7 Stars

Posted on September 28th, 2007 by george.
Categories: friends, fun, future, life, mathematics, music, photography, space, synthesis.

Half the band
Rockin' out
Guitar man

The Apples rocked hard at the AKA Lounge tonight. I was sorta disappointed that a city like Orlando couldn’t muster a better crowd for such an amazing band, but any chagrin quickly evaporated as I realized it meant I’d have plenty of room to dance on the front row. First off, I gotta give props to my friend Karen for introducing me to the happiest, catchiest band since Fleming & John. Second, kudos to Andropolis for keeping the flame alive with his recent mix CD that included the stand-out track from the Apples’ new album, New Magnetic Wonder.

On lead

After the show, Uncle Billy and I had the privilege of meeting the creative force behind the band, Robert Schneider. It’s not hard to see how such wonderful music comes from so effusive a personality. After thanking him profusely for creating such a positive influence through his mathematically- and astronomically-inspired, crazy-good music, I had but one quick question to ask: what was his inspiration for my favorite song, 7 Stars? I knew it had to be about the Pleiades, but I wanted to know more. I could not have imagined what came next.

Face to face

Let’s just get this out of the way: Robert is as big a nerd as I am. Super smart and curious, he’s the kind of guy who, not satisfied with conventional tonal scales, invents his own harmonies through logarithmic divisions of the sequence of frequencies from 4 to 16. So he may be as nerdy as a rocket scientist, but considering he’s the lead singer in a rock band, he’s considerably cooler. Turns out the Seven Sisters make up his favorite constellation. He is huge into astronomy and mathematics, as you might have guessed from his music, but what you may not know is that he studies advanced math on his own. For fun. He’s an automath in, well, math.

Intense conversation

In fact, Robert is slowly working towards a PhD (one can imagine touring might involve certain time commitments), with his dissertation undoubtedly piercing the veil of primes. But his geek cred rolls mad deeper: he wrote a computer program back in the eighties, when he was in middle school in Lousiana, that graphed out those same 7 stars.

Explaining the finer points of prime numbers

Before we knew it, we’d shared a half-hour conversation on prime number sequences, space exploration, star systems and the underlying language of the universe. It wasn’t long until his wife tapped him on the shoulder to say, “Honey, there are others waiting for autographs.” So he graciously attended to his fans, then we picked right back up where we left off.

Yes, grasshopper

Unfortunately by now it was nearly 2am, so we had to part. We said our goodbyes, but not before he slipped us a couple of personalized 7″ LPs and told me he’ll soon be taking his son to Huntsville for father-son Space Camp.

I get it now!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found a new friend. Robert, if you’re reading this, I can’t wait to escort you and the Apples to a Shuttle launch. Good luck with those primes.  And stars. And frequencies.  And the mathematical music that ties them all together.

I've found a new friend
Bonus:  the finale from the show!

5 comments.

Nouveaux yeux

Posted on September 26th, 2007 by george.
Categories: enlightenment, epiphany, friends, future, life, prayer, synthesis.

I'll be back

At the opthamologist today, my pupils were dilated as part of the exam. Even with the complimentary Terminator shades, the late afternoon sun seemed as though it had discovered a new fusile element and was churning out radiation at a hundred fold its normal pace. I was amazed to discover how reliant I am upon my vision, from navigating the road to choosing ripe bananas. It’s another world when you can’t see the ingredient list at the grocery store or can’t bear the sight of oncoming headlights.

Becoming a Baha’i is a similar experience, except that the Sun is always shining brighter, and is only limited by the growth of your vision, not its infinite and inexhaustible light. Just the other day I mailed one of my two prayer books to New Zealand, in support of a Baha’i art project that seeks to change the way we view spirituality in art. It was an exercise in detachment, as life itself seems to be, to part with something associated with fond memories. This was the book I received upon joining my Brevard County community, the book from which I memorized the Tablet of Ahmad.

But the paper and glue themselves matter little; just as what’s more important than the words of a prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered. I shouldn’t be surprised, then, that today, within a week of giving up something that seemed so precious, I should receive what I can only characterize as a divine confirmation. When I opened my mail this evening, I discovered a crimson tome with gilt letters reading, “Prières Bahá’íes.” It took but a moment to discern that this was a gift from my dear friend Atoosa on my first rebirthday, the one-year anniversary of my declaration.

How amazing to read a prayer you know by heart in another tongue. I cannot fathom the doors this will unlock, the bonds of illumination it will forge, to simultaneously explore my love for the French language and my adoration of Baha’u’llah.

