Jody Azzouni

Poetry

The Unabomber tells all

Originally published in First Class 11, 1999
Added 4/28/2017
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The Unabomber tells all

Poem | Jody's Notes

 

It’s usually true, I guess, ex nihilo, nihil fit;

but not in set theory. There, in the beginning:

innocent 

but {nothing up either sleeve: for notice

the quote marks to come}: , a lonely

chunk of hieroglyph, and presto, a universe.

Admittedly, it’s only set-theoretic {although

with transcendental ellipses}; and,

admittedly, brackets are needed

{the mathematician’s trip wires};

but we know that singularities {of whatever sort}

are by law tricked into giving birth.

 

We all begin small, don’t we? I started out

that way: trying to divide by 0; for I noticed

the essential thing; the smaller

the denominator, the bigger the quotient.

Somehow {wouldn’t you know it?} 0 is just

too small;  just too close.

 

But there’s the key, right? Rapid growth?

Think of the insidious f(x) = ex; boy,

does that start out slowly {logarithmically so}.

Get to 1, however, and suddenly it’s all in a rush

{surpasses every polynomial, as it turns out}.

 

Don’t get the impression that my interest

in the relative growth of functions

is purely formal. Explosions have implications,

moral ones, no doubt.

But these are perhaps just details, just

a question of what remains

after we’ve squashed flat the singularity,

smeared it out across the furniture

of the world: given {along the way} an academic

or 2 a new slant on the means of production

{the Luddite irony of the prosthesis}.

 

Do I sound cold-blooded? You forget

the ascetic beauty in all this:

Call it an idealization if you will:

starting from a real point {no width, no length,

no depth} and expanding in 4-space

{the equations nonlinear; forgive me

if I omit them}. Think of something like

a radially expanding sphere

muscling its way through its recipient,

its volume swelling as of r3,

its surface area as of r2. But I digress.

 

Did I answer all your questions? Probably

not. You’d like to know: Do I drink? was

my mother kind to me? why didn’t my brother

want all that money? did I use a hammer

when I built my house? do I have regrets?