Notes & Scales - More Circles - Veils - Ra - Cosmic Writ
Notes and Scales
A cave man bangs out a harmony
With a dry femur against two bearskin drums
Singing of the stars and moon
Chu-I teaches his students, in absentia.
All they see are his footprints
Leading upward into the snowy hills,
Pine boughs almost buckling beneath the weight
Aristarchus looks up into the Greek sky
Wondering if that really could be Diana with her bow
Or Andromeda on a rock.
The astronomer adjusts an angle on one of the 115-tonne antennas
and peers into the centre of the Milky Way,
past the anarchy of swirling suns.
He wonders if what lies in the middle of it all is in fact
a supermassive black hole.
He shudders to think that this is only one
of hundreds of billions of galaxies.
He shivers in his lab coat,
though the room is warm in the ALMA Observatory
five kilometres above the Atacama Desert.
Along thin, brief lines of human time
we connect the dots.
We exist at the centre of many points:
self, family, society, world, solar system, galaxy;
points that can become circles or not.
If we want, we can insist on our own point,
telling partners and friends what is what;
telling dissenters, rednecks, communists, greens, gays,
religions, countries, entire cultures to get in line.
Or we can refuse to tell others to get in line,
refuse to draw a line between us and them,
refuse to draw lines in the sand,
or toe the line.
We can refuse to draw any lines at all.
We can circumvent lines altogether by drawing circles,
outward from the self
beyond sex and colour
beyond colour and politics
beyond national will wider and wider
circles beyond our water supply and factories
beyond our GDP and national interest
beyond even our deepest allegiances
to friends, family, religion, language, culture
circles beyond our own definitions
circles, endless circles
round as the turning world.
I’ve spent my life looking through veils:
childhood veils of ego and hunger
adolescent veils of anger and lust
veils of Heaven and Hell
and Guru Dev mysticism
being and nothingness
politics and rage
my own unending needs
and everlasting hypocrisies.
I wonder, How many more veils will I look through
until I see my self for what it is:
drifting in immensity?
The Sufis say there are seventy-seven thousand veils
which the Christians boil down to seven
deadly sins, the chief among these
the first and the last: pride
(I understand it all)
You who are always beyond our reach,
You who are sixty times sixty times sixty leagues from the earth,
Yet still we cannot look you in the eye.
You who are the origin of all life,
Who created man from the compassion of your tears.
Why look further for an image of God
Than this perfect circle of blinding light
Wrapping the world in Its spinning flight?
At death, the English words
That rolled through your brain and off your lips
Will cease even at their point of origin, and in time
The neurons which held these lofty sentiments
Science, Truth, Art
Will flow like dirty worms beyond the hollowed skull.
Alas, poor Yorick* will remain as inky lines or bits of code
But will not penetrate the sod or human clay,
Nor yet as muffled plaint beneath the grave.
And all our differences won’t make a difference
What with all the tomorrows that we won't see hereafter.*
Language, culture, music, words, indeed, are weak.*
Belief itself — Pascal’s to bet or not to bet — *
Mean nothing to the giant rocks that drift and spin
Like a billion circus tops on fire,
At hundreds of kilometres a second toward the Norma Cluster,
Toward the mysterious anomaly,
Ominously called the Great Attractor. *
If ever our Phoebus arrives within a hundred light year’s sight
Of that Charybdis and Scylla waiting in the stars,
What cities will we have constructed by then?
What gravitronic mechanisms to reverse galactic pull and cluster fuck?
What ancient pluck will lift us from our gopher tunnels to become as ants?
When black and red, as aliens meet beyond our sun,
What worlds of light and air will we have then to make him run?*
* Alas, poor Yorick: Looking at the skull of his beloved jester, Hamlet says, Alas, poor Yorick! [...] Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? (Hamlet 5.1).
all the tomorrows that we won't see hereafter: Having destroyed all meaning in his life, Macbeth says, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day / To the last syllable of recorded time. Life becomes an absurd drama full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (Macbeth 5.5).
music, words, indeed, are weak: In stanza 52 of Adonais(1821), Shelley writes that all human expressions, including words and music, are weak / the glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.
to bet or not to bet: Pascal argues that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in (or betting on) God; In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet wonders if he should kill himself in his famous speech, "To be or not to be." For my take on Pascal’s bet, see Gospel & Universe: The Cosmic Casino.
to make him run?: In "To His Coy Mistress" (c.1650), Andrew Marvell suggests that the act of love might allow us to control time: Let us tear our pleasures through rough strife / Through the iron gates of life. / Thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still / Yet we will make him run.
The Great Attractor is "an apparent gravitational anomaly in intergalactic space at the center of the local Laniakea Supercluster [of galaxies], in which the Milky Way is located" (Wikipedia). The Great Attractor lies near the centre of the Norma Supercluster of galaxies, toward which our local group of galaxies are moving; the Norma Supercluster in turn seems to be moving toward the Shapley Supercluster.
Next: Doubt's Dominion