Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Earth's Sentence Wig

Early this morning before coffee I watched a BBC4 documentary called Edwardian Insects on Film, the story of Edwardian naturalist and pioneering filmmaker Percy Smith. Finally woken up, I made my first coffee and went off to read the internet with visions of dumb-bell juggling flies fresh in my mind, and a wonderful quote:

 Any fly will juggle. 
He has claws and pads 
on his feet and if you 
hold him on his back, 
he will catch anything 
you give him.

Which of course I've formatted as poetry here, because it is as good as any poetry I've seen anywhere, but then maybe the line breaks aren't necessary, or especially good, but the shape of
the poem echoes something I saw in another film, the second I watched this morning, which was a visit to the library / apartment of writer Thomas McEvilley posted by Ron Silliman as part of his usual dirge-like drum-beat postings of souls passing from the mortal coil. I can't say I was completely unaware of McEvilley, but I think I was completely unaware, and so the poem does echo a bit the 'poem' McEvilley shows which James Lee Byars produced by asking a Japanese calligrapher to draw a boulder falling through space.

Then after I watched that film I hit upon the idea, that if the internal dialogue was a string, how long would it be, given that its uniformity and so forth were slightly prescribed so as to make it universal, and that that prescription would take the form of a person reading, or perhaps just talking. I chose the figure 150 words per minute. Then came averaging the global lifespan which was perhaps a bit of a tiresome exercise, but if you use the WLE website, you might come up with the value of 60. I make no claims for this figure, except that it provides a draft level scaffold on which to hang a nominal string length. There are 525,949 minutes in a year. 525,949 X 60 = 31,556,940 which means that there is a possible 4,733,541,000 words which as a string, if the average word length is 5 letters which gives you roughly two words per inch with a courier new 12 point font so that a 60 yr long string would be roughly 2,366,770,500 inches, or 37,354 miles and 585.00 yards. This means that a life string of words, roughly, on average, might wrap around the earth some four times with a bit left over.

Not sure what the thread was this morning, but my two cups of coffee are done, and I can go on about my reading, thinking I guess about a sort of beautifully wordy wig of collective strings whooshing around in space, Earth's Sentence Wig, ESW, for short. It is a fairly long-haired planet, I'd say, as planets go.

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