and the power of real
If it reaches past the brain and grips the soul, it’s art.
Some art is best kept within the context of time and place whilst other art is universal. Much art is targeted, culture-specific … but real art can reach across cultures, across miles, and even across the centuries.
SUCH AN ART
form is the Japanese haiku. I understand that only someone traditionally versed in the culture can truly appreciate the haiku—so haiku then should be of Japan and in the Japanese language? Or perhaps not. I am not Japanese. A cherry blossom or chrysanthemum to the average westerner is often just a flower. The finer nuances of meanings will be lost and with them much imagery.
And yet …
I HAVE READ
quite widely in a thankfully uneventful life. An atheist, the sonorous resonance of the King James Bible can still move me deeply. Shakespeare took me a lifetime to appreciate and I doubt that any translation into any foreign tongue can do it justice—the meanings of the words and relevance of sentences to characters and settings may be moved across, but not the magic.
my soul was stirred to its depths when I read some of the final verses and poetically expressed thoughts of doomed Japanese warriors—specifically (this time) the final testaments of some of the Kamikaze. Simple poetry, scarce more that the ‘five-seven-five‘ of haiku; but powerful stuff.
In this context the mind gets drawn to the thoughts of another aviator half a world away, a contemporary who likewise didn’t survive the stupidity that was World War two—no cherry blossoms here, no esoteric references, just the sheer vibrant joy of living in a life cut brutally short.
The word I’m groping for here is resonance. For me, if it resonates within it is art. Such a resonance—of peace—comes whenever I visit the Zen Garden in Queens Park in town.
I find a peace there, an almost meditative stillness (this sounds like the words of a fanciful poseur when I try to describe it). Perhaps I was Japanese in a previous existence, or am simply a good hypnotic subject?
time, place, beliefs. I am not enamoured of Islam—yet I hold some aspects of its arts in very high regard. I love the resonance of the quatrains of Khayyam, as translated by Fitzgerald (possibly every bit as much Fitzgerald as Khayyam, truth be known—and Fitzgerald was a Christian).
Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly–and lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
Much Islamic architecture, too, is effectively without peer. Perhaps it’s not the love of God being expressed in art but the love of life itself?
IS THIS WHAT
the Kamikaze and others are trying to express on the eve of destruction, using such tools as they have readily to hand? I’m mostly tied to the English language, and culture, and the filters of my own experiences; yet when I read words such as Tennyson’s—
—I’m moved. Deeply. I’ve been there, I’ve trodden the frozen hills in the depths of winter, by night, and seen the long glories of the winter moon.
CAN A HAIKU
carry such power, and depths of meaning? If the soul is awake: yes.
Try this link on for size, and if of a mind tell me which of those translations most appeals to you …
… and which you think most appeals to me?
I shan’t ask you for reasons or gloat if you get it wrong—there are no wrong answers; each artist does the best he can with what he’s got and that applies to translators too. (And no—I haven’t read the accompanying Commentary.)(I won’t, either.)
And my apologies for that typo in ‘High Flight’ …
And well might she ask.
But what’s the context?
Knowing the context might give us a clue. It could be grammatical, or mathematical, or both if not neither. Eek. Intrigued, I have to stick my oar in—
GIVEN: that a googol is ten to the power of a hundred (man, that’s a lot of dots!) and (wait for it, it gets better—) a googolpex is ten to the power of a googol (that’s an even bigger lot of dots)! Oops, back to the plot: then perhaps a perp is what you start with when you set out to be perplexed.
BUT IT’S THE
size and shape of the googolplex that catches (and blows) my imagination.
Someone once told me that it cannot be envisaged. Even the entire known universe (quite a big place, apparently) doesn’t contain a whole ‘plex of atoms.
If this be true (is it? Prove it …) then of course the so-called cardinal number googolplex better qualifies for imaginary. Or does it?
