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5 entries this month
Einstein's Dreams - By Alan Lightman
15:23 Apr 25 2006
Times Read: 757
22 May 1905
Dawn. A salmon fog floats through the city, carried on the breath of the river. The sun waits beyond the Nydegg Bridge, throws its long, reddened spikes along the Kramgasse to the giant clock that measures time, illuminates the underside of balconies. Sounds of morning drift through the streets like the smell of bread. A child wakes and cries for her mother. An awning creaks quietly as the milliner arrives at his shop on Marktgasse. An engine whines on the river. Two women talk softly beneath an arcade.
As the city melts through fog and the night, one sees a strange sight. Here an old bridge is half-finished. There, a house has been removed from its foundations. Here, a street veers east for no obvious reason. There, a bank sits in the middle of a grocery market. The lower stained-glass windows of St. Vincent’s portray religious themes, the uppers switch abruptly to a picture of the Alps in spring. A man walks briskly toward the Bundeshaus, stops suddenly, puts his hands to his head, shouts excitedly, turns, and hurries in the opposite direction.
This is a world of changed plans, of sudden opportunities, of unexpected visions. For in this world, time flows not evenly but fitfully and, as a consequence, people receive fitful glimpses of the future.
When a mother receives a sudden vision of where her son will live, she moves her house to be near him. When a builder sees the place of commerce in the future, he twists his road in that direction. When a child briefly glimpses herself as a florist, she decides not to attend university. When a young man gets a vision of the woman he will marry, he waits for her. When a solicitor catches the sight of himself in the robes of a judge in Zürich, he abandons his job in Berne. Indeed, what sense is there in continuing the present when one has seen the future?
For those who have seen their vision, this is a world of guaranteed success. Few projects are started that do not advance a career. Few tips are taken that do not lead to the city of destiny. Few friends are made who will not be friends in the future. Few passions are wasted.
For those who have not had their vision, this is a world of inactive suspense. How can one enroll in university without knowing one’s future occupation? How can one set up an apothecary on Marktgasse when a similar shop might do better in Spitalgasse? How can one make love to a man when he may not remain faithful? Such people sleep most of the day and wait for their vision to come.
Thus, in this world of brief scenes from the future, few risks are taken. Those who have seen the future do not need to take risks, and those who have not yet seen the future wait for their visions without taking risks.
Some few who have witnessed the future do all they can to refute it. A man goes to tend the museum gardens in Neuchâtel after he has seen himself a barrister in Lucerne. A youth embarks on a vigorous sailing voyage with his father after a vision that his father will die soon of heart trouble. A young woman allows herself to fall in love with one man even though she has seen that she will marry another. Such people stand on their balconies at twilight and shout that the future can be changed, that thousands of futures are possible. In time, the gardener in Neuchâtel gets tired of his low wages, becomes a barrister in Lucerne. The father dies of his heart, and his son hates himself for not forcing his father to keep to his bed. The young woman is deserted by her lover, marries a man who will let her have solitude with her pain.
Who would fare better in this world of fitful time? Those who have seen the future and live only one life? Or those who have not seen the future and wait to live life? Or those who deny the future and live two lives?
Xanthe Commands The Night03:06 Apr 20 2006
Times Read: 770
On another site, I go by the name Xanthe. This poem and the next were written for/about me by an old friend of mine, DarkPoet. She's a very talanted writer and I urge everyone to check out her work, which can be found here.
She came from the dark night, a true vision,
a shadowy lady of the night.
A being of seduction, and passion,
she would teach the meaning of delight.
They heard her calling them from the darkness,
and were lost to her entrancing voice.
All they felt was righteous they would protest
as each one vied to be her evening’s choice.
Each one strutting around so prettily
as she sat watching them, and laughing.
She might choose one, or two, or even three,
but the others would be left wanting.
And thus Xanthe rules their dreams of tomorrow
as she makes her choices for her bed.
The others will look on, wrapped in sorrow,
never knowing those men will be dead.
She sends them back to their hovels in tears
as darkness gives way to dawn’s first light.
She will call them each night over the years,
for they well know, Xanthe commands the night.
Xanthe the Master02:47 Apr 20 2006
Times Read: 771
Blood washed across the land as fire claimed the glade,
and righteous men cried out in their pain.
They learned, that at home is where they should have stayed,
as they lie dying in the cold rain.
Xanthe's shouted command had been clear, serve or die,
but these foolish men ignored her call.
Now to endure her wrath they will surely try,
learning their true failure as they fall.
She will bathe this thirsting land with their bloodstains,
giving their wives a reason to weep.
Xanthe will be the creator of countless pains
as she sends them to eternal sleep.
On this cold dark night she claims their wretched lives,
while leaving their bodies stiff and cold.
For this night she has taken them from their wives,
Xanthe-the master of their mortal souls.
Einstein's Dreams, By Alan Lightman
18:52 Apr 17 2006
Times Read: 774
14 May 1905
There is a place where time stands still. Raindrops hang motionless in air. Pendulums of clocks float midswing. Dogs raise their muzzles in silent howls. Pedestrians are frozen on the dusty streets, their legs cocked as if held by strings. The aromas of dates, mangoes, coriander, cumin are suspended in space.
As a traveler approaches this place from any direction, he moves more and more slowly. His heartbeats grow farther apart, his breathing slackens, his temperature drops, his thoughts diminish, until he reaches dead center and stops. For this is the center of time. From this place, time travels outward in concentric circles—at rest at the center, slowly picking up speed at greater diameters.
