The dream whose almost-spent wave cast me onto waking:
A guy who identified himself as Rick Celesta (which, in the dream,
seemed familiar) asked if I would help him solve
a square root problem (there, at a table in the hallway
of the old Hebrew School in St. Paul). [42 years ago,
I completed a math major, but have never touched the stuff
since. I just wanted to know how math worked.]
I told him, "Why solve' for square root? Just
look at the number and figure it out." Then, half-awake,
I started working it out, and discovered (hey, it ain't
the benzene ring, but it was new to me) that 1 + 3 = 2 squared,
1 + 3 + 5 = 3 squared, 1 + 3 + 5 +....+ n, where n
is the mth odd, positive integer, equals m squared. Also, n = 2m
Thus, for example, the sum of the first 1000 odd positive integers
1,000,000 (1000 squared) which equals 1 + 3 + 5 +...+ 1,999.
(1,999 = (2 x 1000) - 1.) And before realizing I was awake,
I worked out that adding even numbers the same way,
starting from 2, always gives you m squared plus m
(where m is the number of even numbers). Thus, 2 + 4 = 6,
which equals 2 squared plus 2. 2 + 4 + 6 = 12 = 3 squared plus 3.
2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 10 = 30 = 5 squared plus 5.
Thus, the sum of the first 73 digits (1 + 2 + 3 +...+ 73),
where the number of odd digits (m) = 37 and the number of
even digits (m - 1 for an odd number like 73) = 36) is equal to
the sum of the odd digits (37 squared) plus the sum
of the even digits (36 squared plus 36) = 37 squared + 36 squared
+ 36 = 1,489 + 1,416 + 36 = 2,941 (except for an error or two
I probably made along the way). But I did it in my head
in a minute, which is a lot faster than adding 1 to 2 to 3...to
(I have done terrible things in my head.)
WOW! Pretty useless, eh? Is this a non-poem or is
this a non-poem. I mean what's the point in being an English major
(you must be if you've read this far) if not to get away
from ever having to look at such stuff.
But poets are dreamers, right, and there's something innately
poetic about our dreams, right? (All the best critics
tell us so.) Well, eat your heart out, Martin Luther King,
because I had a dream, and this was it!
Dreams, symbols, poetry, sneaky underminings of the villain,
consciousness, rot! Sometimes a cigar is just a scar...I mean,
cigar. Four cigars and seven years ago....
Note: I know, I know. No excuse suffices. This is not a poem.
But...maybe it is, you know. That's what interests me about it.
And certainly it amounts to significance on the rolling crest of
blankness. And I did NOT work all this stuff out before hand (not
this lifetime, anyway); I was half-asleep, as the poem describes,
when I flashed on all this. It's no falser than the usual false
magic with which we endow dreams.