If we can set aside any religious or ‘scientific’ thinking and look simplistically at the concept of Time, and so assume neither beginnings nor ends to the infinite— then within said infinite—(bugger, I meant to stick this piccie in before but you may as well have it poked in here)—
CREDIT: Time Magazine, June 25 2001
—then all we have to do to find our googolplex is simply measure off a googolplex of seconds.
I imagine doing that might take half an eternity, but if bored you can always fill in the other half with a googolplex of millenniums. Millennia. Whatevers … and if you are really really really keen, there’ll be no shortage of googolplexes (googolplices?) of entire googols of centuries either; even googols of aeons. Let’s face it—eternity is pretty damn’ big … to measure eternity we’d actually need numbers much bigger than them piddling googolplex things.
BE THAT AS IT MAY
I’m still getting my simple head around that ‘Big Bang’ thing. Correct me where wrong:
- in the beginning the universe was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep
- and suddenly in that timeless nothing something changed and went POP and exactly as illustrated above by modern science, we got ourselves a universe …
Yeah, right. Okayyyyy …
Timeless, ouch. Change is a function of time—no time, no change. so what was it in that timeless nothing that changed?
SO HERE’S MY CONTRIBUTION
to modern thought—a Grand Unifying Principle that brings together science and religion (okay, just one religion out of many thousands, but it’s a start) (SFX: insert another of your lovely drum rolls here, please) :
‘Big Bang’ is just another
name for God
and equally as unprovable, also to be accepted entirely on faith. Good ol’ faith.
Ergo PhDs in maths and stuff rank equally with Docs of Div, no? For credibility I see no difference—not in the bigger picture, two opposite sides of a coin. (But who would I rather designed the high bridge I must cross, though?)
SO THERE’S A STARTER
and I await with bated breath your refutations. And if you can come up with a better illustration of googolplex, please feel free to post it here. I’m all ears and waggy tail …
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning all was void and darkness was upon the face of the deep—and then a nothing unexpectedly exploded and the entire universe popped out of it (ref image up top if you don’t believe me).
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
So if we use the term ‘time’ in place of ‘the Spirit of God’ and accept waters as literary device (an apt one, too; credit where it’s due) …
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Okaaaaay … who was He talking to? Whom were She talking to?
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And the swirling mess of energies expanded into the previous nothing, and cooled, and coalesced, becoming (gulp!) light …
coffee time. I’m off. One final word from ol’ Khayyam via Fitzgerald, make of it what you will:
—and now let’s go out and declare war on some infidel bastard somewhere. Pax Nabisco …
Sports as such no longer exist (if they ever did).
to ponder instead the concept of ‘Justice’. You know, the good old eye for a tooth, a tooth for a weasel … that sort of thing; in essence a balance. Fair deals for all and other such rubbish.
IS THERE JUSTICE
The race goes not so much to the swiftest as to the best funded. The competing athlete (bless his or her little furry socks) is merely the visible tip of a vast hidden iceberg. Few meets are won on talent—imagine, pure talent without the necessary funding and huge wealth-garnering apparatus? Fuggeddaboudit.
WERE THINGS DIFFERENT
in the old days? I have no idea. I may be well padded with years but I ain’t quite that old. I do remember seeing a movie starring Burt Lancaster in the role of Jim Thorpe (I always remembered it as ‘Man of Bronze’ but Wiki assures me it’s something quite different) (memory plays tricks).
But ol’ Jim later became a wee bit disqualified from his well-earned Olympic Golds and had to give ’em up. Why? It seems he cheated. Apparently he was a professional sportsman and the Olympics were ‘only for amateurs’.
I have no idea if the same naiveté is still so openly displayed—but I imagine that if some modern loser (that’s anyone who comes in after the first) gets even one half of one fraction of foxtrot alpha of a chance to pop the actual winner off his perch and so score the coveted Gold … he’d use it like a shot.
THERE’S THE SPIRIT
of the thing and there’s the Reality. Rarely the twain shall meet … the Spirit is the Cover Blurb that the Olympics people try desperately to sell whilst running their businesses—the same ‘spirit’ that any loser invokes when not getting a gold/silver/bronze. It seems every loser (anyone who doesn’t get a medal, note) is a smiling (through gritted teeth)
FROM MEMORY THE MOTTO
of the Olympics used to be along the lines of “It’s not winning that’s important—but taking part” (something like that). What it is these days I neither know nor care.