Thank you, Atoosa joon.

Eye

11 comments.

Serendipity

Posted on September 17th, 2007 by george.
Categories: enlightenment, epiphany, food, friends, fun, future, history, life, love, music, prayer, synthesis, travel.

Fere, Farah and Sarah

If there’s one thing I’m learning about writing it’s that when inspiration strikes, you must strike back, while the iron is hot. Some of you are probably wondering after the whereabouts of that potentially controversial essay I planned to write on Thursday, the day Lazi got into a car accident that left her and her friend upside down, hanging from their seatbelts. Don’t worry, she’s ok. But you see how easy it is to get distracted? Now it’s three a.m. after a life-changing weekend and my head is full of five pages that I can’t afford to sacrifice sleep to commit to words. God forgive me, but I feel I must resort to the dreaded bullet list. Behold: as many highlights from the weekend as I can remember. Rest assured there are hundreds more my poor brain is already forgetting as the cup overfloweth.

• Working extra hours in advance to leave work early Friday for Savannah to attend Louis and Shezel’s wedding
• Picking up Sarofsky and Justin in JAX
• Seeing happiness in the eyes of the four parents of the bride and groom
• Meeting Louis’s and his father Michael’s brothers
• Meeting Cara and Rob from Orlando and learning about life at Guantanamo and the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer
• Bonding with Justin
• Bachelor party laser tag
• Gourmet brekkie at the posh hotel downtown, included with the room
• Getting half price on said posh hotel
• Meeting Brittany, the vibrant soul with light in her eyes, a lilt in her voice, spring in her step, and heart in her service, a senior in interior design and our cashier at the sandwich shop
• Hearing the words “Standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” sung by a local artist at an outdoor cafe the moment we rounded the corner to the sandwich shop
• Making it to the wedding in advance to help set up
• Enjoying the honor of reading 1 Corinthians chapter 13 during the ceremony from the microphone between the bride and groom, their silhouettes framing the faces of an audience brimming with love and support for the couple
• Reuniting with members of my local Brevard County family on the lawn
• Meeting Brenda and Nancy, kindred spirits, by the hors d’oeuvres as the sun went down on a beautiful day
• Sharing tough but enlightening conversations with Ladan and Ramzi and family
• Witnessing the impossibly beautiful blending of the cultures of two different families manifest itself on the dance floor
• Busting several moves on said dance floor before the rug-cutting was cut short
• Listening to Darrell dedicate his poem to his little brother
• Eating wedding cake in honor of Mom (it’s her favorite dessert)
• Throwing Persian “rice” at Louis and Shezel on their way to the limo
• Finishing off the last of the wedding cake
• The Saturday night misadventures of $20 covers at bowling alleys, full car sing-alongs, and visiting the beach at Tybee Island for the first time at 2am, spending hours splashing in the ocean, looking at the stars and talking about the universe
• Waking up late Sunday to bid farewell to so many wonderful new friends (including the third interior designer!) like Navid, Adeeb (my new cousin), Shawn, Mona, Nissa, Cheryl, Sarah, Jalil and Sina
• Eating leftover wedding cake before lunch
• Enjoying lunch on the sidewalk in downtown Savannah with Sarofsky, Farah, Fere and Justin
• Justin’s eagle eye spotting Brittany walking straight toward us from across the street
• Marvelling at the serendipity of meeting a complete stranger twice in two days in a major city, embracing the second time and realizing you are old friends
• Hitting the road like Juan Valdez in order to make it to St. Augustine by 7pm for the once-a-year 1905 Day at my favorite restaurant in Florida: The Columbia
• Arriving at 6:35
• Being informed that no more reservations are being taken
• Sweet-talking the hostess and getting a table for 8:45
• Stepping outside to inform the group that we need to wait two hours and can enjoy the city, the second wonderful historic Southern town to introduce Justin to in the span of two days
• Being caught by the manager just before we set out and being taken to a table right away
• Enjoying the best gourmet Spanish food this side of Spain and paying 1905 prices (Cokes were ten cents, soups fifty cents, salad a dollar, entrees $2.05)
• Paying the tab without blinking and tipping the waiter double the bill
• Enjoying the ride home with my sisters Farah and Fere accompanied by good music
• Thinking the night was over only to be introduced to five religious refugees from Iran, family of local Baha’is who arrived in the United States 10 days ago
• Welcoming them to our community, learning about their lives and their journey, sharing stories and gaining amazing insights about prayer and destiny
• Being blessed with tangible evidence of the undeniable unity of all humans in the form of five brilliant souls
• Mentioning the five sisters and noticing the five-pointed star on Mehrvash’s necklace
• Listening to Siroos translate from Persian to English, and noticing that Kazim used the word “rouhani” several times in Persian
• From what I can tell, rouhani means “spiritual”
• Rouhani is Shezel’s maiden name, bestowed upon her family in the early history of the Baha’i Faith
• Kazim had never heard of the Rouhanis until tonight
• Thanking God for the limitless divine outpourings accrued over what must be recorded as three of the most intense days of my life, three days which are a direct result of the spiritual journeys taken last weekend in Texas
• Witnessing firsthand the soul-stirring, foundation-shaking, happiness-inducing, resolve-solidifying, purpose-endowing power of the Tablet of Ahmad, the Fire Tablet, and the Tablet of Visitation of Abdu’l-Baha

