage was ten good years
And then ten bad, and she’s learned
A lot since, though of course it’s lonely.
Buying a new cappuccino maker,
Espresso roast, and best jam for her bread
Is frivolous, but we only have one life.
Published in Images of a Complex World: The Art and Poetry of Chaos,
Robin Chapman and Julien Clinton Sprott, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte., Ltd., 2005, p. 116.
If no one; if nothing, if not me; if burning; if wing; if organ
(failing); eyes: mouths. Vise.
If trap knows teeth. If nerve knows cruel. If heart knows blood. If
water tongues fire.
Hiss of water. If hand kneads fire. If instinct (:desire). If seasonal,
flower. If I the liar.
I the liar. If God’s lips glazed with pollen’s praise.
If flight is ache is palm frond’s wince in salt and wind.
If whale, fin and foam, wave and spray.
If Man-O-War, promise sting.
If Monarch, splinter chrysalis into rein.
Published in Prairie Schooner, Spring 2011.
Stopped at an intersection,
ruminating on how, in
a game of go, to consider all
the possible moves until
the end would take a computer
longer than the expected
lifetime of the universe,
you flit from piccolo
to stovepipe in a letter,
to scrutinizing faces
while standing in line
at the post office, to weather
forecast – a snowflake
has an infinite number of possible shapes –
consider, only last weekend,
a wasp threaded along a
screen door in south light,
mark the impulse to – not
see this, do that – water
leafing pear trees along
a curved driveway, relax
the intricate openwork mesh
of spring, recall lifting
a packet of flax seed
off the counter, and, checking
for an expiration date,
note – red light, green light –
sow when danger of
frost is past, then go, go.
Published in The Ginkgo Light, Copper Canyon Press, 2009, p. 55.
Michael G. Smith
Grand Canyon National Park
Booted, at the rim
step down forward
step a minute, a day
step, stepped, steeped
dry tawny Toroweap
my eyes weep
weeping, last night’s rain
pooled in sepia Esplanade
here is camp
salty sea bones
here is rattlesnake
here memory falls
form forming warping
worked Amerindian stone
Red Wall limestone
feet step, stepped,
of desert bricklebrush
proffered prickly pear
thunder thundered river
from sandstone wall
here is two-night camp
pallid bat, hear pack rat
scurry, cottonwood rustle
silent great-horned owl,
hear morning camp-robber
raven flap flap
we hit the trail ahead
slick rain slickened
lava, Shinumo shale
flowing into early,
early energy, pressured
black, blackened, buried
two-billion-year old schist
gracing our handholds
While it may seem these poems are no different than other “stream-of-consciousness” or abstract poems, there can be no doubt they affect the reader’s senses differently, such as haiku does. I, for one, get chills and tingles when I read and recite such poems. Or write one. Such results do not surprise me – the human circulatory system with its beating heart at the center, beginning and end is the quintessential fractal system found in Nature.