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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Writing the Fibonacci: On Being and the Tao

Oh my - over at Poets United, they've challenged all comers to write a Fibonacci poem...


Welcome to Verse First, where simple notions prompt amazing poems. 
Today's notion?

Fibonacci poetry is a literary form based on the Fibonacci number sequence. The sequence begins like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. In order to find the next number in the sequence, you add the two preceding numbers. The sum of these two is the next number, which then is added to the one before it to get to the next number, and so on.

This is how it works:
1 + 0 = 1
1 + 1 = 2
2 + 1 = 3
3 + 2 = 5
5 + 3 = 8
8 + 5 = 13
13 + 8 = 21
21 + 13 = 34... 
{55, 89, 144, 233...}

The Fibonacci sequence appears often in nature as the underlying form of growing patterns. I've shared three example photos; to learn more check out this post at Math Is Fun or this one at The Golden Number.

Photo © Tiago Rodrigues Serra

Photo © kasia-aus
Fibonacci poems can embody the sequence in syllables or in words; and the poem can be any length, so long as each line's count equals the sum of the two preceding lines. Obviously, this gets a little cumbersome past 13 or 21, but hey... do what ya gotta do!

Okay, I can do this. I'll base it on a mantra I used (well, still use) to get my head straight when feeling fragmented and to center me in the present moment. I'll do words instead of syllables. Here goes:

One being.
One being becoming.
One being becoming more fully.
One being becoming more fully aware of being.

Well, that's about all there is to the mantra. But that was too easy. I'll try another:


The Way

Seeking the Source

Practicing Simplicity, Patience, and Compassion

Learning Wu Wei - (translation: Doing by Not Doing)

Can I be still like a puddle and let my silt settle out?

Act without seeking reward or appreciation? Lead by following? Take to heart this ancient wisdom: that acquisitiveness and possessiveness are folly?

I will allow this knowing to enfold me like a mother, contain me like a womb, warm and nurture and incubate me as I evolve these skills I need to survive and be whole.

 In a world all-too-fraught with frantic selfishness and greed, we all could use a little Tao. I don't identify as a Toaist, though. The religion, as I understand it (mainly through looking at some old texts), it involves some kooky alchemy and meditation techniques which I find, frankly, dangerous.  No out-of-body experiences for me, thanks.

Wow – as one spirals outward from the pithy, poignant center of the Fibonacci sequence in words, poetry degenerates into prose. Maybe I should’ve quit while I was ahead. Oh well. While the tape still rolls… I’m put in mind of something I read by the Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso. He said that in his daily meditations, he sends his essence out to his opposers (those Chinese officials whose policies keep him in exile and act to undermine the sovereignty of Tibet). He imagines filling them with love.

I used to practice a similar meditation. This was back before the onset of my disorder, when I lived and taught in South Korea for five years. I would still my mind, then envision love emanating from my body in all directions like rays of light. The light would become flame, and it would spread from me like wildfire, igniting my surroundings and eventually engulfing the whole world. It was a well-intentioned meditation, obviously, but in the end I have to conclude that it wasn’t healthy for me. Or at least that it certainly wouldn’t be healthy for me now. Having been through the experience of losing my mental footing, of misplacing my center and reeling in psychosis, my sense of self fragmented and conflicted, deluded and hallucinatory, I no longer feel that it’s in my own best interest to be a metaphysical superhero.

One more step in the Fibonacci… Before I divorce this kissing cousin of the golden mean, echo out of the snail’s tornado shell into the calm beyond the storm, one more thought about the Tao: it’s always ironic to try and put the Tao into words. The first precept discussed in the Tao te Ching is that the Tao which can be expressed is not the true Tao. It’s like Fight Club in that way: the first rule is that it is not to be talked about. I think of that old saying – those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know. Or this one: better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove yourself one. So yeah, it’s ironic. I studied irony when I was a grad student of literature (a degree which I haven’t finished) and learned there are many types. My specific field of study was postmodern humor, and the type I was most concerned with was what is termed ‘unstable irony’. It’s when the ironic statement or situation refuses to resolve itself one way or another, true or false, for or against, forcing the reader to make the judgment call. So you decide: Taoism – healthy or unhealthy? Helps you survive or drives you crazy? Or both? I’ve heard that going mad is the only rational response to an insane world…

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