Hah~! Just looked it up, so obviously I do care. It’s not the motto but the oft misquoted Creed:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
The actual motto seems to be a watered down (ergo less honest) variation of Caesar’s oft misquoted quote—veni, vidi, vici.
‘Nuff said, let’s move on—
To me it’s all a vastly expensive con that could well drive the little taxpayers (in any country that’s lucky enough* to score the event) further towards bankruptcy. Another form of redistribution of the wealth, no?
NOW, LUCKY PERSON
take thee another quick beak at that photo of ol’ Jim up above (second snap). This time, look at it properly. Observe the socks, hmmm? Now read—
His schedule in the Olympics was busy. Along with the decathlon and pentathlon, he competed in the long jump and high jump. The first competition was the pentathlon. He won four of the five events and placed third in the javelin, an event he had not competed in before 1912. Although the pentathlon was primarily decided on place points, points were also earned for the marks achieved in the individual events. He won the gold medal. That same day, he qualified for the high jump final in which he placed fourth, and also took seventh place in the long jump. Even more remarkably, because someone had stolen his shoes just before he was due to compete, he found some discarded ones in a rubbish bin and won his medals wearing them. He is shown in the 1912 photo wearing two different shoes and extra socks because one shoe was too big …
—from Wiki, and wonder if such a thing could happen today?
SO, BACK TO
justice. Some call the winner of the Olympics the best/swiftest/strongest/etc in the world (or at least in the universe); and the country that owns him or her preens accordingly—which reminds me of a story, possibly apocryphal, after Germany beat the UK in some football match somewhere:
“Hah! Ve haff beaten you at your national schport!”
“So what? We beat you twice at yours~!”
But is it all true? I have to ask: is it even possible for a simple athlete these days—no matter how good—to reach the Olympics without a vast financial machine behind him? Her? It?
Probably not. So what the hell difference does it make if some sporty twit played once or twice for pin-money or now earns his living as a professional? Or even as an enthusiastic amateur who may be totally non-professional; like (say) a simple captain or lieutenant in the army who just happens to serve full time in the ‘keep fit’ branch?
POOR OL’ JIM
must be spinning in his grave. O tempera, o mores … sic transit gloria mundi and all that other classical stuff. Born too early, he was.
is modern sport—
- a con?
all or none of the above?
Don’t ask me—I’m still pondering the sportsmanship of people who stick anti-aircraft missile batteries on the roofs of private homes in London against the stated wishes of the ‘owners’ of said homes …
* “Mr Argus, Sir?”
“Yes, Little Ollivia?”
“That was sarcasm again!”
“Indeed, sweet child. You know me and sarcasm—”
“Sir … you could sarc for your country at the Olympics!”
THE WRATH OF GOD?
I know I am.
With a clear conscience I’ll happily spit in His eye and dare Him to say it was a sneak attack. And if it means I’ll be denied my houris and have to spend eternity running around yelping whilst stoking the boilers … I’ll know that I win. On moral grounds at least.
all is not lost. In the Greatest Movies about God’s merciful wrathfulness becoming manifest, they always have some mean-looking skies. Black clouds and evil portents like you wouldn’t believe. I like!
SO, YOU MIGHT
be thinking; so~?
As in ‘so wot?’ (and well you might).
Okaaaay, given, that just as they used to say often “The camera never lies” (this is important; books never lie, neither do cameras …) here’s a few shots exactly as I took them the other day in town, just as they came out of the camera—nary a Photoshop in sight.
Look, behold, count the seals and weep …
—nobody seemed worried, and Ragnarok seemed centred on St Mary’s Basilica so I trepidatiously wandered closer …
… to where a wee bit previously I’d taken my WPC shot of the railway line.
