Tag Archives: parallel

The math of love

We are more alive in the invisible than the visible.
There, the pluses and minuses of our hopes 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, as Swift said.

So let us do just that, and bite ’em, the possibilities I mean:
hearts can be broken with a smile, yes,
but in all our joys, all our futures are co-equal with the 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. Remember?
You can never go anywhere you haven’t been before.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political essayist, poet and cleric. His most famous work is Gulliver’s Travels. The full text of the poem is 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 wonderful things that we take for granted today were first being discovered. Also,  note the 400 year pronunciation shift: in Swift’s time the word “flea” would have been pronounced “flay” and would have rhymed with “prey.”

In mathematics, the concept of infinity occurs often, most notably in number theory. 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 I compare to, and is paralleled 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.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.


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