How Do The Awkward Do?

I’m certainly not a science man!

The funny thing is it has been a good while since I voiced this thought for the first time in 1972. Regardless of the intervening years I think my idea of the link between Mathematics and Art is still valid. But why now? I am prompted to revisit the topic by a recent quote that I have heard by the late Mathematician/Physicist Paul Dirac OM. “A physical law must possess mathematical beauty.” — Paul Dirac. Here is a modest, some say awkward, distant, withdrawn even strange genius. A mathematician and later physicist  who gave us his Dirac Equation and joined up relativistic mechanics and quantum mechanics. Emotionally Mathematics has, in a sense, a discernible link to The Arts. Mathematics – Being both teleological and aesthetic, (teleological: everything has a purpose, aesthetic: relating to the enjoyment or study of beauty). Perhaps using the descriptor sense seems strange. However ultimately when Mathematics describes an understanding of nature, (physics), it can deliver a sensual experience. Such is the wonder of science. Although a mathematical equation has no idiom.

 I’m certainly not a numbers man!

So it was 1972 or thereabouts, and it is the English Oral element of an examination in English Language. A sort of meeting with just the examiner and me in a drab room, on a drab day during a drab year. Ordinary Level they labelled it. There was nothing ordinary about the process. I was to speak about a subject I had nominated beforehand. It was a test of vocabulary, and not necessarily an examination of the given topic. I  put forward my view that Mathematics was in fact a branch of The Arts. Here I would say that just as the visual/aural arts, painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, cinema, theatre and music are the result of talented and skilled performers and artists whose works are offered for appreciation, then mathematics could be viewed similarly. There is beauty in the making of and exposure to art. All can be viewed in exactly the same light. Art is driven by the heart, and presents its form in sensual ways and practical ways and unexplainable ways. It is a feature of the Soul and the Cosmos. Arts moments are the true treasure of living. Just as the structure of the natural world touches us, The explanation of nature, the equations of nature touch us in all the days of our life.

Christopher Thompson  “I’m certainly no science man”, “I’m certainly no numbers man”. 

© 2020 All rights reserved.

How Do the Awkwards Do?


This comes from a small square house,
Set in green rolling countryside.
Not quite alone, not quite a home.
I am from a conurbation way “up-country”,
I am very Midland in my many ways.

How do the other awkwards do?
This is an entertaining question.
In their hunt to survive
How do they fair? 
In the relentless, jostle, jumble jungle. 
It’s a headlong dash, 
Toward forever and away from fallibility. 
Being forevermore late,
Mostly latent.
How can the pained call out
When their pain is so draining?   

While everyone else is speaking 
Others words serve only drown us out,
Their awkward winds seem to fall silently, 
To the rest of us gathered, unnoticed in the air.
Against the night many are knelt praying in pews   
There is no where else to press their point,
No button of hope for those anguish soaked souls.   

Still the prayers rise to the rafters
And the penitents line up with each other,
With their praise and their debts.
How the awkward struggle
In the dreary haze of living.
Who is there, who  is here to heal their bruises,
Meet their needs?     

No one gets given sight of
That virtual Cosmic benchmark 
With which position better to compare.
Nor vestibule, nor datum to measure 
No lever or anchor against which to rest.

©2020 Christopher Thompson All rights reserved.

Dirac Quotes

The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible.

Anecdotally, when Oppenheimer was working at Göttingen, Dirac supposedly came to him one day and said: “Oppenheimer, they tell me you are writing poetry. I do not see how a man can work on the frontiers of physics and write poetry at the same time. They are in opposition. In science you want to say something that nobody knew before, in words which everyone can understand. In poetry you are bound to say… something that everybody knows already in words that nobody can understand.”

My research work was based in pictures. I needed to visualise things and projective geometry was often most useful e.g. in figuring out how a particular quantity transforms under Lorentz transf[ormation]. When I came to publish the results I suppressed the projective geometry as the results could be expressed more concisely in analytic form. “Recollections of an Exciting Era,” three lectures given at Varenna, 5 August 1972, quoted in Peter Galison, “The Suppressed Drawing: Paul Dirac’s Hidden Geometry”

A good deal of my research work in physics has consisted in not setting out to solve some particular problems, but simply examining mathematical quantities of a kind that physicists use and trying to get them together in an interesting way regardless of any application that the work may have. It is simply a search for pretty mathematics. It may turn out later that the work does have an application. Then one has had good luck.P.A.M. Dirac, “Pretty Mathematics,” International Journal of Theoretical Physics, Vol. 21, Issue 8–9, August 1982

I think it’s a peculiarity of myself that I like to play about with equations, just looking for beautiful mathematical relations which maybe don’t have any physical meaning at all. Sometimes they do.

The Evolution of the Physicist’s Picture of Nature (1963)

It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one’s equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress. If there is not complete agreement between the results of one’s work and experiment, one should not allow oneself to be too discouraged, because the discrepancy may well be due to minor features that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further development of the theory.

It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of a mathematical theory of great beauty and power, needing quite a high standard of mathematics for one to understand it. You may wonder: Why is nature constructed along these lines? One can only answer that our present knowledge seems to show that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe. Our feeble attempts at mathematics enable us to understand a bit of the universe, and as we proceed to develop higher and higher mathematics we can hope to understand the universe better.

Just by studying mathematics we can hope to make a guess at the kind of mathematics that will come into the physics of the future. A good many people are working on the mathematical basis of quantum theory, trying to understand the theory better and to make it more powerful and more beautiful. If someone can hit on the right lines along which to make this development, it may lead to a future advance in which people will first discover the equations and then, after examining them, gradually learn how to apply them.

email me directly on christopherthompson@pryderi.org

There’s no Fool Like a Bar Stool

I was once fashionable in a Tank Top,
Or popular as a phrase, a saying.
I lived on the lips of my proud mother.
I came to her and then was gone.
Off I sped trying to find a way,
My way.
I surfed on the breeze of youth,
I conquered everything,
Everything but myself.
Having fallen victim of patternation
I sought solace in vitro.
I had reached twenty years of aging.

