Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two men, two women, two mo(u)rnings

1. There's a story that Descartes, who died of early mornings,

fashioned for himself a

model of a woman: his


daughter, who had died in young adulthood (trans-

lation of morning), out of

wood and pinions.


This was old-fashioned, his ontogeny reca-

pitulating hers -- think of

hair in a ring --, his


capturing her but failing to bring her to

life, lacking the

vital fright of e-


lectricity. A disordered pair, the

man and those moveable

parts, so clearly the


least of his arts, that moveable beast, so

portable, the terror of

unfinished speech, the


unfinished tower of her standing proud and

lewd, the rouged and

painted flower of her cheek.



2. √Čvariste Galois died of a gunshot

wound after dawn. He had

written all night, the


candle-light and flicker of thoughts -- their

trickle like candle-

wax -- in the heat of


loving and having no time, and the wick: in the

center of a page, he had

written: "une femme", a


woman who blushed like the gunpowder dawn, her

rosy fingers to

him, and then gone: "une


femme", encircled by orders and indices,

what would become set

theory. In the margins:


"I have not enough time." This is where God

doesn't -- needn't or

can't -- come in. This


young man, barely past boy, the tower un-

finished of him, the

fading flower of his cheek.



(Edited 8 October 2009, begun 23 September 2009. The story goes that Galois committed to paper everything he could of his prodigious mathematical imagination that night, knowing it might well be his last; set theory would have been invented eventually, but not in the same blaze of glory. I have Descartes' story on no good authority, but am amazed by the image of the master geographer and crypto-religious philosopher rattling around a drafty castle, his daughter's creepy effigy rattling around alongside him.)


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