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Pablo Neruda, for World Poetry Day

I am trying to read a book right now that is very difficult to focus on under present circumstances (Godel, Escher, Bach). So I am occasionally taking breaks to re-read through what is written in the Earth Prayers book, a book whose pages are now acid-yellowed with age.


And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still…

For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
(Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.)

If we were not so singleminded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.

-Pablo Neruda



( 8 remarks — Remark )
Mar. 22nd, 2015 11:44 pm (UTC)
GEB is a challenge, straight up. I think it took me three tries to get through it.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 12:18 am (UTC)
I am going to avoid caring too deeply whether I can follow some of the specifics to the logic, because I'm fairly certain that it's unintentionally nonsensical in parts (so far; only about 75 pages in).

Also, it is terrible bedtime reading. Grimly, I read on.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
I suspect it's intentionally nonsensical. Hof is making a lot of points about the process of meta-analysis and its importance in developing AI in that book.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 12:48 pm (UTC)
The parts I don't entirely understand have to do with the syntax he's using to describe all of the dash-letter-dash-letter-dash theorems, because I think he's using the dashes both as a part of the theorem, and as I used them in the above phrase, simultaneously. Which is irritating, so I'm ignoring it and just pretending I agree with what he's trying to get across. I have an easier time with the kinds of interplays he's trying to illustrate, using those theorems.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)
I read it but many aeons ago; I still try to get people to read "Le Ton Beau de Marot" to this day, though.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 04:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, in my defense, the first two tries were when I was in junior high school. I did write a program on a hewlett packard calculator to automatically generate some of the patterns in there, and only then realized the point of the exercise was to realize that the pattern couldn't be formed given the set of rules.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 05:20 am (UTC)
You found him earlier than I did! I didn't discover his work until college, and then I read All The Things (that I could find).

Re: realizing the point, yeah, I feel like that about some of the Futility Closet puzzles sometimes, and often elsewhere in logic. "Oooh, I can... damnit!"
Mar. 23rd, 2015 05:24 am (UTC)
There is a charm of a different type, in realizing the puzzle was designed to be impossible. Type II fun? Or, more on topic, Godel fun.
( 8 remarks — Remark )

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