9 comments.

Withhold not thyself therefrom

Posted on August 18th, 2007 by george.
Categories: enlightenment, epiphany, friends, future, life, love, space, synthesis.

There is undeniable, infinite power in prayer.

Last Monday I intoned the words of one of the most potent prayers ever revealed to humankind at the spiritual focal point of the Holiest House of Worship on planet Earth, the Mother Temple of the West.  There were no immediately apparent effects beyond the tranquility of my spirit and that of my companions.  Then, within an hour, completely at random, I was reunited with a man at a restaurant miles away.  I had first met this man, and last seen him, nearly a year prior:  in that same room where I uttered prayers then and now.  Last year he told the story of that room while we sat in it.  I had always been inexplicably drawn to it; I had gone there last year to say prayers of spiritual growth and nearness to God.  It was then that, directly after his story, our prayers, and spontaneous song, I set aside my ego and declared my faith in and servitude toward Baha’u’llah.

At the restaurant he did not remember me.  But he did tell me that he and his wife were expecting.  After I congratulated them, he mentioned that they were going on vacation before the baby was born.  Just before I left the restaurant for O’Hare to return home to Orlando, I asked where they were going.  He said they were leaving in two days.  For Orlando.

That Saturday I met the man, his wife, their unborn child, and their friend from Winter Park at the Kennedy Space Center to accompany them on a tour.  Throughout the day, as I explained to them the wonders of space exploration that surrounded us, I would suddenly become aware that a stranger was standing near us, listening in, patiently waiting to ask a question.  These people seemed to come from nowhere, to appear out of thin air.  They had somewhat puzzled expressions on their faces.  One could tell they weren’t quite sure what had brought them there, but they knew they had a question to ask.  Within the span of five to fifteen minutes we would share conversation that was far beyond that of strangers, and sometimes that of well-acquainted friends.  Then they would gather their family and move on.

At the end of the day, and before I proceeded to a local interfaith devotional on the topic of peace, I parted ways with the man, his wife, their child and their friend.  The man looked at my hands quietly and told me he had much to tell me.  He said it would have to wait until the next time we met.  We did not make plans.  I have no idea when I shall see him again.  But I am anxious to hear what he has to say.

Now it is seven days since that Saturday.  In the past week, one of my dearest friends informed me that she has decided to become a Baha’i.  I have known this person for two months.  I have never met her.  She has never met a Baha’i in person.  And yet I am convinced that she will be one of my closest friends in this life.  From the moment we met we have interacted as if we have been friends for decades.  I dare say we are as family.

In the past week I have reconnected with another of my dearest friends in a way that I have been dreaming possible, working toward, and praying feverishly about for nearly a year.  Steps have been taken, apologies made by us both, new paths chosen.  It has been an answer to months of daily prayer.  I am overjoyed; a shackle has fallen from my ankle.  A massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

In the past week I have experienced an ironing-out of the wrinkles in my everyday life.  My vision is clearer.  My motivation has returned.  I have tapped a vein.  Chores come easier; opportunities present themselves in my career; my eyes are on the horizon.

I am not filled with resolve; I am become resolve.  I commit this to words; I entrust it to you.  I know what I must do.  In light of these revelations, the following may seem trivial, but I shall nonetheless put it down:  in the near term, I seek to explore the piloting of airplanes, helicopters, and racing vehicles.  I will explore every avenue of opportunity in my career.  I will find ways to continue to learn more languages.  I will further refine my diet and work toward greater physical fitness.  I will continue with the pursuits that bring me joy.

In the long term, and much more appropriate to this trajectory:  I will seek to consort with every human that crosses my path in the purest possible spirit of humility, peace, kindness, understanding and equanimity.  I will endeavour to become the embodiment, to the fullest of my limited abilities, of love toward my fellow human.

