Far away

In a way, I spent the day watching Euclid prove a math theorem and Montaigne write an essay.

Worse things could happen.

Published in: on December 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

In the labyrinth

When I dream vividly, which is not very often, I dream of being in small houses that turn into labyrinths where I search for stuff such as books or chess sets, and never find exactly what I am looking for.

I never have good dreams.  My dreams, whether frustrating or nightmarish, jolt me awake with my heart racing and desperately feeling fear.

However, they refresh my waking life as nothing else can.  Things tend to even out for me.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

On waking up

I wish I could say it was stumbling home drunk. But I’m pretty sure I have begun to walk in my sleep. Note to self: put on your jams before you go to bed.

Published in: on January 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Modality and desire

Of the many ways to split humans into two camps, we can split them into those who believe in the standard logic and those who add possibility and necessity to their logic.  Both logic share common features yet differ in ways outside the boundaries of logic.

The standard logic austerely admits of only truths and falsehoods.  The other has possibility layered through it.  And possibility arises from desire, and despair for that matter.  Believing possible worlds exist somehow leaves room for desire, which on the surface, seems antithetical to logic, yet snuggles, for some odd reason, into it like two lovers entwined.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 1:40 am  Comments (2)  


You should have two copies of your favorite books: a hardback copy, substantial, that you hold in your lap when you read at home, and a paperback copy you carry around with you on occasion to flout one of your personae–not caring what gets spilt upon it.

When you get caught in the rain with your book exposed, you’ll be happy.  You’ll swipe the paperback book across the leg of your blue jeans and transfer the water like you transfer the day’s persona to some object of no consequence.

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

What to write about?

On a given finite straight line to construct an equilateral triangle.

Proposition I.1, Elements, Euclid

You might naively ask: what are all the interesting propositions you can prove about equilateral triangles?  I suspect enough propositions to create a quirky yet interesting book for the mathematically inclined.  Of course, one can generalize to regular polygons, polyhedrons, and polytopes, but by then you would have Coxeter’s splendid book Regular Polytopes.  Let the first project consist of equilateral triangles.

It’s warm and sunny.  I dream about and drift through a land whose significance lies in its interesting propositions.  Or to paraphrase Wallace Stevens: not dreams of life itself, but dreams of propositions about life.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

In the labyrinth–an interior road trip

Morning.  Drinking coffee.  Watching Dances With Wolves.  I feel as alone as the lieutenant at his post at the edge of the frontier.

Last night was a night of strange dreams where I wandered strange labyrinths of all sorts searching for something without a name.  In the last episode, I had a set of keys that unlocked secret places in a big industrial complex.  I was told to hide the keys after I fetched what I had come after.  I had forgotten what I was after.  I gave up trying to remember.  I decided to hide the keys, but people were always ambling through hallways and aisles and looking at me so I could not have hidden the keys without them watching.  All I knew was that I wanted to go home.  I didn’t want to play the game anymore.

Then I woke for good.  Today, I’ll carry around a heavy heart.  I may not know what the dreams mean, but I feel what they mean with brutal clarity.

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Summer rain

This winter has hit me harder than any other. The early cold weather that has not abated and the dark days have left me almost immobile–more than any other time in my life. I cannot explain that. All I can tell you is that I feel decay and death in every fiber of my body.

I remember when I was a child living in small town Iowa. Some nights, when I was lying in bed, a soft rain would fall pattering upon the leaves and the sound of a train making its way across the land would lull me into a gentle sleep.

What I would not give for a night such as that right now. As consolation for the lack of that, I study geometry from morning until late at night this winter. Studying it, I feel something akin to the gentle rain and the sound of technology heard from a distance. The things that caress us most are not the sensational, but the obvious overlooked. We search for spaces and transformations that preserve congruences. Once finding them, if we are lucky, we are consoled.

We may not believe in god, yet our innate spirituality will not abandon or forsake us.

Published in: on January 31, 2009 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Southern wind

You can feel it.  A southern wind blows in.  After these past few frigid days, it ts welcome.  I don’t want to freeze this hard this early in the year as I have the psst two days.  I love the heat.

And life goes on.

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Cope II

I have returned to reading Vollmann’s Europe Central. The book meshes fiction and history seamlessly. I’m immersed in the section called The Last Field Marshal whose central character is the German general Paulus who commanded the German Sixth Army at the battle for Stalingrad during World War II. The narrator of this section (an East German Stasi agent? I assume all the narrators of Europe Central are secret police agents of some sort.) admires Paulus, a man who does his duty, a man who aspires to attain the rank of Field Marshall. Paulus fails to take Stalingrad. Then his own army is encircled and subjected to near annihilation and the worst privations of a Russian winter.