Although now an ending draws ever closer,
I submit once again to my feet.
I am stationery, as if planted.
My marching days live now
In my long gone portion of time.
I have blistered my last foot
After chasing fortune and fame.
I am now simply at a  messing point.
I feel like a missed point
Like a sea shell on a bleaching beach.
So done over by time and its rituals, 
Daily I commit to solitude.

© 2020 Christopher Thompson.

Want to contact me? christopherthompson@pryderi.org

Red – Yellow – Black

This poem is a repose to the death of  Mr George Floyd in Mineapolis MN. So again tonight the blackness of smoke is rising to the heavens all across America. And Heaven knows the reasons. The red is flaring, it is updated and hot. Nowhere is safer than the land of the brave and the home of the free. The crackle of flame illuminates my point. Yellow is the conflagration, the heat is being drawn. Are the people being treated like they are naturally targetable? Is it inevitable, all this black death? We saw it in horror, we didn’t believe our eyes. A person being stifled, and no doubt not for the first time or encounter. And the fire and the mayhem are a self inflicted wound, a man is unjustifiably killed openly and on the street. Everyone is suffering on the inside. This is an ache for justice. Let the scales fall from our eyes. Everyone is precious, everyone one has a life to give, everyone has a right to live. Offer an open hand to lift up your brothers and sisters. Surely it is better to be blind then to judge another by the sight of their skin? There is wrong, there are wrongs to be corrected. There are people and there are streets, there is much yet to do. The Oxygen of forgiveness and equality of truth is the simple soul solution and the way of life is love. Each in self examination needs to help bring about all that is true. Let’s replace this red, yellow and black, with a red white and blue. C G T Devon, England.

This.

This is not glowing or even angry. 
Not bitter and or twisted,
So what is this?
This is in no way angular, 
Or singular or regular. 
It is just uneven but not irregular.
This is not on a treadmill, 
Or in a rat race. Neither is it complex.
It is not viable or buyable.
It is simply this. 
What you get is what you see, hear, taste or think. 
It is not someone else.
This is not a beginning, middle or end. 
Neither is it robust. 
This is now adequate yet dreadful.
This is not circular, orbital or oblique. 
Equatable? Possibly. 
What it is not, is a knot.
This is no longer intelligible,
It not infinitesimal or forgettable. 
This is never discoverable.
This never ceases. 
This has no cancer or damage. 
This was never infantile or made.
This is neither neutral, positive or negative. 
This is not prohibitive or lax. 
This is not It.
This is not absent 
Or meaningful. 
Not over loaded or likely Carboniferous. 
This is not a dark watered lake. 
It contains no hidden extras, it has no  prize. 
This cannot look leftward at life.
This is not interesting or lovely.
This is shapeless in its form
This is not arboreal or cleaved.

This is often incommunicable.
This had no crib. 
This is still not understood.
This is neither ephemeral or eternal. 
This has nothing extra of Cosmos,
This is tasteful.
This is without anything within. 
This requires nothing. 
This is devoid of feelings.
This is not congregational. 
This is not able to be condensed. 
This is neither crushable or weak.
This has no union by faith. 
This is not within anyone's remit. 
This is not irremovable.
This is not a strain. 
This is neither steerable or useful. 
This is not conceited. 
This is neither righteous or wicked,
This is however wounded.
This is unable to heal.

This can never be rigged. 
This is not case sensitive. 
This is no longer a word with worth.

This is not a world apart, it is here.
This is not a subject to study or a victimless phrase.
This is my cause, my case on which you may rest.
© 2020   Christoper Thompson   All rights reserved.

There is no one

There is no one. No one is looking this way. No one starting to notice or beginning to be gripped by curiosity. No one at all. So am I simply another sounding board among a Myriad of voices in the chamber of horrors? I begin to scream along with their chant “look at me, look at me”. I glance at my image of chrome on a bookshelf which is just out of my reach. I then begin to whisper, listen here, or is it listen hear? I drown out myself with a succession little thoughts. I am nearing my conclusion. Yes. No. I don’t know, are all that comprise my missing vocabulary. Just these five words, and they equal my number. Five easy reasons. An equation of my hidden truth. 5 = yn (idk).

Christopher Thompson

Scribe

To be a scribe
Requires two tools.
One is in your head, the other?
It is like the soft sharp tip of a pencil.

It waters you down, it wears you away. 
It is not quite a buckle, but it is safe enough to be going on with. 
It is not a mere stick of wood,
To do, you have to have lead in your pencil. 

You have to hold on tight, 
You have to have a heart to write. 
Your breath is your graphite, 
And there is always a rub which inevitably leaves its mark.
 
Have you made your mark today? 
And so the thin dark line offers unlimited life,
It is a line which describes your story. 
Unlike a felled tree which is heart breaking. 

You explain with disappearing lead, 
The scribbled events and connections. 
And hardness becomes irrelevant 
As you turn to wind on time. 

The curly shavings fall like aspersions 
You sharpen your focus. 
Then in the next breath, you rejoin the wood,
Which has fallen to your wooden floor. 

In all reality there was never a belt to tighten. 
However here you will always find 
More paper and pencils. 
So write a new note for posterity.

And dread nought 
Other than having nothing to scratch on the paper. 
Because these tools are so easily burnt, 
And your ideas are easily lost.

©2020 Christopher Thompson. All rights reserved.