Things seemed slightly more placid here, so I took the longcut through the park—possibly a forlorn hope but I thought I might outflank ol’ God if He really were getting nasty …
And yep, things seemed to by dying down so I didn’t knock to have it opened unto me—I just bimbled back to town, where God’s final snort made itself manifest at the Dee Street/Esk Street junction.
AND THEN IT OCCURRED
to me that as an atheist I may have been barking up the wrong tree; what was good enough for ol’ Wossisface on the road to Damascus might not necessarily cut it with me.
As a rational being I need better answers; and then I thought of a more modern semi-scientific load of unprovable babble—
SFX: DRUM ROLL HERE, PLEASE — MOST DEFINITELY UNSUBTLE~!
—which is, of course, their unproven and unprovable allegations that seem to have inspired the FOG (Fear Of God) in a whole new generation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I close my case by giving you:
Anthropogenic Global Warming
Foggy thinking if ever there wuz some. There, what previous breeds called the Wrath Of God, Doomsday, Armageddon*, Ragnarok, Gotterdammit etc etc turns out in the light of ‘science’ (and Big Bucks, united) to be merely burnt logs and coal and gas and oil and prosperity and stuff.
Thank God for that, I can now sleep nights … but I stand by what I said about spitting in the divine eyeballs.
* Meaning (literally) “Eeeek! Ah’m a geddon oudda here~!” followed by a loud woosh of departing feet …
of being repetitive, and
anyone’s sensitivities—I offer this snap of a sign outside the large church in Dee Street, Invercargill, New Zealand. Make of it what you will—
—before you (being justifiably unsure) go running off to your priest, pastor, rabbi, mullah, politician, banker, stock broker or any other interpreter of the Word-From-Above for we mere mortals:
Such an unequivocal statement as on the sign (from Heaven?) above merely
- raises my eyebrows, and
- raises many questions
I must admit I’ve never yet been given any satisfying answers—neither from the acknowledged experts in such matters nor from the smug herds that feed them. ‘Tis ever thus … a situation which invites me to challenge you (yes—YOU, sir, madam, or wotever) to do better.
WE HAVE TO ACCEPT A FEW
popularly accepted ‘givens’ first, of course. No challenge (or fun*) in it otherwise, no?
So let’s list a few of the ‘givens’ to save you some trouble:
- God created the universe
- from nothing
- out of nothing
- God knows everything about everything
- past, present, and future
- as it was in the beginning
- is now
- and ever shall be, amen.
Okay … a wee bit of repetition there (but that’s a forgivable literary device).
I’LL POINT OUT
the most glaring jolt in that sign—and shall leave the rest to you. Don’t sweat it: your redeemer loves you, and in Paradise (after you’re dead here) shall be an eternity of sitting on clouds either twanging harps and singing praises or boozing endless alcohol whilst endlessly screwing your allocated virgins (with nary a harp in sight—if I had to choose from just two of the many hundreds of unique** paths to the True God(s) I’d opt for Islam over Christianity any day).
That glaring jolt?
if the results of any choices are foreknown (it means in advance); then is it a genuine ‘choice’ on the part of the chooser, or simply an illusion? One brought about by his/her ignorance?
Given that “beggars can’t be choosers” and the Church (of England at least) is adamant that we are all mere puppets in God’s infinitely merciful hands I’d say that no, we can’t make a choice. And any such ‘choices’ as we think we make are entirely (r) entirely out of circumstances beyond our control anyway.
you may thank a hastily appreciated article in ‘National Geographic’ magazine—well researched and well written indeed, all about the King James Bible (creation of). A creation that God knew was inevitable millions of years before He (She?) created the universe (KJB’s Genesis, lovely reading!).
And now you heathen, you; get thy Bible out and scramble for answers—I have 72 moonlighting houris sitting at desks with headsets on awaiting your calls … go get’em, Tigers!
* Some will say it’s wicked to mock the afflicted. In this instance I’m being wicked … so sue me (or better yet: demonstrate where I’m wrong).
** Memo to self: look up meaning of ‘unique’ …