To those who seek, I shall share the secret of the Source of my happiness.

Peace be upon you, my fellow human beings.

14 comments.

Alarm call

Posted on August 1st, 2007 by george.
Categories: death, enlightenment, epiphany, future, history, life, society, space, synthesis.

Ok stop. Get up, go look in a mirror, fix your own face in your mind, and then come back to this.

I mean it, get up. Go!

Are you back? Good. Got it in your mind? Your identity? That face that you associate with your self? Now think: what did you see? Is that you? No. That’s just the face that’s attached to the body that carries you around, when you let it. What about when you close your eyes? Or when you daydream? Or when you sleep? Where are you? Who are you? What are you? If you’re not your body, then what? A consciousness? An awareness? You are so much more than just your brain, just your synapses firing. They may do the job, but something transcends them. They may be the engine, but you are the driver. Now. As the caterpillar says. WHO ARE YOU?

You’re a human, right?

Well, what is that? It’s certainly much more than a simple primate. You’re not just a hairless monkey running around the savannah. You are sentience. You are awareness. You are consciousness. You have the ability to look in the mirror and see something. You have the unique gift to be able to look up to the heavens, recognize and appreciate the universe, something infintely larger than and beyond you. But you’re even more than that. This may sound presumptuous, but perhaps your definition of yourself is too small.

What do you propose we do when we first contact another civilization? Start all over again with this us vs. them crap? I propose something greater. Let’s take to heart the lesson that Pluto has taught us. Our definitions are like rails upon which our trains of thought run. We often lay them before we’ve truly explored the wilderness to which they lead. We got ourselves into trouble with our quaint little ideas about what a planet is. We take a cursory look around, take note of what we see, then clap the dust off our hands and say, “Welp. That must be it. Nine planets.” Then along comes Planet X. And large asteroids. And Kuiper Belt objects. And extrasolar planets. And suddenly we’re confronted with a conundrum. “Um, exactly what is a planet?”

We could have seen it coming. I mean, all it takes is a little hindsight to focus your foresight. History repeats itself.  And these are just rocks. Imagine how serious it’s going to be when we meet Quo, the first Zorplag from planet Kozmotrad. You think people got upset over Pluto? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

So here it is, people. Here’s your chance. Decide, right here and now, what it means to be human. And don’t make your definition too narrow. I don’t want you to leave out an entire civilization just because you overlooked exoskeletons. In fact, don’t make the definition too concrete. Because we are definitely going to be surprised. So put a little leeway in there. And be ready, like any good scientist, to revise your theories.

Stumped? Ok, I’ll start. I propose that we decide that the word “human” encompasses more than primate-based sentience on planet Earth. It’s going to be so much easier to interact with other lifeforms if we include them in our paradigm, rather than marginalize them before we even meet them. You only have to look back upon our own history to see all the evil perpetrated against your brothers and sisters because someone decided they were “less than human.”

So do it now. Here, I’ll help you: I declare that to be human simply means you enjoy self-awareness. There, see? Easy peasy. Remember Isaac Asimov (or for those of you with shorter memories, Robin Williams)? Bicentennial Man? Congratulations. You have just welcomed AI into the family. Now don’t be scared. He’s not Frankenstein’s monster. There is a fundamental order to the universe. Anyone who acts in a purely selfish manner can only hope to bring ruin upon them and those around them. Say robots rise up against us, God forbid. And we’re all exterminated. Fine. At least we birthed a higher consciousness. But trust me, that’s not going to happen. I mean, we still respect animals, right? RIGHT?

But back to the aliens. Or, ahem, excuse me: humans. Like us. Just from a different place. And who look really different, if they “look” at all. Do you think for one moment that they will reach a level of civilization that allows us to share information without working together? How can you possibly worry that they will only come here to destroy us? What motive would they have? Oh, wait. You mean…you’re thinking about the Europeans who settled the Americas? Huh. Well, perhaps you have a point.

But I’m optimistic. A civilization that is too violent or war-hungry (in other words, a civilization that is self-destructive, a civilization that is too blind to see that killing a single one of its cells is detrimental to the entire body) won’t last long enough to make first contact. They won’t be around to enjoy that boundless and limitless joy of knowing that ZOMG we are not alone! The only reason anyone gets anywhere is because of all the others who helped them along. I’m sorry, but all those things that you enjoy, including access to the internet that allows you to read this? You didn’t and can’t and don’t own it. You didn’t pay for it. I don’t care if you’re the head of the household like me and BY GOD you pay your bills! That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about if you were the only person on this planet there would be no internet. Hell, there would be no language. In fact, you’d be dead. That’s right, you wouldn’t have survived more than about three days outside whatever fictional or cybernetic or hypothetical womb from which you issued forth.