Who would make pilgrimages to the center of time? Parents with children, and lovers.
And so, at the place where time stands still, one sees parents clutching their children, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The beautiful young daughter with blue eyes and blonde hair will never stop smiling the smile she smiles now, will never lose the soft pink glow on her cheeks, will never grow wrinkled or tired, will never get injured, will never unlearn what her parents have taught her, will never think thoughts that her parents don’t know, will never know evil, will never tell her parents that she does not love them, will never leave her room with the view of the ocean, will never stop touching her parents as she does now.
And at the place where time stands still, one sees lovers kissing in the shadows of buildings, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The loved one will never take his arms from where they are now, will never give back the bracelet of memories, will never journey far from his lover, will never find himself in danger in self-sacrifice, will never fail to show his love, will never become jealous, will never fall in love with someone else, will never lose the passion of this instant in time.
One must consider that these statues are illuminated by only the most feeble red light, for light is diminished almost to nothing at the center of time, its vibrations slowed to echoes in vast canyons, its intensity reduced to the faint glow of fireflies.
Those not quite at dead center do indeed move, but at the pace of glaciers. A brush of the hair might take a year, a kiss might take a thousand. While a smile is returned, seasons pass in the outer world. While a child is hugged, bridges rise. While a good-bye is said, cities crumble and are forgotten.
And those who return to the outer world . . . Children grow rapidly, forget the centuries long embrace from their parents, which to them lasted but seconds. Children become adults, live far from their parents, live in their own houses, learn ways of their own, suffer pain, grow old. Children curse their parents for trying to hold them forever, curse time for their own wrinkled skin and hoarse voices. These now old children also want to stop time, but at another time. They want to freeze their own children at the center of time.
Lovers who return find their friends are long gone. After all, lifetimes have passed. They move in a world they do not recognize. Lovers who return still embrace in the shadows of buildings, but now their embraces seem empty and alone. Soon they forget the centuries-long promises, which to them lasted only seconds. They become jealous, even among strangers, say hateful things to each other, lose passion, drift apart, grow old and alone in a world they do not know.
Some say it’s best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but it is noble to live life, and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.
Einstein's Dreams - 16 April 1905
04:17 Apr 15 2006
Times Read: 781
Einstein's Dreams is a book, written by physicist Alan Lightman. He has gone through and put stories to various ways time could work, and turned them into dreams Einstein may have had during those weeks when he was working on his Special Theory of Relativity. This one isn't one of my fav's, but I typed it up anyway, I'll post more later.. note: the grammar and punctuation is exactly as it's written in the book, I have changed nothing - so don't blame me for weird sentence structure and illegal use of commas.
16 April 1905
In this world, time is like a flow of water, occasionally displaced by a bit of debris, a passing breeze. Now and then, some cosmic disturbance will cause a rivulet of time to turn away from the mainstream, to make connection backstream. When this happens, birds, soil, people caught in the branching tributary find themselves suddenly carried to the past.
Persons who have been transported back in time are easy to identify. They wear dark, indistinct clothing and walk on their toes, trying not to make a single sound, trying not to bend a single blade of grass. For they fear that any change they make in the past could have drastic consequences for the future.
Just now, for example, such a person is crouching in the shadows of the arcade, at no. 19 Kramgrasse. An odd place for a traveler from the future, but there she is. Pedestrians pass, stare, and walk on. She huddles in a corner, then quickly creeps across the street and cowers in another darkened spot, at no. 22. She is terrified that she will kick up dust, just as Peter Klausen is making his way to the apothecary on Spitalgasse this afternoon of 16 April 1905. Klausen is something of a dandy and hates to have his clothes sullied. If dust messes his clothes, he will stop and painstakingly brush them off, regardless of waiting appointments. If Klausen is sufficiently delayed, he may not buy the ointment for his wife, who has been complaining of leg aches for weeks. In that case, Klausen’s wife, in bad humor, may decide not to take the trip to Lake Geneva. And if she does not go to Lake Geneva on 23 June 1905, she will not meet a Catherine d’Epinay walking on the jetty of the east shore and will not introduce Mlle. D’Epinay to her son Richard. In turn, Richard and Catherine will not marry on 17 December 1908 and will not give birth to Friedrich on 8 July 1912. Friedrich Klausen will not be father to Hans Klausen on 22 August 1938, and without Hans Klausen the European Union of 1979 will never occur.
The woman from the future, thrust without warning into this time and this place and now attempting to be invisible in her darkened spot at no. 22 Kramgrasse, knows the Klausen story and a thousand other stories waiting to unfold, dependent on the births of children, the movement of people in the streets, the songs of the birds at certain moments, the precise position of chairs, the wind. She crouches in the shadows and does not return the stares of people. She crouches and waits for the stream of time to carry her back to her own time.
When a traveler from the future must talk, he does not talk but whimpers. He whispers tortured sounds. He is agonized. For if he makes the slightest alteration in anything, he may destroy the future. At the same time he is forced to witness events without being a part of them, without changing them. He envies the people who live in their own time, who can act at will, oblivious of the future, ignorant of the effects of their actions. But he cannot act. He is an inert gas, a ghost, a sheet without soul. He has lost his personhood. He is an exile of time.
Such wretched people from the future can be found in every village and every town, hiding under the eaves of buildings, in basements, under bridges, in deserted fields. They are not questioned about coming events, about future marriages, births, finances, inventions, profits to be made. Instead, they are left alone and pitied.