As I recall from reading a history about Paulus and Stalingrad, it becomes evident to Hitler that Sixth Army will have to surrender to Russian forces. Hitler promotes Paulus to Field Marshall, knowing that no German Field Marshall was ever taken alive on the battlefield. Paulus does the unthinkable; he does not kill himself before the surrender. A man who did his soldierly duty impeccably, refuses his one last duty. Oh well, Vollmann’s narrator will soon refresh my memory.

Some good fiction tells about the shortness of our lives and how the things we want the most could never be. These novels tell how we cope with bitter disappointments–how we go on.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 1:38 pm  Leave a Comment  


The noise from the construction site across the street has started this morning. The sky is low and gray and the air damp and chill. The coffee tastes like shit, yet I need the caffeine to get a little direction.

V stopped by the local bar last night. We had a nice long chat. She has a new boyfriend which is as it should be. Whether she does or she doesn’t makes no difference to me. I continue to live in a fantasy world where my love for her might have been. Everybody can laugh at me for that but I just don’t care. Desire has no limits or boundaries once it takes hold of our souls. I’ve always been the kind to want what I could not have and wreck the things I could have. Every dream I ever had about V was one of chasing her and never catching up to her.

Nothing interrupts the chess games. The tournament games start by the dozen each week. I dreamt last night I let all my games timeout. I simply stopped playing. Yet this morning, I cannot bring myself to let them go. I must make the moves no matter that they are an empty formal exercise today.

Life seems as if it is a bunch of words in a mass paperback book yellowed with age. I continue reading only because I want to know what happens next.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  


Another warm day but overcast. I have a cold I cannot get rid of. My mind struggles to create a happy ending to several crises in my life. I set my expectations for a happy ending too high. I should create a narrative that helps me survive instead.

The days of wandering through European museums with B. seem like ages ago. Before the trip, I was skeptical whether we could renew our friendship the way it was. We had a silent tacit agreement that we would not try to renew a romance. I didn’t know how well I would hold my part of the bargain. As you well know, I was on the rebound and reeling. However, we renewed our friendship almost naturally from the moment we met at O’Hare airport. The romance thing did not arise once on the trip. One night we even talked about V. B. said, you sound as if you still love her. I admitted I did, but explained that even if I had the chance to renew a romantic relationship with her I wouldn’t.

Maybe, today’s narrative should be about wandering with a friend. Maybe, some part of each day’s narrative should be devoted to constructing a tale about wandering on some mysterious journey with a friend where wonders appear almost magically on the road and are shared.

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dreams, pain, and damage

I’ve had these recurring dreams since I met V. In my dreams I am continually trying to find her. When I catch up with her, she disappears. As I mentioned early this morning, I could not sleep last night. I finally managed to drop off for two hours sleep. I had my most vivid dream of V ever. I was searching for her, but this time when I found her she did not disappear. She stood before me bathed in sunlight and more beautiful than I ever imagined a woman could be.

My dreams, I either don’t have them often, or don’t remember them at all, seldom synchronize with my desires. They exploit my fears, or they envision a happiness too good to ever come true. I am not tempted to reflect long today about my dreams based on my reading of Freud or other scientific literature. I would rather make my own call.

I spend a lot of my time during the day dreaming, drifting, and indulging in wistful thinking. Even at the worst moments, I try to control a world I make my own. At night though, the dreams are all too often nightmares or at the borderline of nightmares. I don’t claim that my daytime reveries crowd out nighttime dreams, but it is a relief that I don’t dream at night if the dreams will be mostly troubling.

My bad dreams refresh me more than my good dreams. There is nothing like a bad dream to make me feel more refreshed in the morning than usual. Still, I can live with the fatigue at the expensive of a bad dream.

On the really bad days though, I cannot drift and dream at will if at all. I live in a nightmare from which it seems I will never wake. If there was a Hell, maybe that is what it would be like–one long continuous eternal nightmare.

I have a feeling these somber thoughts will not release me today. I must get out of here soon. The construction noise is beginning in the neighborhood. Today it is more taunting than usual. This is a day for reading about the exotic and the ordinary with attached commentary about events, people, and places. Herodotus seems as if he might do the trick for me.

I have it good. I am unfettered from normal work and family contact. I can escape by myself and don’t have to carry my burdens in front of people all day. One might even consider that the ultimate luxury. As far as mental health goes, it counts as premium medical care.

Most of all, this a day to reflect about the pain I have caused and damage I have done. After all, we create our own nightmares, for they seldom come unbidden.

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment