Saturday, January 14, 2017

This is the most poetic and ironic image of Syntaxis I have ever found in literature as far as I can recall. Imagine the innocence of the child to be the limits of epistemology in rendering contingency, and that the horological reference is actually one of singularity or complexity.. I found this startling. This is a childhood memory of Thomas De Quincey from his Autobiographical sketches 1853, and it is nowhere to be found in this form in the original 1001 Nights!

At the opening of the tale, a magician living in the central depths of Africa is introduced to us as one made aware by his secret art of an enchanted lamp endowed with supernatural powers available for the service of any man whatever who should get it into his keeping. But there lies the difficulty. The lamp is imprisoned in subterraneous chambers, and from these it can be released only by the hands of an innocent child. But this is not enough: the child must have a special horoscope written in the stars, or else a peculiar destiny written in his constitution, entitling him to take possession of the lamp. Where shall such a child be found? Where shall he be sought? The magician knows: he applies his ear to the earth; he listens to the innumerable sounds of footsteps that at the moment of his experiment are tormenting the surface of the globe; and amongst them all, at a distance of six thousand miles, playing in the streets of Bagdad, he distinguishes the peculiar steps of the child Aladdin. Through this mighty labyrinth of sounds, which Archimedes, aided by his arenarius, could not sum or disentangle, one solitary infant’s feet are distinctly recognized on the banks of the Tigris, distant by four hundred and forty days’ march of an army or a caravan. These feet, these steps, the sorcerer knows, and challenges in his heart as the feet, as the steps of that innocent boy, through whose hands only he could have a chance for reaching the lamp.