The math of love

We are more alive in the invisible than the visible.
There, our pluses and minuses give more and take less
than in the physical, where divisions alone strive to define us.
Between every two points, we covenant, there is yet another:
To bite ’em, so proceed ad infinitum.

So let us do that and bite ’em, the possibilities I mean:
hearts can be broken, yes, but in all our joys
our futures are coequal with our past.

So where does that put us? On some rising hope, I suppose,
back in the invisible from whence we started
perfectly, long, long ago. Did you hear that?
Say yes.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political essayist, poet and cleric. His most famous work is Gulliver’s Travels. The quote above is taken from Poetry, a Rhapsody:

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Not only is the verse fun and wonderfully satirical, but it comes from a particular perspective, a time when the art of science was awakening and when things that we take for granted today (like bacteria) were first being discovered. Also, note the 400 year pronunciation shift: in Swift’s world the word “flea” would have been pronounced “flay” and rhymed with “prey.”

In mathematics, the concept of infinity occurs often. For example, mathematics holds that there is no smallest negative number and no largest positive number. Moreover, between any two numbers there is always another. This compares to, and parallels with, the Knowledge of God: infinitely broad, yet infinitely deep.

This thought, in turn, got me to thinking of the concept of love, and, well, as you can see, so proceed ad infinitum.

Thank you for reading The math of love. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Putnam, Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge, The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.



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2 responses to “The math of love

  1. Is love infinitum or ad infinitum?