Thursday, June 26, 2014

Great Audiences

To have great poets, there must be great audiences, too.
- Walt Whitman

Yesterday, I had one of the most wondrous experiences of my life. Someone approached me while I was sitting in the park and the first statement this person made was asking a simple question, "Would you read me a poem?" I could have wept. I could only say, "I will read you poetry until you ask me to stop."

Photo by Jerry James
From thereon ensued a wonderful conversation where the reading of a number of poems was interspersed with some of the most engaging and exciting conversation. We spanned topics ranging from ponderous issues of cognitive theory to the gems of the most simple considerations.

I have been enjoying a particular number of wonderful exchanges with people lately. The other day I had a fascinating conversation with two young students in mathematics. - I still hold the position that if a person really wants to be a member of the avant-garde, they should study math, because people in that field are so ahead of the curve most of the world doesn't even know they exist. There is no doubt that people in the field of mathematics are in the forefront of broadening the intellectual and imaginative horizons of humanity and I have made note to a number of people that the some of the ideas of French mathematician Everiste Galois on the symmetry of polynomials served as an important inspiration for one of the most important angles of many of the syntactical formulations in my poem Martha.

As a parting comment, I told them both that I will look for them in the years to come as recipients of the most distinguished Fields Medal. One of the students modestly dismissed this and said that his friend would probably win the medal but he doubted that he would. I told him that there is no question that he is capable of winning the medal. I told him, "That potential is within us all. Never deny yourself your potential for greatness."

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