Monday, September 29, 2003

Monday September 29, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:03 PM

Magic Hawaii

Today, the birthday of singer Jerry Lee Lewis, is also the feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

In honor of Lewis:

Killer Radio, an entry of July 31, 2003, that contains the following…

“When the light came she was sitting on the bed beside an open suitcase, toying with her diamond rings.  She saw the light first in the depths of the largest stone.”

— Paul Preuss, Broken Symmetries,
    scene at Diamond Head, Oahu,

In honor of the angels:

Mathematics as an Adequate Language,
by Israel Gelfand, Sept. 2, 2003, which contains the following…

“Many people consider mathematics to be a boring and formal science.  However, any really good work in mathematics always has in it: beauty, simplicity, exactness, and crazy ideas.  This is a strange combination.  I understood earlier that this combination is essential on the example of classical music and poetry.  But it is also typical in mathematics.  It is not by chance that many mathematicians enjoy serious music.

This combination of beauty, simplicity, exactness, and crazy ideas is, I think, common to both mathematics and music.”

These qualities seem also to be sought by practitioners of religion and physics… for example, by the spiritually-minded physicist in Preuss’s Broken Symmetries.  Skeptics might prefer, to the word “religion,” the word (pronounced with a sneer) “magic.”

What do we find if, following in the footsteps of Gelfand and Preuss, we do a Google search on the following words…

beauty simplicity exactness
 crazy magic Hawaii

The search yields two results:

  1. The Pupil: Poems by W. S. Merwin.
    The above link is to a poem, “Prophecy,” that seems suitable for these, the High Holy Days at the end of one year and the beginning of another.

    For a follow-up to the poem, see
    The Shining of Lucero.

  2. Striking Through the Mask, or
     The Allegorical Meanings
     in Moby Dick

These two selections, both on the theme of light and darkness, offer a language that is perhaps more adequate than mathematics for dealing with the nature of the High Holy Days.  For a more lighthearted approach to these concerns, also with a Hawaiian theme, see

The Aloha Mass.

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