Here’s something you MUST recognize about the fundamental nature of the universe: the only method for advancement is cooperation. That applies on a cellular level, and it applies on every level up to, including and beyond the Galactic Federation. You are only as educated as the lessons learned by every teacher and student and scientist who went before you. EVERYTHING that you enjoy, everything that sustains your life, everything that allows you to look into that mirror: you owe it to someone else. You did not earn it. I don’t care if you’ve worked hard, but good for you if you have. I want you to understand: you have been given a priceless gift to be breathing right now. You are the sum of the hopes and dreams of every struggling soul who has died and left their legacy to you.

Go. Look in that mirror again, I’ll wait.

What did you see this time? Did you see the innumerable eyes of every human throughout all time looking back at you? Did you see with the eyes of Adam? Can you see with the eyes of Quo? Because that’s who you’re responsible to. Those humans of the past, those humans of the future? That’s who you are. THAT’S YOU. And they’re all counting on you to do your part. It may seem small, but everything you do ripples across the fabric of spacetime to the very ends of the universe.

Now. What are you going to do today? How are you going to apply your unique skills and talents to do the best thing you could possibly do? What is that thing, you ask? It’s called advancing civilization. And how do you do it? By helping others. It’s simple, really. Even a Zorplag can understand it.

7 comments.

Born lucky

Posted on July 7th, 2007 by george.
Categories: life, synthesis.

We have reached it. We have attained. We are here.

Trip Seven. San Fermin. The luckiest day. 07/07/07.

How can I even lay this out for you? I look in the mirror and I don’t even see my body anymore.

What in the world are you talking about, son?

I can’t filet it. It’s too dense, too tightly packed, too interwoven. A butterfly on a pin in a box behind dusty glass will always and forever pale in comparison to a single flapping of its wings, one moment in real time of its manifest glory in existence. I can’t take the grand cosmic self-referential conscious strange-loop of life and distill it, compress it, render it into a written essay that is in and of itself only one part of that life. There are only comparisons, convergences and connections from the vibrating string to the bubbling multiverse. I could add a link to every one of these words; they are fraught with purpose, pregnant with meaning.

I will make an attempt to trace this thread through the fabric of spacetime and show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Here is a glimpse into the portal. Even as I sit here it compounds, rolls over on itself, overlaps, strings together the eternal golden braid. No new word comes along without bringing tribute from the other worlds; synapses explode like fireworks and the rocket’s red glare saturates the soul. When he laughed, it caused earthquakes.

What’s so special about July 7th? On this day in:

1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy. 25 years after they’d burned her at the stake, of course.

1668Isaac Newton, hero to scientists everywhere, received an MA from Trinity College, Cambridge.

1846Mexican-American War: American troops occupy Monterey and Yerba Buena, thus beginning the United States annexation of California.

1898History of United States overseas expansion: President William McKinley signs the Newlands Resolution annexing Hawaii as a territory of the United States.

1930 – Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser begins construction of the Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam). [More than meets the eye to this one.]
1946Howard Hughes nearly dies when his XF-11 spy plane prototype crashes in a Beverly Hills neighborhood. [Three nights ago I dreamt I belly-landed an F-16 and it skidded off the runway into a city, coming to rest without damaging anything. When I stepped out, the F-16 was my grey Toyota Camry.]
1958 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Alaska Statehood Act into United States law

1979 – 28 years ago, at 4:52pm, I was born in Nashville, Tennessee.

2007 – Today. The bulls have run, and I am writing this.


What’s so special about 777? 777 = 3 × 7 × 37. It’s a sphenic number, a Harshad number, and 3333 in senary (base 6) counting. It is sometimes given the title of “Jesus’ number,” as the numbers 3 and 7 were both “perfect numbers” under Hebrew tradition.


The Boeing 777. Need I say more?

Luck Be a Lady Tonight, by Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra, by Cake. Cake, being made by Lacey for my birthday in the kitchen ten feet from me.

While Frank Sinatra sings Stormy Weather. Stormy weather in Florida as I left last night, and in Houston as I arrived. Going back to Houston. Do the hot dog dance. Going back to Houston. To get me some pants.

We know of an ancient radiation that haunts dismembered constellations. Beyond your flowers of flaming truth, beyond your latest ad campaign.

