Archive for the ‘Bookmarks Bindings and Blue Ink’ Category

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) built
a model of the universe that calculates
the distance between the six planets known
at that time, illustrated in his book
Mysterium Cosmographicum.

The following excerpts are from the book Kepler by John Banville, published in 1981. This is for the series Bookmarks, Bindings and Blue Ink on marked passages in my books:

Aedes Cramerianis
March 1610
Signor Prof. Giorgio Antonio Magini: at Bologna

It is as if one had woken up to find two suns in the sky. That is only, of course, a way of putting it. Two suns would be a miracle, or magic, whereas this has been wrought by human eye and mind. It seems to me that there are times when, suddenly, after centuries of stagnation, things begin to flow all together as it were with astonishing swiftness, when from all sides streams spring up and join their courses, and this great confluence rushes on like a mighty river, carrying upon its flood all the broken & pathetic wreckage of our misconceptions. Thus, it is not a twelvemonth since I published my Astronomia nova, changing beyond recognition our notion of celestial workings: and now comes this news from Padua! Doubtless you in Italy are already familiar with it, and I know that even the most amazing things can come to seem commonplace in only a little time; for us, however, it is still new & wonderful & somewhat frightening.

“O Kepler, Kepler . . .”

Now he went all the way back to the Mysterium, and the theory which through the years had been his happiness and his constant hope, the incorporation of the five regular solids within the intervals of the planets. His discovery of the ellipse law in the Astronomia nova had dealt a blow to that idea, but a blow not heavy enough to destroy his faith. Somehow the rules of plane harmony must be made to account for the irregularities in this model of the world. The problem delighted him. The new astronomy which he had invented had destroyed the old symmetries; then he must find new and finer ones.

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In looking through my used books, I’ve begun reading the handwriting scribbled in the margins, wondering what the words reveal about the person who wrote them. Sometimes the handwriting is mine, but sometimes it belongs to a book’s previous owner.

I’ve also started pulling books from shelves to see which pages are bookmarked, curious to see where the pages land in my life now. These bookmarks are everywhere — old tickets stubs, torn pieces of Kleenex, scraps of paper used for grocery lists.

We attach meaning to isolated passages in books, bookmarked pages, fractured pieces of handwriting written along the edges, as if a human hand had appeared to reveal meaning in our lives we wouldn’t see otherwise.

Maybe in looking at the person I was then and comparing her to the person I am now, I will see that my life, weighed in the balance between those two worlds, is found wanting.

Or perhaps I will find a girl more accepting of my life than I am. If I am standing in the wings of what I once wanted to be, perhaps she is the only person who can accept me and help me find reasons for what I have become.

Below is a copy of Merwin’s poem The Finding of Reasons. Words in blue are those written beside the text:

The Finding of Reasons

Every memory is abandoned
As waves their shapes
the houses stand in tears as the sun rises

Memory is how we retain 
continuity — this is now gone

Even Pain
That is a god to the senses
Can be forgotten
Until he returns in the flashing garments
And the senses themselves
Are to be taken away like clothing
After a sickness

Man is losing 
touch w/ our
senses & memory,
yet does not blame
man — seems to be
part of larger process
which surrounds man

Proud of their secrets as the dead
Our uses forsake us
That have been betrayed
They follow tracks that lead before and after
And over water
The prints cross us
When they have gone we find reasons

M. attacks
idea that:
“man has
use on
this planet
+ in the end
this will
pull us

As though to relinquish a journey
Were to arrive
As though we had not been made
Of distances that would not again be ours
As though our feet would come to us once more
Of themselves freely
To us
Their forgotten masters 

To listen to the announcements you would think
The triumph
Were ours 

kind of science fiction notion
of what is happening in the world

mixture of
blame &

As the string of the great kite Sapiens
Cuts our palms
Along predestined places
Leaving us
While we find reasons 

control of the kite that is important

inevitability takes away our blame

this longer process,
this life form, — speaks
thru man for a moment,
& then moves on. Man is
only part of great process. Our
evolutionary growth that we hold onto may
now be at the end.

All a necessary cycle that will continue
w/o us. Man misguidely trying to
find reasons for what is going on, but it will not
help. Evolution is a gift, can be revoked — doesn’t
believe in our “destiny” — only in destiny of larger process.
Force now may be speaking thru mankind, but may
soon be speaking thru something else. 

Planetary elegy

M. not trying to put blame on everyone anyone
Man makes up his own reasons for his existence.

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