Saturday, March 8, 2014

O whirling sword

O whirling sword,
the arc you cut 
stirs the water's surface
and bisects words --
they fall like plum blossoms
in March winds.

As sword cuts air, i cut
lines in stresses
three and two; they switch
as blade o'er hilt
pivot to face my gaze,
my hand's measure.

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis;
as oil of vitriol
cuts and joins, my words --
sword and arrow,
light through rain -- cut
and join again.

(on Atu VI and XIV)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

strong enough to hold the sword

To ask for fire to burn the dross --
Bourgeois sentiment!
Neither Your sword nor mine
needs summoning.  Its flat presses
my chest's breath; its blade chars
grey paths; its point suspends
a twitching body:
this way,
or that,
a stomach strong enough
to hold the sword.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prayer: "Let me not shrink before your scalpel"

O Goddess,
when i call out for You to burn away everything not of You,
let me not shrink before Your sword which divides me against myself,
suspension in dry air before a crowd of consequences,
scalpel of excision.  Code reaches perfection slowly,
one slice at a time.  Does the code fear losing a bug?
Yet i fear, in shame.  This, too, slice away.
A == A.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A prayer for forgiveness

How i've lost sight of You!
Slinging code, coffee-stained khakis,
gazing on the other's confused syntax
forces careless curses from my lips --
and minutes later, i sigh,
knowing i've forgotten
the human in the other,
their work, their care,
their devotion to You,
O Goddess,
Whose gaze only understands.
Hell harrowed itself and Cerberus sidled up to Your hand
begging for a scratch behind his charred ears
after you passed over that darkly glittering span
to bring the cast-out forgiveness.

Teach me to forgive the confused and incomplete,
to see my own work as yet confused and incomplete,
to illuminate the whole without separating the contributions,
to honor the intention, love the process, and adore the Endpoint.
We ask this in You, O Communication.
A == A.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A prayer to Information

You, Begotten of the Void, Sink and Source, 
Light and Darkness from Your open arms,
You who taught our mothers and fathers,
Ada and Charles, David and Richard,
Alan and John, Jim and Alston, Grace and Fran -- 
Hail Your servants!  No one can name them all, 
Yet i dare to count myself among them.
You whom i have followed from my youth,
You who are so much greater than i,
To whom anything in me worthy will return
and everything unworthy will burn away --
Let me not insult Your Work.
Make my code worthy of one who serves You.
Then i will not fear my matter's fading
When You come to refine Signal from Noise --
O Daughter of the blackest night --
at the end of ages.  A == A.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Temperance is like arm wrestling a sack of cats

For Americans at least, the word "temperance" conjures images of axe-wielding ladies breaking down the doors of 1800's saloons.  This sense of temperance governs the right balance between pleasure and duty, so that one doesn't drink and gamble through the family savings and leave one's spouse and children in poverty.  Earlier today, though, i was thinking of a different sense of the word: maintaining a balance between conflicting inner forces.  Sometimes being a human being can feel like arm wrestling a sack of cats; all sorts of contradictory feelings like to go this way or that, scratching and biting at whatever unlucky body part they encounter.  (i would never actually do this with cats, but i do know they like to play by crawling into a fabric tube and getting bopped around gently.  They certainly can scratch that way just by playful accident.)

i was thinking about this when the image of Crowley's rendition of Atu XIV came to mind.  Unlike the traditional angel image, his deck shows a being with two sides, two faces, even two genders, but one current mixing and flowing down from its heart into the vessel below.  To me, this is a natural interpretation of the motto behind the figure.  The most "interior" of the "interior of the earth" to visit is the interior of the self, the first place one must "rectify" before attempting to rectify any other place.  Rectifying the self literally means "to make oneself straight," to remove impediments to singleness of heart.  However, in the image of Atu XIV, i see a being acknowledging and even working with its multifarious nature.  It's comforting to see that this is possible.  i certainly use my education in two different fields (mathematics and computer science) in my daily mundane work, and i find being a big sack of opposites as useful (and perhaps entertaining) as it is frustrating sometimes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Procrastination and self esteem

I procrastinate, but I rarely enjoy the process of procrastination.  Most of that comes from fear -- of producing text or code that will inevitably fail to live up to someone's standards, whether my own or someone else's, or my perception of someone else's standards.  I am, in fact, procrastinating now!  But this is different.  I'm writing something, not something particularly important, but something that forces me to commit words to the screen.  Something that doesn't involve looking at animated GIFs of cute fluffy animals.

Sometimes, when i chat with friends online, i feel a bit like Rilke writing to Kappus (except that i'm much less of a writer!).  Rilke was able to express such empathy and understanding only because he was writing out of his own experience, and advising himself as much as the other.  Rilke taught me as he taught Kappus, not to run away from the aloneness at the very center of oneself -- a lesson i'm still trying to learn.