Speaking of Dubya, yesterday was his birthday. But wait, I’m Dubya. Today is MY birthday.

“I don’t know why I’m surprised. Over the years, our culture’s gift for nicknaming has slowly vanished along with so many of our other celebrated American skills, like nation-building and math.”

That video was so naughty! Or was it…cosmonauty?

In the midst of the maelstrom, stop, take a breath and prepare. Ask for guidance, knowledge and wisdom and they will rain down upon you in a flood. Your cup will overflow. It was shown to me during my daily prayer this week: our desires are not our choice. They are built in, they are part of the grand exam. Why? What makes us aware? What is this life? Only our actions, only our choice separates us, elevates us. There is no beginning, no end.

“It’s just part of the way humans are wired, I suppose. Humans need religion and they need numbers,” he said.

Good luck.

8 comments.

Spastic chiastic

Posted on June 26th, 2007 by george.
Categories: environment, future, history, society, synthesis, technology.

I cleaned my bathtub this weekend. I cleaned out my 200-email-deep inbox at work today. Figured it’s time to clean out the link repository as well. The video above is slightly related to some of the topics we’re going to touch on. There isn’t enough resolution for you to see the phrase “Hydrogen 7″ on the rear badge, but it’s there. You can see a bit of the fancy paint job on the side, though.  I shot this on the way home from work today. Funny the things you see at NASA.

Let’s start with some good news. How about proof that when evil strikes, good can fill the void? Virginia Tech is receiving such an outpouring of support (in the form of memorial gifts) that they’ve had to enlist nearly a hundred volunteers and they don’t have room to store it all. From the article, “You could look anywhere in the building and realize we’re not alone,” he said. “The world cares.”

The world is a funny thing, though. And it can be confusing. It helps to listen to someone with insight, someone who is fair and balanced. One of those people is columnist Fareed Zakaria. Listen to what he has to say about the root cause of terrorism.

Britain, the United States and most other countries have not found it easy to address the root causes of jihad. But clearly, they relate to the alienation, humiliation and disempowerment caused by the pace of change in the modern world—economic change, migration from Third World to First World, movement from the countryside to the city. The only durable solution to these ongoing disruptions is for these people to see themselves—and, most important, the societies they come from and still identify with—as masters of the modern world and not as victims. How to open up and modernize the Muslim world is a long, hard and complex challenge. But surely one key is to be seen by these societies and peoples as partners and friends, not as bullies and enemies. That is one battle we are not yet winning.

Atoosa and I have discussed this issue before: it is the hearts of humans that provide the foundation for world events. Baha’u’llah has said,

Know thou that We have annulled the rule of the sword, as an aid to Our Cause, and substituted for it the power born of the utterance of men. Thus have We irrevocably decreed, by virtue of Our grace. Say: O people! Sow not the seeds of discord among men, and refrain from contending with your neighbor, for your Lord hath committed the world and the cities thereof to the care of the kings of the earth, and made them the emblems of His own power, by virtue of the sovereignty He hath chosen to bestow upon them. He hath refused to reserve for Himself any share whatever of this world’s dominion. To this He Who is Himself the Eternal Truth will testify. The things He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men’s hearts, that He may cleanse them from all earthly defilements, and enable them to draw nigh unto the hallowed Spot which the hands of the infidel can never profane. Open, O people, the city of the human heart with the key of your utterance. Thus have We, according to a pre-ordained measure, prescribed unto you your duty.

That world over which we have been given dominion? It’s in dire straits. The oceans are not only being systematically raped of all life, but up to 40% of their area is covered in a toxic stew of degrading plastic. And it’s not just the oceans. It’s in the air, in our food, in our clothes, our cars, our homes, our bodies. This is the legacy of oil.

Speaking of rape, (I know, that’s a horrible segue) the perspective of 40 years has done a lot for the baby boomers. Turns out the Summer of Love wasn’t as rosy as we like to remember it. Less “free love” than “free sex.” For the men, anyway.

And now, in true chiastic form, let us end with the beginning: a positive note, and a car video.

4 comments.

Exegesis

Posted on June 3rd, 2007 by george.
Categories: friends, history, poetry, synthesis.

So Sarah just poked me via email. Her message was short, sweet and, um, subtle:

Timetoblogtimetoblogtimetoblogtimetoblog.

Time to blog.

Time TO blog.

Time to BLOG.

Let’s all blog now. You.

Because this made me laugh, I think I’ll oblige with something I was considering posting. More than a few people have asked me what my poems mean or what they’re about, and I’m always happy to share. I spent a lot of time explaining what the last one means to a couple of friends, so I think it will be worthwhile to make that explication public. And it may temporarily silence the clamoring hordes.

On the surface, this poem is about Atlanta. It’s a tapestry of interwoven meanings, like I hope most of my poems are, but it is inspired by the city. One of the most beautiful things about the distillation of thought inherent in poetry is that the simplicity leaves it open to interpretation. The process of making sense of the collection of words within the brainspace of the reader is an act of creation in itself; the unique memories that make up that consciousness filter the poem into a new experience, with thousands of new connections and meanings. The poet provides only the spark; the flame burns in the hearts of her readers.

Indeed, there are many meanings to the words I’ve written that I discover only afterward, whether hours or years later. But as for my intention when I wrote it, let me break it down:

with each crested hill
you loom larger

as I pass beneath your bridges
their eyelids open
thrice full of your golden spires

I-75 North rolls over many hills on approach to downtown. There are three separate instances when you see a bridge on the crest of a hill, and as you near it, the city looms up over the hill as if the bridge is an eyelid opening to reveal a vision. It is particularly hazy in the South right now due to the drought and forest fires, so at sunset everything took on a dusty, golden, ethereal feel. It helps that the architecture is most excellent and some of the spires are actually golden. I liked that the three times it happened toyed with the concept of a third eye, and a golden city (El Dorado, heaven). Looming larger, well…there are big things on the horizon.

I trace your spine
through the orchard

I love this line. Obviously it has to do with temptation, Eden and Eve. “Crested hill” might make more sense now. But what you might not know is that downtown Atlanta runs north-south along a ridge line, or spine, that separates two vast watersheds. And the road that traces this spine is called Peachtree. Hence the orchard.

At about 1050 feet or 320 meters above mean sea level (the airport is 1010 feet), Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River. Amongst the 25 largest MSAs, Atlanta is the third-highest in elevation, slightly lower than Phoenix, but significantly lower than Denver (1 mile or 1,600 m).

According to folklore, its central avenue, Peachtree Street , runs through the center of the city on the Eastern Continental Divide . In actuality, the divide line enters Atlanta from the southwest, proceeding to downtown. From downtown, the divide line runs eastward along DeKalb Avenue and the CSX rail lines through Decatur. Rainwater that falls on the south and east side runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean while rainwater on the north and west side of the divide runs into the Gulf of Mexico.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta

by the fabled fox
who’s lost his taste for grapes

Of course you know the fable of the sour grapes.

Sour grapes is the false denial of desire for something sought but not acquired; to denigrate and feign disdain for that which one could not attain. This metaphor originated from the fable The Fox and the Grapes by Aesop, where the protagonist fox fails to reach some grapes hanging high up on a vine, retreats, and says that the grapes are sour anyway.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour_grapes

But you may not know the translation occludes some meaning:

The moral of the fable centers on the qualification by the fox, when he finds his desire unattainable. The word “sour” was probably chosen by the translators in Western Europe writing during the Victorian era. Study of older versions of the fable suggest that “unripe” might be a more literal translation, the idea being that the fox would come back later to try in earnest. The word “unripe” may have been replaced with “sour” by the fable’s Victorian translators since the word “unripe”, in Victorian society, might have been interpreted as an innuendo suggesting an as-yet unripe woman.

Another view is that “sour grapes” is brief and concrete, as compared with “unripe grapes”.

In the original Greek, the phrase is “όμφακες εισίν” (omphakes eisin), the word omphax having both the literal meaning of an unripe grape and the metaphorical usage of someone too young.

Maturity has been a recurring theme for me as of late. Also, this line was inspired by my drive down Peachtree, past the fabled Fox Theater. If you sift through the details of the article below, you’ll see glimmers like “ablution fountains that have run dry” and “Moorish architecture.” The Moors were the Muslims who ruled Spain during the Caliphate. Why is Spain signficant? Keep reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Theatre_%28Atlanta%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorish_architecture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain#Muslim_Iberia

past the salty old man
so far from his sea

As I drove down Peachtree, I saw a man who looked just like Ernest Hemingway walking with a cast on his left foot. It was perfect: Hemingway wrote “The Sun Also Rises,” which popularized San Fermin, the Running of the Bulls, and turned the sleepy little festival into the world heritage event that it is now. This reflects my ongoing thoughts of traveling to Spain. He also wrote “The Old Man and the Sea,” which ties in perfectly with the oceanic theme of the poem. Plus I sometimes feel like an old man; friends in college called me Old Man Hatcher. The “so far” is a reference to Atlanta being landlocked, and the distance between me and my Beloved. “…cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shores of life…” “…from each He bringeth up greater and lesser pearls…”

http://www.toastforbrekkie.com//?s=pearl

http://www.bahaiprayers.org/marriage2.htm

I take rest on your sonorous shores
here beyond the pillars of Heracles

It was Lazi who informed me that the pillars of Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) are a symbol of Spain, and I’d been planning to go to Spain for my birthday in July (San Fermin, 7/7/07) until I realized I can’t really afford a $1200 plane ticket. Makes sense:

The gateway to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic ocean, where the southernmost tip of Spain and the northernmost of Morocco face each other, is, classically speaking, referred to as the Pillars of Hercules/Heracles, owing to the story that he set up two massive spires of stone to stabilise the area and ensure the safety of ships sailing between the two landmasses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heracles

You may not know of my obsession with the Mediterranean, but it fits.

Atlanta is derived from Atlas, a character in Greek mythology (and not the heroine Atalanta , as is often mistakenly assumed). Most cities or towns named ‘Atlanta’ are named after the Atlantic Ocean or some entity referencing the Atlantic Ocean, as in the case of Atlanta, Georgia, which was named for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which in turn was named for the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean itself is named after the Titan Atlas, who was condemned to carry the world on his shoulders for eternity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_%28disambiguation%29 Rather than Atlas, I had imagined that the name came from Atlantis. It made sense to me, given that the pillars of Heracles were the gateway to the Atlantic. That line was supposed to be the clue as to what the poem was about. I could have named it “Ode to Atlanta” or “Atlantis” but chose “Oceans fall” because of its implication that they will rise again after the dormancy of the ice age.Pillars of Heracles. Two spires. Spires, seen in the bridges of the third eye. Two continents, two watersheds.

Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, “Island of Atlas”) is the name of a legendary island first mentioned in Plato‘s dialogues Timaeus and Critias. In Plato’s account, Atlantis, lying “beyond the pillars of Heracles“, was a naval power which conquered many parts of western Europe and Africa 9000 years before Plato’s own time—approximately 9400 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantisand drink in the night

This is simple. I love life. I took in all these realizations (and now I gather even more explaining it) as I listened to the poem in my head, there at that wonderful little Mediterranean restaurant right on Peachtree that has the most amazing falafel I’ve ever had (until I visit Haifa). The “sonorous shores” is both a reference to the siren’s call

http://www.toastforbrekkie.com//?p=190

and to the noisy, busy street that I sat adjacent to, reminding me that I’d rather be sitting in Monaco (named for its Greek history) on a real shore of the Mediterranean. The rushing wind of the cars was my waves instead.

Monaco apparently first gained its name from the nearby Phocaean Greek colony of Marseille, in the sixth century BC, which referred to the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek Μόνοικος — μόνος + οίκος, “single house”, which bears the sense of a people either settled in a “single habitation” or of “living apart” from others. According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area. A temple was constructed there by Phoceans, the temple of Hercules Monoikos.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco#History

As you can see, there is more meaning to life than we can even fathom. Get it? Fathom?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fathom#Use_of_the_fathom

Sarah, I hope you’re happy.

5 comments.

Omicron & Epsilon

Posted on May 12th, 2007 by george.
Categories: friends, future, life, love, poetry, synthesis.

The thunderbolt just struck
So close it shook my seat
I stepped outside to leave
But rain came down in sheets

Emerging from a dream
Your voice in soft, hushed tones
A vision out of time
Now real and on the phone

In just the nick thereof
To heal my bleeding heart
Our love again affirmed
The ending in the start

I shared a little tale
Of lessons learned and taught
You smiled until it hurt
At treasures never bought

I bid you fond farewell
Relinquished you to dreams
Then heaven flashed anew
Life’s more than what it seems

5 comments.

In tune

Posted on April 29th, 2007 by george.
Categories: life, love, poetry, synthesis.

Love is a bell ringing out light
Its volume limited only by your ears

Your face can only be illumined
To the degree you are willing to turn
Toward the sun of my heart

We are half-strung guitars
Only suffering can stretch us into tune

My love is a cascade
Were you to find a dipper as big as the sky
Your cup would always overflow

Our lives are this blank page
Waiting to be written

The full measure of understanding is laid out before you
If only you can learn to see it

Every atom vibrates with enlightenment
Every star sings

My doors are open
To the seven golden gates of your soul

Know thyself
And take flight

4 comments.